Selection process for JAP

JAP students are selected through an interview. To be eligible for the interview the eligibility criteria is a Masters degree in physics, chemistry or mathematics; or BE/B Tech or equivalent degree in electrical, electronics, electrical communication engineering. The interview primarily tests your aptitude for basic physics, and your possible inclination towards instrumentation/observational astronomy.

The structure of the programme

After selection the candidates stay at the Indian Institute of Science for a year during which they complete the graduate school. The graduate school is designed to give a comprehensive training in all aspects of astronomy and astrophysics (you can look at the syllabus for the first semester and the second semester to see which topics are covered). After the graduate school, you are expected to choose a supervisor(s) from one of the four institutes. It is also possible to work with multiple supervisors from different institutes. After the first year you are expected to shift to the parent institute of your main supervisor, however, your PhD degree will be awarded by the Indian Insitute of Science. JAP students also enjoy the advantage that all the participating institutes will extend to them some of the facilities that they offer to their regular students. To summarize, JAP offers to you

  1. A joint graduate school, which offers a broad and uniform coverage of astronomy and astrophysics.
  2. The freedom of choosing the research supervisor at the end of the course work.
  3. Accommodation at the IISc students’ hostel during the course work
  4. PhD degree granted by IISc.

To underscore the importance of these points, note that astronomy and astrophysics is different from other disciplines in physics in that undergraduates are rarely exposed to it, and some exposure to it is required before they can decide their PhD thesis topic. Therefore, a graduate school that draws upon the collective expertise of four different institutes makes the JAP graduate school one of the best in the country. It is also useful to encourage future astronomers to share a period of studentship with their peers in many other branches of science and engineering, which the JAP students gain from their first year compulsory stay at the Indian Institute of Science.

A few words on the nature of astronomy research and JAP

The character of research in astronomy has changed over the recent years due to the availability of a large quantity of high quality astronomical data, and an exponential increase in modern computing power; this has led to research in astronomy becoming highly collaborative. It is now common for a research team to consist of observers, theorists and simulators. Although our institutes have grown to accommodate diverse faculty in their astronomy departments to reflect this change, a bulk of such expertise is still scattered across different institutes.

The collaborating institutes—the Indian Institute of Science (IISc), the Indian Institute of Astrophysics (IIA), the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO), and the Raman Research Institute (RRI)—are all leading astronomy research in the country. These institutions have their own research and teaching programmes that are tailored to meet their individual requirements. Since no single institute can be expected to have all the necessary expertise to tackle problems in astrophysics that fundamentally require collaborative inter-disciplinary approaches, fostering collaboration between institutes seems like the logical step forward. In fact, such collaborations are absolutely essential if we Indian astrophysicists, as a community, are to make a significant impact internationally.

Owing to a recent boom in the creation of astronomical facilities, trained work force is required for the operation and development of existing astronomical facilities as well as the forthcoming facilities such as ASTROSAT---a multi-wavelength astronomy satellite; High Altitude Gamma Ray (HAGAR) telescope at Hanle; Major Atmospheric Cerenkov Experiment (MACE) telescope at Hanle; Aditya Space coronagraph; Chandrayaan-2 and missions to other planets, radio interferometers such as GMRT, MWA and SKA. These opportunities are collectively available to the JAP students since they get one year to decide on which of the four institutes they would like to join. Moreover, some of these opportunities may involve joint research with people from different institutes, which is greatly facilitated by this programme.