What does BS-MS offer at different IISERs?

What does BS-MS offer at different IISER?

Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER) are a chain of premium research institutes that offers a wide range of courses with the intent of producing researchers who can compete on a global scale. Housing state-of-the-art facilities and world-class researchers and faculty, the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research and its curriculum have been designed based on the standards of world-class European and American research institutes.

What are IISERs? 

Today, IISER, alongside IISc and NISER, proves to be the best place for science enthusiasts who have a research mindset and want to pursue basic and fundamental science. Usually, students with a science background either try for engineering or medicine. Both IIT and AIIMS are saturated, and science students do not have many options left with them. Indian Institute of Science Education and Research here can be your escape route from the usual and saturated fields of engineering and medicine.

Indian Institute of Science Education and Research offers an exciting five-year integrated BS-MS program. To get into this program, anyone with a science background, with either PCB or PCM in their 10+2, can appear for an entrance exam conducted by IISER called the IISER Aptitude Test or IAT. Other than that, Indian Institute of Science Education and Research also offers admission based on JEE and KVPY scores.    

IAT is a simple 180-minute long computer-based test that comprises 60 questions, 15 each from Biology, Chemistry, Math and Physics. Questions are multiple choice questions, and each question carries four marks, but a wrong attempt will result in a deduction of 1 mark.

How to get into an iiser?
How to get into an iiser?

BS-MS Program Structure:

Each of the 7 IISER offers a flagship 5-year-long BS-MS Program. This program is dedicated to integrating classroom learning with research training through labs. For the first four semesters, that is, for the first two years, every student, either from the PCB/PCM or PCMB background, needs to study some standard courses. These courses are core courses, and apart from the courses in science and math, they comprise courses on computer science, language proficiency, and interdisciplinary courses such as Mathematical Methods.

After the end of core courses, that is, after the second year, students are allowed to choose a major. Major years comprise two more years of advanced study in the discipline of your choice. Major years are followed by a year-long research project, at the end of which students need to submit a thesis to obtain the BS-MS degree.

All the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research provides the option to major in Physical Science, Chemical Sciences, Biological Sciences and Mathematical Sciences. Other majors are also available, along with options to choose minors that differ in different IISERs. These options are mentioned later in this article.


Core Courses:

The two-year-long core courses are meant to build foundations in science and maths. Apart from courses on basics in biology, chemistry, maths and physics, different interdisciplinary courses like Computer Science and Mathematical Methods are also offered in all the IISERs.

First Semester Second Semester Third Semester Fourth Semester
IISER Berhampur Introduction to Biological Sciences, General Chemistry, Introduction to Computers, Basics of Communication Skills, Introduction to Mathematics, Mechanics, Mathematical Methods, Introduction to Earth System Sciences Biochemical and Cellular Basis of Life, General Biology Laboratory II, Basic Inorganic Chemistry, Inorganic Chemistry Laboratory I, Oral and Written Communication, Introduction to Environmental Sciences, Calculus of One Variable, Electromagnetism, General Physics Laboratory I Introduction to Genetics and Evolution, General Biology Laboratory III, Basic Organic Chemistry, Organic Chemistry Laboratory I, Foundation of Earth Sciences: Part 1 (Introduction to Mineralogy, Petrology), Technical Writing, Linear Algebra, Waves and Introductory Optics, General Physics Laboratory II Molecular Biology and Developmental Biology, General Biology Laboratory IV, Classical Thermodynamics, Physical Chemistry Laboratory I, Foundation of Earth Sciences: Part 2 (Introduction to Rock Deformation and Plate Tectonics), Macroeconomics, Multivariable Calculus, Quantum Physics, General Physics Laboratory III
IISER Pune Introduction to Mathematics, Mechanics, Introduction to Physics, Introduction to Chemistry, Introduction to Biology, Introduction to Computer Science, Introduction to Humanities and Social Sciences, Introduction to Earth and Climate Science Calculus I, Electricity and Magnetism, Quantum Mechanics, Organic Chemistry, Cell Biology, Fundamentals of Programming, Environmental Science, Introduction to Data Science Calculus II, Optics, Statistical Mechanics, Biochemistry, Ecology and Evolution, Data Structures and Algorithms, Economic Principles, Introduction to Interdisciplinary Studies Differential Equations, Statistical Methods, Thermodynamics, Molecular Biology, Biostatistics and Epidemiology, Computer Networks, Game Theory, Introduction to Scientific Writing
IISER Mohali Introduction to Programming, Calculus-I, Physics-1: Mechanics, Chemistry-1: Inorganic and Organic, Biology-1: Cell Biology and Genetics, Introduction to Earth System Science, Communication Skills, Introduction to Humanities and Social Sciences Calculus-II, Physics-II: Electricity and Magnetism, Chemistry-II: Physical and Organic, Biology-II: Molecular Biology and Evolution, Introduction to Environmental Science and Sustainability, English Language and Literature, Introduction to Social Sciences, Introduction to Life Science Laboratory Techniques, Introduction to Physical Science Laboratory Techniques Linear Algebra, Ordinary Differential Equations, Physics-III: Optics and Waves, Chemistry-III: Analytical and Organic, Biology-III: Bioinformatics and Systems Biology, Introduction to Interdisciplinary Research, Science Communication Skills, Earth Science Laboratory, Life Science Laboratory, Physical Science Laboratory Multivariable Calculus, Partial Differential Equations, Physics-IV: Thermodynamics and Statistical Mechanics, Chemistry-IV: Inorganic and Organic, Biology-IV: Cell Biology and Developmental Biology, Research Methodology, Interdisciplinary Laboratory, Introduction to Economics, Introduction to Management, Introduction to Business Law
IISER Bhopal Introduction to Computing, Mathematics-I, Physics-I, Chemistry-I, Biology-I, Introduction to Earth and Climate Sciences, Introduction to Humanities and Social Sciences, English Language Communication Calculus-I, Mathematics-II, Physics-II, Chemistry-II, Biology-II, Introduction to Environmental Science, Introduction to Economics, English Language and Literature Calculus-II, Linear Algebra, Physics-III, Chemistry-III, Biology-III, Introduction to Research Methodology, Introduction to Management Accounting, Data Structures and Algorithms Ordinary Differential Equations, Numerical Methods, Physics-IV, Chemistry-IV, Biology-IV, Introduction to Entrepreneurship, Introduction to Financial Management, Computer Networks
IISER Tirupati Introduction to Programming, Calculus, Mechanics, Chemistry, Biology, Introduction to Earth System Science, Life Skills, Introduction to Social Sciences and Humanities Calculus, Electricity and Magnetism, Waves and Optics, Physical Chemistry, Molecular Biology and Genetics, Environmental Science, Introduction to Economics, Professional Communication Linear Algebra, Ordinary Differential Equations, Statistical Mechanics, Analytical Chemistry, Cell Biology and Development, Introduction to Research Methodology, Business Communication, Data Structures and Algorithms Multivariable Calculus, Partial Differential Equations, Thermodynamics, Inorganic Chemistry, Biochemistry, Interdisciplinary Project, Financial Accounting, Computer Networks
IISER Kolkata Elements of Chemistry, Chemistry Laboratory I, Introduction to Computer Programming, Earth and Planetary Sciences, Communicative English, Sociology, Introduction to Biology I, Biology Laboratory I, Mathematics I, Physics I, Physics Laboratory I General Physical Chemistry, Physical Chemistry Laboratory, Earth System Processes, Communicative English II, Sociology II, Introduction to Biology II, Biology Laboratory II, Mathematics II, Mathematical Methods – I, Physics II, Physics Laboratory II One has to choose three pre-major subjects from: Biological Sciences, Chemical Sciences, Geological Sciences, Mathematical Sciences and Physical Sciences. One has to continue with the chosen three pre-major subjects from the previous semester.
IISER TVM Fundamentals of Programming, Calculus I, Mechanics, Chemistry I, Introduction to Biology, Earth Science, Communication Skills, Introduction to Social Sciences Calculus II, Electromagnetism and Waves, Quantum Mechanics, Chemistry II, Cell Biology, Environmental Science, Introduction to Economics, English for Academic Purposes Linear Algebra, Ordinary Differential Equations, Optics and Waves, Chemistry III, Molecular Biology, Introduction to Interdisciplinary Research, Introduction to Management Principles, Data Structures and Algorithms Multivariable Calculus, Partial Differential Equations, Thermodynamics and Statistical Mechanics, Chemistry IV, Development Biology, Research Methodology, Introduction to Business Law, Computer Networks

Note: This table might not contain all the courses offered by the IISER and may not be accurate. To know the exact and latest courses offered by IISER, check their course content mentioned on their official websites.

The courses in biology comprise introduction to Life Sciences, genetics, cell biology, ecology and evolution. Courses in chemistry are meant to familiarise students with all the major disciplines of chemistry, which are physical, organic and inorganic chemistry. Courses in Mathematics involve the topics of discrete mathematics, such as set theory, calculus, linear algebra, probability, etc. Courses in physics involve the topics of mechanics, optics, and electromagnetism.

There are few differences observed in courses in natural sciences. For example, IISER Kolkata offers biophysics in the third semester, which is not offered by any other Indian Institute of Science Education and Research. Thermal and Statistical Physics are also offered in IISER Mohali, TVM, Kolkata and Pune. IISER Pune, Kolkata and Berhampur offer Quantum Mechanics during the core courses themselves.

There are significant differences in the courses other than the science courses, which include computer science, humanities, and social science. Courses in Language and Communication are common in all the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research, and at least one course on Introduction to Computer Science and Programming is provided in all the IISERs. Except for Indian Institute of Science Education and Research Berhampur, other IISERs provide more options in Humanities and Social Science by including courses like History of Science, Philosophy of Science, Economics, etc. Although IISER Berhampur has mentioned macroeconomic studies in its course list, it has not offered the same yet.

IISER Pune offers a major in Computer and Data Science. IISER Mohali allows you to minor in Data Science. Hence, these IISERs offer more courses in data science than other IISERs.

Except for IISER TVM, all the other IISERs offer a major in Earth and Environmental Science or Geology. Hence, introductory courses in geology are included in the first four semesters of these IISERs.

Pre Major System:

Recently, IISER Pune, Kolkata, and Bhopal introduced the system of pre-majors. IISER Kolkata allows students to choose any three disciplines as pre-major from the third semester. In the third year, that is, from the 5th semester onwards, students can advance into one major. In IISER Bhopal, you need to choose a minimum of two and a maximum of three disciplines as pre-major in the 3rd and 4th semesters. You can advance into your 3rd year with any of your pre-major as the primary discipline for the rest of your BS-MS program.

IISER Pune offers the system of pre-majors, but only in the fourth semester. You can choose two pre-major disciplines in the fourth semester and then can take one of the disciplines as your major from 5th semester onwards.

Major Years:

Once you complete the first four semesters, you move into your major years. Courses provided in the major years are advanced and almost the same in all the IISERs. Every IISER has listed their course content on their website, and it contains detailed information, including the topics that are taught in particular courses. Hence, it is advisable to check the same on the official website of different IISERs.

Different IISERs have started new and exciting major programs. These majors have been discussed below.

Major Programs
Major Programs

Earth and Environmental Science:

IISER Berhampur recently started the Earth and Environmental Science (EES) Department. The EES major was offered to the 2020 batch, and it currently houses only two batches. The department is still under development. 

Other IISERs, except IISER TVM, offer majors in the same discipline, but they call it either Earth and Climate Science or Geology. The course structure is roughly the same. These IISERs have a better and more developed curriculum as well as infrastructure compared to IISER Berhampur.

Computer and Data Science:

IISER Pune allows students to major in Data science. Other IISERs like IISER Mohali and IISER Berhampur provide an option to take Computer and Data Science Courses as their minor. A minor course in IISERs is an optional course that students can take in addition to their major course. Students can choose a minor course from a different discipline than their major course. For example, a student majoring in biological science can take computer science as a minor.

IISER Berhampur is currently trying to establish a department of computer and data science. However, they don’t have faculties for the same and are currently trying to recruit data scientists and other faculties.


As mentioned earlier, students can opt for a minor in addition to a major course. Different IISERs have different options as minors. Any major discipline other than the one that the student selects can also be taken as a major. For example, a student majoring in Biological Science can take Chemical Science as their minor.

Apart from this, certain IISERs offer additional subjects as majors. IISER Berhampur offers a minor in engineering, biology and data science. IISER Mohali offers several options for minor, including Astronomy, Atmospheric Science, Physical Chemistry, Organic Chemistry, Inorganic Chemistry, Data Sciences, Development and Public Policy Studies, Earth and Environmental Science, Earth Sciences, Indian History, Science Education, etc.  IISER Pune also offers an additional minor in Humanities and Social Science.

Integrated and Interdisciplinary Science Programme Offered by TVM:

IISER TVM offers a unique interdisciplinary programme called i2 programmes. The idea behind this programme is that the problems in today’s world can not be solved by biologists, chemists, physicists or mathematicians alone. Hence, through integrated and interdisciplinary programmes, education that combines the required skills from all the major disciplines is imparted to the students.

The structure of this programme is similar to the BS-MS Programme. It includes two-year-long foundation courses, followed by two years of advanced courses on a chosen discipline and a year-long research project.

Currently, this programme is available in five different disciplines – i2 in Biological Science combines Systems & Synthetic Biology, Precision Imaging & Medicine. i2 in the Chemical Science programme is offered under the thematic areas of chemical biology and biomaterials. The thematic area for the i2 programme in Data Science is called Data Science as applied to Natural Science. For mathematical science, i2 programmed combines Mathematical Modelling and Scientific Computing. The last i2 programme, which is offered in the Physical Science discipline, is structured on the thematic areas of materials, devices, energy and Modelling.

BS Programme in IISER Bhopal:

In addition to the 5 Year long BS-MS Dual Degree programme, IISER Bhopal offers a four-year-long BS Programme. This program is offered in two different disciplines, which are Economic Science and Engineering Science. The BS course starts with one year of foundational courses and is followed by three years of advanced studies in the chosen discipline.

After completing four years of the course, the students have a choice to either exit with a BS degree or to spend an additional year and obtain a BS-MS dual degree.


In summary, navigating the educational landscape of the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISERs) requires a keen understanding of the courses offered to aspiring science enthusiasts. The 5-year BS-MS program, a flagship across all seven IISERs, integrates classroom learning with hands-on research, culminating in a year-long research project. While the core courses lay a strong foundation in science and mathematics, the major years allow specialisation in disciplines such as physical science, chemical sciences, biological sciences, and mathematical sciences. Notably, variations exist in courses beyond science, including computer science, humanities, and social sciences, across different IISERs. The introduction of pre-major systems in some IISERs offers flexibility in choosing disciplines before entering major years. Furthermore, majors and minors in emerging fields like Earth and Environmental Science and Computer and Data Science reflect the evolving landscape of scientific education. IISERs are adapting to the changing educational landscape, with unique interdisciplinary programs and the option to exit at various levels, aligning with the new National Education Policy. As science continues to advance, IISERs stand as beacons of knowledge, shaping the future of scientific exploration and discovery.


  • How is BS-MS different from Integrated MSc?

BS-MS is a five-year dual degree program offered by IISER and IISc, whereas NISER and a few other colleges offer Integrated MSc. Both are roughly the same, with some changes in the program’s structure.

  • Can we exit the program after BS if I don’t want to do MS from the same college?

Earlier, BS-exit was only allowed for students with poor academics. But recently, with the implementation of the New Education Policy, IISERs are offering multiple exit options to the 2023 batch onwards.

  • What are multiple exit options?

You can exit after the first year with a certificate in Introductory Science. If you exit after completing the second year, you will be awarded a Diploma in Science.

Exiting the program after the third year will earn you a BS (General). If you choose to exit the course after the completion of the fourth year, you will be awarded BS (Honors) in your chosen major subject.

  • Can we select more than one major?

IISERs do not allow you to major in more than one subject. However, you can choose one minor apart from your major subject. Apart from this, every department offers some “open elective” courses which anyone from any major can choose and study during the course.

  • How is minor different from major?

For a major subject, there is a definitive set of courses along with optional courses that you need to study during your major years. For a minor, you only need to study any one or two courses each semester from the chosen minor discipline to fulfil a specified credit requirement.

  • Can we obtain a master’s degree after completing the BS in economic science from IISER Bhopal?

Yes. After the completion of your fourth year, you can choose to stay for one more year and obtain both a BS and MS degree in Economic Science.

  • Do IISERs have a placement cell?

Although most of the students choose to pursue a PhD after completing BS-MS, industrial jobs are possible after BS-MS. Most of the IISERs have career development and placement cells, but few IISERs are yet to establish the same.

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