BS-MS degree demands in-depth research
Princi Sharma, 22 Aug 2013
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ESTABLISHING IISERs, like the one at Kolkata (above), was aimed at promoting science across the country

FAST FACTS
Participating institutions: IISER campuses at Pune, Kolkata, Mohali, Bhopal, Thiruvananthapuram
Duration: 5 years
Eligibility
: Class 12 Science stream 
Selection process: The rank obtained by the candidate in JEE Advanced 2013 and score obtained in Class 12 (Science stream) 
Scholarship opportunities: Students who are eligible for INSPIRE fellowship offered by the Department of Science and Technology could also seek admissions by clearing an aptitude test; Students who obtain Kishore Vaigyanik Protsahan Yojana (KVPY) scholarship
Recruiters: MNCs, companies like Ranbaxy, Syngene, Dr. Reddy’s, Jubilant Biosys, ChemBioTek, GE Healthcare, Lupin Pharmaceuticals, Glenmark, BASF and academic institutions


ARUNDHATI Deshmukh’s passion for research was the prime reason for her joining IISER, Bhopal. The 5-year integrated BS-MS Dual Degree offered by IISER (Indian Institutes of Science Education and Research) is a unique one, which suits many others like Arundhati. Exclusively meant for Basic Sciences, a student is actually given two degrees equivalent to the conventional BSc and MSc degrees of the Indian University system. But a student will be administered a degree only after completing the five-year course.

Without science, technology is not possible
“Knowing science is the prerequisite for knowing technology. People want jobs and that is why, they opt more for the technical courses. But after getting job, they are not happy and satisfied,” shares Vinod K Singh, Director, IISER Bhopal. “People should do what they like. If they like engineering they should go for engineering but not for the sake of getting job,” adds Singh.

Thirst for knowledge, a must
“One should be prepared to explore the unknown as besides acquiring the conventional textbook knowledge. The students are also actively engaged in research work which is nothing but knowing the unknown,” shares Dr Saptarshi Mukherjee, Assistant Professor, Department of Chemistry, IISER Bhopal. “Students who are motivated to aspire for a career in Basic Sciences will surely be benefitted, ” he adds.

Admission procedure
A three-channel admission procedure is currently followed. IISERs admit students for BS-MS dual degree programme on the basis of the rank obtained by the candidate in the JEE Advanced 2013, and the score obtained by the candidate in the Class 12 exam (Science stream). The students who are eligible for INSPIRE fellowship by the Department of Science and Technology (DST) could also seek admissions by clearing an aptitude test. Students who obtain Kishore Vaigyanik Protsahan Yojana (KVPY) scholarship may also apply.

Liberal course structure
The five-year course is spread across 10 semesters. For the first two years, that is, the first four semesters, a student is taught core courses with equal importance. “In IISER Bhopal he or she learns the fundamental concepts of Physics, Chemistry, Mathematics, Biology, Earth and Environmental Sciences,” explains Dr Mukherjee. After successfully completing the core courses, a student can take up any one subject (out of Physics, Chemistry, Mathematics or Biology) as a “major” for the remaining three years. IISER has a system where the students can also get a “minor” degree besides “major” in any other subject. Dr Mukherjee elaborates, “A unique feature of our curriculum is its flexibility. A student has the option to change his or her “major” subject if he or she is not comfortable with that even after the third year. And it is very student -friendly.” 

Doing experiments in lab is actually fun
From the third year onwards, IISER students get the chance to conduct more experiments through practicals. “I am entering my third year and am really excited to the practicals. Our seniors used to share that they enjoy doing practical a lot,” says Arundhati Deshmukh from IISER Bhopal. “I feel so lucky that I will get the chance to do experiments in labs under the guidance of very talented faculty members,” she added.

Having research mind is must   
“I wanted to do research in chemistry and that is why I left the option of joining a good engineering institute. I would say that anybody planning to join IISER should understand whether he has a zeal for research,” says Arshad Akbar, gold medalist alumnus of IISER Bhopal. He is going to the United States to pursue a PhD in Physical Chemistry. He further shares that in terms of salary package, initially an IISER student maybe at par with a student from a good engineering student only after doing a PhD and post doctoral.

Career prospects
After graduating from IISERs, a student can join a PhD programme either in India or abroad (by clearing the GRE). Research today is highly lucrative both in terms of job satisfaction and salary, so IISERites should always keep this option open. “In IISER Bhopal (and I am sure in other IISERs as well) we have a placement cell which is in constant touch with several companies that recruit young and budding talents,” shares Dr Mukherjee. Companies like Ranbaxy, Syngene, Dr. Reddy’s, Jubilant Biosys, ChemBioTek., GE Healthcare, Lupin Pharmaceuticals, Glenmark, BASF are some of the options where the IISER graduates can be placed. Besides these, the entire world of academics is wide open for them to venture out. They can join Indian and foreign universities as a faculty member.  He also shares that from the first batch of 18 students of IISER Bhopal, at least 12 students have opted for research and most of them are going abroad. 
 

Dr-Saptarshi-mukherjee
DR SAPTARSHI MUKHERJEE
Assistant Professor,
Department of Chemistry, IISER Bhopal.

A unique feature of our curriculum is that a student can change his or her “major” subject if he or she is not comfortable with that even after third year
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