CSIR or DBT-BET JRF Exam: Which is better?

CSIR or DBT-BET JRF Exam: Which is better?

CSIR (Council of Scientific and Industrial Research) was established as an autonomous body by the Government of India in 1942. It has now emerged as the largest research and development organization in India. The University Grants Commission (UGC) came into existence in 1953 and became a statutory Organization of the Government of India by an Act of Parliament for coordination and maintenance of teaching, examination and research standards in university education. Both of these entities award Research Fellowships to bright young students for training in methods of research under the expert guidance of faculty members/scientists working in University Department/ National Laboratories and Institutions in various fields of Science. The program aims at National Science & Technology Human Resource Development.

DBT Junior Research Fellowship (JRF) program is the flagship and the most prestigious program of the Department of Biotechnology (DBT), Government of India. Every year around 1000 of students apply for this prestigious program. Department of Biotechnology has an integrated human resource development program. Human resource is the most crucial requirement for any R &D, teaching, or even production related activities. JRF program was initiated by the department way back in 1985 to enhance the students to pursue research in the field of biotechnology in the country. This program was initially implemented by the University of Pune, then it was shifted to National Cell culture Science, Pune, and of late, Biotech Consortium India Limited is helping DBT with the implementation of DBT-JRF.

Table of Contents

CSIR or DBT-BET JRF Exam – Which is better? Let’s Analyze!
  • Entrance Test Syllabus:

CSIR: Several other agencies like CSIR, ICMR and ICAR offer fellowship which are mostly conventional discipline oriented. Therefore students of Biotechnology are at a disadvantage, as the question papers for their entrance exams are based on more conventional disciplines like Botany, Zoology, Cytology, Genetics, Taxonomy, Biochemistry, etc.

Preparing for CSIR Exam helps you cover the syllabus of almost all Biotech / Life science entrance exams.

DBT: The main key objective of the DBT-JRF program is to provide fellowship to enough researchers in Biotechnology field in the country. Therefore, DBT-JRF entrance exam will have more questions from Biotechnology oriented topics like Recombinant DNA Technology, Immunology, Biochemical Engineering, etc. The DBT-JRF entrance exam is exclusively framed for the Biotechnology qualifications, hence candidates with qualifications other then Biotech will have a lot of reading to do.

  • Exam Fees :

CSIR: Entrance exam fees are Rs 1000 for general category, Rs 500 for OBC and Rs 250 for SC/ST candidates.

DBT: Entrance exam fees are Rs 1000 for general category, while SC/ST students are exempted from paying fees for the DBT exam

  • Exam Attempts :

CSIR: CSIR entrance exam has unlimited attempts. If you are applying for JRF the upper age limit is – 28 years. Whereas for the LS – Lecturership category there is no age limit.

BET restricts only 3 attempts per candidate during his/her career

  • Exam pattern:

CSIR: Question paper is divided into 3 sections ALL OF WHICH HAVE OPTIONS, which is a bit of a relief in terms of preparation (entire syllabus need not be studied, and students can select units they are comfortable in). However, negative marking is there in CSIR entrance exam. Part A is common to all subjects containing questions pertaining to General Aptitude with emphasis on logical reasoning, graphical analysis, analytical and numerical ability, quantitative comparison, series formation, puzzles, etc. Part B contains subject-related direct to the point conventional questions from the topics mentioned in the syllabus. Part C contains higher value questions of analytical nature where a candidate is expected to apply the scientific knowledge to arrive at the solution to the given scientific problem, which can be quite challenging. So a detailed knowledge of scientific concepts and their application is extremely essential to clear CSIR. From this year Dec 2019 Exam – CSIR NET Exam will be conducted online and the pattern may change.

DBT: Selection for DBT-JRF is through an online MCQ based entrance test called a Biotech eligibility Test (BET) conducted at around 40 centers across the country. The test consists of 200 questions, divided into PART A, CONTAINING 50 QUESTIONS ALL OF WHICH ARE MANDATORY, and Part B in which 50 questions must be attempted out of 150 questions from various field of specialization. So while the students have lots of options in Part B to choose from questions on agricultural biotech, medical biotech, pharma-biotech, neuroscience, they do have a restriction in Part A to answer 50 mandatory questions. Preparation strategy for this exam is to look at the previous year questions and answer keys published on DBT and BCIL website and also following the prescribed curriculum /syllabus which has recently been designed exclusively for BET. Earlier it used to follow the same syllabus as CSIR UGC JRF entrance exam.

  • Qualification Eligibility:

CSIR: Eligibility requirements are BS-4 years program/ BE/B.Tech/B. Pharma/MBBS/ Integrated BS-MS/M.Sc. or Equivalent degree/B.Sc (Hons) or equivalent and students enrolled in integrated MS-Ph.D program with at least 55% marks for General & OBC (50% for SC/ST candidates and Persons with Disability). So the qualifying marks for the entrance test is lesser in case of CSIR.

DBT: Students with BE, BTech, M.Sc, Mtech or equivalent degrees are eligible for DBT-JRF. However, it should be noted that some institutes in the country do not allow Btech or Mtech students to register for Ph.D. Students with a minimum of 60% marks in their qualifying degree are eligible. There is a 5% relaxation for SC/ST/Differently abled students.

  • Fellowship Details:

CSIR: Appearing for the CSIR exam, has an advantage that fellowships are offered from both CSIR and UGC, both having separate merit lists. Needless to say, the number of fellowships offered by CSIR is much more.

This fellowship can be activated in ALL research institutes and universities in the country, including deemed universities and private institutes. There are no restrictions in this area. CSIR/UGC Fellowships can be activated in Universities/IITs/Post Graduate Colleges/Govt. Research Establishments including those of the CSIR, Research & Development establishments of recognized public and even private sector industrial firms and other recognized institutions.

CSIR Fellowships Has Been Hiked – Check Details Here

DBT: JRF has a provision for 250-270 fellowships per year, but in the past years, although not more than 150-175 students have actually activated the fellowship.

DBT JRF has are 2 categories of fellowships. The 1st category offers 275 fellowships which are tenable in any research institutions or universities. Under the 2nd category, a merit list of 100 students is published; who is eligible to join any of the DBT funded external projects in the country. However, DBT does not provide fellowship to these candidates. They have to avail the fellowship from the project that they are working in. Some institutions projects may not even allow the student to register for Ph.D. This is distinct from the 1st category, where the student has to mandatorily register for Ph.D. in order to avail the fellowship.

  • Contingency Grant:

The contingency can be availed for minor accessories required for the Ph.D. research work.

CSIR: A contingency grant of Rs. 20,000/ year is provided

: A contingency grant of Rs. 30,000/ year is provided

  • Certificates:

CSIR: CSIR candidates receive qualifying certificates with their rank & score mentioned. It can be used for availing Ph.D. admission at any institution or get a Teaching Jon at any institution or University if you have applied for LS.

DBT: Upon clearing the DBT JRF exam, successful candidates receive award letters, which they can use to get admission in Ph.D.

  • RA category criteria :

While both the exams have options to apply for the entrance test under a Result Awaited (RA) category, yet there is a difference in the criteria to be fulfilled.

CSIR: Candidates just enrolled for M.Sc are eligible to apply under the RA category (provided they complete the qualifying degree with requisite percentage of marks within the 2 years validity period to avail the fellowship from the effective date of the award.)

DBT: BET requires the candidates due to appear in the final examination of their qualifying degree in order to be eligible for appearing under this category.

  • Special Grants :

CSIR: One benefit which CSIR exam has is that the top students clearing JRF are awarded a special fellowship called the Shyama Prasad Mukherjee Grant. This fellowship stipend amount is Rs.29000/- + HRA per month during the first two years of the fellowship and a Contingency grant of Rs.70000/- per annum. It may be raised to Rs.34000/- + HRA per month from third year onwards on the basis of assessment through interview. This also has a condition, that if performance is not found satisfactory, it may be reverted to JRF (NET).

DBT: On similar lines, DBT is also considering to award the top students in the merit list of BET with an enhanced fellowship in the name of DBT’s Founder Secretary, Dr. S Ramachandran. But this is still under consideration and may be implemented soon.

Common for both CSIR and DBT :

  • The age limit for both DBT JRF and CSIR is up to 28 years, with a relaxation of 3 years for OBC and 5 years to SC/ST/ Differently abled/women students, (following the reservation norms according to Government of India)
  • Whether it is CSIR or DBT-BET JRF Exam – The validity for the successful candidates to register for Ph.D. for both DBT and CSIR entrance exams is 2 years, where the students can utilize the time to pursue Ph.D. in any recognized and prestigious university or institute of their choice. It has to be noted that the actual activation of the fellowship starts with the registration of Ph.D.
  • The amount & duration of both the fellowships is similar -a maximum of 5 years. After 2 years, the progress of the student is reviewed, depending on which the student can be upgraded from JRF to SRF (Senior Research Fellowship). Hence the 5 years duration is co-terminus with the submission of the Ph.D. thesis, and the actual award of the degree. In case the student finishes early, the fellowship will get terminated.

One advantage of the DBT JRF fellowship is that it is directly disbursed to the students, whereas normally other fellowships are disbursed to the institutes, where the students are pursuing their Ph.D. Very recently, DBT had implemented direct benefit transfer scheme of Government of India with effect from 1st April 2018. Under this scheme, around 629 fellowships were transferred to the Junior Research Fellows / Senior Research fellows’ respective bank accounts.

One disadvantage for DBT JRF BET exam is that it does not provide Lectureship Eligibility, which CSIR UGC NET provides. The same entrance for CSIR JRF also determines the eligibility of candidates (i.e it is only the eligibility criteria) for Lectureship positions in Indian University/Colleges. Those who qualify for JRF are also eligible for Lectureship automatically, subject to fulfilling the eligibility criteria laid down by UGC. But even this is a sector which is being currently being worked on by DBT-JRF, so even qualifying BET may also provide lectureship eligibility in the coming years.


DBT-JRF entrance exam happens once in a year, whereas, CSIR happens twice in a year, one in the month of June and another in the month of September, notifications for which come in the month of Feb-March and September, respectively, which are also the time for the declaration of the previous exams. So this opens up more chances of getting Ph.D. admissions. Some institutions such as IISc also open up for Midyear admissions around September, for which CSIR exam qualification can be very advantageous.

The notifications for DBT-JRF exam are released in the months of January-February and the entrance test is held in the month of March- April. The result of the successful candidate is declared by April-May which is an ideal time because in case the student gets admission, he/she can directly be absorbed into fellowship and can start pursuing Ph.D. immediately without any career break or gaps.

Majority of the student section may find CSIR qualification to be most prestigious, and also to be opening varied areas to be pursued for research, but that is because DBT JRF has not got much awareness among students. And that also makes DBT JRF exam much less competitive.

The discipline of BET syllabus being restricted only to Biotechnology and its subfields, needless to say, the preparation of this exam becomes only qualifying subject-specific and the candidate does not have to venture into other subjects, which obviously is time-consuming. While preparing for CSIR exam, one also gets prepared for other Biotechnology based entrances including BET, so one should definitely not miss out on appearing for this exam if they are already preparing for CSIR.

Biotechnology is knowledge and technology-intensive area, which becomes obsolete at a very fast pace. DBT aims at fuelling the Biotech economy of the country so that the students can innovate through research in the field of technology which demands a constant upgrade in order to remain competitive in the global environment. However, with CSIR qualification as well, one can get into a research area of their interest. So whether it is CSIR or DBT-BET JRF Exam, the scientific community should look at making research the ultimate aim of their career.

About the Author
Ms. Urmimala Ray, one of the finest faculties at BioTecNika, loved and idealized by a lot of students. Her fluent narration, upgraded knowledge, and hardworking nature are most talked about. She has been an ardent follower of all latest innovations in the field of Bioscience. The above article on – CSIR or DBT-BET JRF Exam has been penned by her after having decades of experience in training students for these exams.

Keywords: CSIR or DBT-BET JRF Exam, CSIR NET exam benefits, DBT BET JRF Exam benefits, Details on CSIR NET exam, Details on DBT-BET JRF Exam, Comparison between CSIR NET Exam & DBT BET JRF Exam.

Perfection is her hobby, Reliability is a synonym, Editing is her passion, Excellence is her Goal, Tactfulness is in her genes, Yellow is her Fav color. Preety is the name of the Professional on whom entire BioTecNika relies when it comes to its website. A Gold Medalist in Biotech from SRM University, Chennai with a 9.9 CGPA ( was awarded the Gold Medal by Honorable Prime Minister of India Shri Narendra Modi , as seen in the pic ), She decided to join forces with BioTecNika to ensure India's largest BioSciences Portal expands its reach to every city in India. She has redesigned the new avatar of BioTecNika from scratch and heads the most dynamic, vibrant and well informed Online Team at Biotecnika Info Labs Pvt Ltd


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