Monday, April 28, 2008

Why should I get a Master's degree as well...

There is a recent proposal made by Students' Post Graduate Committee (SPGC) Chairman, Dr V.K. Gupta. The proposal is exploring a possibility to award ME/MTech degree to the persons who converted their MTech into PhD during their 3rd semester at IIT Kanpur.


Please let me first tell about myself. I did BE (Mech) from BIT-Durg in 2002 with 76% marks; qualified GATE-2002 as well as GATE-2005. After about 5 years of work experience with NPCIL, I quit the organization & joined PhD at IME Dept, IIT Kanpur in winter session of 2006.

So the two eligibility criterion namely:
· Bachelor's degree in engineering with a minimum of 75% marks / 7.5 CPI; & an exceptional academic record.
· GATE qualification (necessary for financial assistance)
were fulfilling, and hence I got the admission after a departmental Written Exam & an Interview.

In the current semester (2007-08, II) I would be completing my course requirement (of 10 courses) & would proceed to do my Comprehensive Exam & State of the Art in coming semester(s).

I hence consider myself sufficiently fit to give my comments this issue.

Now coming to the proposal, I would first like to mention some of the very specific issues which are although small, but needs to be appropriately addressed:

· They did mentioned about those students who actually took admission in MTech, but later after their 2nd Sem, converted their registration to PhD, as they met the defined criterion for such conversions. Let’s denote such students by the class ‘2A’.


There is almost a similar class of students with slight variation, who actually took admission in PhD directly after B.E / BTech (i.e. like me, who didn’t take admission in MTech but directly in PhD). Let’s denote them by class ‘2B’.


The eligibility criterion during admission for a class ‘2B’ PhD is same as that for class ‘2A’ PhD students. Also class ‘2B’ PhD students are treated in exactly the same manner as the class ‘2A’ PhD students, in terms of total credit requirements, amount of course work, scholarship etc.


The only wee difference lies in that – class ‘2A’ PhD student gets a scholarship of Rs 5000/- for his first two semesters & Rs 8000/- from his 3rd semester; while class ‘2B’ PhD student gets Rs 8000/- since inception. (The given scholarship values are pre-enhancement)


We must take care that both classes ‘2A’ as well as ‘2B’ are well covered under this scheme of award of ME/MTech to PhD students admitted with Bachelor’s degree.

· Secondly, instead of mentioning the scheme for “PhD students with BTech degree”, we can more generally call it to be “PhD students with BE / BTech degree”.

This is because under the current structure & curriculum of technical education in our country, there is absolutely no difference between these two degrees. The difference lies only as some institutes like to call their degree to be BE, while others like the same to be called BTech. There is no such line of demarcation which actually separates the two.

Now let us call the students joining PhD after Masters to be class ‘1’ & those joining PhD after Bachelors to be class ‘2’. Class ‘2’ is actually a union of sub-classes ‘2A’ & ‘2B’ discussed above, which will be treated equivalent to each other, as is treated even now.

A person who is enrolled for MTech does minimum 6 courses / 24 credits (as per the PG manual) to a maximum of 9 courses / 36 credits (in IME Dept). Also, out of these 6-9 courses (24-36 credits) they are also allowed to take one UG course, on approval of DPGC. So they do a research of minimum 28-40 credits, depending on minimum no of courses specified by their DPGC. So in short an MTech student does:
· Course work : 24-36 credits
· Research Work : 28-40 credits

Let’s see these aspects for a class ‘2’ PhD student.

He does a course work of minimum 10 courses / 40 credits in 3 semesters, by doing 4+4+2 courses in the 3 semesters. Also he is not allowed to take any UG level course, as is the case with MTech student, who can take at least 1 UG level course. In the 3rd semester he does Research work as well, for 8 credits. (During the 3 semesters, there may be other combinations of ‘no. of courses’ as well; viz. 3+3+4, 3+4+3 etc. But the point which I am emphasizing is that at the end of 3 semesters he would have done courses worth 40 credits + Research worth 8 credits.)
After the course work, he gives Comprehensive Exam in the 4th semester, gains 16 more credits. Mostly (although not necessary, but this is the normal pace for most of the students) State-of-the-Art Seminar is given in his 5th semester, he gains 16 more credits. So by the end of 5th Semester the class ‘2’ PhD student does:
· Course work : 40 credits
· Research work : 8 + 16 + 16 = 40 credits

To summerize the comparision again:


Seeing this comparison, it’s very much rational to award a Master’s degree on completion of State-of-the-Art Seminar of a class ‘B’ PhD student. Waiting till the completion of 6th semester, as given in the proposal doesn’t look justified in the light of above figures.

Regarding choosing between ME and MTech, I am for MTech, because there is not much difference between the two. Also class ‘B’ PhD student is doing as much (even more) research as an MTech guy. So it’s purely justified to award an MTech degree.

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