This is the 2nd post in the blog series “MS Research Experience at CSE@IIT Kharagpur” where we cover how a student can apply (the application process), the eligibility criteria, how to prepare for the interview and the final decision of actually pursuing it. In my previous article, I have covered the MS rules and regulations and the general workflow of the course requirements.
The article is pretty long, so a Heads up!
A small intro …
MS (Research) in India have started become popular quite recently over the last few years. Before 2017, the programme equivalent of MS Research was IIT Madras’s MS program and IIT Bombay’s M.Tech (Research Assistant) course. IIT Kanpur had then just launched their MS programme. IIT Kharagpur had its own MS (Research) program (quite old) but due to lack of documentation, it proved to be very difficult to actually understand the application process. We had to rely on some of the Quora questions answered by research scholars or pursue it through personal correspondence.
In my personal opinion, sadly, the problem persists even today, in terms of official documentation for the outside or external students. I often find students asking me on LinkedIn (mostly) or through personal correspondence regarding the application procedure. I hope this post will help to addresses most of it.
Let’s start …
We first cover the eligibility criteria, the application process, and the MS admission process. Please refer to the disclaimer notice of the first article of this blog series and holds true for all my articles in this series.
Eligibility criteria for MS programme
Please refer to Section 3 of the official MS Rules and Regulations [Download link]. I will highlight and also add few of the most important points but please go through the official documentation for clarity and completeness. I will limit myself to the CSE department only.
- There is no direct application procedure for the MS (Research) programme at IIT Kharagpur, unlike IIT Madras or IIT Bombay. This is because the MS scholar is only funded through a project and not funded by any form of institute fellowship.
- A student has to first get selected for any project position like Junior Research Fellowship, Research Assistant, Senior Research Fellowship. All project-related matters are overseen by the Sponsored Research and Industrial Consultancy (SRIC) of IIT Kharagpur.
- Each project position mention their own eligibility criteria. But in general, it demands “M.Tech or B. Tech; All through (from class 10 onwards) 80% or 8.5 CGPA plus a valid GATE score“
- Once you are selected and join as a Project Fellow in the institute, you will be encouraged to pursue either MS or Ph.D. programme. Usually, the PI of your project will become your guide or supervisor for your MS degree (however, this is not always true). So, it is very important to choose the right supervisor and therefore, the right project. I will cover it in more detail in the last point (Joining the program).
Application Procedure for Project position
As you may have rightly guessed from the previous section, you have to first apply for a project position. The project positions are available and advertised throughout the year at the Temporary Jobs webpage. Each project has a Principal Investigator (PI) who is a faculty of the institute
Please select the project (or projects, you may apply to projects from different faculties from the same department), and submit the application before the deadline. This completes the application procedure for the project position from your end.
Interview Preparation for Project Position
After the CV shortlisting phase, you will receive an interview call within 2 to 3 weeks. I sincerely hope you get it. However, if you do not get a call, please drop a mail to the respective PI of the project to enquire the status of the interview and ask whether there will be any future project position openings in the future. You may or may not get a reply but there is no harm in trying.
If you get called in for a interview, you will be facing a panel of 5 to 7 faculty members of the department ( some departments may also have a written test before it). Please prepare 3 of your favorite subjects from the GATE syllabus; the choice as well as the grasp of basic and foundational concepts in each of the subjects is crucial for the interview.
Joining as a Project Fellow
If you are selected (congratulations !!!), you will receive a joining letter within 2 to 3 weeks and be given a official joining period of 21 days.
I cannot emphasis how very very important it is to select the Project PI, who will become your supervisor (in most cases).
Selection process of MS programme
Since, you are now a project fellow and funded from a project, you are now eligible to apply for MS. At IIT Kharagpur, MS entrance exams are held twice a year – end of May for the Autumn Session and end of November for the Spring Session.
The application window opens at mid-April for Autumn session and mid-September for the Spring Session. Please keep in touch with your supervisor regarding such announcements. If you satisfy all the requirements, you will receive an Admit Card for the same. The selection procedure consists of two parts –
- Written Test. (see official syllabus and marking scheme from the Department’s website). The current trend is that the Algorithm and Digital Logic sections are MCQ-based while the Maths section has both MCQ and descriptive parts. Regarding the cutoff marks, it is usually 60% for General candidates but it may vary from year to year. The cutoff and weightage will be announced before your written test
- Interview. If you clear the cutoff for the interview, you will face a panel of 5 to 7 faculty members. The same guidelines for the project interview holds here.
Making the decision to join a research programme
In the upcoming blog posts, I will cover other important aspects such as whether MS research is the right choice for you, what is better direct PhD or MS and many more. But, in the meantime, please go through these amazing resources that are out there.
- Andrej Karpathy’s blog “A Survival Guide to a PhD” : A world-renowned researcher with very rich and moving content. His articles had a great influence over my own journey as a budding researcher 😛
- Google’s Jeff Dean recommended this interesting article “So You Want to Be a Research Scientist” : This piece highlights the differences between an engineer and a researcher.
- https://www.inspirenignite.com/ms-n-phd/ : A very detailed blog series outlining the job , career and decision-making aspects related with MS and PhD programmes. He provides a fresh perspective on pursuing a research degree from the IITs.
The End …
I hope this article will give you more clarity regarding the application procedure for the MS programme. If you like the article or missed any points or doubts, please feel free to comment below. I will try to answer them to best of my ability.