MPhil-Ph.D. Sociology Delhi School of Economics: Entrance exam, research proposal, interview tips

Amritha Mohankumar

What is the criteria for MPhil-Ph.D. Sociology exam at Delhi School of Economics (DSE)?

A student from any social science discipline can apply for MPhil and Ph.D. sociology at DSE. So is the same for Ph.D. students. However, since you are applying for Sociology, a fair understanding of sociology and its relevance to your research topic is expected.

What is the Admission Process?

The admission process comprises two steps. For MPhil, there is a Multiple Choice Questions test which is a qualifying exam, and after which you will be asked to submit a research proposal and appear for an interview in front of a panel. 

For Ph.D.: The same as MPhil admission, but if you have NET and or MPhil degree you may be directly asked to submit a proposal or appear for an interview.

What are the types of questions asked in MCQ?

The MCQ consists of random questions ranging from logical, analytical, and interpretive ability and sociological analysis. You may benefit from referring to last year’s MCQ question papers.

What is expected from a Research Proposal?

There is generally a word limit for any research proposal, it is recommended that you stick to the word limit. The research proposal is the most important document in your application, hence take your time and ask your trusted friends to comment on it and refine it.

Things to keep in mind while filling the application form

  • The application form asks for some vital information which gives you an opportunity to give a thorough detail of your proposed research, proposed theme, and scope of research. As the heading suggests, you would have to write in short as to what your theme is and what areas it will cover.
  • Your research proposal might be an extension to existing research, or your research will fill a gap in the existing literature.
  • Major writings in the field in which you would like to pursue your M.Phil./Ph.D.: This is an important question and when you appear for an interview, they might ask you to explain your choice of book. While preparing your research proposal you might have come across a few books which are very close to your research. Or you find the methodology applied in the research pertinent for your research. Choose book(s) which is/are close to your proposed research.
  • Primary sources/fieldwork, methodology, hypothesis/research, questions, and issues in the proposed field of interest: This question is an opportunity to explain your research in detail. While drafting a response to this, write in parts so that you do not miss anything and cover all aspects.
  • Primary source/fieldwork: Explain your field, in case yours is a research-based on secondary literature. Explain it in detail. Answer basic questions as to why this for your research, what will you research, and how.

Methodology: Methodology is key to any research and tries not to fill this part with jargon. Keep it simple, mention the methodology you will apply and why this method will enhance your research better. read about research methodology.

Hypothesis: This section does not need any solid answer from you. if you have any previous experience in your proposed research you may reflect on that, you are attempting to answer the larger question you have posed to yourself through this research. be honest and write it.

Questions: In this, you can put down the research questions. Make three-five concise research questions. Research questions are different from questionnaires. Your research question should ideally summarize what all you will be covering in your research or are attempting to. Do give importance and time in framing these research questions.

Issue: You can interpret this question according to the challenges your research poses, be it the availability of existing research in your proposed research or any political turmoil in the community you are researching on.

*Important*– check your references. do ask a trusted friend to check grammar, sentence formations, and spelling. ideally, have your proposal ready and then fill the form. Please do not hesitate to reach out to a friend. If you are not able to reach out, you may download the app Grammarly, it helps in sentence formations and spellings although it has its own limitations.

Can we contact a faculty at the DSE Sociology department requesting to supervise us?

Since MPhil-PhD is a time-consuming process and demands commitment towards completing research. There is no harm in contacting a professor whom you feel deems fit to guide your research before you appear for an interview. Contact the faculty via email given at the DSE Sociology website after you have made up your mind on the research you will be working on. Ideally, contact after having completed your research proposal and a concept note ready.

Look at the list of faculties available at the DSE sociology website and you may write to the faculty and send a concept note along with the email. If you are appearing for the written test, would suggest email after qualifying the written exam.

Kindly note: Emailing the professor of your choice and sharing your research does not ensure your admission, the professor may share what they feel about your research and if they are interested to work with you if getting admission. However, your intention is to make the desired faculty familiar with your research and if you are lucky they may give any suggestions regarding your research. you can incorporate it if you feel so. your admission completely depends on your proposal and interview.)


Preparing for the interview: Read your research proposal ten times because the panel will be reading your proposal. Most of the questions are rooted in your proposal and its sociological significance. If you are a non-sociology student, do try to understand and read books of sociological relevance with your research. What you understand from those books, how those books and your research proposal are connected, or what does your research draw from sociology or has to offer.  Keep all these questions in mind.

You might feel intimidated by the panel because I was, I saw faculties whom I was reading since my bachelor. but remember you are applying to be a research scholar and you have worked on your research in a depth no one in the panel might have. Acknowledge their presence and mark your presence as well while giving the interview.

Explain in detail, to practice explaining your research to your friend, write down points you HAVE to mention which you should not forget. Do not lose a sense of time and do not repeat.

Be clear with what you have written, including references you have mentioned in the proposal. it’s beyond human capacity to know all the work done around your research. which is ok but also remember whoever you have mentioned in your references or have read.

In the interview, their aim is to know how dedicated are you with your research, and what all have you read to make your research strong. What is your research that will offer sociology?

For Ph.D. students, if you have done MPhil they might ask about your MPhil research as well. They might suggest changes to your research during your interview. If you think its suits accept it and also explain why you accept their suggestion. If you think otherwise, again do explain.

Amritha is a Doctoral Fellow at Department of Sociology Delhi School of Economics.


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