Top PhD Entrance Exams

Top PhD Entrance Exam

Whether one belongs to Science, Commerce or Humanities field, PhD can be pursued in an array of fields and specialised domains. Usually, students interested in academics sign up for a doctoral program to acquire the knowledge and skills required to excel in their respective areas of study. While study abroad PhD pathways exempt students from appearing entrance exams to pursue their chosen course, universities in India have specified several tests as one of the prime requirements apply for a doctoral degree. Thus, PhD entrance exams hold great importance for the students willing to take on this road. Read this article to know about the leading entrance exams for PhD and some helpful tips to ace them with flying colours! 

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PhD Specializations 

Before moving on to the top PhD entrance exams, let’s first take a look at the plethora of specialisations that fall under the domain of this degree. The following table elucidates some of the popular PhD courses that are commonly pursued by graduates. 

PhD in Political SciencePhD in Artificial IntelligencePhD in Mathematics
PhD in ChemistryPhD in AccountingPhD in Economics
PhD in Computer SciencePhD in PsychologyPhD in Finance
PhD in LawPhD in CommercePhD in Nursing
PhD in EducationPhD in PharmacyPhD in English

List of Top PhD Entrance Exams

Whether you are opting for a PhD in IIT, IIM, or any other higher education institution in the country, there is generally a specified entrance exam that one needs to qualify. To help you understand some of these tests, below we have elaborated the top PhD entrance exams that you must know about:


Many Indian universities ask candidates for their UGC NET scores in order to apply for PhD degrees. University Grant Commission (UGC) NET Exam is the national level exam, conducted by the National Testing Agency (NTA) twice a year (in the month of June and December). It is one of the major PhD entrance exams and aims to determine the eligibility of aspirants for the posts of Assistant Professor only or Junior Research Fellowship (JRF) or both.

Key Features of UGC NET (June 2020):

  • The mode of the exam is Online.
  • The UGC NET exam pattern consists of Paper 1 and Paper 2.
  • It consists of a total of 150 MCQs.
  • Exam duration is 3 hours with no break between Paper 1 and Paper 2.
  • The exam will be conducted from 15th June 2020 – 20th June 2020.
  • Application process will be held from 16th March-16th April 2020.

The UGC NET syllabus table below shows the Exam Pattern of Paper 1 and Paper 2:

UGC NET PaperMaximum MarksNo. of Questions
Paper 150100
Paper 2100200


Another important mention in our list of PhD entrance exams is CSIR-UGC NET, i.e. Council of Scientific and Industrial Research University Grants Commission National Eligibility Test. Commonly referred to as CSIR NET, it is a national exam conducted by NTA twice a year (in the month of June and December) to choose candidates for awarding JRF and determining their eligibility for appointment of lecturers in Indian universities and colleges. Further, those wanting to apply for the fellowship need to register for a PhD course at a recognised institution while one needs to have attained a doctoral degree in order to apply for the lecturership through this exam. CSIR-UGC NET Exam is conducted for the following subjects:

  • Chemical Sciences
  • Earth, Atmospheric, Ocean and Planetary Sciences
  • Life Sciences
  • Mathematical Sciences
  • Physical Sciences 

Exam Pattern for UGC NET (June 2020) and Important Dates

  • Exam mode is online and duration is 180 minutes.
  • CSIR-UGC Net Exam consists of a total of 200 MCQs and negative marking is also there.
  • The exam will be conducted on 15th May 2020.
  • CSIR NET Application form for the present year will be available on 16th March 2020.
  • The question paper segments for this PhD entrance exam into 3 sections, i.e. Section A (considered common section and questions are related to General Aptitude, Graphical Analysis, Logical Reasoning, and Numerical ability), Section B (questions are for Engineering Sciences, questions from Mathematics and Engineering Aptitude included as well) and Section C (high stature questions which evaluate the candidate’s knowledge of scientific concepts and their application). 


Located in Mumbai, Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR) is a deemed university which offers various PhD and various integrated programmes. Featuring amongst the popular PhD entrance exams, the TIFR GS (Graduate School) test is organised for the institute’s offered postgraduate programs in several specialisations in Science. The integrated M.Sc-PhD course offered by TIFR includes an array of specialisations such as Physics, Chemistry, Biology and Mathematics as well as research-oriented programs in the field of Computer science, Physics, Chemistry, Biology and Mathematics. 

TIFR GS Exam Pattern 2020 for Mathematics

TIFR GS exam pattern for Mathematics is divided into two parts. The total duration of the exam is 3 hours (1.5 hours each per section). Negative marking is there for each wrong answer in both sections.

Part Types of QuestionsNumber of Questions
1Objective (True/False)30

Searching for PhD entrance exams? Don’t forget to check out PhD After MBA!

TIFR GS Exam Pattern 2020 for Physics and Chemistry

TIFR GS exam pattern for Physics and Chemistry is not prescribed by TIFR. As per the availability of information from the official website, both subjects will contain MCQs which students need to complete in 3 hours. Negative Marking is there for each wrong answer in both subjects.

TIFR GS Exam Pattern 2020 for Computer and System Sciences

TIFR GS Exam pattern for Computer and System Sciences will contain MCQs and students have to complete the exam in 3 hours. The paper will be divided into 3 parts

AMathematical Aptitude
BComputer Science
CSystems Science

Among these three sections, students have the choice of doing only one. Negative Marking is there.

Other PhD Entrance Exams

There are many other PhD entrance exam conducted at the national level by various universities and colleges in India. Below is a list of some of these competitive exams conducted in India:

  • NCBS Joint Graduate Entrance Examination for Biology and Interdisciplinary Life Sciences (JGEEBILS)
  • DBT JRF Biotech Entrance Test
  • NIMHANS PG/PG Diploma/Superspeciality/PhD online entrance test
  • JNU PhD Entrance Exam
  • NIPER PhD Entrance Exam

[Bonus] Pursuing PhD Abroad 

Other than the top PhD entrance exams, we have compiled a list of our major blogs on pursuing PhD abroad that you must check out:

Universities in Australia for PhDPhD in FrancePhD in Germany
PhD in EuropePhD in CanadaPhD in Australia

Cracking any of the above-mentioned PhD entrance exams can turn out to be a difficult task for many. An alternative option to these tests is to apply for a doctoral degree abroad which can further provide you with an international exposure into your chosen field of interest. Reach out to our Leverage Edu experts and we’ll help you in finding a suitable course and university as per your preferences and aspirations. Not only for this, but our head coaches will also assist you in drafting a perfect application that can get you successfully shortlisted.

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