What is Ph.D.?
PhD is a doctoral degree with an academic focus. A PhD course is usually of three years duration and candidates need to complete the course within a maximum time span of five to six years. However, the course duration may vary from one institute to the other. Aspirants need to possess a master’s degree to be eligible to pursue a PhD programme.
Candidates can pursue a PhD programme in any stream. In a PhD course aspirants need to select a topic or a subject and do in-depth research on it and answer any queries related to the topic/ subject.
Earlier, candidates could pursue PhD course through the distance mode, however, as per a circular issued by UGC in 2017 it has been informed that a PhD course pursued through the distance education mode would no longer be recognised.
Candidates who have cleared entrance exams like UGC NET, GATE, JEST and the likes are usually offered fellowships while pursuing a PhD course. Apart from this, universities such as IGNOU and Delhi University (DU) also offer fellowships to students pursuing full time PhD courses with them.
PhD Eligibility Criteria
Aspirants are eligible to pursue a PhD course only if they have completed their master’s degree in a similar course/ field/ stream in which they want to pursue a PhD. Some colleges also specify that candidates need to have completed an MPhil to pursue a PhD course offered by them.
Apart from this, many colleges state that candidates meet the eligibility criteria for PhD programmes offered by them if they have cleared UGC NET. Candidates who want to pursue a PhD in Engineering need to possess a valid GATE score.
There are various categories of PhD candidates. Some of the types of PhD candidates are listed below:
Full Time Research Scholars
Government/ Semi Government Fellowship Recipients
PhD scholars who fall under this category are offered financial assistance under Government/ Semi Government fellowship schemes.
Institute research Scholars with Teaching Assistance
Aspirants falling under this category of PhD scholars are offered Institute Teaching Assistantship as specified by the MHRD.
Self-financed Candidates (Indian/ Foreign)
Indian self-financed candidates are offered a seat in doctoral programmes offered at institutes depending on their track record and experience. Such candidates are offered admission in PhD programmes offered by the institute by taking part in the normal admission process for PhD courses but such candidates do not receive any financial assistance from the institute.
Foreign self-financed candidates are offered admission through the embassy of their respective country only after they get the necessary ‘no objection certificate’ from MHRD, Govt of India and other necessary approvals from India’s Ministry of External Affairs.
Aspirants falling under this category of PhD scholars are sponsored by (recognised) Research and Development organisations to do full time research at the concerned institute.
Study Leave Candidates
Aspirants falling under this category are given study leave by Government institutes/ companies/ educational institutes for a time duration of less than three years to perform research work at the specified institute. A letter of leave provided by the candidate’s institute/ company is necessary to secure admission as a PhD scholar in this category.
Foreign candidates who are sponsored by their respective government are awarded a seat in a PhD course under Indian Council of Cultural Relations (ICCR) award holders’ category if they have been awarded the scholarship by their government.
Part Time Research Scholars
Candidates who seek admission under part time research scholars at an institute are offered admission under the below mentioned categories:
- Research Assistants
- Institute staff/ Faculty
- Project Staff
- External Sponsored Candidates
PhD Admission Process
In order to secure admission in PhD or research programmes offered by the educational institute, aspirants need to go through the below mentioned steps:
Step 1: Visit the official website of the educational institute and go through all the details of the PhD courses offered by the institute and select the area of research that the candidate wants to pursue.
Step 2: Candidates need to keep an eye out for any admission advertisement in newspapers or visit the official website of the university to fill the application form for admission in the course of their choice. Usually the admission notification is released 4-5 months before the commencement of the course cycle.
Step 3: Next, candidates need to fill and submit their application forms for the PhD course as per the schedule shared by the educational institute. Aspirants also need to ensure that they pay the application fee on time and submit all the required documents along with their application form for PhD admissions.
Step 4: Some educational institutes also specify that candidates need to submit a research proposal along with their application form. The application form along with the research proposal is submitted at the Research Unit of the educational institute where scrutiny of the application is conducted.
Step 5: After scrutiny of the PhD course application form is complete then most of the educational institutes shortlist the names of the candidates who need to appear for the entrance exam and other admission rounds that are conducted for shortlisting aspirants for admission in PhD programmes offered by them.
Step 6: Candidates who are selected for PhD programmes on the basis of the admission rounds are then assigned supervisors/ guides for their PhD research.
PhD Course Structure
Steps that candidates need to follow when pursuing a PhD course in order to be conferred a PhD degree are listed below:
- Once candidates are selected for PhD courses offered at educational institutes they need to submit their Research Proposal along with their Research Topic.
- Then, candidates are allocated a research supervisor/ guide.
- After this candidates are provided details of the Course Work, evaluation methodology and the teaching schedule by the Research Programme Coordinator/ Guide/ Supervisor.
- While performing research work most educational institutes require aspirants to submit six month progress reports for their research work.
- Further, as a Research Student one needs to give at least two seminar presentations as part of their tenure as a Research Scholar and thereafter submit a Certificate in the prescribed format to the Research Unit.
- Next, PhD students need to publish at least one research paper in a peer reviewed/refereed Journal and also submit a Certificate in the prescribed format to the Research Unit before they submit their PhD thesis.
- Before aspirants submit their thesis, their supervisor or guide will organise a Pre-submission Seminar. This seminar will be open to all. As part of this seminar a report will be submitted which will include suggestions for improvement and the supervisor would ensure that candidates incorporate all these suggestions in the final thesis.
- Candidates then need to incorporate all the changes and submit a summary of their thesis to their supervisor or guide at least 45 days before the submission of the thesis.
- Finally, candidates need to submit their thesis in hard copy as well as soft copy. This thesis will be examined by external experts. In case any expert suggests any modifications in the research paper submitted by the candidate then he/ she needs to re-submit a modified thesis.
- Next, a viva-voce is conducted wherein candidates can openly defend their thesis and present their point of view before a panel of experts.
- Candidates who complete all these steps to perfection would only be conferred a PhD degree.