The coming changes to PhD programs at India’s IIMs: Here’s what you need to know


  • All 20 IIMs can now award PhD degrees to students instead of a Fellowship Programme in Management (FPM).
  • There will be two routes to enroll in PhD programmes – a 3-year bachelor’s degree followed by a master’s program; a 4-year bachelor’s degree for a direct admission to a doctorate program with a minimum duration of 4 years.
  • IIMs have proposed a two-year PhD program, which the government has rejected.
India’s leading B-school, the Indian Institutes of Management (IIM), were recently instructed by the Indian government to revise the eligibility criteria for admission to its doctorate programmes, creating controversy about the upcoming changes. Here’s what you need to know:

Why is the government seeking changes?

The government is seeking an effective global presence for the premier business school and wants to bring them in line with other national university standards. On 23 October, the HRD Ministry wrote to all 20 business schools to allow direct entry to students with a four-year Bachelor’s degree to their PhD courses.
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But rejected the proposal asking for two-years time frame for PhD and said that the doctoral programmes can not be completed in less than three years.

Which degrees and programs are up for changes?

These changes are suggested only for PhDs. Currently, doctorate programs are offered under Fellowship Programmes in Management (FPM), which is treated as equivalent to PhD.

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It is proposed that the program should be changed to two options: a three-year program; and a four-year program.

What is the present eligibility criteria?

Currently, the criteria requires a Master’s degree/ Integrated Master’s degree before a PHD admission and CGPAs above 5.8, according to the institutes.

Anyone who has completed a four-year Bachelor’s degree with a minimum CGPA of 6.3 or equivalent professional qualification like CA/ICWA/CS with at least 5.8 CGPA can also enroll directly to the PhD programme.
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Students usually have a minimum timeline of four years to complete the programme, first two years for course work and last two for research and thesis.

What is the new eligibility criteria?

With the new changes, someone with a 4 years Bachelor’s degree can directly be admitted to the PhD programme but with a fixed duration of four years and a minimum CGPA of 8.
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Additionally, the government has mandated that all admissions to PHD using the Diploma route should be a two-year Diploma instead of one-year executive programme and the professional qualifications of CA/ICWA/CS must now also have a Bachelor's degree.

How have the IIMs reacted?

IIMs have proposed a two-year PhD duration, which the government has rejected saying that the parity among institutions should be kept in consideration and asked to stick to the University Grants Commission (UGC) norms, which state that the minimum timeline for doctorate will be three years.
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IIM- Ahmedabad Director, Erol D’Souza, recently wrote to higher education Secretary, R Subrahmanyam, opposing the proposed changes to the new diploma requirements and increased minimum CGPA. According to him, the higher CGPA requirement is inconsistent with the practice followed by the IIMs before the new IIM Act kicked in last year.

“As per the latest notification, none of those who qualified for the doctoral programme in the past would get admission today. Many of them are currently teaching in the IIMs. So with this notification, you are basically saying that those guys are worthless,” D’Souza told Indian Express.

The IIMs will have a meeting with the HRD Ministry on 13 December to reach a consensus on the PhD eligibility criteria.
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