Is IIIT-H better than IITs in computer science?

“Is IIIT-H better than IITs in computer science?is the most debated question in discussions whether online and off-line, especially when IIIT-H is in the news for some recognition or its students winning any national/ international coding contest. The answer, however, eludes those seeking for one desperately.

Before we try to compare IIIT-Hyd with other institutes, let’s first note some of the highlights of IIIT-Hyd which is not matched by its competitors in the field:

  • Autonomous university set up as a not-for-profit Public Private Partnership (N-PPP) model
  • Experienced faculty– Most number of PhD faculty in India in a CSE institute (total of 60+ faculty with PhDs)
  • Research oriented academics:   Offers research-led curricula even for undergraduate programs. As a result, students get to do a large number of projects and acquire deep research orientation and innovative mindset. If interested in doing MS or PhD in CSE field, best place to be.
  • Very Strong Coding Culture: IIIT-Hyd students regularly shine in coding contests. The dominating portion of the most courses are coding assignments + lab tests as well as a few of them being totally based on programming & programming workshops (even for 1st year)

Only institute to have appeared four times in ACM-ICPC World Contest and securing highest ranking by any India institute. Almost every year there is a team from IIIT Hyderabad that qualifies for the ACM ICPC World Finals. Once there were two teams which qualified in a single year! IIIT Hyderabad won ACM ICPC South Asia regionals in consecutive years (Two other IIIT teams ranked 6th and 7th)

  • Highly Ranked on Programming sites: There are many high ranked students solving problems on SPOJ and TopCoder programming sites. For many years, IIIT-Hyd was ranked no. 1 globally on SPOJ programming site
  • Google Summer of Code. A total of 29 IIIT-Hyd students were selected in 2013 (second highest globally, top in India) to contribute towards open source assignments by Google.
  • DataQuest Ranks IIIT-Hyd at 1st for Placement. 100% Placement. Av. salary for CSE: Rs 9.5 LPA. Off-shore: in Excess of $120K. Every year there are some 8-10 people hired by Google and Facebook.
  • World class infrastructure
  • Tech-Hub/Incubator: Houses India’s biggest Tech start-up Incubator
  • Situated in the metro city of Hyderabad in a posh locality amongst IT biggies. Hyderabad is an emerging hub for IT start-ups and home for IT biggies (latest entrant Amazon, Facebook, TCS)  because it offers 3 times of Bangalore’s instrstructure at one third cost. Hyderabad already is home for all major IT biggies like TCS, Wipro, Tech Mahindra, Accenture, Infosys, IBM, Google, Yahoo, iGate.
  • Recommended as a premier research institution in India by the US  National Science Foundation (NSF) for US graduate students to take up research fellowships and short-term research programs.

International Institute of Information Technology-Hyderabad, or IIIT-H, was in news recently for charging IT companies planning to hire candidates from the campus. IT firms had to shell out 8 % of the total annual package received by the candidate. And despite a few exemptions of Indian firms, 28 top IT firms from across the globe not only paid the fee, but also hired 105 best candidates from the campus. This shows growing prominence of IIIT-H in India.

This growing prominence of IIIT-H in India is being questioned and drawing inevitable comparisons with none other than IITs. All right! That has become a sort of trend now. Any institution’s mounting popularity will be put to test or, obviously, compared with IITs. But what’s the truth here, in this case specifically?

When we talk about computer science specifically, IIIT-H obviously wins the battle. However, declaring IIIT-H better than IITs in computer science will not be entirely true. Keeping our discussion unbiased, we realize that the answer to the question, whether IIIT-H is better than IITs or not in computer science, depends a lot on various factors.

There is no doubt that IIIT-H is really good in computer science. But there are IITs with lots of departments in computer science and huge benefits of having those departments in the stream. If you really wish to learn good computer science then obviously IIIT-H is your best bet but what if your interest in computer science drops midway? With lots of department in computer science in any IIT, you can switch to other department or branch of your choice. Well, as an engineer, it is really important to experience and explore other options to make your learning stronger.

With an intensive computer science curriculum, IIIT-H focuses more on coding skills. This is not the case with IITs. They just introduce computer science to you the way it is. In fact, students might learn about machine learning and advanced algorithms during their 3rd or 4th year in IITs. But in IIIT-H, you might have an opportunity to learn about them in 2nd year itself. This directly translates into better internship and research opportunities at early stages.

IIIT-H brags a hardcore coding environment in the campus. Students take part in competition and perform exceptionally well. But that does not necessarily mean that IITs are far behind. They do well too. In fact, IITs pays more attention to the college curriculum. Its environment is more about college curriculum. Both are highly competitive in this particular sense.
If we try to judge the better of the two from the perspective of internships, then, again, there is a lot of disparity. When it comes to good job and internship offers then IIIT-H is really better than IIT-Guwahati, IIT-Roorkee, and other newer IITs. However, other IITs like IIT-Bombay, IIT-Delhi, IIT-Kharagpur, and IIT-Madras are better than IIIT-H.

Global firms constantly search for excellent coders. They are not really interested in your coursework at all. So in that sense, IIIT-H performs better than newer IITs.

IITs give you their tag to you but you can’t live your entirely on that tag. Your skills will be tested once you will step out in the real brutal world. If you are damn serious about doing computer science anyway and haven’t got one in one of IITs of your choice, then opting for the stream in IIIT-H is a better option.

For the sake of completeness, please browse through more information related to IIIT-Hyd so that you can form your own personal opinion about it.

1) Achievements

  1. India’s Biggest Tech Incubator being set-up at IIIT-Hyd

The incubator aims to provide an environment and an ecosystem for technology commercialization and entrepreneurial action.

Hyderabad Bids to Build India’s Biggest Tech Incubator

Telangana plans mother of all incubation centres

IIIT Hyderabad’s incubator gets a booster shot: increases intake

  1. CanSat World Ranking First in 2010 and Third in 2011. CanSat is a NASA sponsored and American Astronautical Society organized annual international competition. The contest allows student teams, from colleges and Universities around the world, to design, fabricate, and launch an aerospace system (CanSat). IIIT-H has been the only team from India to qualify for World Finals, each time, since 2009.

  1. ACM-ICPC World 18th position in 2012. ACM ICPC is the world’s oldest, largest, and most prestigious programming contest. The 2012 edition drew for its first stage over 30,000 participants on more than 7,000 teams, representing around 2,200 universities, in over 85 countries. Only Indian college to qualify for World Finals, for fourth time in a row. Best performance by an Indian team in ICPC history.
  2. Text Analysis Conference (TAC) World Rank 1 in 2006/07/08/09. US Department of Commerce’ agency National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) holds Text Analysis Conference (TAC) every year.
  3. RoboCup: IIIT-H’s Team Kshitji was the only team from India to have qualified for the finals of the RoboCup events, each year, for five years, since the inception of the international contest in 2004.
  4. Programming Sites SPOJ and CodeChef:

SPOJ: Number #1 globally at the Sphere Online Judge (SPOJ), a highly popular programming site, with over 30, 000 users from 120 countries for many months and years since April 2009 (ranked No. 3 currently).

CodeChef:At least five of the top 20 winners at the Codechef’s national-level monthly programming contests, since Jan 2008, have been IIIT-H students.

  1. Google India Women in Engineering Awards: The Awards are meant to recognize and reward deserving women students in Computer Science and related majors, and inspire them to become active participants and leaders in creating technology. Given annually, the award is based on excellence in academics, passion for technology, demonstrated leadership, and originality of thought. Atleast one of the IIT Hyd women student has won the awards in 2009/2010 and 2011.
  2. Sampark ( The Indian languages machine translation system developed by a IIIT-H led consortium, was launched by Dr APJ Abdul Kalam, at the international conference WWW 2011, in March 2011. While the first edition of the system provides automatic text translation in four Indian language pairs, the next versions will feature a dozen more Indian languages.

  1. Views of India’s Reputed CSE Educationist Dr.D Sanghi (Prof. IIT-Kanpur)

I consider IIIT, Hyderabad as the best alternative to IITs (from amongst the institutes I know or I have been told of). This Institute is already competing with IITs on attracting faculty, and every year it does attract some students who have got a good enough rank in JEE to get admission to IITs. They also get top students from AIEEE, and I believe that these students are as good as those in IITs. Basically, if you made a small mistake on the day of JEE, and did not do that mistake in AIEEE, you join IIIT Hyderabad. They have tremendous focus on research and human values. I have visited IIIT Hyderabad umpteen number of times, and I come back more impressed every time I go there.

  1. Views of IIIT-Hyd Director on Why to Join IIIT-Hyd

A letter by P J Narayanan , Director IIIT Hyderabad

We are a different institution; I want to briefly explain our core philosophy

  3.1) Objective: A World-View

The primary objective of education at IIIT, Hyderabad is imparting a mature world-view and a long-term vision to the students. The vision and world view should be about themselves, about their subject of study, about the society they live in, and about the world. We do not merely transmit technical skills or scientific knowledge. Enabling a student to obtain a high-profile first job after the course of study is definitely not our objective.

Let me use an example to explain what I mean. Driving a car is a skill. Efficient driving (spending less fuel, reducing wear-and-tear, etc.) needs a deep understanding of the scientific and engineering principles that govern automobiles. While the skill and the knowledge are important, neither will help you choose the right destination for your drive. We want you to develop a world-view, in addition to the skills, that help you choose the destination that is most fulfilling to you.

  3.2) Research Orientation

IIIT, Hyderabad is a research university. It has been rated among top technology schools of the country by different sources. However, we measure our success in terms of the research done at the institute and take pride in the impact we have on the society. Faculty and students at the institute work on several innovative technologies with large potential. These include language translation, speech recognition and synthesis, robotics, data mining, computer vision, VLSI, communications, information security, structural safety, energy-efficient building, computer-aided drug-design, etc. We have the research groups with the most impact in the country in several of these areas. You will have the opportunity to be part of their research during your time here.

3.3) Research and UG Students:
IIIT-H provides a research option to the UG or B.Tech students from the very beginning. Those opting for research get a B.Tech (Honours) degree in 4 years, and can opt for an MS by Research degrees in 5 years. We have a flexible and unique curriculum to enable UG research. Our students engage with the subject from the very start in a deep way through courses and projects. Text book knowledge provides you the skills and the scientific knowledge. Research goes beyond the known and gives you a world-view on the subject. UG research is, thus, an integral element of our design.

It is no longer sufficient today to have the necessary subject knowledge. An ability to solve unstructured and unseen problems is essential to do well in a fast-changing world. Research exposure gives you the ability to approach problems beyond the “syllabus” in a systematic way. Future researchers, product designers, and entrepreneurs, need this to go beyond being mere workers. An analogy can help here. Doctors with an MBBS are legally qualified to treat you. However, those without MD find very few options today. The engineering areas are moving in that direction and those without advanced degrees and research skills will have fewer options in the future. Students keen to be researchers and product designers should consider our premium, Dual-Degree programmes. You will gets a B.Tech (Honours) and an MS by Research in about 5 years. They can take part in high-end research, present papers at top conferences around the world, and rub shoulders with the best in their field, all in the next 5 years! IIIT-H also has an exciting incubation programme with several promising companies started by our students and alumni. We actively encourage students and faculty taking their technology to the world in the form of products through the IIIT-H Foundation.

We have dual degree programmes that link Computer Science with domains like Natural Sciences, Linguistics, and Humanities. Computing is an enabling discipline and can produce great impact when combined with other areas. Facebook is not just a computer program that allows certain functionalities. It is successful because computer programs are combined strongly with psychology, sociology, and other disciplines to understand how people interact with each other. The new dual-degree programme on Building Science and Engineering comes at an exciting time as only half of the houses and buildings that India needs 20 years from now are already built today. This simultaneously presents a great opportunity and a massive challenge as current construction methods and materials are not sustainable. This programme looks at a building as an integrated entity in which human activity takes place. They should be designed with its whole lifecycle and its inhabitants in mind from the start.

      3.4) Friendly Environment and Larger Concerns

 We have an atmosphere at the Institute that promotes different extra-curricular activities and deep thinking about values. We have a course on Human Values to tempt students to think about their roles in life broadly. It is important to introspect frequently on why we are doing what we are doing. It is important to set high life-goals that are compatible with one’s aptitude and attitude. Our true goal is often to impact the society deeply; the immediate concerns about comforts are very minor in comparison. Each of you will have your own ideas about what your own impact should be. We want you to find your own way, without any pressure from outside.

3.5 ) Financial Aid:
IIIT-H Special Financial Scheme (ISFAS) is available for very needy students, facilitated by donations from our alumni. This is an example of their concern for the environment that helped build them as professionals.

 3.6) Is IIIT-H right for you?

Start your introspection today: Is IIIT-H the right institution for you? It is, if you long for a significant impact on the world through technological and other means. This will require hard work, aptitude in the subject area, and the right attitude. If a deep commitment towards creating new ideas is your cup of tea, stride boldly through our portals for an exciting and fruitful journey for the next 4 or 5 years.

  1. Views of Recruiters

Since its inception in the year 1998, IIIT-Hyderabad has fast gained popularity among all high-profile recruiters worldwide. The impeccable quality of students of the campus has become the talk of the town and the eyes that were previously settled on IITians have new equally talented options to behold.

Owing to IIIT-Hyderabad’s admiration in the technical world, the competition to get admission into the campus is getting tougher with each passing day. And to prove the growing popularity of the campus, we’ve brought you official statements made by recruiters during placements about IIIT-Hyderabad to give you an idea about IIIT-Hyderabad’s placement statistics.
So here we go:
When Yahoo! India ran a recruitment drive at the campus in the year 2007, its product manager & Campus Hiring Lead, Yahoo! India R&D, Srinivas Reddy Punur was in awe of the institution.

Statement 1: Yahoo! India
“The quality of IIIT Hyderabad students, who participated in our campus placement 2007 program, was indeed very impressive. Their strengths in computer science fundamentals, software design, algorithms and programming skills are some of the best we have seen among freshers,” he said.

Statement 2: Redpine Signals
“We find that IIIT-H’s instruction and courses stand out in quality, technical depth, and content. We have had students from IIIT-H that interned in the areas of VLSI design and Wireless Receiver design, and found them to be extremely motivated and competent. IIIT-H is producing engineers with the potential to make outstanding contributions in product design, research, analysis, and innovation,” said Venkatesh, Director, Redpine Signals

Statement 3: Computer Associates
“We have recruited several of IIIT-H’s graduate students into different product development groups of CA. We found them to be very inquisitive, hard-working, and talented. Some of these hires currently work on cutting edge technologies, and participate in the full life cycle of the enterprise product development at CA. Their ability to quickly learn and adapt to different team environments and challenges is quite admirable,” said Sridhar Parimi, Director, Office of the CTO, Computer Associates.

Statement 4: MAQ Software
“We are amazed by the technical knowledge of students and the research focus of the faculty. Students are aware of new cutting edge technologies in mobile development and Web 2.0,” said Rajeev Agarwal, CEO, MAQ Software.

  1. Tie-Ups with Industry

India’s Biggest Incubation Hub to be Launched in Hyderabad

Yahoo enters into pact with IIIT

Infosys Announces Research Tie-up with International Institute of Information Technology, Hyderabad

IIIT Hyderabad and Polycom to work on new video technology solutions

IIIT-Hyderabad tie up for data mining, open source R&D

 6. Metro City:  

The institute is situated in the metro city of Hyderabad in a posh locality amongst IT biggies. Hyderabad is an emerging hub for IT start-ups and home for IT biggies (latest entrant Amazon, Facebook, TCS)  because it offers 3 times of Bangalore’s instrstructure at one third cost. Hyderabad already is home for all major IT biggies like TCS, Wipro, Tech Mahindra, Accenture, Infosys, IBM, Google, Yahoo, iGate.

Metro Convenience: Many get surprised when they come to know that Hyderabad has well-known online retail companies like BigBasket that can deliver fruits/biscuits/milk/juices/sweets/toiletries and virtually everything at the doorsteps of IIIT-H hostel on cash on delivery-basis on the same day/next day basis. In addition, there are online medical stores (eg that can deliver required medicines at doorsteps. This is really a big difference from many institutes located in far-flung small towns.In addition, there are fine dining/ pizza/burger/ATM/banks at walking distance within 1.5km at Indranagar.

Mess: Students can choose any of the 4 messes in IIIT-Hyd (they are South indian, North indian, Mix and Yuktaahar). If student doesn’t like the mess food on any day, they can use canteens that serve veg/non-veg dishes on individual meal payment basis.

Campus facilities: IIIT-h has a branch of Hyderabad bank within the campus while the ATM machine is located at the entry gate. The campus has a couple of convenience stores with mainly stationary/xerox/buckets/biscuits type shop. Girls hostel has washing machines. Hostels have Aquaguard installed. There are enough computers dedicated to students in Workspace (have 1:2 ratio of computer:students) and hostels have wi-fi (except for the first year students). Couriers are promptly delivered at the IIIT-H Mail room managed by the security guards in the main building.

Connectivity: The Hyderabad airport is a world class airport with good connectivity for domestic and international flights. The city has got 3 railway stations connecting all parts of India. In addition, the city has good private cab companies (Meru cabs, Zee cabs, Yellow cabs etc) and offer pick-up services for the city from IIIT-H hostel for Rs 12 per km.

The best part of Hyderabad is it being a safe city for women. When you see young girls driving scooties at 11.00 pm in isolated areas, you need to give credit to the city. The area around IIIT-Hyd is quite safe as students are allowed to go out to fill their stomachs 24×7 (the institute does not bar boys/girls to go out at any time but students have to swipe their cards for exit and entries beyond midnight.)


Summary: IIIT-H provides a truly unique curriculum: The core of CS is covered in first two years itself to give enough room for students to pursue their interests during 3rd and 4th years. Research centers offer research assistantships to UG students during this time. Students have published their research work at top conferences and journals.

Talking about research, IIIT-H has a great emphasis on the same, the curriculum definitely helps in that case and even at undergraduate level, you can pursue some real good Artificial Intelligence/Advanced Algorithms based projects and have publications if you do them good enough. The faculty at IIIT-H is also great, having completed their PhD’s from prestigious colleges in India and abroad. There are also many students who go on to pursue MS and PhD’s as well summer internships/projects in Universities abroad.

Coming to Entrepreneurship and other fields like finance, consulting etc. There are a considerable number of people from IIIT-H who go on to start their own ventures, many of them were incubated in IIIT-H itself. Students who want to pursue careers in finance or consulting prepare from exams such as CFA, CAT or GMAT and do really well in them. The IITs would provide you a better platform in these terms but the scenario is slowly but surely changing in IIIT-H too.

Jobs and internships: This is where IIIT-H scores above IITs like Guwahati, Roorkee, newer IITs. (Leave IIT-B, D, K, M they are at par or better). Since companies want brilliant coders and are more or less not interested in your coursework students from IIIT-H perform better than the group of new IITs, IIT-G, IIT-R. If you want to learn coding intensively and cannot get computer science in IIT-D,K,M,B  then considering IIIT-H may turn out to be a good option.

IIIT-H clearly wins as the syllabus,facilities & curriculum is much more strict and focused on CS thus you will be getting a pretty good job in core after 4 yrs. IIT life is much more distracting because the presence of other departments, hostel culture and facilities for sports & extra-curricular. Its true IIIT-H has much better research prospects but truer is that you can do any significance research in CS  undergraduate level

Bottom line: If you’re motivated enough, neither of the institutes will limit you from achieving your potential, but IIIT provides you easier and earlier access to core CS parts (a lot of core curriculum is covered in first two years, allowing you to pursue projects/internships that interest you after second year itself). IIT comes with a brand value, that will open a few doors for you initially.

Finally, the answer to the question—Is IIIT-H better than IITs in computer science?—depends entirely upon your requirements and other factors. Both institutions are great and have made the country proud. You must evaluate your needs before you make any decision.

‘IIT? No, thanks!’ say 274 kids

Additional Reading

Information Kit provided to students-2014 new admissions to IIIT-Hyd

       Why you should join IIIT-H:
       Letter to prospective Students of JEE (Main)-2014 and Parents

Related Posts: