Difference between MBA and PGDM.

MBA-VS-PGDM copyFew months back, one of the readers of my blog on this site had asked me about the difference between MBA degree and PGDM degree. I had then responded to him with a short, concise answer. I am sure students aspiring for MBA colleges must have encountered this question somewhere or other during their research. So, in this article, let me discuss this topic in more depth.

Purpose of both MBA and PGDM programs is to shape up your career in the field of management. PGDM or Post Graduate Diploma in Management, as the name says, offers a diploma in management unlike MBA, which gives a Master’s degree in Business Administration. Moment one sees the word ‘diploma’ attached, all hell breaks loose and confusion starts. Thoughts flash. I do not need a diploma degree after a successful Bachelor’s degree or after a corporate stint. A diploma is of lesser value to me. Right? Wrong. This is the most common myth associated in the debate of MBA vs. PGDM.

To give you a clear heads-up, top MBA institutes of India i.e. IIM, IMT, SP Jainand XLRI offer a PGDM degree. And then there are other top institutes like NMIMS, Symbiosis, FMS, and IBS which offer MBA degree. So, where is the difference?

Type of Affiliation – Only Major Difference

In India, a PGDM degree is offered by the autonomous bodies or institutions, which are not affiliated to any university.university is the flagship program across all 13 IIMs. Each IIM is run by an autonomous body and is independent to control its day-to-day operations. However the top management of all IIMs report of the Ministry of HRD in Indian government. XLRI, Jamshedpur is another example which offers the PGDM degree. It is not affiliated to any university but run by an independent board which comprises CXOs of the leading corporate.

Now let us look at MBA degree. MBA degree is offered by universities and its affiliated institutions, and these universities are controlled by University Grants Commission (UGC). For example, ICFAI Business School offers MBA degree and is affiliated to ICFAI University. According to the Indian laws, only a university can offer degrees such as MBA, BBA or BE. Any institution which is not affiliated to university cannot offer these degrees.

Hence, the major difference between MBA and PGDM degree is the type of affiliation of these colleges. Most of the differences between both degrees are in fact spin-offs of this very distinction.

Autonomy Scores Certain Advantages

Since PGDM colleges are autonomous institutions, they enjoy certain operational advantages over MBA colleges. One of the differences is in the kind of curriculum and its design. In PGDM, the curriculum is updated more regularly based on the changes in the environment and requirements of the industry. This makes the PGDM courses more competitive and industry oriented. PGDM courses from institutes like IIM, ISB, SP Jain or such top institutes reflect higher brand value and are readily accepted by the industry.

What about colleges like FMS, Symbiosis, NMIMS, or IBS? They all offer MBA degree. So, does this mean the syllabus of these colleges is outdated? Answer is No. Technically speaking, a university syllabus changes once every 3 to 5 years. This is because there are a number of institutions affiliated to a particular university. So, if there is more frequent change in the syllabus, there will be time and costs associated with the revision of books and upgrading the faculties. Hence, there is a lesser degree of flexibility involved in the curriculum design of an MBA program. Even though the syllabus of a university affiliate MBA college may not be outdated, chances are that their curriculum may not be in tune with the current needs of the industry. In other words, the syllabus is more technical (and not theoretical) in nature, developing better business knowledge and perspective. However, university affiliated colleges with their experienced faculty and better infrastructure can offer better learning experience to students.

This difference in terms of curriculum of both kinds of colleges is a very finer one. It should not be accredited much weightage while choosing a college for yourself.

According to the views of Mr. V. Venkataramana, former Dean, School of Management Studies, University of Hyderabad, published in The Hindu, “An MBA is for those who seek a university programme to get a holistic view while the PGDM is for those who seek specialization in the area of their interest.” Therefore, you may find more innovative programs in PGDM colleges. They may offer more choices of innovative electives purely based on a particular industry need.

Being more industry-centric, PGDM colleges have more collaboration with the corporate bodies. There is a greater stress on setting up of industry funded groups like incubation centers or entrepreneurship cells or innovation forums. This often leads to a better funding model for these colleges, resulting in better placement and higher average salaries. However, I believe the worth of a student is more dependent upon his skills, capabilities and experience than MBA or PGDM.

There could be some differences in the duration of course as well. Many PGDM courses follow a trimester system. A year is split in two to four terms, each term of 2-4 months. For an example, in IMT Ghaziabad which offers PGDM program has four terms in its first year and three terms in its second year. On the other hand, a traditional MBA course consists of two terms or semester in a year, each ranging from 4-6 months. IBS Hyderabad has four semesters in its two-year MBA program, each ranging from 4-5 months.

So, Which Carries More Value?

Most points of distinction between MBA and PGDM program discussed above are fast getting obliterated in the race to attract best talent and top recruiters. Today most of them are even inconsequential to think about. What matters ultimately is the brand of the business school which enhances your skills, knowledge and career.

Next time, when you are deciding between MBA and PGDM, focus more on the ranking of the institute, accreditation, alumni network, reviews of college from its students, exposure, industry collaboration and your choices of subjects and electives. Remember, even the best institutes have its share of worst performing students, and even lower ranked colleges have best performing students in life and corporate. So, it’s your passion, hard work and performance which will eventually decide your future. And least MBA or PGDM.

Contributed by Suyash Chopra ( Class of 2010, IBS Hyderabad ) can be contacted atwww.suyashchopra.wordpress.com and twitter: @suyashchopra1