A few months ago, we computed an interesting statistics. What is the median time taken to complete PhD by students of different academic backgrounds. We divided students into three buckets - those who had joined after BTech (that is, four years of college), those who had joined after MSc/MA/MCom, etc., (that is, five years of college), and those who had joined after MTech (that is, six years of college). The time taken was defined as the time from first registration to submission of thesis.
We were surprised by the results. All three categories of students had a median completion time of 5 years and six months (across all disciplines - students after 5 years of college are common in sciences, humanities, and management, and students after 4/6 years of college are common in engineering).
To put the result in perspective, we used to have a requirement of minimum 10 courses for BTech graduates, 6 course for MSc graduates and 4 courses for MTech graduates. Now, if we look at the BTech and MTech students, who both are mostly getting admitted in engineering departments, a BTech graduate is doing 3 semester course work and 4 years of research and writing thesis, while an MTech graduate is doing 1 semester course work and 5 years of research and writing thesis. So an MTech graduate is taking one extra year of research even though s/he already has experience of conducting research, has already written one thesis, and in many cases had a publication.
We don't fully understand the reasons behind this, though my own guess is that the duration is based on the expectation of students and faculty members. There is perhaps an expectation that PhD shall take 5-6 years irrespective of the academic background, and irrespective of the number of courses, etc. The hope is that it is something else. May be it is because BTech graduates are younger, and work longer hours. May be BTech graduates join at an age that they can complete their PhD, join a job and then worry about marriage and family, while MTech graduates are two years older on an average when they join the PhD program and are more likely to marry and have family during the PhD, which will provide some bit of distraction.
Whatever it may be, it is quite clear that it is in the interest of BTech students to go for PhD directly, as they save 2 years. The only issue in the past has been the long commitment of 5-6 years. It is difficult to make that commitment without understanding what you are getting into.
IIT Kanpur has made it easier for BTech students to make that commitment. It is possible to leave the PhD program in between with an MTech degree if you lose motivation or for whatever reason, you wish to leave the program in-between.
Another issue that we used to face earlier in our PhD recruitment was that many good students did not give GATE which was a requirement for getting financial assistantship. A few years ago, MHRD allowed that we could pay from government funds, a stipend to graduates of IITs even if they did not have a GATE score. Recently, the IIT Council has decided that IITs can pay stipend to graduates of ANY Centrally Funded Technical Institute, even if they do not have a GATE score. CFTIs include NITs, IIITs, and a few other institutes (and of course, include IITs).
The last problem with PhD recruitment was that students would get a job in December, while we will call them for interview in May, and by then they have already committed to join this job, the families are looking forward to a gift from the first salary, they have asked their friends to find an apartment in that city, and so on. After so much of mental commitment to join the job, it is extremely difficult for them to apply for PhD, then come for an interview, and if selected, give up that job.
We are solving this problem by seeking applications now, in October/November, and holding the interviews in December. We will make the offer within a few days of the interview for you to join in July, 2015. (In fact, if your exams get over early, feel free to join in May itself, why waste time, and why not start getting a stipend early.)
So here is the deal:
If you are from a CFTI, and a final year student with a CPI/CGPA of at least 7.5 (in case of BTech) and at least 7.0 (in case of Integrated MSc), and are going to graduate in summer 2015, please apply for PhD admission to IIT Kanpur now. Since this is the first time we are doing it, only a few departments are taking part in this round of admission. These are: Computer Science and Engineering, Material Science and Engineering, Biological Sciences and Bio-Engineering, and Chemistry. If you wish to apply to another department, send an email to them, may be they would have changed their mind too, or would change their mind by looking at your excellent application.
If you are not from a CFTI, and you already have a GATE score, feel free to apply now.
If you are not from a CFTI and are giving GATE in winter, apply to us as soon as the GATE result is out.
For more information on direct PhD after BTech for CFTI final year students, please visit this link.
For admission to Computer Science and Engineering Department, please visit this link.