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ISB YLP Young Leaders Program

ISB YLP (Young Leaders Program) has an unsual format. While the regular PGP program at ISB Hyderabad & Mohali requires a minimum of 2 years work experience, the ISB YLP programs opens its doors to freshers (i.e. those with no work experience). But it is not a short cut for the selected applicants. All it offers is a guaranteed seat in the regular PGP batch after a couple of years. In this post we evaluate the ISB YLP, probably the best MBA option for freshers that considers GMAT scores, as opposed to CAT percentile for admissions.

Securing a place in any top educational institution (whether it is engineering, medical or any other professional degree) can be an ordeal. You either get in or you don’t. And when you do, there’s an expiry date on the seat offer. Following in the footsteps of the HBS 2+2 MBA program, ISB YLP is hoping to tweak the rules a little.

The ISB YLP program offers applicants a chance to gain one of the best MBA programs in India from a reputed well-respected brand. Students can apply while still in college (before completing undergrad) so that they can secure a guaranteed place for an MBA. This can come as a relief to those who would prefer to have a clearly defined idea about how their career or MBA goals would shape up.

Also read about the Early Entry Option at ISB aimed at a deferred recruitment of PGP candidates from recent graduates with less than 2 years of work experience.

How the ISB YLP (Young Leaders program) works

This program has commenced recently and is aimed for fresh graduates who are selected from diverse educational backgrounds. Once they’re in, they have to attend four intensive weekend sessions spread across six months gap. Students get mentoring and guidance from experts that helps them transition smoothly from student life to a competitive professional environment. It develops their leadership skills and provides them with a well-grounded base so that they are able to identify their career goals.

The students get a chance to interact with peers from diverse backgrounds as well as other students and alumni. They are thus thoroughly prepared to face the ISB PGP program two years later. During these two years, students need to have worked for at least one year nine months to move on to the ISB PGP. Students would be required to do job-hunting on their own. After completion of work experience, once they join the ISB PGP program, they would be part of the regular ISB PGP class.

ISB YLP Admissions and Selection Process

Students need to qualify for the ISB YLP on the basis of their academic record and extracurricular achievements. Students need to apply for this program by mid-March deadline while they are in their pre-final or final year of graduation which means that students need to be working on their application side by side along with their studies.

The shortlisted ones who are invited for stage 2 need to have their GMAT scores ready in addition to essays and evaluations. The final short-listed candidates have to attend an interview on the ISB campus on the basis of which the final selection would be done. By October, students have their admission offers in hand while they’re still in their final year. So even before students have their degrees in hand, they have an admission offer already waiting.
How to get into ISB YLP

ISB YLP scholarships

Each of the ISB YLP admits would be awarded a scholarship of INR one lakh. These students can also apply for the other regular ISB PGP scholarships.

A program similar to ISB YLP is already being offered by Harvard Business School (HBS). We discuss more on the Harvard 2+2 program in another post (you’ll find the link below). A lot of students tend to confuse these programs with the dual MBA programs. However both are very much different. ISB YLP will offer an MBA degree and you’ll have close to two years of pre-MBA work experience at the end of it.

Opinions vary. Some students may first wish to concentrate on their undergraduate stream, work for some time and then decide on whether an MBA is really required or not. In addition to Indian B-schools, candidates may consider international options as well. However if students have ISB on their wish-list and have made up their mind on an MBA and can spare time for working on their application while studying, they can perhaps give it a try by applying to this program.

Are there any downsides?

You can’t have your cake and eat it too, right? There’s got to be some downside as well.

There are. For starters you need to shell out a significant amount of money (Rs, 50,000) to lock in your seat. And another 2 lakhs to be paid in a few years. This is the advance fee, which gets adjusted against the total tuition fee later.

If you are the ambitious type, you may get the feeling that you got in too easily (without experience) while other experienced applicants who apply through the regular application cycle have to really slog it out.

Which may also bring up the question – “Can I do better? If I can get an admit from ISB with zero experience (and join after 2 years), then why shouldn’t I apply to international programs in a few years and earn a much higher post-MBA salary?

If you decide to try for greener pastures, you lose the advance that you’ve paid so far.

So, which way do you go? Well, it depends on which side of the fence you are on. For many, having a solid brand like ISB in their pockets even before they’ve started their careers is a huge relief. For others, it can give rise to a situation that’s called buyer’s remorse in marketing jargon.

Think about which side you are on, and then decide if the YLP is right for you.

Read these related articles:
Is the HBS Harvard 2+2 program right for Indian students?
Early career MBA: Is it right for you?
Yale Silver Scholars Program Review
Deferred (Pre-Admit) MBA Programs in USA, India and Europe
IIM vs Foreign MBA

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Sameer Kamat
About Sameer Kamat
Founder of MBA Crystal Ball. Author of Beyond The MBA Hype & Business Doctors. Here's more about me. Follow me on: Instagram | Linkedin | Youtube

49 thoughts on “ISB YLP Young Leaders Program”

  1. Hi

    Just a small question . We have all heard abut ISB Ylp , Harvard 2+2 program and yale silver scholars program . Could you please recommend more such programs .

    Thanks !

    Grateful to you !

  2. @Raghav: You’ve listed the good ones. There might be others as well, but not in the same league as Harvard, Yale etc. If you can’t get into these, you’d be better off waiting for a few years, gaining some good experience and then going for the regular MBA programs.

  3. Hi,
    I just came to know from one of my evaluators that he misunderstood the rating scale and filled it incorrectly. Now my evaluation instead of saying Excellent it says Needs Improvement. Is there a possibility of changing this?

  4. @Smit: After it has been submitted, you don’t get access to it. Get in touch with the Adcoms and let them know about it. Then it’s their call whether they’d want to take the trouble to update it or go with what’s been submitted.

    Hope it works out for you.

  5. sir , i’m an undergraduate (intermediate 2nd year ) ……….does this programme work for me ? ……if yes ,when should i take the application ?……can u plz explain the process ??……help me out sir plz 🙂

  6. Sir,
    Does engineers get a preference in ylb programme..?? Like in iims, they prefer non-engineers over engineers so is the case in isb as well…??
    Also, i’m an iitian but an average iitian…are the chances of getting into ylb good for me?


  7. @Rahul: You need to be in the pre-final year when applying. Their website will have the details of how the YLP admissions process works.

    @Aman: There is no preference for enginerers for the YLP programs. However, they get a lot of applications from engineers than from other academic backgrounds. Just being an IITian (not sure how you’d define an average IITian) doesn’t work for or against you. They’ll look at other aspects too. For instance, with your extra curricular activities you can demonstrate non-academic skills to them.

  8. Hi,
    i completed my B.Tech in May 2013. i am currently working in Capgemini Chennai for last 4 months.
    Am i eligible for ISB YLP????.
    Those who are working can also apply for this program?

  9. @Shatabdee: As mentioned in the article above, you need to be in the pre-final year to apply to the YLP. In your case, as you’ve already graduated you’d be eligible for the regular PGP program.

  10. Hi Sir,
    I am presently in the pre-final year of graduation (Bachelor of Chemical Engineering – Jadavpur University). The one thing that i want to know before applying for the ISB YLP is whether it places an unduly high amount of importance on past academics (like some IIMs)- i had 90+ in 10th, but got downsized to about 75 in 12th because of State Board in which i studied ; Graduation – roughly 70% (orthodox marking criteria in JU in the backdrop!). My extra curricular section is quite well developed – freelance content writer for a number of online portals, blogger and volunteer at Child Rights and You (CRY). So, would it be wise to apply for the programme with this profile (without taking GMAT score into consideration for the time being)?

  11. Debotosh: Unlike the regular PGP program, the ISB YLP selection process has very little to evaluate. So the emphasis shifts more to academics and extra curriculars. You could go ahead and apply. Nothing to lose.

  12. I will complete my graduation in July 2014.Can I apply for YLP ??? Iam eligible for ylp??and if i am eligible then when will I apply for this..??Please reply as soon as possible..

  13. What exactly does extra-curricular include? I have a lot of pojects that I have worked on in groups and individually all relating to Mechanical engineering(ex. building quadrotor, micro air vehicle, a car etc.). Do those count? They do not come under any academic requirements

  14. @Avijeet: The ISB website has very clear guidelines on eligibility. Please check it.

    @Sai: If those projects part of your academics, then yes, they’d fall under extra-curriculars. But be careful not to go down the checklist route of adding every little thing you’ve done outside work. Choose and prioritise.

  15. Hi Sameer,
    Thanks for your advise in the above post.In the application process , there is a section to mention our academic & non-academic achievements .What all achievements must be mention in the application?
    (i.e school achievements should be mentioned or not) .I got some good sports achievement in my schools days but couldn’t pursue them can I mention them ?

  16. @Tarun: You’ll have to take a call on how important and impactful those accomplishments were. If you represented your school at the State level in sports, do mention it. If you were the Rose King, skip it.

  17. Hello Sir. I got to know about the YLP programme a little too late. I realised that 15th was the last date for my application to be submitted with ISB. And I got to know about the application just few hours before the deadline ended. I tried my best to submit it before 23.59 hours but I just could not, bearing to the deluge of things asked for in the application itself and sheer scarcity of time . Though I was able to complete and submit it by 12.20 the same night, but as luck had it, crossed the deadline by a paltry 12-15 minutes. Do I have any chance of getting my application not rejected, to say the least?

  18. Can you please tell me the no. of applicants for ISB YLP…?? I am not getting this info from any source.. 🙁
    At least give me a Rough figure…

  19. hello! im praneeth! and im planning to apply for the ylp in 2015. i have a very strong extra curricular background! but my academics is average with 85%in 10th 71%in 12th and 75% in engineering. my gmat score is 710. is it ideal for me to apply fo this programme?
    thank you

  20. Can advise as to whom i should i choose to be my evaluators for the ylp application. Someone who knows me better or someone who is at a more reputable position at the office/college.

  21. Sir

    I am ahousewife and completed my masters in computers 8 years back and involved in family buisiness .I manage my website and technical part of my business .I am interested in getting into business school.Please suggest me a good program and by the way i have an above avg in acadamaics arounf 80% in all levels and 740 is my gmat score.

  22. Sir, I am currently pursuing B.Com hons from DU. I have cleared stage 1 of YLP . I have decent extra curriculars like i am a brown belt in karate, have completed 3 levels of german language from Max Müller Bhavan with above 90% scores , am a post holder in 2 societies in my college and have been teaching the kids of our maid for over two years. I recently took the GMAT and scored a low 630 ( q 45 va 31) . I am confident of my essays and LORs but I am just troubled that my GMAT score may hold me back. I can take the GMAT again but for the YLP, my score would remain a 630 only. Can you please tell me would this score hold me back?

  23. @Sowmya: ISB offers an MBA in family business. Check it out.

    @Akanksha: Yes, it could have a bearing on the final decision. But they invited you despite the low score, so I’m guessing they saw something special in your application. Go ahead with the rest of the process confidently.

  24. Sir,
    i am currently pursuing my B.Tech degree from PEC University of Technology, Chandigarh. I have decent academics and communication skills. I scored a low GMAT-650, despite that I cleared 2nd stage application process and waiting for an interview date. Needed some interview tips and how to ace the interview. Would my low GMAT have an affect on my final selection or is it purely based on the interview?

  25. What is the relative standing of ISB vis-a vis IIM’S in the job market . Can it be said that ISB is a better rated B school than IIMS . Amongst IIM A and ISB , which one should be preferred. Does YLP mode of entry provide you an edge in any manner possible over regular PGP in placement system.

  26. @Bindu: If you are talking about regular 2 year IIM degrees, then it is an apple to orange comparison. The profile of people graduating from these programs is very different.

    @Bharti: I’m afraid I don’t have that number. You could check with the ISB team.

  27. Sir
    I am pursuing bsc In maths,statistics and computer science.My academic reports 10-85 12 68 and bsc-82
    Can a poor score in 12 class be a game spoiler for me in isb ylp or pgp. How does my non engineering stream effect placements etc post mba. Does bachelor degree play a role post mba?

  28. I wish to join YLPISB Programme,I just completed my first year of BA in social sciences,what can I do to YLPISP.
    Pls. suggest me.

    Hanumantha Rao

  29. can u plz tel me the last date of applying for ylp program , and how to apply bcz m not getting its information fully.
    niharika garg

  30. I am currently filling the application. I am pursuing B.E.(CSE) right now. However, the degree options available are:
    B.E. (Comp Sys Engineering)
    B.E. (Computer Engineering)
    B.Tech ( Computer Science)

  31. Hi Sameer,
    I’m a final year business management undergraduate at DU. Shall be graduating in 2017. I had applied for YLP this year, but couldn’t take the GMAT this year due to some reasons. Can I apply to ISB’s YLP in March 2017 when I’ll still be in college? If yes, what PGP batch I would be joining at ISB, Class of 2020 or 2021? Thanks in advance!

  32. Hello sir,
    I wanted to know the time gap between the stage 1 results and stage 2 deadline for the YLP in ISB.
    Also, can I take my gmat after the declaration of the stage 1 results?

  33. Sir, I will be finishing my graduation in june- july 2017. Can i apply for ylp 2017 batch? I would be done with my graduation after the first stage, will I be eligible for the 2 nd?

  34. 2016 july finished my son btech computer science. Gre score is little bit low btech cgp is 7.93. inter in 89%tenth82%. Now I apply for Ylp programe and how much the fee cost and how many days to complete this scores

  35. Hello future aspirants!

    I am a YLP admit for the Class of 2019. I had a good talk with Sameer and he asked me to post my views, experience and apprehensions about YLP, which may help future aspirants.

    To begin with let me tell you about myself. I graduated from a Non-IIT/NIT college, but a well-known one. Had good acads (90 plus in 10th and 12th), and a decent extra curricular track. Had won a couple of awards on international level (non academic). Worked with a well known international non-profit. Published a paper in Scopus-indexed journal (For non-science aspirants, Scopus is where you find all the legit journals). I was pretty sure about applying to MBA programs by the end of second year, because like a zillion other engineers I couldn’t see myself doing this work all my life.

    Got to know about the YLP when one of my seniors got in. Applied with good essays, a very strong international recommendation and just 700 GMAT (which is lower than ISB’s average). Got in. Though I was really excited about the opportunity that had come my way in the 3rd year of college, I am a little confused now. In fact I believe that’s one of the good things about YLP. It gives you SECURITY and TIME. Time to really ponder over what you want from your life, with an amazing fall back option. Trust me friends, I have experienced it first had – ISB is an amazing institution – among the best if not the best. But the thing about YLP is – if you have such a good option in life, when you are still in college, you want MORE. And all YLP candidates I know are super ambitious (barring a few exceptions of course).

    Right now I am 2 months into my first job at a Consulting company. I kind of like it. But I am sure that I will leave in 2 years. Because – you know – career progression! The thing I am unsure of is whether it’ll be ISB that I’ll be leaving to after these 2 years. I feel since I’ll have to take a huge loan for ISB, I might as well borrow a couple of extra lakhs and get an MIM, MIS or an MEM, basically a masters abroad which will land me a job which pays way more than ISB’s average salary. Simple RoI. But going abroad isn’t an easy decision and you need to think over a lot of things.

    Don’t get me wrong though. The YLP is an amazing opportunity. I got to study at NUS (National University of Singapore) and Tsinghua University, Beijing (Ranked world’s No. 1 on US News) with almost all expenses covered by ISB when I’ve not even joined the college. Which college in India would give you such an opportunity? I don’t have a “Buyer’s Remorse” as suggested by Sameer. However, I am confident that I can get into really good colleges abroad if I got into ISB without any work experience.

    Dunno how long it’ll take me to get past my dilemma, but one thing that I know for sure is that applying to the YLP was one of the best decisions of my life. And irrespective of whether you ultimately choose to join the PGP at ISB or not, I would suggest people in their pre-final or final year to definitely apply for the YLP. It’s an experience in itself, and will give you the opportunity to meet tremendously talented young people from across the country.

  36. Hello !
    Can anyone please tell me what is the approximate ratio of no. of people who interview for the ISB and those who finally get selected for the YLP ?
    Thanks !

  37. Many thanks for your post- Could you please let us know the interveiw process and what does ISB look at a person prior to approval – stuff like that

    thanks in advance

  38. Hello sir,
    I am a Final year pharmacy student I wanted to know can I apply for next year ylp programme? As my results will be announced in july so will you consider me as a final year student?
    As Im selected for the round2 for this year ylp applicant as a prefinal year student so can I apply for next year as a final year student at ylp?

  39. Respected Sir,
    I have a strong research profile with a pre incubated startup at my college and a few leadership roles.My current CGPA is 8.8, 10th percentage was 95.2% and 12th percentage was 89%. I am thinking of applying using my GRE score (yet to attempt).Do I stand a chance for the YLP program?


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