What is the Difference Between PhD and JRF?

The difference between PhD and JRF is that the former is a degree awarded to students upon completion of their research thesis or dissertation. In contrast, the latter is a scholarship awarded to students to encourage them to pursue advanced study and research, ultimately leading to M.Phil or PhD.

PhD and JRF are two separate terms related to an academic career, especially higher education.

A Doctor of Philosophy or PhD is the highest degree awarded by a university in any academic discipline. To earn a PhD, you need to produce original research work that expands the knowledge base of a particular discipline and defend that work in front of interested field experts.

On the other hand, a Junior Research Scholarship or JRF is a form of scholarship that universities/colleges/institutions award under the JRF flagship scheme of the University Grants Commission to students, Who qualify for the National Eligibility Test and the Council of Joint Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) test conducted by the National Testing Agency.

It also refers to a position conferred on a person researching a government-funded project.

Comparison table between PhD and JRF





It is the highest title conferred on students for their original academic research work by a university or an institution of higher education.

It is a scholarship program that UGC extends to students to encourage them to pursue advanced research and study.


To earn a doctorate, you must have a master’s or master’s degree.

To take advantage of JRF, one must have scored the joint UGC-NET and UGC-CSIR exam.

Time course

Minimum of three years and maximum of five to six years.

Minimum two years and maximum five years

conferred by

A university or an institution of higher education.

University Grants Commission (UGC).

It is a requirement for

Employment as a teacher or researcher or scientist at a university.

Carry out advanced research and study ultimately leading to an M.Phil or PhD.

What is the doctorate?

It is the highest degree awarded by a university to students who have completed their original research work in a particular discipline. Thus, it has contributed to broadening the discipline’s knowledge base in question.

The title is symbolic of the approval received by students for their research work presented in the form of a thesis or dissertation from interested field experts.

A PhD is considered a requirement to work as a professor or researcher, or scientist at a university or institution in many fields. Those who have earned a PhD can use the title ‘Doctor’ before their name.

The conditions for enrollment in a doctoral program are different in different countries.

In India, students who aspire to obtain a doctorate must have a master’s degree in the subject in question. At some institutions, they also need to have an M. Phil degree.

After enrollment in a doctoral program, candidates must present their research topic and research proposal to the interested university or institution. They will be assigned a research guide or supervisor. The research supervisor would provide them with the course work, teaching schedule, and assessment methodology.

While working on their research project, candidates must submit their six-month progress reports to the university or institution concerned. They must also make at least two seminar presentations and submit a Certificate to the Research Unit in the prescribed format. After that, they must publish at least one research article in a peer-reviewed journal and submit a certificate to the Research Unit.

Before presenting the thesis, the candidate’s supervisor would organize a pre-presentation seminar from which a report with suggestions and modifications would be presented. The supervisor will ensure that these suggestions are taken into account by the research student. An abstract of the modified version of the thesis will be sent to the supervisor at least forty-five days before the final presentation.

After the final presentation of the thesis and the eventual approval by the external experts, a viva-voice would be held. The researcher would be allowed to defend his thesis before a panel of experts. A doctorate will be awarded to the research student if the latter is convinced.

What is JRF?

It is a University Scholarship Commission scholarship scheme provided by universities/institutions/colleges to qualified students for the National Eligibility Test (NET) and the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) joint test.

After qualifying on the joint NET/CSIR exam, candidates must enrol in an M.Phil/PhD program within two years of receiving the qualifying certificate. The scholarship amount will be provided only after you join.

Such scholarship aims to pursue students to pursue advanced research and study in their respective fields, ultimately leading to M.Phil and PhD.

Initially, the scholarship (25,000 per month + house rent allowance) is awarded for two years. After these two years have elapsed, the fellow’s research work is reviewed by experts. If they are satisfied with the work, the fellowship is extended for three years, and the Senior Research Fellowship grants enhance the stipend.

If the panel is not satisfied, the fellow is given a one-year extension for improvement. After one year, the experts re-evaluate the fellow’s work with two more years of SRF if the panel is satisfied with the fellow’s improvement.

So, the total duration of the said scholarship is five years (2 years JRF + 3 years SRF).

Main Difference Between PhD and JRF

  • These terms are somehow related to advanced study and research and thus often create confusion for a layman. The main difference between a PhD and a JRF is that the former is the highest degree awarded to students by their respective universities. While the latter is a scholarship scheme that the UGC extends to students to help them carry out research and advanced studies.
  • Students must qualify on the joint UGC-NET or UGC-CSIR exam to take advantage of the JRF scheme. While they do need to have a master’s or master’s degree to enrol in a doctoral program.
  • A JRF is initially provided for two years and is eventually extended for three years with an enhanced stipend under the SRF grants. While a doctoral course can be completed in a minimum of three years and a maximum of five or six years.
  • A PhD is needed to work as a professor or researcher, or scientist at a university or institution. Whereas a JRF provides financial assistance for further study and academic research.
  • A person with a JRF may not earn a PhD. But to get a PhD, scholarships like JRF are required.


People often confuse JRF with PhD and use them interchangeably. This happens because both academics with a PhD and those pursuing a PhD can be seen taking classes and engaging in research work in a college or university. But it’s important to remember that you may not get a PhD after getting a JRF. However, to obtain a PhD, some scholarship is required.

Courtesy: Queens College of Vocational Education

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