Disclaimer: I’m an engineer turned Physicist, so, all the information I’ve written is from what I found on the Internet or by speaking with people who have given those exams, to whom I’m forever indebted. Also special thanks to my 3 roomies for lending me their laptops to do this thing wherever I needed them.
I’d like to start off by classifying exams into groups rather than viewing them individually, I’d strongly recommend readers to do the same, otherwise might lead to confusion-given the huge number of exams one can give.
The mathematics entrance exams can be divided into two categories broadly based on the education level of the students they’re designed for, BSc level and MSc level. Do read the blog post [How to do MSc Maths after B.Tech/B.E?] below to find out all the exams we can give.
Here I’ll be classifying and analyzing all of them to see which of them suits whom.
BSc Level Exams
- TIFR-GS (I-PhD)
- Maths GRE
- ISI admission test
- MSc Entrance tests for universities like HCU, LMNIIT, DU, JNU, Pune University, and many others mentioned in the blog post above
MSc Level Exams
These exams are Screening tests for MSc grads to enter a Ph.D.
- CMI Ph.D. entrance test
- A few other tests mentioned in the blog post above
Things to consider
- No.of Institutes accepting the Exam: This, to me is the most important factor. In this post How to do MSc Maths after B.Tech/B.E?, I have listed all the exams one can give and the institutes that admit through those exams.
- Of all the BSc level exams, JAM can get you into a maximum number of institutes like IITs and IISERs (But there is a lot of confusion about eligibility in IITs, read this post on ambiguity in Eligibility for admission in IITs through JAM to know more).
- And from the MSc level exams, NET can get you into a maximum number of institutes, which of course is much lesser than JAM.
- Stipend & Scholarships: All I-PhD programs and Ph.D. programs provide you with a monthly stipend of Rs 31,000. On the other hand, most MSc programs don’t provide you with a stipend. However, they provide scholarships for the economically weak
Ph.D. and I-PhD programs
- Through NET and other MSc level exams you’ll be mostly entering IPhd programs or Ph.D. programs. Hence, you’ll be provided with a stipend. For I-PhD programs it’ll be Rs 16,000 per month for the first year, then it’ll be enhanced to Rs 31,000 per month as a normal Ph.D. student. If you are economically struggling or if you need money for any reason then it’ll be the better option.
- Through JAM you’ll be getting mostly into MSc programs, however, there are a few I-PhD programs you can get in with JAM in IISERs where again you’ll be receiving the same amount of stipend.
There are a few MSc programs that give financial support in the form of stipends and scholarships. I’m listing all that I’m aware of (and engineers are eligible for)
- With the NBHM MSc exam, which engineers can give after joining MSc mathematics and get them a scholarship of ₹6000 per month if one clears the exam and the subsequent interview.
- ISI – ₹8000 stipend and with zero tuition fees and very less hostel fee.
- CMI – They have scholarships for almost everyone and stipend (₹6000) for a limited number of students [Details here]
- IITs – I’m told that all IITs have a scholarship scheme for the economically weak. The amount varies from institute to institute and they also require the concerning candidate to maintain some minimum GPA(or percentage) specified by the institute to avail the scholarship. For details do check the websites of corresponding IIT.
- other universities like JNU, HCU, Pune Univ, and other ones mentioned in the blog post will have their own scholarship schemes based on economic conditions and merit.
- Duration: Doing a Direct Ph.D. will save the two years by skipping the time of doing an MSc. An I-Phd will save a year.
- Difficulty level of exam: BSc level exams are obviously easier than MSc exams as the syllabus to be covered is much lesser.
- No.of seats: Through Jam this year people of rank around 500 also got into new IITs (They are not comparable to old ones, but still they are fine to do our first Mathematics degree) the other universities offering MSc also have good amount seats as compared to the no.of Ph.D. seats. On the other hand, less than 400 people qualify CSIR-NET and there will be an additional round of interviews. You check here in this list that most people who made it to physics(not maths) after engineering from our community have made it through BSc level exams(JAM in particular).
- Going abroad: If you wish to go abroad at some point(which I highly recommend) then you need to wait until Post doc if you get into I-PhD or a Ph.D. program. But if you do an MSc program and build a good research profile with Internships (additionally publishing a paper will be extremely helpful) you can go abroad for Ph.D. right after MSc.
- Choosing a research field: If you join an MSc course, during your two years of learning different subjects of Mathematics, you’ll get an idea about which sub-stream to choose to pursue your Ph.D. in, but in an I-PhD, after the initial coursework for 2 years, you’ll have to do your Ph.D. in the same institute only, and that institute may or may not have people working on the topic of your interest. Since engineers won’t be much knowledgable about the various research fields, it’d be better if we decide it on-the-go while doing coursework. Even with people who already have an inclination towards a specific field, It sometimes happens that they find that this is not the right fit for them or they may find some more interesting when they’re exposed to more number of streams during the course. It is to be noted that though some institutes let you quit an integrated Ph.D. in the middle and leave with a master’s degree, and it’s usually not followed for some reason.
- Interviews: All the I-PhD and Ph.D. programs will require you to crack the Interview while MSc entrance exams don’t.
In praise of JAM
- JAM – from the pool of BSc level exams
- CSIR-NET – from that of MSc level exams