Gateway to the IITs: The Direct PhD Program
With degrees being more and more common by the day, many students are looking forward to completing a PhD to stand out and expand their knowledge in the fields they’re interested in. A PhD offers more than just a prefix of ‘Dr.’ to your name! Apart from fostering innovation and allowing an in-depth study of specific areas, a PhD also opens a lot of opportunities that are not limited to only academics. Likewise, a lot of students of NIT Rourkela too are interested in pursuing their higher education in premier institutes of national and international repute. There’s a piece of good news for NITians in this regard though there are still a few steps left to implement it at NIT Rourkela.
What is the program all about?
On 1st November 2019, an announcement was made by IIT-Delhi Director V. Ramagopal Rao. According to it, B.Tech students from the National Institutes of Technology (NITs) will soon be able to join the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Delhi, in the final year of their B.Tech course and continue studying there for their Ph.D., without appearing for the GATE exam. This new admission policy of IIT-Delhi will be implemented from the academic session 2020-21. And there’s even more, to cheer about, as other IITs are also likely to integrate NIT students soon. MoUs will have to be signed between IITs and NITs to facilitate this exchange of pupils.
Am I eligible for it?
The following criteria have to be fulfilled by a student to be eligible for this program:
- Should be enrolled in any NIT (National Institute of Technology) across the country which has signed an MoU with IIT Delhi (more IITs would be joining this soon)
- Should have scored a minimum CGPA of 8 ( by the end of 3rd year)
- Should be Final-year B.Tech students
I’m eligible. What next?
If a student fulfils these criteria, he or she has to apply for the program through his/her NIT. The student would then be able to sit for an interview, which will be the deciding factor for admission into the PhD course. Selected students will be able to take admission in PhD directly without a GATE score.
They will receive a bachelor's degree from the respective NITs but will be allowed to complete their coursework at IIT Delhi along with their research project. In other words, They will be able to get direct admission in IIT Delhi for completing their final year there, after which they would continue to pursue their PhD in the institute.
But isn’t it too early for me to decide?
According to a survey conducted by Team MM, most NITR students don’t think so. It is not too early because students often decide by their third year if they have a liking for their subjects and whether they possess an interest to pursue research or not. Therefore, most students already make up their minds in the sixth semester.
Do I, as a B.Tech student, possess a skillset to opt for a direct PhD?
Again, our survey results reflected that a majority of NITR students deemed themselves competent enough for admission to PhD programs. The initiative is a new one and IITs would surely ensure that students experience a smooth transition from B.Tech to the PhD program. The idea of getting NIT students into IITs has been discussed since 2018. In one of the meetings of the IIT Council in 2019, the initiative was again debated, following which IIT-Delhi decided to implement the new admission policy.
How would IITs benefit from this, though?
IIT Delhi Director V. Ramagopal Rao cites decreased interest among IIT graduates to pursue a PhD program at IITs as a reason behind the move that aims to tap the ‘second-best talent pool in the country’.
The idea behind getting NIT students into the IIT is to improve the research culture. We want students who have the potential for research to join our institute.
said Sandeep Chatterjee, registrar of IIT-Delhi. The IITD registrar’s statement pretty much sums the motive behind this move which would enable a symbiotic relationship between the premier institutes of the country, IITs, and NITs.
Team MM conducted a survey to gauge students’ interest in this program. And despite all the action for suspension of classes for Coronavirus prevention happening over the weekend, we saw responses from 180 students from various years and branches at NITR. Here are some key findings of the survey:
89.8% of the respondents were interested in research and wanted to pursue higher education, of which 92.8% wanted to go for a PhD later on.
A high GATE exam score is considered to be the most important factor for admission for M.Tech programs at the IITs. The majority of students (72.4%) agreeing to the GATE exam being very competitive reflects that the scheme would help more students fulfil their dreams of studying at the IITs.
While making up your mind for PhD right after B.Tech might seem to be too early but according to survey 70.1% of students felt that aiming for a PhD right after B.Tech should not be a difficult choice and students already make up their mind whether they should opt for higher studies or not.
Moreover, 74% of the respondents felt that a fresher of B.Tech has the skill set to opt for a direct PhD. This is a good indicator of the students’ belief in their skill set and knowledge.
Moreover, 92.8% of those who took the survey were willing to pursue a PhD during their course of Higher Studies. According to the survey’s responses, 72.4% of students feel that competitive exams for higher studies were difficult to track and an easier alternative to this would we beneficial.
Upon asking about direct admission to the PhD program at the IITs, 96.6% of students felt that the initiative was beneficial to them and a majority of the students (96.2%) felt the semester-long internship project at the IITs in their final year as part of this, to be quite advantageous.
An added advantage of this scheme is the increase in chances of getting the PMRF scholarship and 98% of the respondents agreed that this was indeed very beneficial. Under the scheme, students who have completed their B.Tech, M.Tech or integrated MSc or five-year undergraduate-postgraduate dual degree from any of the centrally funded institutes like IITs, IISc, NITs will be eligible for the full-time PhD program in IITs and IISc with a fellowship of ₹70,000 to ₹80,000 per month against the usual ₹30,000 to ₹35,000 per month.
Here is what a student had to say about this program and higher studies:
I believe the program would provide an excellent platform and exposure to the people who are serious about research and want to pursue their career in academics – Sibasish Panda, 2nd-year B.Tech (Chemical engineering).
Professor S.K. Patel, Dean Academics had the following to say about this scheme:
This direct Ph.D. scheme at any of the IITs is a very good scheme and we encourage our students to go for it. But since not many of our previous students had gone for a Ph.D. in a higher course of studies or even if they go they prefer to do so from abroad university, so we never thought of it before. Generally, B.Tech students prefer to pursue M.Tech and go for jobs rather than pursuing a PhD. If students are interested and willing to do a Ph.D. through his program, we will try to make the required arrangements and get in contact with the IITs for the same.
We hope the NITR Administration would be convinced by the immense interest shown by NITR students for this program and also expect the MoU between our institute and IIT Delhi soon to allow students currently in the 6th semester to be eligible for admission in the academic year 2020-21. Also, owing to the research culture of NITR and the highly encouraging survey results, we expect NIT Rourkela to sign MoUs with other IITs who might become a part of this program soon.