Answer by Sanjeev Mk:
I got admitted to IITB CS this year, so I can explain everything in detail 🙂 (And this is going to be a lengthy answer :P)
For IIT Bombay:
After GATE, the application process begins where you upload forms etc. During this, you've to specify your preferences of engineering discipline. If you did your bachelors in CS/IT, then you're allowed to opt for CSE, and some other Inter-Disciplinary courses like IEOR etc.
Your application is then evaluated and then you might get a call if you clear some threshold.
Assuming that you want to be in CSE, there are 2 options (and the option is to be specified in the application):
1. M.Tech as a Teaching Assistant (2 year programme) :
This is a 2-year completely course-oriented programme. In the first year, you'll have normal courses – lectures, assignments, projects and stuff. And in the second year, you get to work on your thesis (and one normal course), or M.Tech Project as it is called.
Admissions to CSE with TA is based directly on your GATE Score/Rank. There are no tests/interviews after GATE.
This year, there were 5 rounds of direct admission and the cut off was around AIR 110 (Gate Score 865/1000) for the Open Category. So if you get a rank in the top 100, you're sure to get in directly as a TA.
TA duties entail assisting some professor with their work. This might include managing lab sessions for Undergrads, exam supervision etc.
2. M.Tech as a Research Assistant (3 year programme) :
I got admitted to this in this academic year (AIR 129, but that doesn't matter for RA).
This is a 3-year programme. It is exactly the same as the TA one except: You get to work on a funded research project (headed by some professor) from the very beginning. You're supposed to work 20 hours per week on this project. And because you've to work 20 hours per week on a research project, you get 1 additional year to complete your M.Tech course work. This addition of 1 year is simply because you've 1 extra project compared to your TA contemporaries. This is a more relaxed programme course-wise, and the work is also really exciting.
Both TAs and RAs, have to complete the same amount of minimum credits to get an M.Tech degree, but RAs get one more year to do so.
Admission for this is highly competitive. Around a 1000 students are called for this process (hence, being AIR 129 didn't make any difference. There are RA guys who had ranks beyond 700 in GATE, but did really well during the tests and interviews). And also, the number of RA positions available is dynamic, and entirely depends upon the faculty leading the research. This year, there were 34 positions available, but they eventually selected only 25. So, 25 students out of roughly 1200 applicants. The process consists of:
- A CS test
- An interview if you manage to clear the test.
The test can consist of questions from the entire GATE syllabus (few questions from each topic). It's an objective test similar to GATE. If your basics are solid, you can easily get through this. It certainly helps if you studied well during your bachelor's and for GATE.
If you clear the test, you're then given a presentation of all the available research projects in the institute. Each presentation is given by the faculty member leading that particular research area.
After listening to these descriptions, you're supposed to give your research preferences from the options given.
You'll then be called for the interview depending on what preferences you've given. Each interview is held by the faculty member heading the particular research project.
In the interview, they basically judge if you're capable of working on their project. There are both technical and personal questions. If you already have some background in that particular research field, then you'll be asked questions based on your previous projects in that area.
This is a very grilling interview process, as the professors are really good at what they do and they ensure you have a strong foundation in that area.
(I interviewed for 3 different projects with 3 professors).
A strong grasp of the basic concepts and a good programming background is a must.
A few weeks after the interview they put up the list of who they've finally shortlisted.
(I got selected for Formal Verification of Chip Design, under Prof . Suptratik Chakraborty – an Intel-funded project)
First thing: It's totally worth it. IITB CS is really awesome and has some brilliant people.
After admission, you get a plethora of courses to choose from. There are around 20 courses in the first sem, and you're given around 2 weeks to try them out and select 3 (RA) or 4 (TA) courses. Remember, RA folks have 1 extra year, so they can spread all their courses over 3 years instead of 2.
Most of the faculty is really good, and stand up to their reputation. Some are truly brilliant and awesome. There are a few who're not that good, but then every university has pros and cons.
The institute itself is amazing and has an eccentric aura to it. I'm a Mumbaikar ,and have been visiting IITB since my school days. So I've been absolutely in love with the campus since long. And after being admitted here, it really stands up to all the expectations.
Sorry for the really lengthy answer, but I hope it helps you!