School for Sustainable Development

India has seen tremendous economic growth in the past few decades after attaining independence. But 70% of India’s population still reside in her villages with limited or no infrastructure and lack basic facilities. Agriculture remains the primary occupation of a majority of people with no alternative source of income. Also, the impoverishment of natural resources due to climate change has a huge impact on the livelihoods of these people. Thus villages in India are considered to be her life force and whatever progress is made without including the rural population, cannot be sustained.

Program Length

4 Years

Degree Awarded


Application Deadlines

Final Application: July 31, 2020

Apply Now


It is evident that science and technology can help in the development and progress of a nation. But in recent years, an important question that has surfaced globally is - whether this development is (socially) inclusive, (environmentally) sustainable and (economically) equitable? Taking inclusivity and equitability into account is as crucial as sustainability as a majority of the ever-increasing world’s population is still below the poverty line. Secondly, development as a result of science and technology has lead to numerous unprecedented detrimental environmental effects, questioning its sustainability. Thirdly, we should be able to quantify available resources or wealth, its production, consumption and transfer among the given population. This highly interdisciplinary approach involving, study of population and environment, along with the perspective of economics will give an in depth analysis, thus helping the researcher in understanding the needs of a region for being able to provide the best possible solution.

At Amrita, we are set to answer another question: how much of the advancements in science and technology can be used to serve the lowest and most vulnerable strata of society? Our Chancellor’s vision for Amrita is to inculcate Education for Life and Compassion Driven Research that will help us serve the needy. In order to create a highly educated trained manpower, Amrita is one of the first to launch a highly interdisciplinary School for Sustainable Development. The school will focus on 7 thematic areas in line with United Nations Sustainable Development Goals 2030:

  • Health & Hygiene
  • Education & Gender Equality
  • Waste Management & Infrastructure
  • Energy and Environment
  • Agriculture & Risk Management
  • Livelihood & Skill Development
  • Water & Sanitation
  • Others (when applicable)

A detailed study of each of these areas in every community gives rise to a combination of problem statements intertwined with dynamic challenges such as the psychosocial beliefs, language barriers, cognitive behaviour, social issues prevalent based on caste, gender, politics etc. that are very unique to every community. These problem statements and challenges are then addressed by interdisciplinary teams of students and expert researchers.

We are set to offer various undergraduate, masters and Ph. D. level programs with world class curriculum under this school. These programs will utilize a unique framework - E4LIFE that dynamically integrates social, economic and cultural aspects while assessing the needs of a community. It will enable the global youth to Experience, Embrace, Empower and Engage with communities through a blend of both experiential and academic learning.

What is unique about studying sustainable development at Amrita?

Amrita is ranked as No.1 private university in India by the Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2020. In 2019, the Government of India decided to award the title “Institute of Eminence” (IoE) to 20 selected universities/institutions in India. Amrita is proud to be recommended for an IoE on par with some of the very old and reputed institutions in India, within less than 20 years of inception. Amrita has 230+ international collaborations and has partnered with several universities in the US, Australia and Europe for student mobility programs, Dual degrees, Integrated programs, and Internship opportunities.

We have pioneered,

tested and excelled! Our University motto- “Education for a living and Education for Life” has made Amrita very special and capable of giving experiences to her students that is beyond the ordinary. Back in 2013, our Chancellor guided us to launch an academic program, Live-in-Labs® that will encourage and facilitate students from around the world to visit villages in India, spend from one month to one year, understand their problems and try to address them with the application of science and technology. Our affiliation to the UN recognised NGO, Mata Amritanandamayi Math, made us pursue this journey with clarity and confidence. To date, we have hosted over 400 students from more than 40 international universities belonging to different academic backgrounds. They have worked in over 150 projects touching the lives of over 100,000 beneficiaries across 21 states in India. The main purpose of establishing a dedicated School for Sustainable Development is because we believe that along with academic learning which is important to make a living, education must impart a culture of the heart — a culture based on enduring values. To this end, Amrita has over 100+ adopted villages in India and strives to use applied research as the foundation of socio economic progress and sustainability. Through the various courses offered at this school, we not only hope to transform our villages but also the lives of Amrita’s faculty and students!



Amrita’s Ph.D. program in Sustainable Development is a multidisciplinary and theory-into-practice Ph.D. program offered under the School for Sustainable Development. The program is designed to provide an interdisciplinary grounding with its integrative courses.


We offer this program in two modules:

1. Academic Learning Module:

The academic learning module will be designed and tailored to suit the need of implementing the proposed research and development. It will constitute a highly comprehensive, flexible yet customized set of Core courses and Elective courses. Wherever applicable, we will arrange:

  • International faculty lectures to offer various specialised courses and academic workshops;
  • Technical workshops from industries to enhance technical knowledge and
  • Allow undertaking MOOCs from reputed Universities with transferable credits.
  • Funded opportunities for Joint or Dual Ph.D. in collaboration with highly reputed international universities are available for ALL candidates. List of our Partner Universities:
    1. University at Buffalo
    2. The State University of New York, USA
    3. Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, Netherlands
    4. Politecnico di Milano, Italy

2. Experiential Learning Module:

  • Organized community visits
  • Theory-into-practice approaches to effective community engagement
  • Explore and feel the pulse of rural communities in India that are very diverse in terms of their culture, language, literacy, natural resources and socioeconomic development
  • Identify pressing problems of rural communities through one’s own experience by embracing and engaging with them
  • Develop sustainable solutions and ensure empowerment of the rural communities

The course structure is designed to combine flexibility to pursue an individual field of study, with the development of broad-based skills and knowledge in relation to sustainable development. The students can decide on a list of core courses and electives after discussion with their allocated guides at Amrita. The students should maintain an overall B+ average with no lower than a B in any of the core classes

Amrita has collaborated with many international universities through which we jointly offer dual degree and integrated programs. We are fully committed to being unique at the same time globally relevant in the field of higher education. We have developed collaborations with several international universities who specialise performing research in various disciplines under the theme of sustainable development. We will be collectively working to solve global challenges, thus bringing a global transformation through our partnerships.

Admissions are now open!



Our Chancellor’s exemplary vision and untainted intent of care for people in real need, has laid the foundation for Amrita E4LIFE International PhD Fellowships. We are proud to announce 100 FULLY FUNDED fellowships under the School for Sustainable Development to students who apply for a full-time Ph.D. in Sustainable Development program at Amrita. Through these fellowships, we wish to offer a unique platform & opportunity for students to serve the needy in the most effective way and, at the same time, awaken compassion in their hearts.

For more information, please visit: Ph.D. in Sustainable Development


The Ph.D. program will take four years to complete. Students are required to complete the program within four years, as funding is not guaranteed past the fourth year.


We have openings for 100 fully funded fellowships per academic year and we publicize 2 calls every year. There are two intakes every year for Ph.D. in Sustainable Development program. The first intake will commence in mid January every year and the second intake will commence in mid July every year.


The candidates we admit have different academic, professional, and national backgrounds. We would prefer candidates who have a passion to work in the villages, perform extensive field work and contribute towards their development. Also, an inclination or liking towards Indian culture will be an added benefit to the candidates as it will help them to be more committed to the program.

Professional experience especially being a part of an NGO is preferable. Alternatively, the candidates demonstrating strong domain knowledge will be preferred. We suggest all applicants to go through the Amrita Webpage to find out about the work we have done towards rural development. Amrita has established 25+ centres of excellence and there are several projects being undertaken under them.

We are looking for applicants who will be able to contribute towards the existing projects at Amrita from an interdisciplinary perspective.

For a list of ongoing rural development projects at Amrita, please click on the following link:

If you think you can leverage your skills and work towards taking one of these projects ahead that will benefit society, Eureka! You are the ideal candidate we are looking for!

Students with backgrounds including geography, environmental science, civil engineering, computer science, electrical and electronics, electronics and communication, wireless networks, social science, economics, chemistry, biotechnology, education, rural health and nutrition and management will be preferred.


Students admitted to the program come with a variety of educational and professional backgrounds. While there are no fixed academic requirements for admission, typically successful applicants have the following:


No. Students are required to submit a research proposal only after the completion of their coursework, as determined by their Doctoral Committee.


No. Applicants will have to apply separately and make a specific application. At the school of sustainable development, International applicants are eligible for a fully funded fellowship.


We welcome applications from both professionals and students. Relevant prior professional experience does strengthen the application. We expect that the strongest applicants will have outstanding academic and professional qualifications.

Admission to our PhD program is now open.

Step 1: Register with us online

Step 2: Email us the following documents (as attachments)

1. Statement of Purpose (upto 1000 words):

To be considered for the E4LIFE International PhD fellowship, applicants must submit a Statement of Purpose along with their application. Applicants are expected to write about the following:

  • Mention your area of interest clearly and specifically (you can choose one or more of the thematic areas listed above)
  • Also please mention any work you have undertaken with respect to community engagement, any field work or data collection or implementation of a solution in a Rural Setting.
  • What interests you to do your PhD at Amrita?
  • Why would you like to do PhD in Sustainable development based in Indian villages?
  • Your professional and/or academic qualifications must be in line with your area of interest.
  • You must also be able to associate your area of interest with sustainable development.

2. Master’s Thesis

It is mandatory to submit your Master’s thesis as a part of your application. This cannot be exempted.

3. CV or Resume:s

Applicants must include the following in their CV:

  • Relevant professional experience - could be work, internship or study abroad experience
  • Academic history to be clearly stated and proven
  • Research paper publications - It is not mandatory. However applicants with paper publications in conference (Tier A) and journals (scopus-indexed) will be given priority over others.
  • Please mention your complete contact details on your CV - Email, Mobile Number, Skype ID (we recommend you have one if you do have it), and Postal address.
  • Also please mention - Passport Number, Country (you are residing at present) and Nationality.

4. Academic transcripts & Educational certificates:

You must have one set of transcripts sent to Amrita directly from every college and university from which you earned a bachelor’s degree or higher. Amrita accepts unofficial transcripts as part of the online application, but not transcripts that are emailed or sent in after the application is submitted.

To be emailed to:


Postal Address to send us the transcripts:

Dr. Maneesha V Ramesh,Center for International Programs,
Amrita Vishwa VidyapeethamAmritapuri, Clappana (P. O.)
Kollam - 690 525. Kerala, India +91-476-280-4160 +91-476-280-4152
Office Hours: Monday - Saturday (9:00 am to 5:30 pm)

5. Recommendations/References

A maximum of two recommendations are required. Applicants will enter the names and email addresses of recommenders in the online application. Amrita will then invite recommenders to complete an online form which includes short answer and ranking questions. Attaching a letter is optional. References should be from educators (preferred) or professionals familiar with the applicant’s experience and capacity for graduate work. At least one recommendation should be from a faculty member. References cannot submit letters until the online application is complete. Applicants are encouraged to submit the application early to give their references enough time to submit their recommendation.

6. English Proficiency Requirement (For International applicants ONLY)

Applicants from a country where the native language is not English (regardless of current nation of residence) must provide proof of English proficiency. Applicants from an English-speaking country who earned a degree in a non-English speaking country may also be subject to the English proficiency requirement. This is absolutely mandatory and cannot be exempted for any reason. Either of the following English Language Certificates are accepted:

IELTS overall score minimum 6.5 or equivalent (require a minimum score of 6 in each section); (OR)TOEFL score minimum 90 or equivalent

7. Scanned copy of your Valid Passport (For International applicants ONLY)

This document will serve as a proof of your Identity.

1. Statement of Purpose (upto 1000 words):

Preparing for Your Interview:

You will be assessed based on the following points:

  • The details provided on your CV and SOP will be the base for your interview
  • You will be tested for the depth of your subject knowledge, research capabilities, communication skill and English language
  • To go through and understand some of the research undertaken at Amrita towards sustainable development in villages, please go through the following links:
  1. Live-in-Labs®
  2. Social Sciences Women Empowerment
  3. Wireless
  4. Humanitarian Robotics HCI
  5. Engineering
  6. Management

What Happens After the Interview?


  • The applicants who are rated “Good” after the interview will be offered an E4LIFE International PhD Fellowship Offer Letter.
  • The students are required to print, sign the acceptance letter and send it back to us as a scanned copy.
  • This will be treated as a confirmation that the student has accepted the offer.
  • We will then issue an Admission Confirmation Letter and a Visa Letter, with which the candidates can apply for their Visas.
  • Any other formal document(s) required by the Embassy should be intimated to us, along with the Embassy Email ID and we will send it directly to the Embassy.

Waiting List:

The applicants will be intimated about the results of their interview.

  • Those who are rated “Average” after the interview will be added to the “Waiting List”.
  • They will either be considered again for candidature upon discretion by the admissions committee or will be offered an Internship for 6 months to 1 year with the Live-in-Labs® program at Amrita.
  • This will be a paid internship and the students need to bear a cost of USD 315 per month. This internship is intended to help students build their capacities to pursue their PhD in Sustainable Development going forward. For more details onLive-in-Labs®program, please visit the embedded link.