PhD and JRF are two separate terms related to a career in academics especially, higher education.
PhD vs JRF
The difference between a PhD and a JRF is that the former is a degree conferred on students on completion of their research thesis or dissertation. While the latter is a fellowship granted to students to encourage them to pursue advanced studies and research leading ultimately to M.Phil or PhD.
A Doctorate of Philosophy or a PhD is the highest degree that is conferred by a university in any academic discipline. To get a PhD degree, one needs to produce an original research work that would widen the knowledge base of a particular discipline and defend that work in the face of concerned field experts.
On the other hand, a Junior Research Fellowship or a JRF is a form of fellowship that is extended by the universities/colleges/institutions under the flagship JRF scheme of the University Grants Commission to the students who qualify the National Eligibility Test and the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) joint test conducted by the National Testing Agency.
It also refers to a position conferred to a person researching a project funded by the government.
Comparison Table Between PhD and JRF (in Tabular Form)
|Parameter of Comparison||PhD||JRF|
|Definition||It is the highest degree conferred on students for their original academic research work by a university or an institution of higher education.||It is a fellowship scheme extended to students by the UGC to encourage them to pursue advanced research and studies.|
|Eligibility||To pursue a PhD degree, one must have a Master’s degree or an M. Phil degree.||To avail JRF, one must have qualified the UGC-NET and UGC-CSIR joint exam.|
|Period||Minimum of three years and maximum five to six years.||Minimum two years and a maximum of five years|
|Conferred by||A university or an institution of higher education.||University Grants Commission (UGC).|
|It is a requirement for||Employment as a professor or a researcher or a scientist in a university.||Undertaking advance research and studies leading ultimately to M.Phil or PhD.|
What is PhD?
It is the highest degree conferred by a university on students who have completed their original research work in a particular discipline and thus, contributed to expanding the knowledge base of the concerned discipline.
The degree is a symbol of approval received by the students for their research work submitted in the form of a thesis or a dissertation from the concerned field experts.
In many fields, a doctoral degree is considered a requirement for employment as a Professor or a Researcher or a Scientist in a university or an institution. Those who have earned a PhD degree can and may use the title ‘Doctor’ before their name.
The conditions for enrolment in a PhD programme are different in different countries.
In India, students who aspire to pursue a PhD degree must have a Master’s degree in the concerned subject. In some institutions, they also need to have an M. Phil degree.
After their enrolment in a PhD programme, the candidates need to submit their Research topic and Research proposal to the concerned university or institutions following which they would be allocated a Research Guide or Supervisor. The Research Supervisor would provide them with the course work, teaching schedule and evaluation methodology.
While working on their research project, the candidates need to submit their six months of progress reports to the concerned university or institution. They also need to do at least two seminar presentations and submit a Certificate to the Research Unit in the prescribed format. After that, they need to publish at least one research paper in a peer-refereed journal and submit a certificate to the Research Unit.
Before the submission of the thesis, a pre-submission seminar would be organised by the candidate’s supervisor based on which a report containing suggestions and modifications would be submitted. The supervisor would make sure that those suggestions are accommodated by the Research student and a summary of the modified version of the thesis would be submitted to the Supervisor at least forty-five days before the final submission.
Following the final submission of the thesis and eventual approval by the external experts, a viva-voice would be conducted in which the Research student would be allowed to defend their thesis before an experts’ panel. If the latter is convinced, a PhD degree would be conferred on the Research student.
What is JRF?
It is a fellowship scheme of the University Grants Commission that is provided by the universities/institutions/ colleges to the students who have qualified the National Eligibility Test (NET) and the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) joint test.
After qualifying in the NET/CSIR joint exam, the candidates should enrol in an M.Phil/PhD programme within two years of receiving the qualifying certificate. The fellowship amount would be provided only after joining.
The goal of such fellowship is to pursue the students to pursue advanced research and studies in their respective fields ultimately leading to M.Phil and PhD.
Initially, the fellowship (an amount of 25,000 per month + House Rent Allowance) is provided for two years. Following the end of these two years, the research work of the fellow is examined by a panel of experts. If they are satisfied with the work, the fellowship is further extended for three years and the stipend is enhanced under the grants of Senior Research Fellowship.
If the panel is not satisfied, then an extension of one year is given to the fellow for improvement. After a year, the experts again evaluate the work of the fellow who is provided with two more years of SRF if the panel is satisfied by the improvement of the fellow.
So, the total tenure of such fellowship is 5 years (2 years JRF+3 years SRF).
Main Differences Between PhD and JRF
- Both the terms are somehow related to advanced studies and research and therefore, often create confusion for a layperson. The main difference between a PhD and a JRF is that the former is the highest degree conferred on students by their respective universities. While the latter is a fellowship scheme extended to the students by the UGC for helping them in pursuing advanced research and studies.
- Students are required to qualify in the UGC-NET or UGC-CSIR joint exam to avail the JRF scheme. While they need to have a Master’s or M.Phil degree to enrol in a PhD programme.
- A JRF is initially provided for two years and is eventually extended for three more years with an enhanced stipend under the grants of SRF. While a PhD course can be completed within a minimum of three years and maximum five or six years.
- A PhD degree is needed for employment as a professor or a researcher or a scientist in a university or an institution. While a JRF provides financial assistance for pursuing higher studies and academic research.
- A person with a JRF may not get a PhD degree. But for pursuing a PhD degree, fellowships like JRF are required.
People often confuse JRF with PhD and mistakenly use them interchangeably. This happens because, in a college or a university, both scholars with a doctorate and those pursuing a PhD degree can be seen taking classes and getting involved in research works. But it is important to remember that one might not get a PhD degree after getting a JRF. However, for a PhD degree, some kind of fellowship is required.