Graduates can now directly join PhD programmes under new pattern: UGC Chief

The Chairperson of the University Grants Commission (UGC), M Jagadesh Kumar, announced today that, under the new structure, graduates will have the opportunity to directly enroll in PhD programs. He also emphasized that the existing three-year undergraduate courses will not be discontinued until the four-year program is fully implemented.

Earlier this week, the UGC introduced a new credit and curriculum framework for undergraduate (UG) courses, defining Honors degree programs as four-year programs. According to the UGC chief, under these four-year undergraduate degrees, graduates will no longer need to obtain a Master’s degree before pursuing a PhD.

Regarding the timeline for the full implementation of the Four-Year Undergraduate Program (FYUP), Kumar stated that there is no specific deadline, but they are committed to collaborating with higher education institutions to implement the FYUP as soon as possible. He reassured that the three-year courses will remain in place until the four-year program is fully rolled out.

“Some universities, like Delhi University, have already adopted the FYUP. Many other universities are in the process of implementing it for the 2023 academic session. Over the next few years, many universities are expected to embrace this change to attract top-tier students to their programs,” Kumar explained.

Kumar highlighted the advantages of the FYUP, including the elimination of the requirement for a Master’s degree to enter a PhD program and the flexibility to pursue a single or double major for a deeper understanding of a particular field. He also pointed out that the FYUP incorporates multidisciplinary courses, skill enhancement programs, value-added courses, and internships, which will enhance students’ employment opportunities and prospects for higher studies.

However, Kumar clarified that universities have the freedom to choose between the three-year and four-year programs. He stated, “It is ultimately up to the universities.”

When asked whether it is mandatory for universities to transition to the four-year pattern for Honors degrees, Kumar explained, “The current three-year UG programs will continue, whether they are labeled as UG degrees such as BA, BCom, or BSc, or UG degrees with Honors such as BA (Hons), BCom (Hons), or BSc (Hons).”

Moreover, universities have the option to leverage the four-year undergraduate program (FYUP) curriculum framework and introduce new courses within the existing three-year UG programs. This can include offering multiple entry and exit options, flexible degree choices with single majors, double majors, multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary education, integration with vocational courses, internships, and skill enhancement courses.

The UGC recently notified the curriculum and credit framework for undergraduate programs, providing students with a range of options for entry and exit, the choice between single majors and double majors, as well as interdisciplinary subject choices. This framework has been developed by revising the existing Choice-Based Credit System. Under this new program, students will pursue four-year honors degrees instead of the current three-year courses, with honors degrees offered in two categories: honours and honours with research.