It’s an India specific problem that MBA aspirants from other countries don’t face. Blame it on regulatory policy constraints or a lack of consistency or an overload of creativity, we are stuck with management program names that confuse more than clarify what the student is getting.
- The traditional 2 year degree you get from IIM isn’t technically an MBA degree, it’s a diploma called PGP (Post Graduate Programme).
- ISB Hyderabad started offering it’s own PGP (again, not technically an MBA). But the program format and the class composition for this PGP is very different from the IIM PGP.
- In close pursuit, many IIMs started offering their own versions of shorter programs to compete with ISB. But they couldn’t call them PGP (as they’ve already been using that name for the longer programs). So they got creative and started giving them 3/4 letter acronyms (PGPX, EPGP, IPMX) that don’t sound remotely close to an ‘MBA’.
While we’ve tried to clarify this in earlier articles and on our forum, every new year brings forth a new generation of MBA aspirants who are scratching their heads and wondering which is better – ISB PGP or IIM PGP or IIM XYZ.
ISB Hyderabad or IIM (for executives) or IIM PGP (2 years)
ISB’s one year PGP program faces tough competition from IIM’s top one year program for executives, like PGPX, EPGP. This is because both have made their way to the FT global MBA rankings.
The class profile tends to be similar; both the programs look for a mix of experienced professionals from diverse backgrounds; both have a one year duration. Both serve the purpose of a change in the career path. In the FT 2018 global MBA rankings, IIMA-PGPX ranked 31st, ISB ranked 28th, IIMB-EPGP ranked 35th.
IIMs one year program for executives vs Executive MBA
For old-timers on our site this might sound like a broken record. Feel free to skip this paragraph.
There’s a misconception that the one year program offered by IIMs is an executive MBA program which is not true. Though the program is meant for experienced executives, it differs from an executive MBA where professionals are not expected to take a break from work.
An executive MBA is one in which you complete the course of your study while continuing with your professional commitments. However, for these one year IIM programs, you’re needed to take a sabbatical from work and completely immerse yourself to be able to meet the rigorous requirements of the program.
We’ve written a more elaborate post on this here: Executive MBA in India confusion.
In this post, in addition to comparing one year programs for executives offered by IIMs and the one year PGP program offered by ISB, we’d also cover the two-year IIM post-graduate program (PGP) that’s been around for so many years and is so popular among freshers or the less experienced folks, especially those from an engineering (B.E., B.Tech) background (close to 95% intake from engineering background in some IIMs).
We are skipping the short-term / part-time variants of Executive MBA from IIM to focus only on full-time MBA programs in India.
IIM’s two year PGP program
The Post-Graduate Programme in Management (PGP) is a two year full-time program and is comparable to the internationally offered MIM (Masters in Management) program.
Among all the IIMs spread across the country, IIM Ahmedabad (IIMA) is the most popular and usually the top choice among applicants. It also leads the Financial Times rankings 2017 in the Masters in Management category. The PGP program at IIM Ahmedabad was ranked 21st, IIM Calcutta 28th, IIM Bangalore 26th.
As the number of students who appear for the CAT and apply for these programs is very high, the percentage of students who’re able to get in is very low at almost 0.1%.
In addition to cracking the CAT with a top score and having a good academic background, there’s also the Academic Writing Test (AWT) and the Personal Interview (PI) rounds that come into picture. The fees at IIM-A for two years comes to around 21 Lakh Rupees. On completion, you are awarded ‘Post-graduate Diploma in Management’.
At IIM-A, the first year covers the core courses and you have an internship opportunity of 8-10 weeks at the end of this year. In the second year, in addition to the core course, you can take up areas of your interest.
The student exchange program allows you to spend a term abroad and enables international students from partner institutes to spend a term at IIM-A, thus broadening your network and contacts and giving you a chance to study and interact with international students.
Work experience and average salary
There’s no minimum work experience required while applying to the PGP programs. However, in the recent times, it has been observed that candidates getting in are not just freshers, but there’s a good mix of candidates who’ve worked for a period of one to two years or more.
The average salary at IIM Ahmedabad for the class of 2015 is 19.70 lakhs which includes the fixed yearly cash component, one-time cash payment and total guaranteed cash component. This figure comes as a surprise considering that the students getting in do not have much work experience.
The average salary would vary for other IIMs depending on their reputation and the batch profile.
In contrast to IIM’s two year PGP program, for getting into ISB’s PGP or IIM’s one year program for executives, you’d need significant work experience. A more experienced class translates into better learning opportunities from your peers as each person shares their views and previous workplace experiences. These insights help in the overall learning process.
IIM one year MBA for executives
IIM started these programs to suit the requirements of experienced folks in the industry who were looking for a top Indian brand that would be at par with an international MBA degree.
The IIMA-PGPX started its first batch in 2006 while IIMB-EPGP started much later. IIMA with its history of being the best as far as the two year PGP program is concerned continues to be the biggest brand among all and leads in terms of its FT global rankings and the class profile.
Though this one year full-time residential program was launched less than a decade back, it has become quite popular. The total intake is around 140 and very less compared to ISB. The class average age is about 32 years and work experience averages around 8.7 years for the top programs like IIMA-PGPX and IIMB-EPGP.
The course fee for IIMA PGPX is INR 27 lakhs and includes tuition, course material and accommodation. The program commences in mid-April and ends around mid-March.
PGPX course structure
The PGPX program comprises of a six course structure beginning with the induction and ending with the capstone. It includes the building blocks (management fundamentals), electives and a two-week long international immersion.
The focus of the course is on leadership positions, strategic training and general management with electives available in other areas as well. It prepares professionals to effectively manage day-to-day situations by widening their perspectives and gives them diverse business exposure through case studies.
Intakes at other IIMs
The intake for IIM’s other well-known programs for executives is 70 for the IIMB-EPGP and shy of 70 for IIMC-PGPEX program.
Due to limited intake capacity, you’d need a good GMAT score and a strong application to get into the best programs. Other similar programs include IIM Lucknow’s IPMX and IIM Indore’s EPGP.
Indian School of Business (ISB)
ISB’s Hyderabad campus came into existence around a decade and a half back in 2001 and had at one point of time become the most sought after one year program comparable with international MBA education. ISB has a sprawling self-sufficient campus with residential and recreational facilities within.
The fee for the program comes to around 33 – 35 lakhs. The intake capacity increased greatly to more than 800 with its new campus at Mohali (functional since 2012). Around 73% of the class of 2016 is from the engineering background.
It’s a fact that these institutions (ISB and IIMs) cannot confer a MBA degree as degrees can only be offered by universities in India, so instead of an MBA degree, at ISB, you are awarded a PGP or Post Graduate Program in Management.
The ISB commences its program in April and completes in April the following year. The ISB curriculum is well-designed beginning with a LEAD program helping students identify their strengths as well as weak areas that need improvement.
The one year intense program has the core courses, electives as well as an opportunity to pursue areas of your interest under a faculty member under the ISP (Independent Study Programme).
You can also exchange campuses at Hyderabad and Mohali. The international exchange program allows you to spend time at international partner schools and allows international candidates to spend time at ISB, thus providing cross-cultural exposure and giving you a chance to know about their work culture.
At ISB, visiting faculty from top international business schools bring in varied perspectives and add value to the overall experience of the program.
Average salary comparison
The average work experience is 4.7 years at ISB and is much lower than the IIMs one year program for executives (~9 years).
It would be obvious that considering the notable difference in the average work experience of the class between the two, the salaries would also differ.
Those with a higher experience would draw bigger paychecks, which is why the average salary at IIMA-PGPX tends to be greater than ISB.
The average salary for IIM PGPX class of 2015 is around 23 lakhs , while for ISB it is Rupees 22 Lakhs.
Which is the best program for me – ISB or IIM?
We’ll avoid the diplomatic response (“It depends”) and try to make the decision making easier for you.
Based on the experience you have at the start of the program (and not while applying):
- If you have between zero to two years experience, the 2 year PGP at IIM will be good.
- Between 2 to 7 years of work experience, you’d be closer to the average ISB student.
- For mature professionals, with over 7 years experience you can start looking at IIM PGPX.
Now that may sound like an easy flowchart to follow, but keep in mind that IIM / ISB are the toughest programs in India to crack. If your profile isn’t competitive enough to get into any of these, there are other choices in the 2 year and 1 year MBA formats.
When you expand the criteria to include study abroad options, the choice of international degrees outside India is huge.
Some more interesting articles for you:
– ISB MBA admission with full scholarship
– Is ISB still worth the money and time?
– How I got into ISB with scholarship in my third attempt
– ISB Hyderabad admission with low GMAT score of 610
– How the ISB admission process works
– All about ISB Hyderabad MBA