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The Indian higher education system has expanded at a simply phenomenal rate during the 21st Century - and it shows no sign of stopping. This rapid growth in the number of individual universities is also producing a range of PhD research opportunities, ranging from cutting-edge Science and Engineering projects to unique programmes exploring the country's own diverse history and culture.
This page provides a comprehensive and accessible introduction to PhD study in India, with information on universities, fees, funding opportunities and application requirements.
PhD opportunities in India - what's on offer for 2021?
India's rich culture and stunning geography need little introduction and are a universal part of its appeal as a visitor destination. When it comes to international study, however, there's arguably never been a better time to consider a longer-term stay as a PhD student in India.
Here are just a few reasons to consider beginning your PhD at an Indian university in 2021:
Diversity and specialisation - Whether you want to research Business Management, Bombay Cinema or Buddhist Philosophy, the scope of options for PhD study in India means there's almost certainly an excellent programme available for you.
Affordability and accessibility - PhD fees in India vary a lot, but are often surprisingly low. Meanwhile, English is widely spoken and is adopted as the language of instruction at a wide range of universities.
Increasing global recognition - University rankings have taken some time to catch up with the speed of India's higher education expansion, but this is beginning to change. Several of India's leading universities and institutes now feature in international league tables for 2021. Youth and dynamism - India's current population is one of the youngest in the world, demographically speaking. This fresh and dynamic outlook helps drive a culture of innovation and entrepreneurialism. You'll fit right in as a PhD researcher looking to develop new ideas and approaches. India's universities can also claim some impressive alumni, including the current CEOs of Microsoft (Satya Nadella) and Google (Sundar Pichai). So, in a way, they may well have helped you find this page.
India's higher education system is one of the world's biggest, with well over 850 different universities. It's also one of the most diverse, as these institutions fall into a range of different categories.
This has the potential to seem confusing, but, for prospective PhD students, the differences between individual universities (or groupings) won't generally be as important as the specific research projects and programmes they offer.
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:
47 Central Universities - As their name suggests, these are centrally administered by the Indian Government through its Department of Higher Education. This group includes some of India's oldest research universities, as well as some newer and more specialised institutions. 390 State Universities - These are set up and governed by individual Indian states and provinces. They include a wide range of institutions, many of which specialise in certain subjects.
307 Private Universities - These are also set up within (and accredited by) individual states or provinces, but are established by independent organisations. They often tend to focus more on international recruitment than Central or State ('public') universities. 124 Deemed to be Universities - This group 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. As such they may carry out associated research and teaching.
138 Institutes of National Importance - These are India's premier centres for teaching, scholarship and research. Each is established or recognised by a specific act of parliament and designated with particular specialisms and objectives. See below for more details.