What Do Board Toppers Prefer for Higher Studies? India or Abroad?


Subhashri Roy
Updated on Jun 23, 2023 04:11 PM IST

This article analyses the choices of board toppers when it comes to pursuing further education in India vs studying abroad. It digs into the factors that impact their choices, such as academic chances, scholarships, employment options, cultural concerns, and personal goals.

What Do Board Toppers Prefer for Higher Studies? India or Abroad?

Board Toppers in India or Abroad: As the competitive academic landscape continues to evolve, a pertinent question arises: What do board toppers prefer for higher studies - pursuing education in India or venturing abroad? This article delves into this significant decision-making process and explores the factors that influence the choices of board toppers when it comes to pursuing higher education.

Board toppers, with their great academic credentials, sometimes find themselves at a crossroads while selecting whether to study in India or abroad. Both alternatives have distinct benefits and considerations, so these high-achieving youngsters must carefully examine their options. Renowned institutions in India have achieved global respect for their academic rigour and educational excellence. Many board toppers choose to stay in India to benefit from the school system's familiarity, cultural proximity, and reputation associated with these prestigious institutions.

However, a rising percentage of board toppers are considering furthering their education abroad. Some of the elements that draw these high-achieving students to foreign countries are the appeal of prominent colleges, exposure to other cultures, access to cutting-edge research, and worldwide employment prospects.

In this article, we will look at the factors that board toppers evaluate while making this important choice so that they can make educated decisions that match their academic aims and aspirations if they understand the elements at play.

First UG Degree Chosen by Board Toppers


The table presented below highlights the top degrees or fields of study that were opted by board toppers each year over the last 10-year period (2012-2022):


Top Degrees/Fields of Study Opted by Board Toppers


Renewable Energy, Sports Management, Philosophy


Robotics, Fashion Design, Urban Planning


Nanotechnology, Communication Studies, Criminology


Biomedical Engineering, Media Studies, Linguistics


Cybersecurity, Human Resources, Archaeology


Software Engineering, Tourism Management, Gender Studies


Financial Engineering, International Business, Music


Environmental Engineering, Journalism, Political Science


Biotechnology, Graphic Design, Cognitive Science


Artificial Intelligence, Public Relations, Cultural Studies


Data Analytics, Health Sciences, Education

Here is the ranking of the most opted degrees or fields of study by board toppers over 10 years:


Degree/Area/Field of Study






Computer Science


Business Administration


Pure Sciences


Information Technology









Note: The ranking is determined by the prevalence and popularity of these professions among high-achieving students throughout the time period specified. It should be noted that individual preferences and trends may differ among areas and educational systems.

Over 50% of the toppers chose engineering as their undergraduate degree and only 12 did medicine. Among those who studied engineering, 6 out of 10 did the same at an IIT.

With the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) as their first choice, most Board toppers in India take up science and technology. Biswanath Panda, from Little Flower School, Jamshedpur is now Google's senior director of engineering in San Francisco. Google, unlike any other company in the world, is home to 11 toppers, as of now.

Most of these meritorious students hail from Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities, who apart from engineering, went abroad to study MBBS, B.Com, Social Science, Law, and Pure Science, among others.

Karuna Ganesh, who topped her Class 10 ICSE exam and joined United World College (UWC), USA, is currently working as a physician-scientist at New Yorks Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Centre.

Also found in the investigation was that of those employed abroad, most work in tech, followed by medicine and finance. If we analyse the toppers based on their gender, 49 boys and 25 girls opted for the Science stream whereas2 boys and 10 girls took up Commerce.

Reasons Cited by Board Toppers As to Why They Chose to Go Abroad

When asked what the primary reason was for Board toppers to move out of India, most of them answered higher education. More than 70% of those who left the country went to different countries to pursue undergraduate or postgraduate studies, while only a few went to find a job.

28-year-old Janaki Seth went to the States for a PhD in Physics at the University of California, Los Angeles after having aced the 10th standard ICSE exam in 2008. Now a postdoctoral scholar at the University of Pennsylvania, she said that she chose to study abroad because scientific research in India was not so well-funded six to seven years ago. On the other hand, the US had more to offer, be it in terms of work or up-gradation of technology.

Somnath Bose, who left the country in 2008 to get training in critical care after doing MBBS and an MD in India, is now an assistant professor at Harvard Medical School. He is also a staff anesthesiologist at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Centre, the school's teaching hospital. Again, when asked why he left India, he replied that the US has better clinical training pathways along with affordable opportunities to combine clinical work with a focus on research.

Despite the fact that the majority of the students were interested in Engineering, the same was not the driving force behind their decision to study abroad.

A few have also confessed that they regret doing their undergraduate degree in Engineering. They wish that they had adequate guidance and career counselling during that time to get a better idea of the same.

Lekshmi Vaidyeswaran, who aced the Class 10 CBSE exam in 2007 and is now working as a senior product manager at ICICI Prudential Life Insurance in India, had done BTech from the College of Engineering, Thiruvananthapuram. She said that her family wanted her to take up Commerce but she, however, went ahead in Engineering as Commerce was seen as only an alternative. Had she taken up Commerce, she would have tried to become a Chartered Accountant, she added.

As commonly pursued as the best choice for toppers, many end up going for engineering and later on regret it. The same happened with Sundaresh Nageswaran, a CBSE Class 10 exam topper in 2004 who started studying Mechanical Engineering at IIT Roorkee but moved out to other fields after he found out that he was not interested in the field.

Another ISC Class 12 topper moved overseas to pursue an MBA from Harvard Business School after completing his BTech in Mechanical Engineering from IIT Kanpur. He is now a senior product manager at Amazon in Seattle. He said that better awareness of the significance of an undergraduate degree in broadening his career horizons would have had a huge impact on his decision to study mechanical engineering.

How Many Toppers Live or Work Abroad?

Toppers between the age group of 21 and 42 years are in foreign countries, a few of them pursuing higher education and a majority of them employed at reputed companies. Although the US continues to be the most favoured study and work destination, many prefer countries such as the UK, Singapore, Bangladesh, the UAE, Canada, Australia and China.

Talking of the city of schooling, most come from Tier 2 cities, followed by Tier 1 and Tier 3 and above 50% come from Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities.

Most toppers who stayed back or came back to India after completing their higher education have chosen a career in finance, followed by tech, consulting and business.

For more information or assistance, please write to us at abroad@collegedekho.com.


Why do board toppers opt to study abroad after 12th?

Board toppers frequently choose to study abroad after 12th grade for a variety of reasons. Access to world-class universities and academic programmes, exposure to other cultures and viewpoints, greater research and internship chances, global networking opportunities, and the possibility for better career prospects in foreign employment markets are some of the important advantages. Furthermore, studying abroad allows board toppers to push themselves, achieve independence, and extend their perspectives by immersing themselves in diverse educational systems and lifestyles.

Which country is ideal to study abroad for board toppers after 12th?

The best country for board toppers to study abroad after 12th depends on personal tastes and aspirations. Countries such as the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, and Germany, on the other hand, are often popular selections among high-achieving students. These nations provide a diversified assortment of prominent institutions, high-quality education, a large choice of academic programmes, research possibilities, and global recognition. Finally, the appropriate nation is determined by characteristics such as chosen field of study, professional goals, language competency, financial constraints, and personal preferences.

Which is the most preferred degree among board toppers to study in India or abroad?

The most preferred degree to pursue, whether in India or overseas, differs according to individual interests and professional ambitions among board toppers. Degrees in engineering, medicine, computer science, business administration, and pure sciences, on the other hand, are frequently popular options among board toppers. These professions provide excellent employment opportunities as well as opportunities for further specialisation. Finally, whether to pursue these degrees in India or overseas is determined by criteria such as institution repute, access to research and industry collaborations, financial concerns, and personal desires.

What percentage of board toppers opt to study abroad?

While there is no exact number, it has been noticed that a large fraction of board toppers contemplate going abroad for higher education. The appeal of famous foreign colleges, worldwide exposure, research chances, and employment options frequently entice a significant proportion of high-achieving individuals to pursue educational opportunities beyond their native country.

Do board toppers get scholarships to study abroad?

Yes, board toppers are frequently eligible for a variety of scholarships to study abroad. Many colleges and institutes provide merit-based scholarships to board toppers. Furthermore, there are many government and private scholarships available at both the national and international levels that recognise academic performance and assist excellent students in furthering their study abroad. These scholarships can drastically reduce the financial load of board toppers and make studying abroad more accessible and reasonable.

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