Demography, also known as population studies, is a systematic study of the population. This discipline engaged with concerns like population characteristics, growth, and other changes. It examines variables like birth, fertility, health, death, migration, ageing, within the socio-economics, cultural and political contexts in which they take place. Demography undertakes a statistical study of the population and its characteristics to reveal patterns and relationships.
Demographers have been an essential part of public policy formulation. They are able to gather, analyse population data and make essential information available for policies. Census and survey offices, public health professionals, planning professionals are few career areas that value this area of study. The value of this discipline lies in its ability to study population at both macro and micro scales - collecting necessary data through primary survey research or other sources and then generate insights into qualitative and quantitative characteristics of the populations.
Demography Course Highlights
UG, PG, Doctoral
Academic qualifications, entrance examinations
Duration of the program
UG- 3 years
PG- 2 years
Average course fee
Range from Rs. 25,000 - Rs. 3,00,000
Average Salary (per month)
Around Rs. 15,00 - Rs. 1,00,000
Demographers, Demography Expert, Assistant Professorship, Professorship, Lecturers, Research Associate/Analysts, Research Assistant, Consultants with International Organisations like Work Bank and UN, United Nations Population Fund (UNPF), Market Researchers, Biostatisticians, Evaluation Specialist, Public Health Professionals, Education Professionals, Ethnographers, Programme Managers, Development Programme analysts, Family Health and welfare professionals, Community Planners, Government Officials in Census and Statistical organisations
Degrees and levels (UG/PG) of Demography Courses:
Undergraduate (3-year) -Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) in Population Studies- The prevalence of undergraduate programs in the discipline is quite rare. This is because the specialised study is usually a forte of advanced learning. Students usually pursue bachelor (B.A./B.Sc./B.Tech) degrees in a variety of other related disciplines including anthropology, sociology, biology, statistics, economics, geography or other social sciences. In universities outside India, it is possible to earn a major/minor in the discipline while pursuing a related programme.
Post- graduate (1 to 2-year)- These can be regular or distance courses. These programmes vary in their focus from a broad academic study of the discipline to a much focused research-based approach. The discipline focus of the programmes also varies purely singular, to quantitative, to interdisciplinary.
Master of Arts (M.A.) in Demography/Population Studies
Masters of Arts (M.A.) in Population Studies (Distance Mode)
Master of Population Studies
Masters in Population and Geography
Master of Science (M.Sc.) in Demography/ Population Studies
Master of Science (M.Sc) in Biostatistics and Demography
Postgraduate Diploma aimed to train students who have a masters in a related discipline such as geography or sociology. The aim of a postgraduate diploma is to give training in theory and methods of demography and make students career-ready in the field. Diploma in Population Demographics and Health is another variant of diploma available in the discipline.
Master of Philosophy is research-intensive studies that range from one to two-year programmes. These have a large research component and expect students to develop a specialised area of interest in which they submit a dissertation. This is suitable for students who have completed their masters and seek specialisation but do not find the long-tenure of a PhD programme suitable.
Doctor of (PhD) in Demography/Population Studies are long-term research programmes that help scholars gain first-hand research experience and paves way for a career in academia or practice. This is suitable for candidates who want to enter into the teaching profession, especially as tenured faculty in colleges and universities.
Demography Courses: Minimum and Maximum Duration
There are few certificate programmes in the discipline offered by institutions like the International Institute of Population Studies (IIPS) Mumbai that provide training to professional and advanced learners in various emerging techniques used in the discipline. Programmes like these can last anywhere between one week to a few months. Full degree and diploma programmes usually have a minimum duration of 12 months. Bachelor programs have a duration of three years, most masters programmes are of one to two years. PhD programmes can be completed in a minimum of three years, however, this is specific to the institute policy.
Maximum duration refers to the time beyond the normal duration that a student may take to complete a programme. These are generally specific to individual institute policies however, some general provisions govern the maximum duration. At the masters level, the maximum duration can last up to six years, particularly in case of distant mode programmes. The maximum duration of a PhD programme in 6 years. However, women candidates and PwD candidates can avail up to further relaxation of one year for MPhil and two years for PhD programmes. Further in-service candidates and students who convert to part-time PhD can take longer to complete the programme.
As stated earlier, the students take bachelor's programmes in related disciplines. Qualifications differ for various programmes, however, the minimum eligibility is successful completion of class 12 with 50%. 5% relaxation is provided for students from SC/ST/OBC (Non-Creamy Layer) backgrounds or those who are differently-abled.
Masters programmes in Demography studies have eligibility criteria of a minimum of 55% marks at the undergraduate level. Students who have completed their bachelor’s study or those who are in their final year and will complete it prior to admission into the programmes can apply for the masters. Further, a 5% relaxation in marks secured at bachelors level is proved as per the university grants commission (UGC) norms for students from the SC/ST/OBC (Non-Creamy Layer) backgrounds or those who are differently-abled.
A few Masters programs and the Master of Philosophy programs have eligibility criteria of a minimum of 55% marks in a masters programme in the discipline of Demography. Students who have completed their study or those who are in their final year and will complete it prior to admission into the programmes can apply for these programs. Further, a 5% relaxation in marks secured at masters level is proved as per the university grants commission (UGC) norms for students from the SC/ST/OBC (Non-Creamy Layer) backgrounds or those who are differently-abled
Admission Criteria after Class 12
Aspirants looking to pursue demography in their undergraduate level should have passed their class 12 with any combination. They should necessarily have mathematics as a subject in their curriculum. Biology is the next desirable subject, this can be pursued with or without physics and chemistry. If candidates prefer to take a non-science approach, doing geography and economics will help immensely. One can choose a humanities combination with any of the following subjects in addition to geography, economics and mathematics: sociology, psychology, history, or political science. They should have scored a minimum of 45% in aggregate in the final exam. There are some relaxations for candidates belonging to the reserved category as per Government reservation rules.
Entrance Examinations for Demography
Undergraduate level courses specific to the discipline are limited. Students can take up programmes in related disciplines as mentioned earlier. Admission to these may or may not have entrance examinations depending on the course and demography institution selected. Many universities like Delhi University, JNU, and other public and private universities have their own entrance examinations. Students should refer to the appropriate program admission criteria to plan for bachelors.
Entrance exams for entry to the master’s programmes are conducted by the specific demography colleges or universities. IIPS has a computerised test for its Master of Population Studies programme. Master of Philosophy courses have a written exam and a viva/interview component in their admission process. The syllabus comprises general aptitude, language, reasoning, quantitative aptitude including mathematics and statistics, and research aptitude along with basic knowledge of demography discipline.
Fees and Expenses of Demography Courses
A rough idea of the fees structure of the programmes in population studies in recognised demography colleges and institutes is given below:
Undergraduate Level: Fee structure in at bachelors level is dependent on the particular course undertaken and the university/institution. You can refer to the appropriate disciple details to know more. However, as a general rule of thumb, this can cost you between Rs. 45,000/- to Rs. 3,00,000/- on an average.
Masters Level: Fees is in the range of Rs. 25,000 to Rs. 45,000 depending on a number of years of study. Students can also receive funding and fellowship up to Rs. 5,000 per month, if eligible.
Research and Doctoral Levels: Fees can vary from Rs 40,000 - Rs. 60,000 for the entire duration. Students also receive attractive scholarships. Students who qualify the NET can receive an upwards of Rs. 25,000 per month as a stipend. Students without NET can get stipends upwards of Rs. 12,000 per month.
Population studies offer generalist and specialist training in the disciple as per your chosen programme. A masters in the discipline trains you with skill sets (described below) that are highly valued in many research institutes in India and abroad. Specialised training - with micro specialisations in migrations studies, public health, fertility, etc give you the depth and expertise to join niche careers with organisations of national and international repute.
Depending on the kind of programme you select and where you choose to study, the demography courses you encounter will vary. However, the core curricula consist of the following subjects:
Population and Development
Fertility and Mortality
Urbanisation and Migration
Population Growth and Demographic Changes
Poverty, Inequality and Health
Population and Settlements
Gender and Sexuality
Quantitative and methods courses impart students and researchers key skills to study and analyse characteristics and patterns in the population. These are also essential beyond the period of study in real-life projects and works of demographers.
Quantitative Methods for Social Sciences
Data Collection and Analysis
Demography degrees offer students versatile job opportunities. We can roughly classify the job opportunities in the field into three categories:
Teaching Profiles: These include lectureships, professionships and a variety of other teaching engagements in colleges and universities. These jobs usually have good pay-scales and benefits.
Research and consultant Profiles: A variety of institutions both government and private undertake demographic research. Census of India is a prominent institution in India. Consultancy research is undertaken by organisations and NGOs that do policy planning and advocacy. They can provide valuable population statistics and insights that are central to economics, social and spatial planning.
Professional Profiles: Demography graduates can provide powerful information about the subject population that corporations and organisations engage with. They also can undertake illustrious careers as professional planners with government and private planning agencies.
Demographers/Demography Expert: Experts who do statistical surveys of the population. They can work within organisations or independently.
Professorship: Academic professional who is engaged in teaching and research activities within universities and colleges.
Lecturers: Undertake teaching in colleges
Research Associate/Analysts: Undertake research necessary for the projects of the organisation.
Research Assistant in a Project: A short term position, supplementing research of a primary researcher.
Consultants with International Organisations like Work Bank and UN: Persons providing professional consultancy services to various projects of/funded by these organisations.
United Nations Population Fund (UNPF): UNPF promotes rights to quality life and health.
Market Researchers: Undertake a survey of consumers, their preferences, acceptance of a new product, for corporates and businesses.
Biostatisticians: Work closely with the medical field to collect, analyse medical data pertaining to population.
Evaluation Specialist: Undertake an evaluation of proposals, projects and programmes to analyse their feasibility, viability and necessity.
Public Health Professionals: Professionals associated with government or private organisations who look at community health monitoring, precaution measures, epidemic control.
Ethnographers: Undertakes fieldwork-based studies of the population.
Programme Officers: Officers within corporate/government organisations, NGOs or other organisations who lead specific projects and programmes. They are responsible for all-round planning and execution of the project.
Development Programme analysts: Persons providing professional research and advice, undertaking detailed problem identification, analysis and communication for a project or programme.
Family Health and welfare professionals: Look into general health and family planning.
Community Planners: Look at local area-level health, family and planning activities.
Government Officials in Census and Statistical organisations: Work in a national survey and data collection projects.
The major recruiters in this field, in India, are:
Population Foundation of India
International Institute for Population Studies
National Council of Applied Economic Research
Any renowned university
Demography is an important branch of study that finds applications in other fields too. In fact, it is integral to many multidisciplinary courses. Students can expect to build a successful career in demography provided they equip themselves with the right qualification and skillsets.
Skills Set that the discipline requires is either gained directly from various degree programmes in it, or from related disciplines. Do not worry if you lack these skills before the study. Most programmes are geared to train students in them during the course of their study. You can consider these as important learning outcomes you will get from a degree in Demography apart from the theoretical exposure.
Research Aptitude: Research is an important area of work for demographers. Ability to do scientific research requires training in a number of appropriate methods that are offered through various courses and thesis work.
Quantitative Aptitude: Study of the population needs one to engage with variables like age, health status, distributions, etc. These are quantitative variables that need to be identified and categories accordingly. Quantitative methods courses can help one develop the appropriate skills necessary to handle these data sets.
Analytical Skill: Analytical skills help transform data about population into insights and inputs for policymaking. A variety of statistical and inferential courses are available at masters level for students to gain the necessary skills.
As a highly interdisciplinary subject, the Demography department is often found attached to sociology or anthropology departments. It also draws from disciplines like economics, human geography, anthropology, social sciences, medicine, biology. The interdisciplinary character of the discipline makes available a wide horizon for students to pursue their interest in these fields while remaining grounded in population theory. Demography is usually pursued as a separate discipline in advanced levels of studies. Hence it is common for students to pursue undergraduate studies in related disciplines mentioned earlier with or without a specialisation in demography/population studies. At the graduate level, specialised training in the discipline is undertaken by students in many renowned colleges and universities offering Demography as a course.
The curriculum is divided into taught courses and research work. Though the exact duration and timing of these depend on the type of programmes. Courses are usually one semester long. Students need to do a minimum number of courses to be eligible for a degree. Usually, the first half of the study is spent on doing the courses. Students focus on individual research work, under the guidance of a faculty or guide that results in submission of a dissertation or theses, in the latter half of the programme. This is the most important aspect of research-based programs in the discipline.
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