IIT Bombay M. Tech. RA Admission

This post is all about the RA (Research Assistantship) category admission in the department of CSE, IIT Bombay.

 

I should have written this post long ago. Now that GATE 2013 result is out,  I am getting quite a few calls/messages  asking about RA admission. So here it is. To the best of my knowledge and belief. I have tried to shape this post as a FAQ. See Update in the end.

What is RA?

Computer Science and Engineering department of IIT Bombay offers two types of admission to M.Tech program – Teaching Assistant-ship or the conventional two-year M.Tech program and Research Assistant-ship which is a 3-year course. Of course, there are other categories like Project Staff, Self Financed etc. A detailed information about department admission policy can be found in here.

Why should one choose RA?

Simply stated, the 3 year programme is a more relaxed programme. Reflect back: did you just mug up the answers to the questions when you did your B.Tech/BE programme? did you ever feel that if you had more time, you have done more justice to your dreams/capabilities/brain cells? Unless you go back for a Ph.D, it is unlikely you will get a chance to learn from the ultimate “masters” in their individual field.

Is RA category a part-time M. Tech. Program?

Absolutely NOT. There is a common misunderstanding that since it is a 3 years course, it is part-time. In fact, somewhere in the M.Tech brochure, I found that the phrase “part-time” is mentioned about RA category. Well, your M.Tech degree is NOT part-time course, but your RA project is. There is no difference between the M. Tech. degree a TA and an RA student receives after the completion of the course.

What is the Admission Procedure?

Each year around 200 aspiring candidates are called upon for the admission test. Depending on the number of the applications, the cut off may vary. Still, if your AIR is close to 400, you have a good chance of being called in for the test. The test is a two-way screening process. First there is a written test. Question used to be of MCQ type, but since 2012 they changed the patterns. After the written test, a presentation session is held where professors explain what positions are open under him/her, what is the project all about, what are the requirements etc. You can expect around 20 vacancies each year. During the presentation the answers scripts are corrected and a cut off is set and approximately 30/40 students are shortlisted for interview.

These candidates are then asked to fill in their preferences of projects. Candidates are interviewed separately for each choices. However, due to lack of time (the entire procedure is conducted in one single day) one can not make it to all projects. Interviews are so scheduled that a candidate attend most interviews. It is guaranteed that he/she could appear for first two choices. After the interview, the respective professors selects the more deserving candidates and result is put up with in 3/4 days.

What is the selection criteria?

Once you get a call for the written test, it all depends on how well you perform on that very day. Your written marks, and to some extent, your GATE score will carry a good weight during the interview, but believe me, if you completely mess up the interview, there is a very little chance that you would get through just because you did well in the written.

Any special skill set required?

There is no such hard requirement but, having research exposure would give you an edge over other aspiring candidates. You may have noticed by now that cracking RA has like 1 out 10 chances. Sometimes, a project may demand a skill set in particular e.g. “A 2 year working experience in machine learning field”. In those cases, the professor in charge will make it clear during the presentation itself.

Does recruiting companies discriminate TA and RA students?

None to my knowledge. Except for the duration of the program, there is no difference between a TA and RA student. That is, current RA batch will sit for placement with the next TA batch. Companies do not discriminate between TA and RA students. So don’t worry about RA placement at all.In fact, this year out of 19 RA students, 5 have received offers in US (total US offers is 15) 🙂

What’s Project RA and what’s Institute RA? What’s the difference?

As I mentioned, after clearing the written test, you would be asked to fill out a preference form for projects you want to apply. The list of available positions would be made available to you during the presentation. During the presentation you would realize that most positions are for specific projects. These positions require candidates with a strong inclination and/or experience in that particular field. These positions are Project RA. Below are the list of research group that usually take students every year are –

+ CFILT – Natural Language Processing
+ Machine Learning
+ CFDVS – Formal Design and Verification
+ VIGIL – Computer Graphics/Vision
+ SynerG – Computer Networks/Systems
+ GISE – Geospatial Information Science and Engineering
+ Aakash – The Aakash tablet project

Project RAs are required to work for the project as their “RA” work. Once you’re selected as a project RA, you will join one of the research groups (as listed above) in the dept.

Apart from these, there would another two/three projects which do not fall under the category of “research” projects as these are not associated with any research lab of IITB. There are primarily three projects/areas where RAs are taken –

+ SysAd – System Administration. These RAs are responsible for the maintenance of all CSE Servers, labs, PCs, routers, access points etc. If you have a knack for tweaking with stuff, if you ever wanted to be the “admin” and have control over everything what others use, then my friend, this is the place for you!
+ ASC – Application Software Cell. These guys are responsible for developing and maintaining the online interfaces of IIT Bombay. Form the very first M. Tech. application portal that you saw while applying to the very delicate accounting system that takes care of employees salary and such stuff, all are products of ASC. So if you are interested in web development, then ASC is the perfect choice for you.
+ CC RA – CC or Computer Center is the central system administration group of IIT Bombay. They maintain and control all of IIT B’s network. Often they take RAs from CSE dept.

NOTE: The above list is only partial. Please check the official list of positions here.

The general idea is that if you’re a Project RA, you pursue your Masters Thesis on a field related to your RA work, under the supervision of the Professor in charge. In that way, you can use your two-year RA work experience in your Thesis. However, this is not a mandate. You can opt to work with any professor of your choice with the consent of your RA prof-in-charge. Institute RAs on the other hand, are free to approach any professor without anyone’s consent. There are both upsides and downsides for this. Upside is, if you are in a project that you like, but don’t want to do your thesis on that field, you have to take the consent and convince the other prof to take you in. Sometimes it goes smoothly, sometimes it get dirty. Insti RAs don’t have to deal with all these stuff at all. On the contrary, Project RAs get to use their RA work-ex into their thesis. They also get chances to apply for fancy internships (your prof-in-charge may suggest you one). Insti RAs don’t get these opportunities as they are not attached to any research groups. Of course you can decide your thesis topic early (during end of 1st year) and get associated with one of those groups.

So I guess, I have answered most of your queries. Still if you want to know more about M.tech Admission in CSE, IIT Bombay, feel free to leave a comment.

The Q&A section has more information than what you presume. Please give it a look before posting a new question. The answer you are looking for may have already been addressed.


UPDATES 

  1. The written test pattern is likely to change every year. Please check written test details.
  2. Coding tests are recently introduced as part of selection procedure. 
  3. Please check the list of available positions here.
  4. People who are interested in ASC (presentation is available at http://portal.iitb.ac.in/joinus) please fill the following Google Form ASAP.
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257 thoughts on “IIT Bombay M. Tech. RA Admission

  1. Hi Souvik,this is Priyanka . I wrote gate in 2017 and secured 710 gate score ,650 rank .what are the posibilities for getting call for Mtech RA ?

    • Priyanka,

      It is difficult to predict the possibility of you getting a call as that is closely related to the rank of others who are applying for RA. Less the number of applicants with AIR < 650, higher are your chances. However, what I can definitely tell you is that you SHOULD apply for M.Tech. RA and keep preparing for the written / interview. I had as similar AIR in 2011 and I got a call 🙂

      All the best!

  2. Is interview compulsory? I thought there’s no interview/wirrten test for Mtech in IIT bombay.
    BTW my rank is 239 and score is 791

    • Hi Smit,

      Let me clear the confusion.

      IIT Bombay CS department (and few other departments) offer two types of M. Tech. courses – 2 year TA (teaching assistanship) and 3 year RA (research assistantship).
      For the TA course, there is not exam/interview. It is purely based on the GATE ranks. Selection in RA course is, however, based on a written exam followed by interview on top of your GATE ranks. Obviously, most people opt for TA course – which is filled out on FCFS basis. Folks with poorer ranks usually apply for RA course.

      PS: with your rank, it is very unlikely that you would get selected for TA. I would strongly recommend you to apply for RA as well (while filling up the form) if you want to study at IIT Bombay. For more details on the course, please go through the blog post and QA.

      Thanks!

      • Thanks for your reply.

        I have a question.
        What if we select SysAd or ASC which is just maintaining the stuff, not project. I really want to do something in ML or AI, but don’t have any prior experience. The only thing is my final year project which is based on Reinforcement learning. So I don’t think I’ll be able to get position in ML related Projects. SysAd or ASC is good? Right? I really want to do 3 yr mtech course.

        P.S
        Exam and Interview’s tomorrow. I’m on my way.

      • Congratulation Smit and all the best for your interviews tomorrow.
        ASC involves lots of coding in java/js/web services. Whereas in Sysad you could hone your unix scripting skills.
        If you really want to work on ML, please opt for any ML related positions. You can ask the questions during the presentation about what kind of skills that position would require. A clear understanding of basics would suffice in my opinion.

        Sysad/ASC good? I don’t see why not. Frankly speaking, unless you convert your RA work into MTech thesis (which doesn’t happen always), no much of new dev work you would get for your RA project. And as per the learning that you could get from your RA proj, I thoroughly enjoyed the unix scripting I picked up at Sysad and it is still helping me in my day-to-day job.

        All the best for tomorrow!

  3. Thanks Souvik !!
    Written exam is objective or subjective ?
    I have asked some people they are telling , Exam is more focussed on Programming concepts like OOPS Java C ??

    • Written question pattern / format changes frequently. Earlier it used to be objective only with 4 section out of which you have to write 3, each containing a few MCQ questions on general aptitude, maths, GATE syllabi, computer programming aptitude etc. However, with growing popularity of this course, professors have decided to change pattern frequently. I have seen a full subjective paper (2012) and a mixture of subjective and objective (2013) during my stay at IIT. So, I would suggest you to prepare for all the above sections I mentioned and expect both subjective and objective questions in the exam.

  4. Such a great post. Thank You very much.

    I am having 775 Score and 299 Rank, So I am expecting admission in institutes like IIT Kanpur and IIT Roorkee.( I don’t know if I will get Madras or not 😦 … Never mind). And then I am thinking to apply for this IIT Bombay RA ( Because of the project categories like Data Mining).

    So I was thinking if I get selected for both then which course should I prefer? I mean M.tech at IITK or IITR will be a 2-year course while this will be 3 years. I can get a job and have 1-year experience, right? So wanted to get ur advice. And according to my thinking, IITB RA would be better than NIT Tirchy/Wrangal. what say?

    Thanks for help.

    • Good question Gaurav.
      Being a IITB alum, I would always encourage you to go for IITB. And of course CS at IIT Bombay is better than any other colleges in India.

      But putting aside the emotion, let’s ask ourselves a couple of questions first –
      What do I want to do after M. Tech.? Do I want to pursue a career in research (and opt for a PhD program) do I need to job a ASAP?

      If you want to get a job ASAP, the answer is simple. Go for IITK / IITR / IITG. By the way, IITD also has a MS course, please check that as well.

      Otherwise,
      If you manage to get IIT R TA, then I would suggest you to go for IITB. You would have more exposure to latest technology and more freedom of course selection. (Did you know, all courses at IITB are optional, there isn’t a single* mandatory course in CSE M. Tech.)

      Now, if you get IITK, it’s a real clash. Both colleges have quality infrastructure. You can choose either of these two.

      IITB RA would be better than NIT Tirchy/Wrangal. what say?

      WHAT DO YOU MEAN? Huh? You can’t compare IITB with any NIT, TA / RA doesn’t matter.

      • Thanks for the reply. Will apply and wait for the decisions. Let’s see where do I get admission.
        Thank You again.

  5. Hi!
    I wanted to ask you something.
    Are PwD seats and SC/ST seats seperated in IITs?
    How many seats are available for PwD category in IIT-B?
    What rank should PwD candidates should get for getting admission in IIT-B?

    • I don’t know the cut-off marks for PwD category. I have to go back to the official website and look for guidelines / FAQs (which you can also do 🙂 ).
      In some Quora thread I found that there is a 3% reservation (separate from SC/ST/OBC category) for PwD category. But I am not sure if that is applicable to each department. Which GATE paper are you writing btw, CS? I can ask around and get back to you if you’re looking for CS admission details.

      As far as I could remember, I didn’t see anyone getting admission in CSE RA course at IIT Bombay with PwD category. Perhaps the reservation is applicable only for TA course.

      I just found this article – info brochure from last year: http://www.iitb.ac.in/newacadhome/MTECHBROUCHURE201724Aug.pdf

      It says – “Seats are reserved for Other Backward Class Non-Creamy Layer(OBC-NCL)/Scheduled Caste (SC), Scheduled Tribe (ST) and Person with Benchmark Disability (PwD) categories as per Government of India rules.”

      Hope that helps.

  6. Hi,
    I have got gate 2018 rank 334 and gate score 755.
    I want to ask that from placement point of view which is best – IIT KANPUR,IIT BOMBAY RA or any other college?

    • Hi Ayush,

      As I have said in the blog post (and in comments), CS companies do not discriminate between M.Tech. TA and M.Tech. RA students during placements. Both get equal opportunities. So essentially what you are looking for is the answer to the question – “Which IIT/IIIT/NIT is best for M.Tech. placement?”
      This can be highly debatable and everyone argues with bias towards their own institution. So here is my answer: “IIT Bombay”.

      Bias apart, no one can deny the fact that, almost every tier – I company that visits an Institution in India, also visits IIT Bombay. So effectively you get the opportunity to appear for a large number of companies. And, IIT Bombay has a pretty well structured placement cell – which takes care of inviting new farms/start-ups, rating and sorting companies based on salary and previous placement experiences, assisting students during placements etc.

      I hope this helps you 🙂

      • Thanks Sir,
        But I have some more questions,
        1.) What are my chances to get IIT Bombay RA with rank 384 and could you please guide me to clear the written test and interview ?
        2.)Are placement oppurtunities are good enough for MTech CSE students as that of BTech students because I have heard that in many of the companies MTech students are not eligible to appear?

  7. Thanks Sir,
    But I have one more question,Are placement oppurtunities are good enough fot MTech CSE students as that of BTech students because I have heard that in many of the companies MTech students are not eligible to appear?

    • Well there are few companies which, in past, showed their bias for undergrads, but that’s understandable right? Facebook once reported, either most post grads were not able to crack the interview process or those who eventually made it, were less efficient at work than the undergrads. Credit Suisse used to allow only undergrads for a particularly high paying risk analyst profile, citing that IIT undergrads are usually better at maths than the post-grads. Can’t argue that, can we?

      But things are changing slowly. Barring a few profiles, almost every other profile is opened for both m.tech. and b.tech. students. In fact, there are few companies which prefer M. Tech. over B. Tech., probably because the latter has a tendency to leave the company for higher studies more often than not.

      So, to summarise, YES, there are few companies which prefer b.tech students, but CS M. Tech. students (both TA and RA) get an overwhelming number of placement opportunities at IIT Bomaby.

      Chill!!

      • Please read the blog and previous comments. You can find sufficient info (like previous question patterns, selection process etc.) to prepare for the written test / interview. All the best!

  8. Hie souvik..
    Thanks for the amazing blog! It really helped gain great insights..
    I have certain questions to ask..
    If I know just my gate subjects well, have no prior work experience and know very basic of linux as of now but which I can manage to learn in the next couple of days..
    Which position do you think I stand a chance in Institute RA? considering I have no knowledge regarding to one particular field and hence not thinking to opt for project RA..

    • You’re at the same stage where I was a few years ago. I would suggest, listen to the presentation carefully and decide post that.
      As I have mentioned previously, barring a couple, none of the position would actually require any experience other that your undergrad syllabus. Having some prior experience can only give you an edge.

      So you can choose any one you like. And of course, if nothing else seems interesting, there is always SysAd / ASC 🙂

  9. Hi Souvik,
    I am a final year student. My GATE AIR is 334. I cleared IITB programming test (solved 5 out of 6 questions). I interviewed for two RA projects (I got interviews in my top 2 preferred projects), one was Cloud Computing and the other was SAFE (An android app for conducting quizzes). My Cloud computing interview wasn’t great as I was asked questions on Linux and bash scripting which I did not know that well. Whereas in the SAFE interview they did not ask me any technical questions. They only asked which technologies I knew as well as some personal questions. I told them about an android project I had done in college as well as about my internship at Morgan Stanley. What do you think my chances are of getting RA? For selection, more emphasis is placed on interview than programming test?

    • Hi Neeraj,

      Thanks for sharing your experience.

      Honestly, it is difficult to tell what are your chances. Different panel treat these interviews differently and put varied weightage on test/interview. There isn’t a well defined structure so to say.
      However, considering your GATE AIR, programming test performance and past internship experiences, I would say, you have a fair chance of cracking the RA list.

      All the best!

      • Hey, I got the offer from IITB today. Also, I wanted to ask for Project RA is there a restriction on the choice of courses that you can take? Let’s say I want to take a course on ML/AI but if it is not directly related to my RA project then will I be allowed to take such a course? Also, the thesis needs to be done on RA project itself right?

      • Hey congratulations man!

        Nope, there is absolutely no restriction on courses which you choose to take. I have never heard a professor not allowing an RA student to take a particular course. Instead, your project guide can ask you to take an additional course or two if he/she thinks they are relevant/prerequisite for the project work.

        Usually thesis work and RA work are related but not exactly the same. However, if you want, and both your RA project guide and the other prof. (under whose guidance you wish to pursue your thesis) agree, you can pursue your master’s thesis in any relevant field from CS dept.

        Don’t worry. There will be a separate orientation session for new folks to get theses doubts cleared.

  10. Hello Souvik, i had some queries related to RA for IIT-Bombay
    1) Orientation program – is it compulsory to attend for RA’s ?
    What all happens in orientation program ? Does professor under which start allocating work also ?
    2) hostel allocation is from 21 july but orientation starts 12th and classes on 16th so where stay in the interim period ?
    3) If join later on last day which is 23 july what do i suffer , e.g get bad hostel/sharing rooms etc, not able to register for courses get full etc ?
    4) How much work under professor in beginning period and during first semester ?
    I have heard you have to be present 9-5 in dept for RA is it true ?
    How are the 20 hours of RA work measured ?
    5) How many leaves per year we get, Is it true that we dont have summar and winter vacations as i heard somewhere ?

    • Hi Speedy!

      1) Orientation program is typically organised by seniors. (I am assuming the one you’ve mentioned is also arranged by students. If it is arranged by department, you better attend it).
      It is usually a friendly interaction session with a bit more insights on what you should expect on different courses, how different professors typically grade, which course you should opt for if you’re looking for a career in say Machine Learning or Natural Language Processing etc. So, in essence, this is not compulsory for you to join.

      2) This is a serious issue. Please get in touch with the authority asking for clarification. I don’t have any idea here. At our time, we got hostel accommodation a day prior to semester start.

      3) Joining late is not advised unless you’re ill. A lot happen in the first couple of weeks or so. A few courses are offered with max registration limit and on FCFS basis. Also, you will get your first set of assignments in the first week itself 😉
      So, don’t join late.

      4) As I have mentioned in the original post, work pressure depends on the individual project/professor. If you’re not aware of the project background, you might have to do a bit of homework to get on board. 20 hours/week RA work is a thumb-rule, actual work may be more or less depending on individual capabilities/project requirement. For example, I was a System Admin. A majority of my first sem work involved being physically present when computer labs are conducted. There was a CS101 lab, for all first year B.Tech. / M.Sc. students which used to run from 8:30pm – 10:30pm, sometimes stretching well beyond midnight. We used to adjust among ourselves to attend these labs periodically so that it doesn’t affect our academics. We were lucky to have Subhadra Ma’am as our in-charge who would always understand our need and adjust the schedule accordingly. Again, some professor would ask you to be physically present in the lab from 9am to 5pm. So it really is between you and your prof. Building a good rapport with him/her is the key to comfortable schedule 🙂

      5) On paper, you get paid leaves only during the month of Dec after first Sem. This is the time, when professors usually don’t ask too many questions for leaves. Apart from that, you don’t really get much time to ‘enjoy’ a vacation. If you get one, ideally you would want to spend it doing an internship.
      It’s not a high school where you would get a ‘summer vacation’. Think of it more like a job, you might take an occasional illness leave or so, but that’s about it.
      And this goes for both RA and TA. In fact, TA’s get even less time to enjoy vacation. Most of their 2nd sem time-off is spent in internship / placement prep.

      Hope I addressed all your concerns / questions.
      All the best!
      Have fun @ IITB 🙂

  11. Hello Souvik ,
    thanks for such detailed info and such prompt replies
    You have maintained this blog so well , you reply within a day and it reminds me how many blogs i have written but never been able to follow-up so well on them. So you are doing a great job on this blog.
    I need your advice and information on few things
    I appeared for gate 2018 first attempt got rank in 400’s.. I have IITB-RA and IIT Kanpur – MS
    both are 3 year programs , but my ultimate aim is to get into IISc because i want to go for Research and not into industry , probably do a PHD from Ivy League Universities an year or two after my Masters

    So the options i have are as :-
    1) Take IIT-B RA , prepare for next year GATE and try to get into IISc
    If i choose that I will chose my subjects very wisely so that they are more or less GATE oriented and will choose one subject form UG (only one allowed) also part of GATE sylllabus
    I am not sure how much time other that that I will be able to get per day for my preparation if choose this , (this year i prepared for GATE alongside job)

    2) IIT-K MS and prepare for GATE 20189
    Here i will not have to do 20 hrs of project work so i will have relatively more time i guess
    But work pressure i guess maybe more here , courses again here i choose wisely but still i have heard more academic pressure in IIT-K.Also ranking wise and city wise Bombay is preferable

    3) Drop both go to my home and prepare for GATE 2019
    I completely devote go GATE study and try to get a good rank but again risk factor here as if I fail then again may not even get these next year (This year also i got both these after a lot of fight)

    Let me know your thoughts on this.

    • Hi Speedy!

      Thanks for those kind words. I didn’t have much info about IITB-RA when I was appearing for GATE / IIT B admission tests, so just wanted to help out others who are in the same situation. Luckily I don’t have any other blogs, so I don’t run out of time to respond 😉

      >>> “but my ultimate aim is to get into IISc because i want to go for Research and not into industry”
      Both IIT B and IIT K provide you ample opportunities for pursuing a PhD from Ivy League Universities. I personally know a few from our batch who went abroad for doctoral courses. So don’t think that you won’t get enough research opportunities at IITs. Somehow the common perception is that IITs provide better jobs, while IISc gives you research exposure. That’s in my knowledge is a MYTH!

      What you should think / decide is on which field you want to pursue your PhD. Frankly speaking if you are not sure of that by now, I won’t advice you for Option 3. It would be too risky. So, think what you want to study. If you come up with a definitive answer, then check, which professors are doing research on that field actively, how they are collaborating with their students – whether you see an M.Tech./MS student driving the research or a PhD student; this gives you a clear understanding of the research opportunities you are going to get there as a post grad student. Search related journals / conference proceedings to figure out how relevant is that research. Its like finding a new job. Look for the professor (team) and not the institution (company).

      If you are not sure, I would suggest you go with what you have at your hand (IIT B RA /IIT K MS). You have three years to “acquire a taste” on the particular field you would working on and who knows, that might be the perfect fit for you!

      Between IITB and IITK, you know my answer is always going to be biased 😉
      All I can say is there is probably more diverse fields of research opportunities at IIT Bombay.
      Preparing for GATE while working is ‘easier’ than doing the same while studying at IITs. You would barely get time to finish the assignments let alone prepare for something else. I am not saying this is not possible, neither I am discouraging you, but it would be difficult, a lot more difficult than what you presume.

      So, spend a few nights and think wisely before you jump to any conclusion.

      So, in summary, my suggestion is option 4)
      Come to IIT B, you have 3 years ahead of you, find your field of interest and work with your prof making sure you get a good recommendation, if needed for your PhD admission.

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