Information for Prospective Research Scholars

We are looking for motivated individuals to carry out cutting edge research. You can join us in one of the following programs.
  • M.S. program: In this program, the scholar works under the supervision of an advisor. A General Test Committe (GTC) oversees the work of the scholar periodically. The scholar does a minimum of five courses, and then pursues independent research, resulting in a dissertation. The dissertation is sent to external reviewers. Based on the reviews, a viva voce is optionally held by the GTC. MS Schloars get similar facilities as that of PhD students. Most M.S. scholars go on for further studies or join research oriented companies after they graduate.
  • Ph.D. program: In the Ph.D. program, the scholar works under the supervision of an advisor. A Doctoral Committe (DC) oversees the work of the scholar. After joining the program, the scholar typically finishes a minumum course requirement, and then has to clear a comprehensive exam. After this, the scholar pursues research, leading to a dissertation which is evaluated by external reviewers. After incorporating the comments given by the reviewers, the scholar has to defend the thesis before an expert panel. Most Ph.D. scholars join research organizations, academia or go on for post doctoral work.

Information about selection process :

All applicants need to take a written test and the marks obtained in this test would be used for shortlisting the candidates for the interview.

Written Test

The written test consists of multiple-choice questions and/or fill-in the blanks questions. The examination is aimed at testing the Analytical Ability (Basic Engineering Mathematics including Continuous Mathematics, Probability and Statistics, Ratio and proportion, Combinatorics, Technical Comprehension), and also depth of knowledge in typical subjects of CSE, such as Discrete Mathematics, Data Structures, Programming (in C), Algorithms, Digital Logic and Computer Organisation, Operating Systems, Formal languages and Automata Theory, Databases, Networks, Compilers and Signals and Systems. The test would be of duration of about 2 hours.

This is the pattern for written test for both MS, PhD admissions.

MS Interview

A typical interview lasts for about 20 minutes. It will be on one of the fundamental subjects of CSE as listed above. You can exercise your choice of the subject. Applicants with ECE background can choose to be interviewed on topics in signal processing, speech and image processing. Applicants may also be questioned on their undergraduate projects. Note that you cannot request the interview to be on specific programming languages (for example Java, PHP etc), platforms (J2EE etc) or technology (mobile programming, web programming etc.)

PhD Interview

From the academic year 2015 admissions onwards, the PhD interviews would be conducted in subject area-specific Panels. Currently, we have three interview panels and a candidate who clears the written tests needs to choose at most two of the three panels for his/her interview. If selected for admission by a Panel, the candidate is expected to work with one of the members of the same Panel as their research supervisor.
The aim of the interview process is to assess the knowledge and problem solving ability of the candidate in Computer Science and Engineering subjects (as per the GATE CS syllabus) that are fundamental to the research areas of the panel chosen by the candidate. In addition, the candidate would also be assessed for independent thinking and research aptitude. The details of the Panels are given below.

Panel A: Theoretical Computer Science and Related Areas

Cryptography, Secure Message Transmission, Provable Security of Cryptographic Protocols and Primitives.

Distributed Algorithms, Graph theory, Graph Algorithms, Parameterized Algorithms, Approximation Algorithms, Convex Relaxations . Computational Geometry, Algorithmic Game Theory.

Computational Complexity Theory, Structural and Circuit Complexity, Arithmetic Circuit Complexity, Lower Bounds, Derandomization. Analysis of Boolean Functions, PCPs and inapproximability. Advanced automata theory.

Panel B: Systems and Related Areas

Object oriented systems, Software engineering, Distributed systems, Operating Systems, Databases, Cloud computing, Cluster computing, High-performance computing, Real-time systems, Parallel and distributed computing. Wireless networks, Light wave networks, Wireless networks, Adhoc Networks, Sensor networks

VLSI, CAD systems for VLSI design, Software aspects of VLSI design Hardware and System Security, Side Channel Analysis, Cryptanalysis.

Computer Architecture, Compiler design, Program analysis applied to compiler optimizations, fault localization, large software systems, programming language design, Parallelization

Panel C: Artificial Intelligence, Human Computer Interface, and Related Areas.

Artificial Intelligence, Knowledge-Based Systems, Case-Based Reasoning, Memory-Based Reasoning, Mathematical Logic, Knowledge Representation, Automated Planning, Theory and Applications of Ontologies, Semi-Structured Data and XML, Data and Text Mining, Graph Indexing, Graph Mining, Trajectory Analytics, Bioinformatics.
Machine Learning, Reinforcement Learning, Social Network Analysis, Data and Text Analytics, Neural Networks, Kernel Methods, Pattern Recognition. Natural Language processing, Speech Technology. Computer Vision, Visual Perception, Digital Image Processing, , Multi-Camera Vision Systems, Sensor Planning, Surveillance, Computer Graphics.

Choosing Research Advisors.

The student can specify a preference of advisors from among the faculty interested. Before this, it is expected that the student has some idea of what area he or she wishes to work on, and which faculty member he or she wishes to collaborate with. Prospective students can visit faculty homepages and their respective lab webpages to learn more about their work. Once admission to the Department is confirmed, it is recommended that the student visit the Department or at least contact prospective research advisors.

The final allotment of the advisor is decided by the Head of the Department.

Categories of Admission

  • Regular or HTTA/HTRA: Scholarship awarded by M.H.R.D., through IIT Madras. HTTA is for M.S. scholars; HTRA for Ph.D. scholars.
  • Project: Scholar works on a sponsored project as a project associate or project officer. The scholar is paid a salary through the centre for Industrial Consultancy and Sponsored Research (ICSR), IIT Madras. The GATE cutoff is typically lesser for project M.S. students than regular students.
  • External : For employed students. The scholar completes a minimum on-campus residential period (typically one semester) for completing course-work. Research work is carried out at the scholars place of emplyment, with periodic visits to the Department. The scholar is jointly supervised by a faculty memeber in the Department, and another advisor at the place of employment. This type of admission is restricted to employees of research labs or centres where facilities for research are available. Scholars come from govt. research organizations like DRDO, ISRO or other companies recognized as research organizations by DST or IITM. Faculty from technical institutions cannot apply under external category.
  • Part-time: This category of admission is for employees of research organizations and faculties in technical institutions. There is a minimum on-campus residential period (typically one semester) for completing course work. The scholar is guided by a member of the faculty from the Department. Part-time admissions are generally given only to people from in and around Chennai, as they are expected to come on weekends and work on their research.
    Note: External and Part-time students are required to contact the faculty member before applying.

Financial Assistance.

Several funding agencies provide scholarships/salaries. These include the HRD Ministry and sponsored research projects through the IIT centre for Industrial Consultancy and Sponsored Research (ICSR). Several fellowships from companies like Infosys and IBM are also available. The Department provides partial/total travel grant for attending national/international conferences. In addition, the Institute also has schemes for providing registration and travel funding for attending national/international conferences. Following is a list of current scholarships.
  • HTTA (for regular M.S. scholars) Rs.8000 per month, for three years maximum; Rs.10,000 annual contingengy grant.
  • HTRA (for regular Ph.D. scholars) Rs.14,000 per month for the first two years, and Rs.15,000 for the next two years; Rs. 20,000 annual contingency grant.
  • M.S. by project: Project associates gets a salary of about Rs.8000-Rs.10000, depending on qualifications and experience. Travel grant from project funding.
  • Ph.D. by project: Project officers get a salary of about Rs.15000-Rs.18000, depending on qualifications and experience. Travel grant from project funding.
  • Microsoft India Ph.D. fellowship: Approx. Rs.16,000 monthly and travel grant for attending conferences. Max time period: 48 months.
  • Infosys fellowship: Endowment consists of a sum of Rs. 9 lakhs; a sum of Rs. 3 lakhs will be released initially and Rs. 6 lakhs will be released over the duration of the award at regular intervals. Package of Rs. 2.25 to Rs. 2.55 lakhs per year. Out of this Rs. 1.80 lakhs will be paid as stipend per year. The balance will be treated as grant of fund to cover the cost of books, tution, journals, attending domestic and international conferences, purchasing of personal computer at the discretion of the Department.
  • IBM Ph.D. fellowship: Rs. 15,000 monthly, annual incidental expenses Rs.15,000, annual tuition fees (approx) Rs. 7,000.
In addition, the scholar can apply to other fellowships/research grants whenever the grants are available. The Department typically reccomends eligible scholars to the institution granting the fellowhip. The final approval of the fellowship is decided by the funding institution. The scholar is allowed to have only one source of financial assistance.


IIT Madras is located in Chennai, Tamil Nadu, which is well connected with major cities by train and air routes. The website for Indian Railways and several flight booking websites contain up-to-date information about travel options.

Traveling to IIT Madras for the interview is your responsibility; and for MS, IIT Madras does not provide any travel allowance for attending the interview. However, PhD students under HTRA (Half-Time Research Assistantship) scheme are eligible for reimbursement of second class to-and-fro train fare from their place of residence to Chennai by the shortest route. The institute does provide paid temporary accommodation to all the invited applicants (MS and PhD). You can find more information about travel at the link : Reaching IIT Madras.

Food and Accommodation

IIT Madras provides an option of temporary shared accommodation to the candidates. The accommodation costs around INR 300 per day and is provided in the student hostels inside campus. Of course, the candidates are free to arrange for their accommodation elsewhere on their own. The hostel rooms are equipped with a bed, a fan and shared restrooms. Information about IIT hostels is available here.

The accommodation cost (INR 300 per day) also covers mess facility. The applicants are eligible to eat in the common institute messes (near hostels). Each mess provides breakfast, lunch and dinner. There are more options in and around the campus. See "Eateries on Campus".

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