International MBA program vs Indian MBA (read ISB Hyderabad)

International MBA program vs Indian MBA (read ISB Hyderabad)

Should you choose an Indian MBA program over a top international MBA college or Ivy League university? What does a foreign MBA mean from an RoI and post MBA career perspective?

Last unrelated question: What do you see in the photo on the left?

Option 1: An anaconda slowly tightening its grip around an unsuspecting victim’s neck

Option 2: A happy Indian dude who has managed to address the best Indian MBA vs top International MBA dilemma.

If you chose Option 1, your visualisation potential makes you fit to be in creative role and you might be wasting your time aiming for an MBA program. If you chose option 2, accept our sympathies and read on.

International MBA from top college abroad or from India?

Hi, this is Shubhankar Hiran. I graduated from IIT Bombay in 2006 from the 5 year integrated program (B.Tech + M.Tech). Post engineering, I moved to Hong Kong where I worked with Societe Generale for 3 years in their equity derivative sales division. In 2009, I moved back to Mumbai to work with Naandi Foundation, an NGO in their school management program. I quit Naandi in 2011 to join ISB Hyderabad’s class of 2012.

I always knew that I have to do an MBA, and started thinking about it as early as 2008 and scored 710 in my GMAT. Initially, I was targeting top US b-schools. I got a reject from Ann Arbor and LBS in 2010 which led me to rethink my takeaway from an MBA program. One thing, I was sure about was to stay back in Asia post MBA. After introspection and a better understanding of my long-term goals, I decided to apply to only ISB Hyderabad in 2011. While debating between the India Vs International MBA, I had three main considerations in mind:

* Finances: The cheapest MBA in US (Ann Arbor, Michigan) costs $120,000. Even in the best possible case of getting a co-signer in MBA and getting education loan at 6%, it would take at-least 5 years to pay-back in US salary. This would mean staying back in US for 5 years, a stint which I had no interest in doing.

* Opportunity Cost: If I had gone for a 2-year international MBA program in the U.S., it would have meant losing out on the salary and the growth in my company for 2 years. A significant “promotion” post MBA would have been possible only if I remained with the same industry. I was looking for a change in industry and a two year program didn’t seem to add a lot of value. Over the 5 years of work-ex, I realized that experience is the best teacher. Moreover, most of my friends in US MBA colleges did say that 2nd year is relatively easy going. I was not convinced about the utility of a 2 year foreign MBA as the value proposition for 1 additional year was unclear in my mind.

* Post MBA Career: If I came back to India post an US MBA, I was concerned about my RoI. Even at the best of the salaries in India for a MBA graduate, paying back US loans would have meant a drastic cut in my lifestyle.

While analyzing these three main points, I came to realization that a b-school in India would serve to best of my interest. Though I was not completely convinced about a 1 year program, I joined ISB as it offered the best exposure in India at a reasonable fee structure.

There are counter-perspectives to this story too, which drives many Indian applicants to join MBA programs abroad. For some the significant MBA scholarships and graduate assistantship opportunities make the RoI equation significantly better.

Check out Shubhankar’s albums on Flickr and Picasa. My vote goes to the pic titled – ‘Basketful of ducklings

Anybody else having a similar dilemma? Do you think there are reasons for and against either option?

Did you know that the species know as Eunectes murinus (pronounced ‘you-necked-us’ for reasons that are now clear from the photo) filed for a name change. They are now known as, well thought you’d have guessed it – anacondas?

You will now have one last urge to look at the photo just to verify if Shubhankar bhai is ok.

Read these ISB blog articles:

1 Year MBA Abroad (INSEAD) vs 2 Year MBA in India (IIM)
All about ISB Hyderabad MBA
ISB MBA admission with full scholarship
How the ISB admission process works
How I got into ISB with scholarship in my third attempt
ISB Hyderabad admission with low GMAT score of 610
Is ISB still worth the money and time?

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Sameer Kamat //
Sameer Kamat
Founder of MBA Crystal Ball. Author of Beyond The MBA Hype & Business Doctors. Here's more about me. Connect with me on Google+ | Twitter | Facebook | Linkedin


  1. mba grad says:

    Convinced that Finances, opportunity cost and post MBA career play an important role in making a decision, however one must not discount the brand of the business school when dealt with such dilemma. Just like marriage (as per Indian culture, of course), MBA is also done only once in life and there will be lot of emotions attached to the brand of the b-school that you will carry for the rest of your life!

  2. Electricmonk says:

    Nice take.

    I had a similar dilemma. I have admits from AA/Cambridge/ISB. Chose One Year@Cambridge. Driven by finances(got schol)/global exposure/brand value. Regarding the ISB/Judge debate. This was purely personal. Wanted some real global exposure and wanted to study at a place with a smaller class size to have stronger global connects. Also looking to specialize in Energy Markets. On a lighter side, I know enough Indians already :).

  3. collegekumar says:

    Electricmonk. Your story is interesting. You should contribute your story here as dunking AA and ISB for JBS is quite unique.

    Also How does smaller class size translate to stronger global connects?
    Just wanted your perspective here…

  4. Dr.J.sarkar says:

    It is not just a question of money involved in doing two year MBA in a top US school like HBS,Wharton or Stanford etc.Inspite of their very good faculty and campus(as they have lot of money),these schools do not really produce all great managers because their selection process is not transpaprent and merit is not their sole criteria for selection.Using the bogey of Diversity,not having any minimum GMAT score or CGPA and using things like easy written at home and sent online and recommendation letters ,these schools are manipulating selection process bypassing merit.Further Indian students are being particularly targeted for rejection.I know an extraordinaily brilliant Indian applicant who had very brilliant performance in two foreign universitirs including Stanford in usa and had worked brilliantly for 4 years in a top in foreign location and also had 780 in GMAT besides a CFA from USA and his command over english language is better than most americans was rejected by HBS,Wharton ,Stanford and MIT sloan.I met one top management professor and consultant who did his MBA and Ph.d from one of these top US business school nearly 25 years back.When he interacted with this boy ,he expressed shock at his rejection and opined that none of these top US schools can have even 10 percent MBA students of his calibre.Lot of things are going wrong in USA these days and something is also going wrong with these business schools.If they continue to ignore marit like this their future is bleak.

  5. Dilip Joshi says:

    It doesn’t take 5 years to recover the costs it takes 2 years if you go to a really good school and get a decent job. Also, in the Long Run if you do get an MBA from Harvard or the Top Schools and work in the US assume you make $80k per year which you do, you’d make a ton of money in a decade. The point of getting in a top school-it’s not that easy the whole world is trying and some of these schools have just 900 seats. Also,
    if you have good connections it’s much easier to get in like everywhere else in the world. And with regard to Sarkar’s point of the guy who’s command over English is better than most Americans (it doesn’t matter how good the candidate is on paper) he has to prove he’s in the top 900 for HBS (either by being exceptionally smart or exceptionally rich).

    P.S: I did my MBA from Wharton

  6. MBA Hopeful says:

    @ Dilip

    So you believe that meritocracy can be discounted for money and smartness… is that what Wharton MBA teaches?

    Interesting to know that MBAs from Wharton do find time to comment on this site.

  7. Harihar Mahapatra says:

    Hi ,

    The MBA from top schools , especially from USA is not hyped. Think CEO of Arthur D. Little with more than 35 years industry experience and with PhD from Cornnel Univeristy is teachning in class, think Ravi Rammurthy, IIM-A, DBA, Harvard with more than 25 years is teaching in class, Think Hitendra Patel, MBA from kellog with 25 years exp in world top companies like motorola, ADL is teachning in class and think Dr. Kumar, BS from MIT and Phd from Cornnel University , the CAO of hult international business school. President is MA from Cambridge University, PhD from Manchester Universiyt, Ex-McKinsey, and Ex-GM of Standard Chartered.

    The course curriculum is much tougher than any very good Indian MBA and the style of teaching purely practice oriented. US MBA programs have so many scholarships and loan programs to help students to get into program. However it is difficult to get. US MBA is perceived much better than top Indian MBAs.

    However I strongly believe that students of IIT and IIM are really good but not the faculties and the research. And with a degree from IIT and IIM anybody can enter to a very good corporate.

    As far as ROI is considered, Indian MBA is better in India and US MBA is better in US and rest of the world. So it depends on your priority

    • Conclusionwithoutreason says:

      I don’t agree with your comment at all. Sure, the point you made about the faculty in US schools being stellar is valid but you are discounting that Indian schools like ISB attract some of the best faculty from the US schools and they teach the entire course at ISB as well. IIMs have also been placing more and more importance on the faculty though the research produced leaves a lot to be improved. However without studying at Indian schools you can’t assume things like the “Course curriculum is much tougher” or “US MBA is perceived much better” – these are blanked statements with no proof. There are plenty who believe that US MBAs lose out on merit because of their very high tuition fee and need to maintain diversity as well. In places like Singapore and London, there are many alums from top Indian schools who have made a mark for themselves and are very well placed. It comes down to the individual in question and there are pros and cons of attending US Bschool vs Indian Bschool.

  8. Arpit Sharma says:

    To be honest
    I dont think IIMs are in the race with Hardward and Stanford
    their placements are phenomenal .
    as compared to INDIA where placements goes maximum 15-25 lakhs starting
    that to from exceptions !
    on anverage 8-15 lakhs

  9. pooja says:

    hi….thanks for such a wonderful information you shared …cleared a few cow webs in my brain….
    i just wonder what you would your opinion had been if you had no work experience at all?
    thanks for the reply in advance..

  10. Sameer Kamat says:

    @Pooja: If you didn’t have any experience, it wouldn’t make sense to apply to GMAT MBA colleges. Check out the other posts on our blog to know why Adcoms insist on having some managerial and leadership exposure before applying.

  11. Anand says:

    @Pooja: I got interested to this thread because of your question. So before anyone starts guessing, I have done my MBA from NITIE- Mum and was a fresher when I joined. Today I have close to 2 years of experience in one of the top notch IT companies as a consultant but when I look back I feel that I could not grasp the classroom concepts that well and could not connect because of the lack of experience.

    Hence I am thinking of writing GMAT and going for a second MBA to gain an international exposure and trust me I am not alone in this boat.

  12. Angy says:

    What happens with one doesn’t necessarily happens with the other. So, taking chances wouldn’t be wrong if you’ve managed to avail the required amount of money to fund your MBA abroad. It definitely exposes and expand your reach to a number of opportunities.
    I see, when it is said “MBA @abroad”, most of the people comprehend it as “MBA @USA”. Try understanding that there are extensive opportunities lying down the road post MBA. I do not say that Indian MBA programs ain’t always promising. I’ve friends who are brimming with talent, MBA passouts from India, and jobless. Again, I’ve also got friends who had to somehow come back to India post MBA abroad because of No opportunities offered to them. There are real exciting tales and there are disappointing ones too. Reading someone’s story and being judgemental about yourself won’t pave your way in the right direction.

    @Pooja, Despite of being a fresher, you can target certain countries that promises jobs, if Indian MBA isn’t your option. Again, you’ll have to clarify yourself with a set of questions, viz, What’s your academic background, Which field do you want to pursue your Masters in, how’s the market for the subject chosen in that particular country

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