PhD Study in India | Important Facts | Top Universities | Structure | Types | Publication Requirements | Fees | Admission | Funding

Indian universities are fast becoming destinations of higher studies including doctoral and post doctoral research not only for Indian Students abut also for foreign candidates. The growth of the Indian Institutes for higher education has shown exponential growth in the past few years which is going to continue for years to come. Be it industry exposure, facilities or cutting-edge technologies these institutes are well equipped to build a bright career through PhD. However, in order to do PhD in India, aspirants must be aware of the best ways to select the right university.

PhD is very vast field and numerous courses are there to do your PhD and in order to enrol you need to appear ‘course and field-specific’ entrance exams. You can also opt from two types of PhD – Regular or Integrated. Those interested in regular PhD after masters, can take the exams like UGC NET JRF, GATE JRF, TIFR, CSIR NET JRF, etc., depending upon the field of study and choice of institutions. To do an Integrated PhD one can opt for the same after graduation by clearing tests like IIT JAM Exam, GATE, etc. to get into the best PhD universities in India.

PhD Study in India – Important facts

  • Universities –  868
  • No of Nobel Prizes winners – 12
  • No of International Students – 47,424
  • PhD duration – 3-5 years
  • Representative Fees – 75000- 4,50000 INR – (USD $1,000-6,000)
  • Academic Year – July to May

University types

There are five different varieties of university with the potential to offer PhD programmes in India. In most cases the distinction between these groups concerns the way in which they are established and administered.

The Indian higher education system is made up of the following:

In India there are 47 Central Universities, which are administered by the Indian Government through its Department of Higher Education and have India’s oldest research and specialised institutions. Besides, there are 390 State Universities established and governed by respective states. In addition to this India today has 307 Private Universities set up and accredited by different states, but funded by private organisations. These institutes focus more on international curriculum. That said, the country also boasts of 124 Deemed to be Universities which includes a wide range of institutions that weren’t set up as universities, but are currently recognised as having university-level expertise in certain subjects and may carry out associated research and teaching. Finally there are 138 Institutes of National Importance which are India’s leading centres for teaching, scholarship and research. They carry out strategic academic and professional objectives and are highly specialised and are organised into appropriate networks based on the subjects they pursue. All these institutes are established or recognised by a specific act of parliament. As is obvious, these INIs are India’s highest ranked and most internationally well-known institutes, hence best choice for a PhD study in appropriate subjects.

List of INIs

  • 23 Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) focusing on Engineering subjects and awarding PhDs in these disciplines.
  • 31 National Institutes of Technology (NITs) also focusing on Engineering and also on Architecture and Management.
  • 20 Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs), premier centres for higher studies and research in Business and Management. The institutes offer postgraduate degrees, including the Fellow Programme in Management (FPM) which is equivalent to a PhD.
  • 7 Indian Institutes of Science Education and Research (IISERs) which conduct research and training in a wide gamut of scientific fields.
  • 7 National Institutes of Pharmaceutical Education and Research (NIPERs) focussing on Pharmacy, Pharmacology and related Chemical Sciences.
  • 7 All India Institutes of Medical Sciences (AIIMs) focussing on professional training and qualification in Medicine and other Health Sciences.
  • 3 Schools of Planning and Architecture (SPAs) focussing on professional training and research in Architecture.

How to choose a university for PhD?

In order to choose a university you must know about the institute’s raking, especially in QS Top Universities World Ranking. Factors on which rankings are given to PhD universities in India are –

  • Academic Reputation
  • Employer Reputation
  • Faculty/Student Ratio
  • Number of Faculty with a PhD
  • Research Papers Per Faculty
  • Research Citations Per Faculty
  • Number of International Faculty
  • Number of International Students

List of Top 10 Universities in India for PhD

Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Bombay

When it comes to Academic Reputation and Employer Reputation, IIT Bombay is number one among all PhD universities in India. It ranked 172 as per the QS World Ranking 2019. Moreover, the institute was ranked 8th among the BRICS nations. IITB also secured 34th position in Asian University Ranking.

Indian Institute of Science (IISc) Bangalore

The Indian Institute of Science is at 185th position in the Best PhD universities by QS Global Rank and, QS WUR by Subject Ranking #51-100. Moreover, it was placed 10th Rank among universities in BRICS nations by a scoring perfect scores in indices like Staff with PhD and Papers per Faculty. IISc also holds 51 rank in list of Asian University Ranking.

Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Delhi

IIT Delhi is ranked 3rd among the PhD universities in India and is at 193rd position in the Best PhD universities by QS Global Rank. IITD secured second-highest marks after IITB in Academic Reputation and Employer Reputation. IIT Delhi also holds 8th rank among the universities in BRICS nations and 43rd in Asian University Ranking.

Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Madras

IIT Madras holds a joint rank of 275 in the Best PhD universities by QS Global Rank, and 4th among the Top 10 PhD universities in India. IIT Madras also holds 17th rank among the universities in BRICS nations and 50th in Asian University Ranking.

Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Kharagpur

Scoring the highest scores in International Faculty Factor, IIT Kharagpur, holds a joint rank of 314 in the Best PhD universities by QS Global Rank, and 5th among the Top 10 PhD universities in India. IIT Kharagpur also holds 23rd rank among the universities in BRICS nations and 56th in Asian University Ranking

Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Kanpur

IIT Kanpur holds a rank of 350 in the Best PhD universities by QS Global Rank, and 6th among the Top 10 PhD universities in India. The institute also secured a perfect score in Staff with a PhD factor. Moreover, IIT Kanpur is placed in the 4th position in Paper Per Faculty factor and in the 5th position in Academic Reputation factor scores. IIT Kanpur also holds 25th rank among the universities in BRICS nations and 65th in Asian University Ranking.

University of Delhi (UOD)

A non-IIT university, Delhi University is ranked 7th among the Top 10 PhD universities in India. The University has maintained its position at the top in the country as per the Centre for World University Ranking (CWUR) ranking and is 8th in the National Institutional Ranking Framework. It is also among the top 10 Indian public educational institutions/universities and the first among Indian public universities under QS BRICS University Rankings. The h-index of the University touched 192, one of the highest among Indian universities.

 The University of Delhi has been ranked 474 in QS World University Rankings 2020, 1st position among the top 25 Central Universities and 8th among top 100 universities by Outlook-ICARE India University Rankings 2019.

University of Hyderabad (UOH)

Another non-IIT university to make it to the Best PhD universities in India is the University of Hyderabad. The University enjoys a global rank between 651 and 700. The University has been ranked the 4th best in the country in 2019 by the National Institute Ranking Framework. UoH is ranked in the range of 591-600 in the World by QS Rankings 2019. In the 2019 edition, the UoH performed among the top 59% in the QS World University Rankings. The University has also been rated by the NISSAT of the DSIR, Government of India, as the only University under the ‘High Output – High Impact’ category among the top 50 institutions in India with publications in citation – index journals.

Indian Institute of Technology, Roorkee

IIT Roorkee is the oldest technical institute in Asia, and ranks 9th among the PhD universities in India. IIT Roorkee scored highest marks in the top 10 for the factor of International Students Indicator. The institute enjoys a global rank of 383, BRICS rank of 47 and Asian University Ranking 90.

Indian Institute of Technology, Guwahati

 IIT Guwahati has secured perfect score as per the Staff with PhD factor and is 10th among PhD universities in the country. IIT Guwahati is globally known for the campus and state of the art infrastructure. The institute enjoys a QS World University Ranking of 470, BRICS rank of 48 and Asian University Ranking 112.

Other Institutes of Repute for PhD –

  1. Indian Institute Of Management Ahmedabad ( IIMA) , Ahmedabad
  2. National Law School Of India University ( NLSIU) , Bangalore
  3. Indian Institute Of Management ( IIMB) , Bangalore
  4. National Law University ( NLU) , Delhi
  5. Bombay College Of Pharmacy ( BCP) , Kalyan
  6. National Law Institute University ( NLIU) , Bhopal
  7. Jawaharlal Institute Of Postgraduate Medical Education & Research ( JIPMER) , Puducherry
  8. Indian Institute Of Technology ( IIT BHU) , Varanasi
  9. Faculty Of Management Studies ( FMS) , Delhi
  10. Indian Institute of Management ( IIM Kozhikode) , Kozhikode
  11. Gujarat National Law University ( GNLU) , Gandhinagar
  12. Lovely Professional University ( LPU) , Phagwara
  13. O.P. Jindal Global University ( JGU) , Sonepat
  14. National Law University ( NLU) , Jodhpur
  15. Birla Institute Of Technology And Science ( BITS Pilani) , Pilani
  16. Amity University, Lucknow ( AU Lucknow) , Lucknow
  17. Sri Ramachandra Medical College & Research Institute ( SRMCRI) , Chennai
  18. Banaras Hindu University ( BHU, Varanasi) , Varanasi
  19. National Institute Of Industrial Engineering ( NITIE) , Mumbai
  20. International Institute Of Information Technology ( IIIT) , Hyderabad

PhD structure

The Indian PhD is an advanced research qualification, designed for students who have already completed undergraduate and postgraduate programs. Indian universities demands specialisation in particular subjects at a postgraduate level in PhD candidates.

Doctoral students independently research original topics with support from supervisor/s who is normally an academic at the university with relevant expertise and experience. At the end of the program the scholars submit a thesis describing the research activities and results.

Types of PhD

The universities in India award a standard PhD as an academic research doctorate. However, certain institutes also provide other qualifications, including more specialised doctorates, like –

Fellow Programme in Management (FPM) – this is a PhD-equivalents qualification typically offered by Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) and may include professional training, compared to a Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) degree. Programmes usually last for up to five years.

Doctorate in Pharmacy (Pharm D) – this is a specialised professional qualification generally attained in six years.

Master of Philosophy (MPhil) – this is a shorter academic research qualification attained in one to two years and is also offered in UK and other countries.

PhD programmes

Indian universities establish doctoral programmes in which the postgraduate students receive extra training and support while carrying out their research. In State Universities, these are organised by local affiliated colleges. However, the Institutions of National Importance mostly run single doctoral programme within which all scholars work on related topics.

PhD programmes start with a coursework phase which provides the specialised subject knowledge and research skills a scholar requires to do independent research. The coursework is usually be completed in first year after which candidates are required to prepare a synopsis of the project and will be assigned a supervisor to guide in the research. From this point on the scholar will work more and more independently, doing his/her research and collating results on which to build the thesis.

Assessment and examination

The main criterion for the award of an Indian PhD is the quality of the doctoral thesis you produce at the end of your degree.

You will first submit your thesis internally. This can be a more significant stage in India than elsewhere. Multiple faculty members will often be involved and these may request corrections and resubmissions before allowing a student to proceed to their external examination.

Once your university is satisfied, your thesis will be orally examined by one or more external examiners. In India this is known as the ‘Open Defence’. The title is appropriate as these examinations usually take place in a ceremonial setting and in front of an audience including your fellow students, faculty, family and friends.

Don’t be put off by the prospect of being examined ‘live’ in this way: The Open Defence is a well-deserved opportunity to take pride in your work and the expertise it has produced.

Publication requirements

In addition to completing your thesis itself, you may be expected to have produced a peer-reviewed publication before your doctorate can be awarded. This may seem daunting to a new or prospective student, but you’ll soon find that you’re already producing work of a high standard as part of researching your doctoral thesis.

Your faculty will probably maintain a list of the journals it regards as being acceptable and your supervisor will be able to advise you on the preparation of your research for publication.


There is no fixed fee for PhD study at Indian universities, but State and Central Universities are always cheaper than Private ones. Other costs include registration and application fee and fee for PhD examination. All these are minor expenses, but it’s better to check in advance and confirm exactly how much you’ll be have to pay.

Application and admission process

PhD applications are known to be very competitive and each university offers a specific number of positions on its PhD programmes every year. The admission process includes entrance examinations, interviews and research proposal assessment. While some institutions manage the process themselves, most follow the general rules.

PhD notifications are published byuniversities to announce the number of places it has for PhD programmes. Notifications for the next academic year are published on university websites in the previous autumn. Once you send application to a PhD notification, the university will start assessing your suitability for doctoral work. PhD applicants in India are normally required to complete a Research Eligibility Test (RET), a written exam that confirms that the candidate has necessary subject knowledge and expertise to do advanced research in the chosen discipline. RET will be specific to the candidate’s university and programme. It is important to check the requirements and process for RET before applying.

Following a good RET performance, a candidate is will have to face a PhD interview the date of which the university will publish as a formal part of its PhD admissions round. The interview will be about assessing the aspirant’s interests and experience and about establishing his/her suitability as candidate for the programme.

The university will verify application documents like certificates and transcripts related to your existing qualifications, as well as other relevant documents and materials. All requirements will be communicated to the candidate along with the interview details.

Academic qualifications, RET score and interview performance will confirm the suitably of a candidate for being enrolled on a PhD programme. Universities that want to check details of the topic you plan to explore during PhD and will ask for a research proposal. This may be a separate stage in your application, or it may be part of your interview process. Again, you should check your university’s requirements.

The minimum requirement for entry to an PhD is a Masters degree in a relevant subject, usually with an overall grade of at least 55% (or the equivalent). English is the official language used for teaching at most of its universities, while some specialised universities also teach in Hindi, Urdu or other Indian languages.


Availability of scholarships and fellowships for PhD is maintained by University Grants Commission and one can check them on UGC’s website. Most universities also have individual scholarships and fee waivers for eligible students.

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