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What Is the Best Branch in IIT and How Do I Choose?

The most crucial step after qualifying the nerve-wracking IIT JEE Advanced exam is deciding which branch to take up in IITs. This crucial step of choosing the branch determines a student’s entire career path, which adds on to the pressure.

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It is common to see IITians regretting their choice of branch after they start college. If you cracked the JEE and qualified for admission into an IIT, you’ll face this dilemma regarding the best branch in IIT. Generally speaking, you should keep in mind all the pros and cons of the branch while making your choice. This includes job prospects, and most importantly–its relevance to your interests. You should also keep in mind the specific IIT that you are considering. This includes its faculties, ranking among other IITs, and other such criteria. In this article, we’ll guide you on how to choose a the best branch in IIT for your specific interests.

The Branches in IITs

Many students make the mistake of not fully educating themselves about the available branches in IITs. This leads to making uninformed decisions, generally relying on pieces of advice from parents and relatives. Such decisions can turn out to be detrimental, resulting in an eventual loss of interest in the hastily chosen branch. It is possible that a particular branch is tailor-made for your interests and you may not even know about it! Hence, we’ll first take a look at some branches that are common in all/most of the IITs.

Aerospace Engineering

Aerospace engineering is the field that deals with aircraft and spacecraft. It has two main branches: aeronautical engineering and astronautical engineering. Currently, four IITs offer a degree in this discipline. If you’re interested in aircraft, you should definitely consider this branch. All the IITs that offer this branch have facilities like wind tunnel testing labs, propulsion lab, aerodynamics lab, etc. These facilities make them well-suited for this branch of study.

Bio-Engineering

Bio-Engineering, as the name suggests, deals with the intersection of biology and engineering. It aims to create economically viable products using principles of biology, and the tools of engineering. It’s an exciting field of study! It arms you with the potential to make a huge impact on people worldwide. So if you are someone who is interested in biology, you should take a look at this branch.

Chemical Engineering

Chemical Engineering is all about converting huge amounts of chemicals and other raw materials into useful forms. Many students mistakenly think that this branch involves only chemistry, which is not true. It also involves concepts of Physics and Maths. Chemical Engineers generally acquire a wide variety of skills and are highly employable. They tackle everyday problems like combating acid rain, reducing lead pollution, etc. Hence, it is considered an important job. Chemical Engineers are among the highest paid engineers globally, so it’s a good choice if you’re interested in this field.

Civil Engineering

This branch deals with the design and construction of works such as buildings, roads, residences, dams, airport, etc. Civil Engineering is also an important job. The resulting structures impact the daily lives of many thousands, if not millions, of people.

Civil Engineers are vital for any nation’s development, and are hence in demand. And this career path doesn’t only affect buildings and roads. Civil Engineers also figure out how to allocate and effectively manage scarce national resources. Placements are generally good in this branch, and you can take up openings in government jobs. This branch involves a good amount of math and physics. So if that is where your interests lie, this may be the branch for you.

Computer Science and Engineering

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This is the most popular and in-demand branch among the IITians. The opening and closing rank for this branch is generally very low compared to other branches. It provides a fair overview of computational systems as well as hardware. This line of study involves a fair amount of math and algorithmic thinking.

With most of the world becoming more and more technologically oriented, CSE is at the forefront of this change. You’ll learn important and relevant concepts like blockchain, software development, and machine learning. The placement record for this branch is generally excellent, with many international companies recruiting students. That’s part of the reason for CSE’s high demand among students. So if you’re interested in coding, I recommend that you look into this branch.

Engineering Physics

Engineering physics is the study of the combined areas of physics, mathematics, and engineering. It aims to create and apply new methods in engineering. This branch is offered at many IITs and covers a range of topics from physics and math. It also paves the way for further research in different areas of Physics. So, if you are good at physics and can see yourself becoming a physicist, then this is the branch for you.

Electrical Engineering

This is another popular choice among students, second only to CSE. Many students opt for Electrical if they don’t get into CSE in their preferred IIT. It deals with the study and application of electricity, electronics, and electromagnetism.

There are also subdivisions that are available in some IITs. Almost every device we use today is made possible by Electrical Engineering! Electrical engineers are generally in high demand in the job market, so it’s a popular choice. Placements at IITs in Electrical Engineering are also very good, so it’s a good option if this is where your interests lie.

Mathematics and Computing

This branch is another popular choice, although it is available only at selected IITs. It is popular because the skills taught are similar to those taught in CSE. You can think of this branch as an intersection of Computer Science and pure math. Placements are also excellent for students of this branch. Once you complete your bachelors you can branch out into applied math research, or go into the software development field.

Material Science and Engineering

As the name suggests, material science engineering requires you to design and discover new materials, especially solids. It further extends to many research areas, such as nanotechnology, biochemicals, etc. The materials developed in these ways have a large number of uses, such as in aviation. Therefore, this branch is vastly interdisciplinary, so you’ll be learning about many different branches along the way.

Mechanical Engineering

Mechanical Engineering aims to manufacture mechanical systems using physics, engineering, and mathematics. It also involves 3-D modeling of the mechanical systems using CAD (Computer Aided Design). It is at the forefront of many future developments in sectors such as transport, healthcare, robotics, etc. This branch is also good in terms of placements and job prospects. It involves a lot of physics related concepts, such as thermodynamics, statics, fluid mechanics, etc. Consider this option if you’re strong in these areas.

These are the popular branches that students choose in IITs. However, there are a lot of other branches that may interest you. Examples include Metallurgical Engineering, Textile Engineering, and others. There are some unconventional branches that are not popular but can stir up your interest.

For example, IIT Hyderabad has a branch named Engineering Science that you can take up if you are not interested in any particular branch. You will be given the opportunity to choose your preferred branch after you have experienced what each branch is actually like. You’re strongly advised to research thoroughly and educate yourself about all possible branches, specifically the unconventional ones. Earnest research is the best way to find a branch which truly interests you. So have a look at our blog on life after cracking the JEE.

Choosing a Branch

Choosing a branch can be a very exhausting process, but it is an important step in your career. Before choosing a branch, you must figure out if engineering is really what interests you. Be honest with yourself. If you aren’t interested in coming up with solutions to practical problems in everyday life–which is what engineering is all about–then no matter what branch you choose, you’re likely to grow bored and possibly unhappy at some point.

Hence, figure out why you like engineering before embarking on your career. After this, determine all the possible choices that you have in IITs based on your rank. Then list them all out. Research everything thoroughly before making a decision.

Once you’ve cleared the exam, you will be asked to list your order of preference according to branches and the IITs you want. You will then be allocated the branches according to your rank and order of preference. It is important to sort out all your options and put the order of preference correctly, otherwise, you may end up getting an undesirable branch. Whenever possible, take the help of other IITians to guide you throughout the process.

Refer to Past Year Rank Data

As soon as your rank gets released, take a look at the previous years’ opening and closing rank data. This is usually provided by the authority conducting the counseling. Using that data, prepare a list of all the branches that you have a chance of getting. Note that the opening and closing ranks are merely indicative and can fluctuate from year to year. Hence, it is best to take a consider at least a few years’ data to be sure of the branches for which you are eligible. Make a list of your desired branches and check if you are eligible for that branch.

Don’t hesitate to put a branch for which you are seemingly ineligible! Remember that closing ranks can fluctuate and you can end up getting the branch you wanted in the first place. It is important to get the order of preference right, since you may lose out on a branch if you place it lower in your priority list.

Do Your Bit of Research

Students often make the mistake of not researching the branch they’re interested in before taking it. This often results in a loss of interest in their college studies. Why? Because their interests are not actually aligned with the branch that they chose!

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So look into the course details thoroughly. Get to know the course details from the particular IIT’s webpage. Also look at what the courses are about. Usually, department web pages of the IITs have info regarding each course and what will be taught in it. It is possible that different IITs have slight variations in the courses that they teach in the same branch. If possible, get to know the experiences and testimonials of other people who have taken up the same branch in that IIT, and use that to get a feel of how that branch is going to be.

Students also make the mistake of looking at opening/closing ranks of various branches as a reflection of that branch’s importance in their preference order. The fact that other people are taking this branch doesn’t mean that you will also like/dislike this particular branch. In fact, many students who refer only to opening/closing ranks later become disinterested in the coursework. Hence, it is important for you to look at the branches which genuinely interest you. Look at the course details of that particular IIT, and then make an informed decision.

Preference of Branch vs. IIT

Another issue that most students get confused about is the issue of branch vs. IIT. The general dilemma is whether to choose a good branch in a new IIT (which generally rank lower than the older IITs) or an average branch (by placement records) in an old IIT. One general piece of advice is, again, to look at why you’re taking up the branch in particular.

If you are getting into engineering with the purpose of landing a good job, then take up the higher paying branches at the newer IITs. This is because recruiters only look at student skills and not their institutions.

Talk to Experienced Students

But, if you’re unsure about your branch, have no specific interest in any particular branch, and want to experience the full college life–then give preference to the old IITs. You will have a better extra-curricular experience there because they have well-established clubs for specific interests. That being said, some newer IITs also have good opportunities for extra-curricular activities that help in personality development.

Therefore, it is important to research the IITs in advance. One good source to get to know about any IIT is, as mentioned above, student testimonials and experiences. It is best to take advice from people who have experienced these dilemmas and have chosen one path. Try to find out how and why they chose that particular branch/IIT.

Think About the Facilities

It is crucial to keep in mind that certain IITs have better facilities at certain branches than others. The overall rankings of the IITs are generally not reflective of the quality of education imparted in specific branches. The rankings are also not indicative of the differences in the IITs in terms of branches. For example, an IIT may have world-class professors for CSE, but have comparatively lower standards for some other branches.

Hence, you should also look at the faculty of the department you’re about to choose and determine if that IIT is the best for that branch. A quick Google search will reveal the faculty that teaches at any particular IIT, or you can directly visit their websites. You can then take a look at their accomplishments and make an informed decision. You can also ask students at IITs regarding any branch at IITs. There are various social media platforms where you can approach students from various branches in IITs, specifically regarding IIT counseling. Reach out to them and clarify any doubts you might have.

Know About the Branch Change Process

In most of the IITs, the courses taught in the first year are common for all branches. This is done keeping in mind that many students take up their branches without actually experiencing them. After the first year, you will be given a chance to change to the branch of your choice, subject to certain conditions.

However, note that this option is only feasible if you have a good academic record by the end of the first year. In addition to that, the transfers between the branches are capped to a certain percentage of the branch’s total strength. This method of getting into a desirable branch is not advisable because you can never be certain about your performance at college, or the kind of competition you will experience from your peers. Many people opt for a branch change but only a few of them end up getting it, mostly because of the transfer restrictions.
Hence, it is imperative to thoroughly decide which branch you are interested in taking up rather than hoping to get a branch change.

Giving Priority to Your Interests vs. Job Prospects

Are you getting into IIT with the intent of getting a good job? If so, you’re not alone! But it is important to keep in mind that the branch which supposedly pays higher may not be aligned to your interests and you have to be prepared for it.

Do not make the mistake of thinking that you’re interested in some branch based solely on the job prospects and placement records. If you aren’t interested in a branch, do not take it just for the sake of a possible higher salary. Keep in mind that this will be what you do for many years and decades to come–and that’s a long time to regret your choice.

Clearly, it is also important to take a look at placement records and job prospects, especially when making such a huge career choice. If you are unsure about any branches, the placement records may make it easier to make up your mind.

Also, note that the placement figures in IITs are grossly exaggerated by the media. Do not take media as your source for placement figures. Go to the web pages of IITs and look at their official statements to get a better idea. We’ll also look at some of the branch-wise placement records in IITs.

Placement Records of IITs

IITs are generally well known for their excellent placement records. There are a lot of companies that visit IITs during placement season looking to hire the best talent for their companies. To make an informed decision on which branch to choose, students should also take a look at the placement scenario to get better clarity on their preferred branch.

These are some statistics of placements records in some of the IITs. The figures come from their official reports. Note that these reports may not be entirely representative of the placement scenario since many students also get placed through other channels different from campus placements. Some may have interests in higher education but still register for campus placements. Hence, these statistics should be merely used to give a vague idea about the placement scenarios at IITs.

IIT Bombay

IIT Bombay is one of the oldest IITs and is hence considered a well-established institute with solid academic and research background. Consequently, it attracts many recruiters during the placement season. This is also part of the reason why IIT Bombay is in such high demand among students. A total of 562 B.Tech students registered for placements, 514 participated, and 438 got placed in 2017-18, with a placement percentage of 85%.

IIT Bombay provides engineering education across 23 different departments, spanning students from under-graduation, post-graduation, to Ph.D.

The branch-wise placement statistics for IIT Bombay is shown in the table below.

Department2015 - 20162016 - 20172017 - 2018
Aerospace534853
Chemical9710192
Chemistry151817
Civil10589111
Computer Science187181174
Electrical205199185
Mechanical159163179
MEMS5092104

IIT Madras

IIT Madras is also an older IIT and is a favorite among recruiters looking to hire young graduates. Below are the statistics for the 2017-18 placement season. A total of 1147 students registered for placement and 834 got placed, with 95 pre-placement offers and a considerable number of students getting multiple offers.

DepartmentRegisteredPlaced
Aerospace222
Civil3723
Chemical5231
CSE2418
Electrical4837
Mechanical6845
Ocean Engg2919
Physics222

IIT Delhi

Below are the branch-wise placement statistics of IIT Delhi for 2014-15 placement season

DepartmentRegisteredPlaced
Chemical6253
Civil6154
CSE5050
Electrical5050
Mechanical7668
Textile Technology5949
Physics Engineering3127

IIT Kharagpur

Kharagpur is the oldest IIT. Although Kharagpur does not release the branch-wise placement statistics, we have compiled some statistics that give an overview of the overall placement scenario. The placement statistics for the 2017-18 season for IIT Kharagpur are listed below.

Number of students that participated1839
Number of companies that participated258
Total number of offers made1309
First-time recruiters at IIT KGP75
Average Salary13.3 lacs per annum
The sector with the highest placementsIT/Software
Branch with highest placementsCSE
Profile with the highest recruitmentSoftware Developer

Making an informed decision regarding the branch to be taken is crucial for your career. Hence, you should ponder the various aspects we’ve discussed, and choose the branch that aligns the best with your interests. Hope you found this blog post helpful and don’t forget to take a look at our JEE product.

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