Should I go for M.Tech or MS or direct Ph.D?

After GATE exam, one can take admission to M.Tech/ME programs offered by IITs, IISc, and Govt/Centralized/Deemed Universities. But these days, many programs such as MS [Masters of Science in Engineering – by Research], M.Tech [Master of Technology – by Research], D.PhD [Direct Ph.D.] are offered by many IITs and IISc apart from their regular M.Tech programs. The structure, criteria and eligibility of these programs is slightly different from a regular M.Tech program. In this post, I would like to make clear the admission process, differences, pros and cons between these programs in brief.

Regular M.Tech Program

The most common program which is offered after GATE is M.Tech/ME in Engineering. This program is well structured, organized and definite timed base course. Student has to complete the minimum requirement of core courses offered by the department and the elective courses (can be from the same department or other department also) with minimum grade requirement.
This program is a 2 year course and under some adverse condition it can be extended for another 6 months (who fails to fulfill the minimum requirements for completing ME/M.Tech).
Mostly, the first year consists of coursework and second year is for the project and thesis. By the end of the fourth semester, the student has to submit a project report and/or thesis as per the department/institute stated guidelines.

Admission Process

The admission process is very straight forward. It is solely based on the GATE score only. There are many departments which allow for cross GATE score (for example, a student with GATE Mechanical Engineering (ME) can apply to Aerospace department for their M.Tech Aerospace Engineering program).
Some IITs may ask for additional suitability test and/or interview for cross GATE scores. There are some M.Tech programs which might require additional requirements of written test and/or interview.

Master of Science (in Engineering – by Research) / M.Tech (by Research)

MS in Engineering - by research is offered by IITM, IITK, IITKGP, IITD and M.Tech - by research is offered by IITB and IISc. The concept and the structure of both the courses is almost similar. These programs are like mini-Ph.D program where a student is focused on a particular area of research of his/her own interest.

Student is provided a Guide/Research Advisor (who will play a critical role during the whole program) as per his research interest and the requirement of the lab. The important point to remember is that the research interest of student as well as advisor should match so that at any point of time advisor can provide the guidance.

After selecting the advisor student undergoes general courses which are consistent with the research theme of the lab and student interest. The course work, literature review and problem definition is completed mostly within 2-3 semesters. The completion of research for the defined problem may take around 1.5 - 2 years after completing the coursework. The minimum criteria such as publication in peer review journals, national/international conferences as per advisor and IIT should be fulfilled for the successful completion of MS/M.Tech program by research.

Advantages

  1. This helps in developing problem solving capability on the cutting edge technologies.
  2. You would be working on the real time problem/project or futuristic problem/project.
  3. This will help you to develop the skills required for research-oriented jobs in labs and industries. You will be directly part of a scientific community where there will be a contribution from your end for the benefit of the society directly or indirectly in some way.
  4. The best advantage of these programs is that even with a lower GATE score, one can expect a call from IITs for admission.
  5. This will give you an essence/taste of a research program (such as Ph.D) at very early stage of your life which can help you to mould your career either in research field, academia or into industrial/service jobs accordingly.
  6. You can convert your MS program into Direct Ph.D. programs at any time during the course upon fulfilling the minimum criteria required to do so. This may help you in saving time if you intend to pursue Ph.D. after MS/M.Tech.
  7. You also get a chance for attending a fully funded national and international conference once during your stay at the institute.

Disadvantages

  1. These research programmes are independent of time. On an average, it takes around 3 years.
  2. You will be master of a particular subject or research area while a regular M.Tech student would have a broad and a generalized view about many areas as they undergo many graduate level courses in short period of time (2 years).

Admission Process

The admission process to these research-based Master programs is different from the regular M.Tech admission process.
The candidates are shortlisted for a written test and/or interview on the basis of GATE score with additional requirements such as BE/B.Tech score, projects, professional skills like programming, industrial software tools, projects done during BE/B.Tech etc.
The general rule is 70:30 weightage for interview and GATE score respectively.

Direct Ph.D. Program

The program is almost similar to the MS program with additional requirements such as 2-3 peer review publications with additional participation in national/international conferences (these requirements vary from advisor to advisor and institutes).

Admission process is also similar to the MS program. On an average duration of direct PhD program is about 5-6 years.

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In a nutshell, if you are looking for any direct job after your post graduation, then M.Tech will be a good choice.
If you are looking for a career in Research, then MS will give you a solid foundation. After MS from IITs, one can get fully funded Ph.D. in many foreign universities.

Doesn't mean that one doesn't get a job after MS. I got one.

This post is written by Darshak Bhuptani and is reproduced from his blog http://makeitpossiblenow.blogspot.in/. You can follow his blog for regular motivational, inspiring and informative articles about GATE, and life in general.
Darshak Bhuptani
Darshak did his B.Tech in Aerospace Engg, MS (by research) in Fluid Mechanics from IIT Madras and now works at Ebara Corporation, Japan. He was a gateing student for GATE 2014 and is now an active Team Gateing member. He also runs his blog at http://makeitpossiblenow.blogspot.in/