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Does an IIT PhD add no value?

According to placement trends, it doesn’t!

Year after year, the IITs observe that PhD students receive not only a far lower median pay package during the placement season, but also a far lower rate of placement. IIT-B has explicitly released statements attesting to the fact: in the academic year 2011-12, while 78% of students from a particular bachelor’s course had received placement, the figure for the PhD students was at a dismal 14%.

According to an IIT Bombay report, MTech and PhD graduates in India receive a lower average salary than their BTech counterparts, a trend that is exactly the opposite of what occurs in US, and most other advanced nations.

A probable cause for such a scenario is this: while there is a high demand for a BTech level of skills, the demand for the higher, more specialized and research-oriented skills that an MTech or a PhD imparts, is much lower. Consequently, the PhDs get lower pay despite a far greater level of specialization.

What do you think? Why are the PhDs so much worse off in terms of jobs?

How do you think that this impacts the high-tech sector in the country?

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14 Comments

  1. Ganesh SoniSeptember 10, 2014 at 11:07 amReply

    The basic question is why do people in India do PhD?
    Most of them do PhD for teaching jobs. Most of the the PhD’s from IIT goes for post-doc. Eventually gets in to teaching. Many of them goes in to teaching in India.
    So, although they apply for the placements in IIT, very few relay on the jobs from the placement sessions.
    Most of the PhD’s already have jobs before submission of thesis.

  2. DeepakSeptember 10, 2014 at 2:38 pmReply

    It is because B.Techs go into these software companies and the work they do there have no relation with what they learnt in their 4 years of B.Tech. Once they realize this, they start preparing for GATE and other engineering entrance exams to return back to their field.
    M.Techs and PhDs are fixed in a particular field of study, they prefer only a certain jobs, they may go for a higher education or go into teaching or research fields.

  3. Sunny PatelSeptember 10, 2014 at 3:47 pmReply

    people always receive based on what they can give. IIT B.Tech. students are really knowing the fundamental concepts and they are much positive and excited to work and deliver to the company. Now IIT Phd students what i noticed in last two years that they have just lost the optimism and excitement in work. They also have limited themselves in the area that they want to work.

  4. Gopikrishna RSeptember 30, 2014 at 10:29 amReply

    I think btechs from iits are valued because of their intellect. They get into iit by qualifying in IITJEE , which is considered one of the toughest exams in the world. Whereas PhDs in iit get in via GATE or other exams. The companys that come for placements blindly believe that btech iitians have high IQ which mostly is the case. While PhDs have some area of expertise, btech iitians are believed to have capabilities to take up any job given. A btech naval architecture grad from iit is believed to be able to manage a software or a consultant job while the same does not go with PhDs from iits.

    • zerothMarch 22, 2015 at 8:16 amReply

      Well, apparently I have a bachelor’s and master’s in two different fields, and projects in things unrelated to my bachelor’s and master’s. That still doesn’t seem to convince “industry” that I can “do anything”. So that isn’t what the industry is thinking, it’s just that industry….has no idea.

  5. Ravi GilaniOctober 1, 2014 at 4:29 pmReply

    This is no surprise at all.

    Just find out who are the students that enrol in M Tech & Phd programmes at IIT?

    Very few would be graduates from IITs.

    Most M Tech & Phd students from non IIT universities enrol for these programmes to get IIT brand on their resume.

    The reason for B Tech from IITs or MBA from IIMs get good salary and high placement salaries is the tough screening to get admission – the Joint Entrance Examination!

    These students would have done very well through IITs or non IITs!

    The assumption that IIT label will get good placement is erroneous

  6. Asish KumarOctober 3, 2014 at 10:54 amReply

    Hello,
    M Tech /Ph D program must be linked with Industry. They should work with Business Domain leader. Research paper must be aligned with industry needs. In USA , Research Publication is being used by Industry Innovation Team for product development. There should be a provision for Industry Expert to connect with Institution on research project . They should take suggestion on Research topics from industry leaders.

  7. RadhakrishnaOctober 3, 2014 at 2:44 pmReply

    I agree that the demand for specialized and research oriented skill is less in India. Most B Techs get into jobs that require less or no research work. They are software, finance, marketing and so on. I found that a number of PhDs go abroad and are better placed there.
    Another reason could be that most of the PhD research work is highly theoretical or computer based, with little application value and little monetisation value. During the last part of the nineties, the research grant for a PhD scholar was Rs.30000/- which left scholars no choice but to go for theoretical rather than experimental or product development work ! Ascholar working with a Professor who had consultancy or project work sponsored by industry could expect more financial support. But the IIT-Industry relationship is dismal and there is a chasm between the two which does not seem to be closing !!
    The Govt sector does not differentiate between B Tech and M Tech graduates at the entry level. PhDs get one post higher. No weightage is given to a PhD during assessment for promotions. If an officer gets a PhD while serving, he may or may not get a one time incentive of Rs.10000/- !!!

    Still we do research for a PhD cos we simply want to !

  8. RohitOctober 6, 2014 at 8:04 pmReply

    My previous organization once offered IIT PhDs the same salary as GETs. They were getting much higher pay as faculty at Engineering Colleges. It took us 3 months to finally convince HR about the value they would bring to the organization, but it was too late to get them on board, as they had taken up other options.

  9. Harish M. DalalOctober 10, 2014 at 7:45 pmReply

    My understanding of a PhD is a degree based on work that adds to the knowledge base. None of the PhD thesis I have read since being in India for the last 3 years meet this criteria. They have been mostly data compilation. Many even lacking reasonable analysis or rationalization of the data.
    The requirement that a faculty needs to have a PhD to get a promotion is aggravating this situation. A person with a PhD is not necessarily a good teacher. Just as everyone with a driver’s license is not a good driver, fit to be a race driver. It would be a big help if promotion in academics can be dissociated from promotions in the teaching profession.

  10. Ravi P. ReddyOctober 11, 2014 at 10:26 amReply

    [1] The insistence from regulatory bodies like AICTE that Ph.D. is a must to become Principals and Senior Professors is putting a lot of pressure on the IITs and other colleges to “produce” Ph.D.s. This leads to a dilution of standards.
    [2] The quality of research being submitted for a Ph.D. is much lower than the comparative standards in the USA and other countries. I have seen many PhD dissertations in India which will barely qualify for a Master’s thesis in the US.
    [3] Many of the students are opting for a PhD as a last resort after not getting jobs anywhere. So their motivation for quality work is suspect from day one.
    [4] Then there are these QIP doctoral candidates who come from government colleges and the IIT guide is obliged to “gift” a PhD to such candidates. In most cases, the work of some other students is assembled and presented as the dissertation of these QIP candidates.

  11. Trivikram KrishnamurthyOctober 13, 2014 at 11:09 pmReply

    That is because for the B.Tech program, IIT should be renamed “Indian University”. Students join IIT for B.Tech for the stamp, not to learn about technology. After finishing. they move on to do what they wanted to do anyway and the industry in India knows that as well.

    Second, I am not really sure what the quality of the PhD program in IIT is. In my field (computer science, computer engineering), I hardly see papers/publications from students in reputed conferences. I believe part of the problem is travel funding, but I think there are many other problems as well. There is a dire need for change here.

    Third, the programs have not really evolved, if the B.Tech curriculum is any yardstick. It is more or less the same as when I went through it 20 years ago. For example, in Electrical Engineering one could safely do away with many topics making way for more current topics in VLSI, device physics, logic synthesis, CAD etc. The curriculum is really a reflection of how state of the art the research is. All this talk about industry/entrepreneurial links is fine, but none of this is going to be possible without government intervention. Can’t simply rely on private industry to pull things out of a bad situation for the IIT PhD programs.

    Government must intervene and channel efforts into an ambitious national agenda that benefits Indians long term. Some examples – an Indian company that builds its own microprocessors competing with Intel/AMD/ARM, an Indian aviation company that competes with Boeing in the commercial airliner space, an Indian Operating Systems company that gives Microsoft and Apple a run for their money. It is all possible, just need the will.

    As an NRI living in the US, I would be delighted to serve my country in a role that makes the best use of my skills and experience. But unfortunately, I am in no position to do anything other than comment on boards like this one.

    Trivikram.
    BTEE Graduated 1996.

  12. jayantFebruary 22, 2015 at 9:42 pmReply

    no one joins PhD keeping the financial aspect in view. One can only continue with his PhD if he has a hunger to learn (not earn). The monetary benefits are secondary.
    And regarding the Brand…Dr.kalam , Dr.CNR Rao are not IIT grads. Dr.Rao is an PhD from IIT kanpur , so don’t talk about the intellect of any one. No one does it for brand , they do it because they love it.You donot need a brand to prove yourself. IITs Is not a brand every person comming out from an IIT’S has increased its brand value.
    And if people doing Mtech and PhDs think in a way common people think. There will be no Faculty at IIT’s .

  13. peterparkerMarch 17, 2015 at 7:15 amReply

    It is a disgrace that diploma of an institution is glorified, and not the graduate and post doctoral course work.

    Cannot blame people of India, as they always look out for short cuts.

    IIT is no longer a place of intellect now. Majority of people flocking to IIT now days are from small towns, belong to baniya/jain/marwari communities, and they, as we all know, never had genes of research and knowledge works. The only works in which these people have excelled was the work of trading and money.

    This is the reason that why IIT now days gets symbolized as a place of money making.

    But is IIT a trade school? As far as I know, it is a proper institution, and not a place of vocational education.

    So either they system must be scrapped, so that elite class/caste can get into top notch university, or, make the IIT system private, where elitists can go.

    Society must never ever be ruled by low classes or mercenary classes. They don’t have intellect.

    Intellect is elitist.

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