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Executive MBA vs MBA for Executives – The Big Indian Confusion
Written by Sameer Kamat
In India, mention ‘Executive MBA’ to an MBA aspirant and ask him how it differs from an ‘MBA for executives’. The odds are high that you’ll end up confusing your friend. And not without reason. Several popular post-graduate management courses offered by our IIM clan (Indian Institutes of Management) have the word executive in them.
So, we’ve got IIMA PGPX (Post Graduate Programme for Executives at IIM Ahmedabad), EPGP (Executive PGP in Management) offered by IIM Bangalore and IIM Indore, PGPex (Executive PGP at IIM Calcutta and IIM Shillong), IPMX (International Programme in Management for Executives) by IIM Lucknow and several others. But these courses, in the technical sense, are not the same as an Executive MBA.
The terms ‘MBA’ and ‘Executive MBA’ might be clear to folks outside India. But back home, the concept of an MBA aimed at experienced professionals (or ‘executives’) is relatively new. In this post, we try to address the difference between the traditional Indian MBA, the traditional executive MBA and the not so traditional new-kid-on-the-block – the MBA for executives in India.
Executive MBA: Getting to the root of the confusion
MBA programs come in various formats. In addition to the full-time MBA, there’s also the part-time MBA, executive MBA, dual MBA, distance learning MBA and so on. MBA applicants often get confused about these myriad options.
Historically, the general approach in India for those interested in getting an advanced management education is to aim for one of the conventional 2-year MBA programs immediately after graduation. The IIMs and the other MBA institutions, where candidates get in through their CAT scores, accept students right after their basic graduation.
So when a new breed of management courses made an entry in the Indian market and started insisting on several years of work experience, folks started equating them to executive MBA programs. However, even after all these years, the perception doesn’t seem to have changed much. Many applicants who approach us for help with the application for the Post Graduate Programme in Management (PGP) at ISB Hyderabad (or the ISB Mohali campus) refer to it as an executive MBA. It is not!
The same is the case with IIMA PGPX, IIMB EPGP and IIMC PGPEX. These are one year programs targeted at professionals with experience (executives), but they’re full-time MBA programs and not executive MBA programs.
Applying to such programs in India is similar to other comparable programs offered by other top international business schools. Among other pre-requisites, they all require a GMAT score and some work experience.
Experience criteria for an international MBA program:
For applying to a two-year full-time MBA program from the U.S., a minimum of three year work experience is usually recommended. This way a candidate would be in a position to come up with a competitive application.
The candidate, having spent few years in professional environment, would now be able to relate to various concepts being taught in B school.
Many candidates would also have chalked out a definite post-MBA career goal for themselves. In the UK, full-time MBA is usually one year in duration (with exceptions that offer longer and shorter MBA programs as well) and the experience of the candidates applying also tends to be slightly greater in comparison to the MBA programs from the U.S.
So what’s an Executive MBA then?
To clarify the concept of an executive MBA, we’ll highlight a few aspects of an executive MBA program and how it tends to differ from a regular MBA program.
- Candidates applying to the executive MBA programs need to have significantly greater experience depending on the school applied. The average experience of the candidates in these programs is around ten years or greater. Each executive MBA program is suitably designed so that professionals can pursue it simultaneously while continuing with their current job. These sessions are usually held on Fridays and over weekends. So you need to work it out with the company you work for so that they offer you the flexibility of attending the sessions.
- An Exec MBA (EMBA) generally tends to be much more expensive than a regular MBA from the same institution. The time spent in the class is much less and the interaction with your peers would not be as much as a full-time MBA could offer. However the greater work experience of your batch mates would translate to a rich learning experience through interactive sessions.
- Acceptance criteria for an executive MBA tends to be less stringent in comparison to a full-time MBA. GMAT scores for an EMBA are lower and the selectivity is more favourable to applicants. The intake capacity is also very limited.
- The biggest downside is that the kind of a ‘complete MBA experience’ that a full-time MBA offers would be lacking. The social life and the network opportunities that form an integral part of a full-time MBA program would not be possible on a similar scale due to limited time availability.
- Managing an MBA along with your job can be hectic and exhausting depending on your office workload. However it is best suited for mid-level positions wherein professionals wish to acquire the required managerial skills and business knowledge to ramp their career graph without taking a career break. So though you’ll end up spending more on the program, your income stream is still on which can be a huge relief. At the end of the program, you have an ongoing job or if you land up with a better job option, you can go for it!
Each program has its pros and cons and something which may work perfectly well for one may not work for the other. So candidates need to do the required groundwork as to what their post-EMBA aspirations are and how the program would assist in taking it forward.
Students & Alumni from the best 1 year MBA programs in India
Many current students at the top 1 year MBA programs in India and alumni are getting frustrated explaining to folks around them that they are associated with highly selective, well-respected and mainstream MBA programs that accept GMAT scores instead of CAT.
If you fall in that category, we’d request you please share this blog post on your official / personal blogs, bschool website and social media pages.
Let’s create more awareness and respect for this new breed of programs that is getting recognition outside India (through international MBA rankings) but ironically many Indian employers, students and colleagues are still confused about.
The BIG question you need to address now is whether a full-time MBA makes sense considering your profile and career plans or if there are cheaper, easier and less risky options to explore.
Step 1: Introspect – Start off by reading Beyond The MBA Hype. Caution: If you have a flawed view of what an MBA can do for you, the book could be your wake-up call. But better to get the shocks right now & get the expectations in order, rather than when you are midway into the program, right?
Step 2: Execute – We have helped hundreds of candidates like you tackle this challenge. Check out our MBA MAP and Career MAP packages & see if either might be worth taking up.
MODERATOR EDIT: Please post your queries on our GMAT & MBA forum and NOT on this thread.
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