Top IIT Alternatives You Should Know About

Each year – at this time of the year – lakhs of Class 12 PCM students go through a baptism by fire – that of appearing for the JEE-Main and JEE-Advanced entrance exams for admissions to the IITs. Eventually, just 1-2% of candidates attempting these make it into the IITs while nearly 98% of candidates are left disappointed. Some who don’t make it accept this reality and move on to seek admissions into private colleges. Others consciously decide to ‘drop’ a year to appear for the IITs the following year. This extremely risky strategy is surprisingly popular among a large section of students. This leads us to the key question – are PCM students betting their whole future on their chances of making it into IITs? Are they aware of other good alternatives available?

Awareness levels – A reality check

So, currently how are students learning about higher education options? Students are heavily peer-influenced, i.e., they follow what their friends do or advice. There is also a dependence on coaching centers to guide them. And lastly, some amount of direction is provided by family members.

These approaches of learning about available options are very inefficient. Even the best of friends hide crucial opportunities fearing competition. Parents being busy also do not have a comprehensive view of all options. It is estimated that nearly 85% of Class 11/12 students don’t know that they don’t know of many good higher education options. This is a dangerous state to be in. This information gap leads to students missing some great options.

Some options better than or equivalent to IITs

Let’s look at some options that all PCM students should explore in addition to their fixation to IITs.

IIIT – Hyderabad

Autonomous university setup under a public-private-partnership mode. Offers dual degree programs in B.Tech+M.S. in Computer Science & Engineering, B.Tech+M.S. in Electronics and Communication Engineering, B.Tech in Computer Science & Engineering and M.S. in Computational Linguistics, B.Tech in Computer Science & Engineering and M.S. in Computational Natural Sciences. Admissions are via entrance exam called UGEE.

CMI – Chennai

CMI is a Deemed University and a premier research and education institute and is noted for its research in the field of algebraic geometry. It offers B.Sc. (Hons.) in Mathematics and Computer Science, B.Sc. (Hons.) in Mathematics and Physics. Admissions are via separate entrance exam.

ISI – Kolkata

Indian Statistical Institute is an Institute of National Importance (like IIT) and was established in 1931 in Kolkata. If offers B.Stat (Hons) from Kolkata campus and B.Math (Hons) from its Bengaluru Campus. Admissions are via separate entrance exam.

IOMA – Bhubaneswar

The Institute of Mathematics and Applications is located in Bhubaneswar and offers BSc (H) in Mathematics and Computing. Admissions are via separate entrance exam.


Indian Institutes of Science Education and Research (IISERs) are high-quality scientific education and research institutions setup by the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD). The IISERs offer wonderful opportunities for graduate and undergraduate students seeking fulfilling science-based careers. There are in all 7 IISERs across India. IISERs offer 3 modes of admissions – via KVPY, JEE Main, and IISER Aptitude Test.

Delhi University

This is a unique B.Tech program offered by the University of Delhi. The course offered is B.Tech (Information Technology and Mathematical Innovations). Admissions are via a separate entrance exam.

Similarly, there are other opportunities which each science student should be aware of. The career pathways offered by such institutions are indeed proven and promising – be it industry recognition, curriculum or placements.

Benefits of attempting these options

Preparation – The level of preparation for JEE Main is sufficient for appearing for many of these opportunities.

Reputation – Did you know that the ISI, setup in 1931, was adopted as a model for the first US Institute of Statistics? Did you know that the Governing Council of IIIT-H has luminaries such as Prof. Raj Reddy (Carnegie Mellon University), R. Chandrashekhar (President – NASSCOM), Prof. Ashok Jhunjhunwala (Prof at IIT-Madras), and Dr. Vinton G Cerf (Chief Internet Evangelist, Google)?

All-India Eligibility – All the options mentioned above have all-India seats.  While some institutes have a few seats reserved for state domicile candidates, the other seats are open for candidates across the country.

In summary, while it is great to keep IIT as a key target, don’t lose sight of other options that are better than or equal to IITs.

As Henry Hartman once said, “Success Always Comes When Preparation Meets Opportunity”.

About the author: Tarun Ravindran is a Co-founder at MyExamPlan, an online opportunity discovery platform.

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