What to Choose: MBA or PGDM?- By Ritesh Goyal, MD and CEO of GIBS Business School

The MBA and PGDM being postgraduate programs are often used interchangeably leaving the candidates in a dilemma. The folks who are unaware of the differences end up being confused and making uninformed decisions. The full form of MBA is Master of Business Administration, and that of PGDM is Post Graduate Diploma in Management. The word ‘diploma’ attached to PGDM, it is often considered a lower rung program than an MBA. However, this is an incorrect and baseless assumption.

Let’s understand how the MBA degree is different from PGDM and what factors should make the premise for choosing one over another.

  1. Affiliation

The first and key difference lies with respect to the affiliation. As per the UGC Act of 1956, autonomous educational bodies cannot issue degrees to students.

MBA is a degree course offered by colleges that are affiliated to state or central universities with power to award degree certificates.

PGDM is offered by autonomous institutes, and they do not require affiliation to any university. Hence, they can offer only PGDM and not an MBA. However, these autonomous institutes are duly recognized by the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) which is a statutory body.

In the eyes of the Association of Indian Universities (AIU), MBA accreditation is considered equivalent to PGDM.

  1. Exams and Curriculum

MBA students are required to follow the exam schedule laid down by the university which governs the MBA institute. PGDM institutes can conduct exams at their own discretion – they do not have to adhere to any predefined schedule.

The MBA curriculum guideline is strictly followed by the aspects specified by the university. The curriculum design and content have no opinions taken from the MBA institute. The major drawback is the inability to update their curriculum flexibly without prior permission from the university. Therefore, the MBA curriculum is usually updated only once in 3-5 years the MBA curriculum is updated which inturn affects to accommodate the industry trends adversely. Moreover, MBA curriculum has high theoretical and academic orientation – the focus on practical concepts and new-age subjects is less.

On the contrary, PGDM institutes have complete autonomy in how they want to design their curriculum. The curriculum is modified at regular intervals to realign it with market scenarios and industry expectations. These days, many PGDM institutes are also offering niche courses tailor-made to the needs of specific sectors such as technology, telecom, agriculture, entrepreneurship, etc. Moreover, PGDM institutes also take their students through case studies, presentations, internships and cultural exchange programs to help them develop soft skills in addition to technical skills.

  1. Cost and Facilities

 The fee of an MBA program is comparatively lower than that of a PGDM program and hence, more affordable for students. However, due to the low fees, a large majority of MBA institutes are unable to meet their expenses which results in poor quality of education, infrastructure, faculty, and other resources.

On the other hand, PGDM institutes make up for higher fees by making the best-in-class education and amenities available to its students. It in turn also attracts qualified faculty because they get better salaries.  

  1. Further Education Opportunities

 Some students prefer to pursue double postgraduation, Ph.D. or other higher education courses in foreign universities after completing their MBA or PGDM. While the eligibility criteria for admission vary from one foreign institute to another, PGDM graduates have higher chances of acceptability because of their strong conceptual, technical as well as practical educational background.

  1. Job Opportunities

The ratio of campus placements in PGDM institutes is higher than their MBA counterparts. PGDM institutes have a strong network of alumni, employers and industry associations, and hence attract some of the most reputed companies for placements. If not, they can still get better job opportunities outside campus placements.

Most employers and foreign universities consider MBA and PGDM equivalent. However, during the selection, they do pay attention to the institute’s reputation as well as student’s academic knowledge and employment fit. Also, there is no doubt that PGDM has an edge over MBA because of higher-quality education, curriculum, infrastructure, faculty, and placements. Some of the top-ranking institutes in India offer PGDM and are quite popular among students.

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