India, which is one of the largest higher education systems in the world, enrolls nearly 30 million students from 164 different countries . The most common courses students enroll in are arts, humanities, social sciences, science, engineering, technology, medicine, dentistry, law, and commerce/business.
The academic year for most colleges and universities in India starts in July or August. It ends in May or June.
High school students interested in studying abroad should note the following benefits of undergraduate programs in India:
- Instruction is in English.
- India offers a wide range of academic programs.
- It usually takes 3 years to obtain a bachelor’s degree in India. Specialized courses like engineering, architecture, law, or medicine can take 4–5 years.
- Many Indian universities accept SAT scores from both domestic and international students in place of their own entrance exams.
Here is an overview of the university application process and requirements in India, as well as the role College Board programs and assessments, such as the SAT, and Advanced Placement (AP), can play in the admissions process.
Indian University Application Process
When you apply to colleges and universities in India, you typically apply to a specific course of study, instead of deciding your course of study or academic major after enrollment.
Indian University Deadlines
Admission windows for many undergraduate courses begin in April and end the June before the academic year begins. Some institutions open their application process as early as October, with entrance exams given as early as December. We recommend that you check your preferred university’s website or contact the admissions office to confirm dates and deadlines for the application process.
Application Documentation and Visa Requirements
It’s common for admissions requirements to vary by discipline or academic major. Check for the list of documentation required for your application and post-selection student visa once you receive your letter of acceptance. Visit the India embassy in your country to learn more about student visa requirements.
Requirements by Type of University
In India, there are four types of universities you can apply to. It’s important to understand that the admissions criteria and procedure may differ by each type:
- Central Universities: These universities are managed by the Indian government.
- State Universities: These universities are run by the state and territory governments.
- Deemed Universities: These are institutions of higher education that aren’t universities but have the same academic status and privileges as a university granted by the University Grants Commission.
- Private Universities: These universities are approved by the University Grants Commission; however, they can’t have off-campus affiliated colleges.
Central, State, and Deemed Universities
If you’re applying to an undergraduate program in a central, state, and deemed university, the international application requirements include:
- A transcript listing all courses and grades issued by a high school accredited by one of the 6 U.S. accrediting agencies or schools that meet the Association of Indian Universities (AIU) requirements. Note: All secondary schools that offer College Board AP programs globally meet this standard.
- Additional exams may be required depending on the type of higher education institution.
Otherwise, equivalence is granted only if:
- The foreign education system prescribes a minimum of 12 years of full-time schooling.
- The school is recognized or accredited by an approved board or organization (such as an accreditation/recognition body).
- The graduation certificate has been issued by the board or organization that has been approved, recognized, or accredited in the country concerned.
For engineering, architecture, and planning programs of the National Institute of Technology and other centrally funded universities (excluding the Indian Institutes of Technology), international students can apply through the DASA (Direct Admission of Students Abroad) scheme. International students from Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) countries are entitled to a 50% tuition fee waiver under the DASA. Check the DASA website for the latest updates and application deadlines.
If you’re applying to a private university, admissions requirements may be different. Admissions offers are made on the basis of high school grades or performance in the entrance exams. Visit the institution’s website for their admissions requirements and procedure.
How Indian Universities Use College Board Test Scores
Although India has a wide variety of entrance tests for undergraduate studies, the SAT is increasingly used as an entrance test at Indian universities. A growing number of universities in India are members of the College Board’s India Global Higher Education Alliance (IGA) and accept SAT scores as part of their admissions process. SAT scores can be sent directly to IGA members free of charge through the College Board portal.
Students who apply with an SAT score are waived of the requirement of taking the university’s own entrance test. SAT scores are also used to award merit-based scholarships to both Indian and international students.
Keep in mind that the SAT isn’t used for admission to professional degree programs such as medicine, architecture, and law programs.
Learn more about the institutions that accept the SAT for admission in India.