Some Indian universities use admissions portals to help manage their applications. Others will accept direct applications, or advertise specific opportunities.
To be eligible to study a PhD in India, you have to have a Masters degree in a relevant subject, usually with an overall grade of at least 55% (or the equivalent).
Candidates will also be expected to have the necessary language skills for their course. English is one of India's official languages and is used for teaching at most of its universities/ However, some specialised universities will teach in Hindi, Urdu or other Indian languages.
There is no age limit for doing a PhD in India. Most PhDs take between three and five years to complete so it's worth considering what you want to do after completing your degree.
In July 2022, the UK and Indian governments signed a mutual agreement to formally recognise eachother's higher education qualifications. This means that if you studied your Masters degree in the UK, it will automatically be recognised as the equivalent of an Indian Masters (and vice-versa!) This should make the application process easier for UK students looking to do a PhD in India.
The Indian PhD application process
Indian PhD applications are usually competitive. Each university will have a specific number of places available on its PhD programmes each year and will use a system of entrance examinations, interviews and research proposal assessment to select the best candidates.
Individual institutions are free to manage this process themselves, but most will follow the same general steps.
First, the university will establish how many places it has available for its PhD programmes. These places are then published as a 'notification' for that round of PhD admissions.
Notifications for the next academic year will usually be published in the previous Autumn. You can find them by searching university websites. You can also check the opportunities listed here on FindAPhD.
The Research Eligibility Test (RET)
Once you have responded to its PhD notification, your prospective university will begin to assess your suitability for doctoral work.
PhD applicants in India are normally required to complete a Research Eligibility Test (RET): this is a written exam confirming that you have the necessary subject knowledge and expertise to carry out advanced research in your chosen discipline.
The content of the RET will be specific to your university and programme. In some cases universities will use relevant examination material from its own Masters degrees (as this is the level you should be working at as a PhD student).
You check the requirements and process for your RET before you begin your application. It may be the case that you are required to attend a physical exam in India (along with other students). Your university should be able to tell you if it makes any alternative arrangements for international students.
The next step (after a satisfactory RET performance) is to attend a PhD interview. Your university will normally publish details of candidates invited to interview as a formal part of its PhD admissions round.
The most important part of your interview day will be the interview itself, during which you will answer questions about your interests and experience and (hopefully) demonstrate that you are a suitable candidate for its programme.
The university will also use this opportunity to check and assess your application documents. You will normally be asked to bring certificates and transcripts related to your existing qualifications, as well as other materials related to your application. The exact requirements will be published along with your interview details.