Things to keep in mind for students opting for science
A pure science degree allows students to conduct investigations to test scientific ideas in the contemporary world, the hallmarks of which are research and new technologies. Here is what you need to know in case you choose to pursue a BSc degree in this stream.
Students should understand their inclination towards science early since they are required to choose their streams after the class X board exam. Hrishikesh Samant, head of department and professor, department of geology, St Xavier's College, Mumbai, said, "One of the primary reasons for anybody choosing science would be a passion for the subject and a longing to understand the 'why' of everything. A dislike for the rat race for admission into engineering or medical colleges may be another reason for a student to take up this branch of science. The establishment of IISERs has boosted the study of science in India."
The right mix
Subject combinations at undergraduate level largely depend on the respective major subject. "If a student opts for physics as a major at UG level, he/she may take chemistry and maths as subject combinations. Likewise, a maths student can choose physics and chemistry/statistics as combination subjects. In the bioscience discipline, students can opt for any combination between subjects such as industrial microbiology, molecular biology, biochemistry, genetics, pharmacology or newer areas such as radiation biology," said Brajadulal Chattopadhyay, professor, department of physics, Jadavpur University, Kolkata.
M Jacob, assistant professor, department of chemistry, Loyola College, Chennai, said, "Without the core subjects of physics, chemistry, maths and biology, the foundation of science students remains insufficient. Students must note that at UG level, knowledge is limited. For example, spectroscopy as a subject is taught briefly at UG level while it is in detail as part of the PG syllabus. So, they need to pursue a postgraduate degree if they wish to gain an edge in the employment market."
Samant, added, "The maths/statistics/economics combination can mean a higher probability of success in a number of entrance tests like CAT and other management exams or CPT (CA), and is hence, a popular choice too."
A BSc degree is used as a launch pad to other related careers through the entrance test route. "A promising career awaits anybody with a BSc in physics and maths if they join the Indian defence services. Graduates may also choose to join the armed forces as commissioned officers. There are a number of career options for those with botany/zoology/ geology honours. Students with a BSc in botany or zoology can join various adventure tour and travel organisations as nature guides or wildlife conservationists," said Samant. Graduates can also find employment in the Botanical Survey of India, Zoological Survey of India and even various state departments of fisheries. Graduates can also pursue PG diplomas in areas such as food technology or fish breeding and subsequently join the food canning industry as quality control specialists. Those with PG degrees in botany are sought-after by pharmaceutical companies for their ability to identify and collect medicinal plants and for their role in medicinal plant cultivation. Those with PG degrees in geology have lucrative jobs in the petroleum exploration sector. They are also in demand in various government organisations such as the Geological Survey of India, Coal India Ltd and Mineral Exploration Corporation Ltd, other than the state mining departments and private mining companies in India and abroad.
Chattopadhyay added, "Graduates can also go on to pursue specialised postgraduate courses like the MCA, MBA, hotel management, physiotherapy, nursing, ophthalmology, etc." Upon completing their postgraduate course, students can take jobs with PSUs, the private sector, multinationals in the pharma sector, earth resources, infotech and other relevant fields. "For those with strong fundamentals, research remains a tried and tested avenue for further improvement and specialisation," said Jacob.
MTech/ ME/ PhD courses are an option for MSc graduates who clear the Graduate Aptitude Test for Engineering (GATE). There is a rising trend among graduates to take up added qualifications along with degree programmes. Students can thus opt for co-curricular diploma courses like computer programming. Taking up certification as a sports coach too is becoming popular.