A Guide to PhD Admission
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A Guide to PhD Admission

PhD admissions 2021 are mostly based on entrance exams, however, few colleges consider admissions ban merit followed by a personal interview. The registrations for PhD Admission 2021 are currently open in IGDTUW New Delhi, LM Thapar School of Management, Mumbai University, NIT Manipur, Calcutta University, Chandigarh University, etc. The registrations for PhD admission 2021 have been completed in DTU Delhi, NIFT, NISER Bhubaneswar, BIT Mesra, and IIMs.

PhD (Doctor of Philosophy) is a 3 years research program that extensively deals with research studies in various domains like Humanities / Arts, Science, Engineering, Management, Pharmacy, Mass Communication, Law, Commerce, etc. 

Students applying for PhD Admission 2021 should have minimum qualifying marks of 50% aggregate or equivalent CGPA score in their postgraduate degree, post which a valid cut-off score in entrance exams or performance in personal interviews and written tests will make you eligible to secure admissions in top PhD Colleges.

Why You Should Have a Ph.D

A Ph.D is considered one of the most valued degrees not just in India but abroad as well. When it comes to your career graph, a Ph.D. degree can be a good qualification for you. Many colleges/ universities offer a Ph.D. course for aspiring students, however, the question remains – Why should one have a Ph.D. degree or why should a person opt for a Ph.D course. The answer to this question comes along with the benefits that are associated with a Ph.D degree.

  • A Ph.D. degree offers a wide range of employment opportunities. One of the most sought-after jobs for a Ph.D. degree holder is of a lecturer or a professor in a university or a researcher in most fields. Along with this, a Ph.D. degree holder can get a job in publishing houses, educational institutes, law firms, consultancy, etc.
  • Candidates will have in-depth knowledge and develop mastery over the subjects they have chosen for specialization, which will be extremely useful for them in their careers.
  • Candidates will get insight into the theoretical aspect of the course and get practical exposure.
  • It is a respectable and reputed qualification.

PhD Admission 2021: Entrance Exams

Various universities accept national-level entrance exams to offer admission to the PhD course. However, several universities conduct a university-level entrance exam to offer PhD Admission 2021. 

The Ph.D entrance exams conducted in India may vary university-wise. Mentioned below are the names of the top Ph.D entrance examinations in India that candidates are required to take to pursue their Ph.D from some colleges/universities in India:

1NDRI Ph.D Entrance Exam14BARC Ph.D Admission Test
2Indian Veterinary Research Institute Bareilly Ph.D Admission Test15ISM Dhanbad Ph.D Admission Test
3University of Hyderabad Ph.D Entrance Exam16NIMHANS PG/PG Diploma/Superspeciality Ph.D online entrance test
4GTU Phd entrance Exam17DBT JRF Biotech Entrance Test
5TIFR Graduate School Admission Entrance Test18Babasaheb Bhimrao Ambedkar University Lucknow-Ph.D Admissions Test
6Jamia Hamdard New Delhi Ph.D Admission Test19CSIR-UGC NET Exam
7Guru Gobind Singh Indraprastha University Delhi Ph.D Admission Test20Jamia Millia Islamia New Delhi – Ph.D Admission Test
8Kurukshetra University Ph.D Entrance Exam21PhD Entrance Exam of NMIMS University Mumbai
9JNU Ph.D Entrance Exam22GITAM University Vishakhapatnam Ph.D Admissions Test
10NIPER Ph.D Entrance Exam23IISC Ph.D Entrance Exam
11AIMA Ph.D Entrance Exam24Osmania University Ph.D Entrance Exam
12AIIMS Ph..D Entrance Exam25BITS Pilani Ph.D Entrance Examination
13Symbiosis Ph.D Entrance Exam26UGC NET Exam

PhD Admission 2021: Entrance Exam Schedule 

Different kinds of entrance exams are conducted as PhD courses are offered in various PhD Specializations like Education, Engineering, Mathematics, Engineering, Planning, etc. Exam schedules for the top PhD Entrance Exams in India are given in the below table.

Entrance ExamRegistration DateExam Date
IIT JAMSeptember 10, 2020February 14, 2021
GPATUp to January 30, 2021February 22 & 27, 2021
CUCETUp to 1st week of July 2021Fourth week of July 2021
VITMEEMarch 3- June 14, 2021To be Notified
RUET2nd week of March 20211st week of June 2021

National Level PhD Entrance Exams 

Some of the national-level PhD entrance exams which are listed in the above table are discussed here.

CUCET 2021

  • Central Universities Common Entrance Tests (CUCET) is a national level examination that is regulated by ten central universities jointly. 
  • Admission to the central universities is done through this exam for all types of courses like UG, PG, and others.
  • The exam is conducted in an offline mode.
  • The duration of the exam is 2 hours which consists of Multiple Choice Questions.

GPAT 2021 

  • Graduate Pharmacy Aptitude Test (GPAT) is a national level entrance exam conducted every year for admission to PG Pharmacy and other equivalent courses like Integrated PhD.
  • GPAT is conducted by the National Testing Agency (NTA).
  • The exam is conducted in an online mode.
  • The duration of the exam is 3 hours for a total of 500 marks.

Institution Level PhD Entrance Exams 

Some of the institution-level PhD entrance exams that are conducted specially for the admission of courses offered by those institutions are discussed in this section.

VITMEE 2021 

  • Vellore Institute of Technology Master’s Entrance Examination (VITMEE) is an institution-level entrance exam that is conducted for admission into the PG courses like M.Tech, MCA, and also admission to the integrated PhD courses.
  • It is conducted mainly for admission to the Vellore Institute of Technology institutions and is conducted every year by the Vellore Institute of Science and Technology.
  • The exam is conducted in an online mode.
  • The duration of the exam is 2 hours.

RUET 2021 

  • Rama University Entrance Test (RUET) is an institute or university level entrance exam which is conducted for the admission of UG, PG, and PhD courses offered by Rama University.
  • The exam is conducted by Rama University with 120 multiple-choice questions.
  • The exam is conducted in an offline mode.
  • The duration for the PhD course entrance exam is 3 hours.

PhD Admission 2021: Syllabus 

  • The syllabus for the PhD courses varies based on the specialization the candidates opt for.
  • PhD courses consist of both normal academic classroom sessions and research work.
  • The research work plays a major role in PhD courses.
  • The structure of a PhD course includes course work, qualifying examination, research proposal preparation, and thesis work.

PhD Admission 2021: Entrance Exam Preparation Tips

  • Collect previous year entrance exams question papers available through the internet.
  • Refer to the syllabus of PhD entrance exam as per the specialization.
  • The format of the entrance exam varies depending upon the conducting body and hence be aware of the format to plan accordingly.
  • Cover all the topics of the exam at least one month before the commencement of the exam.
  • Practice various mock tests available to eliminate the exam pressure.
  • Get updated upon the current affairs as it plays a crucial role in getting marks.
  • Visit the exam center a day before the exam to avoid the last time confusion of searching the exam center.
  • Take a deep sleep before the day of the exam.
  • Visit the exam center earlier by 1 hour to avoid traffic congestion.
  • Stay calm on the day of the exam.

PhD Admission Process 2021

The need for a Ph.D degree in India has increased in recent times because of the increasing career prospects and the growing requirement for higher specialization. Applicants who wish to do a Ph.D must consider the following points concerning the admission procedure of Ph.D:

  • Admission into the colleges/universities in India is available for the candidates as Full time and Part-time programs in various disciplines of engineering, arts, management, commerce, science, humanities, finance, law, medicine, and IT.
  • Candidates can choose to pursue their Ph.D either full-time or part-time.
  • For Ph.D admission, Masters’s degree is required in India. Some universities in India offer seats to students having a minimum of 55% or equivalent. The minimum duration of Ph.D is 2 years wherein the course follows the semester system including theory and practical versions on the specialization on a respective course.
  • In some cases, doing a Masters in Philosophy (M.Phil) is a prerequisite to beginning a Ph.D course offered by some universities.
  • The admissions in a Ph.D program are done through an entrance test at the university level.

Admission for PhD courses is carried out both through merit as well as the entrance-based process. The admission process for both courses is explained below along with the basic eligibility criteria.

Eligibility Criteria for Ph.D Admission 2021

Students who intend to pursue Ph.D from India must meet the required eligibility criteria. Listed below are the detailed eligibility criteria for pursuing a Ph.D from India:

  • Masters degree holders are eligible for admission into the doctoral program. Although, for some subjects, having a Masters in Philosophy (M.Phil) is needed for a Ph.D. It must be noted by the candidates that in some Indian universities, for Masters’s program, a specific percentage (or equivalent CGPA) is required by the candidates to be eligible to apply for a Ph.D.
  • For admission into some reputable universities, a candidate must qualify the all-India examination, as the National Eligibility Test for Lectureship (NET) conducted by NTA. Final year students appearing in the qualifying degree examination can also apply although they must submit the attested copies of their qualifying degree certificates.
  • Admission is offered based on interviews. The interview may be supplemented with a written exam if needed.
  • Candidates should have a valid Graduate Aptitude Test in Engineering (GATE) score to pursue Ph.D in the field of engineering and technology. Also, candidates should have completed his/her degree in M.Tech/ M.E in any engineering branch to apply for Ph.D in engineering.
  • To be eligible for a Ph.D, there are many other Ph.D entrance tests in India that one can take.

PhD Admission 2021: Eligibility Criteria 

  • The basic eligibility for applying to a PhD course is the possession of a Masters’s To based on, before or a PG degree.
  • The candidates should have obtained at least 50 – 55% of marks or grades in the PG course based upon the community the candidate belongs to. 
  • Candidates with work experience in the field of research are highly preferred and are given more preference.

Merit-Based PhD Admission 2021 

  • Top institutions offer PhD admission through a merit-based process.
  • For this, the institute may ask for the candidates to submit the outline of the research proposal.
  • This is done mainly for scrutinizing the candidates and the selected candidates are notified after the process.
  • Also, the candidates should fulfill the basic eligibility of 50 – 55% of marks in the PG course.

Entrance Exam Based PhD Admission 2021 

  • National wise and institution wise entrance exams are conducted for the admission of PhD courses.
  • Some institutions even organize personal interviews along with the entrance exams for the admission of PhD courses.

How to Apply for Ph.D Course in India

To apply for a Ph.D in India, there are several universities where students will find varied courses in research. For each university in India, there is a specific number of seats available. Some of these universities shortlist candidates based on entrance examinations, interviews, and research proposals.

  • In India, the Ph.D application process is available in both online and offline modes.
  • For applying to a university, applicants are required to procure or download the application form and prospectus for their respective courses by either writing to the university or by downloading the same online from the official website of the university.
  • For some universities, the Ph.D application forms need to be forwarded to send it to the university official address before the last date with the required documents.
  • Considering the fee structure for a Ph.D course, the average or the tentative course fee is about INR 20,000 to 30,000 per year (varies from course to course and university to university).

Structure of a Ph.D Course

In India, Ph.D is a program that has been designed for students who have already done their undergraduate and postgraduate training. As far as the overall structure of Ph.D is concerned, it is an advanced research qualification that consists of coursework and research work. The particular requirements to earn a Ph.D degree differ considerably according to the country, institution, and period from entry-level research degrees to higher doctorates.

The structure of a Ph.D program involves pedagogy, coursework, qualifying exam, preparation of research proposal, and thesis work. In each stage of the program, the performance of the student is evaluated throughout all the semesters.

List of Popular Universities in India offering Ph.D Admissions 2021

For Ph.D admissions, the universities/institutes conduct their entrance examinations and also consider the GATE/ NET scores. Here is a list of some of the popular universities in India that offer Ph.D courses to the candidates:

AIIMS, New DelhiNITs
PEC University of TechnologyInstitute of Microbial Technology
Amity School of Engineering and TechnologySRM University, Sonipat
IIITsJawaharlal Nehru University
Chandigarh UniversityIITs
Jamia Hamdard UniversityLingaya’s University
MMU, AmbalaJamia Millia Islamia
Chandigarh College of Engineering and Technology

Disciplines for Ph.D Admissions 2021

The table below lists the names of various disciplines that are offered in India for the candidates to pursue their Ph.D.

EducationPolice AdministrationPsychology
Public AdministrationRenewable EnergyPhysics
ElectronicsPhysical EducationPolitical Science
Total Quality ManagementRural DevelopmentSustainable Development
Population StudiesWomen StudiesZoology
PomologyYogaSocial Work
SociologyTechnology PolicyStatistics
Pollution ControlSpiritualityGeriatric Care
Sports ScienceSanskritHindi
ElectronicsLabour and Social WelfareIndian Diaspora
HistoryInsurance ManagementMass Communication
Home ScienceIntellectual Property RightsMathematics
GeographyInternational StudiesManagement Studies
Medicinal PlantsLinguisticsHospitality Management
EntrepreneurshipNanotechnologyHuman Rights
Library ScienceMusicEnglish Literature
LawPeace StudiesHospital Administration
BiochemistryEnvironment ScienceHorticulture
CommerceFine ArtsDisaster Management
EngineeringFashion TechnologyBioinformatics
Computer ScienceBusiness AdministrationGeoinformatics

Job Prospects after Ph.D

In today’s world, there is immense scope for the candidates after they have completed their Ph.D. Gone are those days when the scope of Ph.D was limited to academia. After completing a Ph.D, one should track his/her potential and apply to jobs based on his/her exact skills and expertise. Following are a few career options that candidates can choose after pursuing a Ph.D:

  • Researcher
  • Scientist
  • Lecturer & Professor
  • Author & Writer
  • Journalist
  • Editor & Critic
  • Human Services Worker
  • Independent Consultant
  • Philosophical Journalist
  • Industrial R&D Lab professionals
  • Senior Research Scientist

How to write a statement of purpose for PhD admission

If you are applying to a PhD program, trying to figure out what to say in your statement of purpose or personal statement can be the hardest part of the application, but it is the most important. You are certainly not alone if you are getting stuck on what to say.

While the format of a PhD SOP is similar to the format of other courses’ SOPs, here are few points to keep in mind while drafting an SOP for a PhD program:

  1. Be straight-forward with your research interest

In the introduction itself describe/ relate how your interest or passion towards this particular field-initiated. This is where you propose your research topic to the university. Even if you are not clear about your research topic, you can talk about the field instead and what possible options it might provide you with. If you are considering 2-3 topics, you can mention that as well. Make sure you have referred to these questions in the first para itself:

  • What is your research topic/ field and why?
  • What has been your learning in this field so far that made you take up this topic?
  • How passionate are you to pursue this further?
  1. Academic and research background

Briefly mention your academic background starting with your bachelor’s. Mention your Masters’ thesis/ projects and relate it to the research topic you have selected. Here you talk about your research work if you already have one or two. Mention the topic or dissertation title clearly and explain what exactly its motive was. You can elaborate a bit on the procedure as well, for instance, you took help from some faculty or conducted a survey, help from the general public, referred to other research works, etc. Also, note that you do not have to copy your entire research here. You just need to mention its objective, procedure, and learning/ outcome. If your paper has been published or is in the process of approval, highlight this fact as well. Focus on the knowledge, skills, and expertise you have gained so far and how it will help you further while pursuing a PhD. If you have any practical experience, discuss your learning and the skills you received through this practice.

  1. Reasons to join this specific course/program and university

Perhaps the most important part of your SOP is answering the main query of the Adcom, i.e why this course/program and why this particular university? This is what makes or breaks your whole profile. Initiate with choosing a particular professor and his/her research group/topic. Refer to the department, faculty, professor, amenities such as labs and research centers, and so on. Also, mention how it will help you achieve your goal (short-term and long-term). Make sure you cover the following points while answering the ‘whys?’:

  • Why this program?
  • Why this university/ department?
  • Why this specialization?
  • Why study/ research under the tutelage of a certain professor?
  1. Career goals: short-term and long-term

Another vital aspect of your application is your career goals. Whether it a UG student or an MS/MBA aspirant, if you are not clear in your mind about your future career goals, then the reader will instantly lose interest in your profile. It also showcases that the student is not serious about pursuing this course to get something tangible in return and is just applying for admission for the sake of it. Thus, your career goals should align with your course/program chosen and the research you have talked about previously. You can also write about future research topics you would like to pursue and the amount of impact or the kind of contribution it would be towards the field of society at large. Divide the goals para into two parts where, in the first section you talk about your short-term goal, i.e what you want to do just after this course? It can be further research, apply the research practically, pursue other topics/fields, or join an R&D division of any firm in the said industry, and so on. The next part, the long-term goal, is where you see yourself in the next 10-15 years. This would be your ultimate goal in life, whether it is starting your firm, be a GM of a reputed firm, start your R&D division, etc, it can be anything. However, whatever you are mentioning should be plausible and directly linked to the kind of profile you have.

How to write a cover letter for PhD admission

An academic cover letter is one of the documents you may be required to submit as part of a PhD application. It should complement your academic CV and explain why you are applying. Also known as motivation letters, PhD cover letters provide an opportunity to write with greater flexibility and personality than in other parts of the application.

What to include in an academic cover letter

  • It is a good idea to put your best, most compelling, or most relevant argument first. The earlier that you can make an impact, the more likely it is that the addressee will read further.
  • You should present your key skills and achievements but in a brief and specific manner. It is important to be concise throughout the cover letter. Additionally, make sure you give plenty of evidence for anything you write.
  • It’s imperative to research the PhD project, the supervisor, and the department. It’s also important to demonstrate this research in your cover letter. Try to be specific and realistic when discussing this research.
  • Further to this, when discussing research, it is valuable to focus on the reasons for it. Show a clear understanding of the research impact, and an enthusiasm for it. Just discovering the unknown or novel may not be a compelling reason to research something.
  • Finally, when writing tries to show a clear identity and personality while remaining professional. Try and telegraph why you are interesting and a better PhD candidate than other applicants.

How to prepare for PhD Admission Interview 

So, you’ve been invited for a PhD interview. Congratulations! This means that the admission committee considers you appropriately qualified and academically capable of doing a PhD in their program. This next step will allow them to determine if you’re a good fit, and you have the motivation and drive to complete a PhD. The interview is your opportunity to show the committee who you are, what your interests are, why their program is the right place for you to explore them.

There are many different formats for a PhD interview and varying degrees of formality. You may have a one-on-one interview with your potential supervisor over Skype, a formal interview in front of a panel, be asked to give a presentation to the department, or an informal chat with your potential supervisor and their students over lunch. Regardless of the level of formality, you should still do your homework and prepare for the interview. You cannot predict the specifics of the questions that they will ask you, but certain topics are almost inevitable.

Here are some ways to prepare for your interview:

  1. Review your research proposal or statement of purpose:

The interviewer will likely refer to it during the interview. Go over the experiences that have prepared you for a PhD and be ready to give specific examples during the interview. Be able to explain the reasons why you applied to this program in particular.

  1. Be prepared to talk about your research interests in detail. 

You likely gave an overview in your proposal or statement of purpose, but the interview is your chance to show that you have put some thought into what you wrote. Show that you have the required background knowledge, including knowledge of the key people in your research area, methodologies you plan to use, or studies you want to reference.

  1. Think about your motivation for pursuing a PhD. 

The interviewers want to know you have put some thought into the decision to pursue a PhD. They also want to gauge your commitment to the project before they invest time and money in you. Think about how a PhD will help you achieve your career goals.

  1. Read your potential supervisor’s work. 

This shows you are serious about working with them. Demonstrate why you want to work with them in particular and how their expertise will be essential to your research. If you are interviewing for a small program, familiarize yourself with the work (or at least the fields of expertise) of the other faculty members.

  1. Familiarize yourself with current scholarships in the field. 

This is another way to demonstrate your engagement with the field and that you can think critically about the current debates. You should know how your proposed research will fit into the current scholarship and what makes it unique.

Remember that this interview goes both ways. You are preparing to spend at least three years (likely more) of your life here. Think about what is important to you and what would make or break your decision to attend this university. Come to the interview prepared with some questions for the interviewer. Potential questions could include:

  • What do they do to promote work/life balance?
  • What can your potential mentor/supervisor do to advance your career?
  • How does your potential supervisor mentor students?
  • What is the program’s job placement record?
  • What sort of resources does the university have? (Libraries, lab equipment, etc.)
  • What are their funding sources?
  • What is the program’s average time to degree?
  • Will I have the opportunity to teach/present/patent/publish?

If your interview is taking place on-campus or you are invited to visit the campus after being accepted, take the opportunity to talk to some of the current grad students. They will offer you a frank take on the program and the inside scoop on what it’s like to work with your potential supervisor. Also, consider the fact that you will be spending a considerable amount of time around these people for the next few years. Will you fit in with them as a friend and colleague? How social is the department? Do they do activities together outside of the university? Do they seem supportive of each other, or are they competitive? This information will help inform your decision.

A Note on the Skype Interview

Skype interviews are becoming increasingly common, especially for international students. There are a few practical tips to keep in mind when setting up for an online interview. Do your interview somewhere where you have a strong internet connection, usually at home or in a quiet office. If you have roommates, make sure they are aware of when your interview is and understand not to disturb you during the interview. Choose your location carefully. You want a well-lit area with a tidy, neutral background. If possible, face a natural light source. Place your computer on top of a pile of books so that the camera is almost at eye level (a more natural angle). Look at the camera when you speak to make “eye contact” with the interviewer.

How to write a research proposal for PhD admission

The proposal of your research must say about your entire thesis. It must speak out about your research work in the best possible way. If you cannot write up the best research proposal for your thesis committee about your thesis, your research paper may not get approved. While writing your sample research proposal for PhD, your synopsis must say the entire research work in a short time. If your research study is more advance, then you need to add more details to your document.

Even though you presented your research proposal before your thesis, it must contain all the necessary parts needed for research. And also it must contain a brief outline of your research work. Here we have added some of the key factors to be added. They are as follows.

INTRODUCTIONYour introduction part must start with mentioning the basis of your study because it is considered as a foundation of your thesis statement.
OBJECTIVESIn the objectives chapter, you must include the motive of your research study. Your objective of the study will be the basis for the research question of your thesis. Here, in this part, you must state the problems you are going to investigate.
LITERATURE REVIEWThe materials, books, articles, research papers you have studied so far, all must be added in this section. While writing the part of the literature review in your research proposal, it must contain at least 50 academic references in a literature review.
RESEARCH DESIGNHere, you must mention why you have chosen this methodology for your research and also how it will help you to attain the expected results, how you will collect the data, and how you are going to analyze it. Most importantly you must include what are all the research tools you are going to use throughout your research.
TIME PLANYour research proposal must provide not only the outline of your research and also it must provide your research plan and time limit to complete your entire research.
BIBLIOGRAPHYFinally, you must present all the resources that you have utilized throughout your research. And all the resources must be added in a well-structured manner.