At the 89th Academy Awards, he was nominated for Best Supporting Actor for Lion.
In 2014, Patel starred alongside Robert Sheehan and Zoë Kravitz in the film, The Road Within, about three unlikely friends, one with Tourette's syndrome (Sheehan), one with OCD (Patel) and an anorexic woman (Kravitz) who go on a road trip. Variety had positive words for the "bristling and committed performances by Robert Sheehan, Dev Patel and Zoe Kravitz" while noting that "there remains a nagging tidiness to the whole endeavor that leaves a strained, cloying aftertaste" that kept the movie from truly succeeding.
His portrayal of Neal Sampat on the HBO television series The Newsroom (2012–2014) earned him a NAACP Image Award nomination for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series.
In 2015, Patel starred as the mathematician Srinivasa Ramanujan in the biopic The Man Who Knew Infinity, and the following year he played Saroo Brierley in the drama Lion (2016).
Patel later attended Whitmore High School, receiving an A* in GCSE Drama for his "self-penned portrayal of a child in the Beslan school siege".
His drama teacher Niamh Wright has stated, "Dev was a gifted student who quickly impressed me with his innate ability to communicate a wide variety of characters imaginatively and creatively.