Sunday, 21 August 2016

MS by Research in India - an overview and comparison

Usually whenever we come across M.S. degree, we believe that it's a foreign course offered abroad for admission to masters. But, it's not a big surprise that even indian institutes are offering MS degree especially in some IITs. While both MS and M.Tech are masters programs, both have different course structures and differ a lot. I will try to give my views about the difference and advantages of MS over M.Tech as well as MS degree in abroad in this post. I'm currently pursuing MS (Research in Robotics) in Engineering Design department of IIT Madras and I've seen through the way MTech is compared with MS. So, I believe I can give better judgement in this regard. In fact, I'm enjoying this and I'm sure I might not have enjoyed much if I were to join any MTech course!

First thing to note is; MS is a Research based program and is basically meant to act as a platform to strengthen ones research skills and make one ready for their doctors (PhD). I can say it's like a mini PhD, just like you have minor projects in your B.E./B.Tech final years. MTech is more like a course program, an extension to BTech course, with more concern towards industry and career progress. You might have already known about the way B.Tech (or any UG course) structure is, it's more of book study with of-course some workshops and practicals, but it will just give an overview of several fields related to a particular stream and will not allow one to do extensive study on a particular topic, which is what one does in MS/PhD. I feel, because of overview-kind of study in India, we are seeing less specialized persons (what we call experts in that filed). In Research, one identifies/takes a problem related to a field/stream and works on various aspects of that. 

So, it's like working on a specific topic of interest with some output/result at the end. I believe this way is much better than getting overview of subjects, we are in masters stage, and we still don't have to go through the overview kind of study which we can do by self-study. In fact, the biggest difference to mention between MS abroad and M.Tech in India is the structure that has been followed. MS courses in Europe and other counties (not including India) are industry related and deal with a specific filed of study, such that once the course is over, they can choose career related to that specific field. While it seems like having diverse knowledge is good, but it turns out at the end of the day that the student lacks in grip over a particular field or area of work. In other words, the study goes in theoretical context. So, I think MS in India will act as a kick starter to open up ones application/research capabilities, suitable for ones growth. 

The other important disadvantage of doing MS abroad is funding and admission fees. Colleges fees (especially in US) are pretty high and funding/scholarships are not that easy to get, unless you hail from a rich family. I came across many IIT (Btech) guys whom got abroad opportunities/admissions but they didn't prefer to go, just because they couldn't get funding (even in Europe). Instead they spent some time waiting to get a direct PhD offers, which is funded sufficiently. Yes, PhD in abroad are funded pretty descent and is a good option. After MS in India also, one can choose this option. In fact, if in case one happened to do PhD in India, then they have the chance of doing PDF (Post Doc.) abroad for a span of 6-12 months with very good stipends. So, this is also another option that you can aim.

MS by Research in India opens wide scope and opportunities to prospect students. The advantages are

  1. The student can choose a career, and can sit in placements just like MTech does with equal packages. Jobs are provided in some companies.
  2. Some IITs in India allow conversion from MS to PhD allowing the student to complete both MS and PhD in very short duration (typically 5-6 years), while PhD in abroad will itself takes 5-6 years, and MS takes 3 years.
  3. Stipend (equivalent to MTech stipend) will be provided
  4. Student can go abroad and do their Research while being affiliated to Indian institutes, through any of the exchange programs offered by the institute
  5. Student will get a broad idea of what actually Research is and will help as a stepping stone for their future research. This is especially helpful if the applicant is aiming to choose teaching (professor) as their career.  
  6. In fact, present scenario in Indian (top) IITs are different, we have adequate facilities/lab-equipment to work with, unlike in most abroad institutes where the problem of funding for any procurement exists. But I have to agree that IITs are still developing in terms of resource availability while some abroad institutes are well developed already!
  7. Period of Research is flexible (esp in IIT Madras, not sure about other IITs), usual period is 2 years, but we can extend to 3 to 3.5 years. It all depends on choosing the right adviser/guide. If you are lucky to have a good adviser (esp in India), then thing will move smoothly, otherwise there are cases where frequent cold war happens between the student and the adviser just because of attitude problems! 
  8. Good academia connect
  9. It has to be noted that there are several career restrictions after doing MS abroad (esp in US). If you are planning to land there, be careful and check the career provisions for international students in that institute  
  10. Course work in MS is less. Student have to do less subjects. Much emphasis is on Topic selection and Research. In MTech course work per sem will be more - it mean one has to take more courses, although in the second year emphasis will be given to Project which will not be to the level of MS Research most of the times. 
  11. Finally, after MS, doing PhD will be very easy, which is not the case with MTech, because the student has already undergone the stages of research, seminars, thesis making and conference/journal publishing.

Bottom line:

If you are interested in doing jobs (industry oriented career) and would like to overview courses rather than getting in depth on a topic, then go for MTech. If you have future plans of getting into academia (teaching profession), and have plans for PhD, then MS is one best option. If your family financial background is good and you want to get the honor/credit of having a degree from foreign institutes, or if you find suitable funding source for MS degree, then you may for abroad MS degrees. In either way, have plans for PhD abroad, or at least Post Doc. especially to be into academia. These are just my views. Hope you can make a decision now.

List of IITs offering MS by Research

  • IIT Madras
  • IIT Delhi 
  • IIT Kanpur
  • IIT Guwahati
  • IISc Bangalore
  • IIT Kharagpur

I'm not sure about other institutes, please check individual websites to check if they offer MS or not.


  1. Hi Bhanu. How about MS(By Research) at Anna University.

    1. If it's Anna University or any state university for that matter, it's better if you go for M.Tech rather than MS. For MS, in India, it's always good to look for IIT because of the research facilities and for better choice of a professor as your guide.

  2. Hi Bhanu,
    I am selected for MS By Research in IIIT Bangalore, according to my personal findings, the institute esp. faculties are very expereinced, most of themm are PHd. from reputed foreign universities. Research facilities also seem good. What you would like to suggest? (actually I am sure to make a career in academics and research, and could not apply to IITs due to low GATE score, got selected in IIIT B, through a separate written test+ interview, which was comparable to GATE in terms of difficulty etc. and i can't take an year drop)

    1. I’m really not sure abt the facilities and the quality of the research at IIIT’s. Sorry. One thing you can do is check professors in the department you chose and then see how many journals they are publishing, whether the journals are published in reputed papers or just some local papers, the kind of research they are doing etc. May be analyzing this might give you an idea.

  3. Hello Bhanu!
    I'm a final year student (B. Tech. in Biotechnology) at IIT Roorkee, and I plan to earn my MS degree from IIT Delhi. Though I'll be writing my GATE exam in 2018, I don't actually need to because I already have a CGPA>8.5 in my B. Tech as of now.
    My doubt is that will students like me get the MS stipend if they DO NOT write the GATE exam and only enter using their IIT CGPA?
    Your help will be really appreciated. Thanks a lot!

    1. I believe, if you joining under regular category (HTRA), then yes you will be given the stipend regardless of GATE. Anyway please check IITD website for more details. Also, as far as I've experienced, IITM is good choice for reserach is good here. Again, it depends on the lab u choose. Just a suggestion. Gud luk