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PGPMAX Review: Is the part-time ISB Executive MBA worth it or not?

PGPMAX Review | ISB Executive MBA | GMAT, Placements, Fees, Rankings

The PGPMAX (Post Graduate Programme in Management for Senior Executives) is an executive MBA program from ISB meant for experienced working professionals. This intense program aims at career advancement, greater strategic vision as well as honing your leadership abilities and soft skills.

What are the admission requirements – GMAT, essays, etc? How much does it cost? And ultimately, is it worth it? That’s what we explore in this article, as we review the ISB PGPMAX course. 


Is the ISB Executive MBA worth the time and money?

A lot of experienced professionals are facing a mid-career crisis and have reached a point in their career where they feel they’ve attained saturation in the current role. At this juncture, they realise that they need some advanced business knowledge to handle greater responsibilities, get new perspectives to find solutions to existing problems and handle more complex situations in a systematic and organised manner. A part-time program EMBA like the PGPMAX suits their needs as they can continue working while pursuing their MBA program.

This program is well-designed so that senior professionals can expand their business knowledge and develop a holistic approach towards handling business situations and at the same time, since they’re working, they can apply the new skills, tools, frameworks and business concepts they learn, at their workplace. The emphasis of the program is on general management.

The curriculum is covered over a 15-month period with week-long classroom-based sessions held at a regular interval of six weeks at ISB Hyderabad / Mohali. The program requires you to devote around 62 days for the entire duration of the program. During the regular week, while you’re working, you may need to keep aside close to ten hours each week to complete your assignments as well as for the course pre-reading.

PGPMAX curriculum

Before the program begins, you’d be expected to brush up your basics of mathematics, statistics and MS Office. The online preparatory modules help you refresh your knowledge in finance, accounting and quantitative areas through online courses sourced from Harvard Business School Publishing. You’d also be provided with pre-course reading material which you’re expected to study from home before attending the classroom sessions.

In addition to classroom lectures and simulations that facilitate better understanding of a topic through real-life business situations, there are speaker series and guest lectures which involve interactions with entrepreneurs and top business leaders which can be inspiring and bring in knowledge on a wide variety of topics. Online assessments and pre-course projects also form part of the regular program.

International immersion: This comprises of an international stint which includes teaching at top international business schools like Wharton and Kellogg. These visits allow students to get insights into international business and culture through industry visits and also a chance to interact with the top management at these international locations.

PGPMAX admission requirements, GMAT score and process


Deadlines and Application Fees for PGPMAX

The round 1 deadline is in mid-November with an application fee of INR 10,000 whereas for the second and final round, the application fees are much higher at INR 15,000, the deadline being mid-January. This is quite steep compared to the application fee for regular MBA applications.

This application fee has to be paid at the time of submission of the application and is non-refundable. Applications are to be completed and submitted online along with the scanned copy of the required list of documents.

Work experience requirements for PGPMAX

The minimum work experience required to be considered for this program is 10 years. Though it was initially estimated that the average work experience would be in the range of 14-15 years, it is actually much higher. The average work experience for the class of 2016 is 18 years.

Does the PGPMAX course require GMAT?

If you are scared of battling the GMAT, and that’s what kept you from cracking into the top full-time MBA courses, here’s some good news.

The GMAT score is not mandatory for PGPMAX admissions. The emphasis is more on getting to know what you’ve done at work in that decade long (or more) stint in the corporate world.

In case you’ve already appeared for the GMAT and have a GMAT score, you may submit the same and this would be taken into account.

Admissions Interview

An interview would be an essential and important component of the admissions process. Candidates would be assessed on various professional and personality-related parameters like team-leading ability, communication skills, nature of work or projects undertaken and successfully delivered as well as your academic (undergrad) performance. You’d also need to elaborate on how the program would benefit you and help you take your career to the next level.

Letter of support from Employer

A letter of support from your current employer is needed. This letter would provide information that your employer knows about your decision to pursue the program and supports the same irrespective of whether they’re sponsoring your program or not.

In case you’re being sponsored, the letter should contain details of the extent of sponsorship you’ve received and also whether the leave that you take to attend the program would be paid/unpaid or partially paid.


The inaugural batch started in June 2010 with 60 students and a fee of INR 27.5 lakhs. The program fee which includes the boarding and lodging expenses for most days along with the course material was INR 31 lakhs (plus service tax@ 14%) which together comes to INR 35,34,000 for the academic year 2016-17. However, in a major hike in the program fees, the revised fee for the academic year 2017-18 would be INR 35 lakhs plus service tax @ 15% which comes to INR 40, 50,000.

While estimating the additional expenses, students need to take into consideration various other associated costs like travelling expenses to ISB for those residing in other cities, international immersion trip-related costs, field-trip related costs and keep a buffer of approximately INR 3 lakhs to 6 lakhs for all such additional expenses.

PGPMAX ranking

Among the first thing that applicants look for in any program is how well it ranks in India or in the world.

While you won’t find the PGPMAX course in any of the leading EMBA rankings yet, it does figure among the very short list of the best executive programs in India on MBA Crystal Ball.

If you are curious, the other big international name in the Indian EMBA space that we’ve listed is the ILPSIE, Executive MBA from INSEAD.


ISB PGPMAX placements

Senior professionals who get enrolled for this program do not take a sabbatical from work, instead they’re required to take get their company’s support for the time off from work and also produce a letter regarding the same.

For this very reason, ISB does not provide placement support to the PGPMAX students, as it would not portray the program in the right light. Students are expected to make use of their network to look out for job positions that they may be interested in.

Benefits of PGPMAX

  1. The program attracts senior professionals from diverse industries and functions and also those from top management level, so a lot of learning can happen through interactions, sharing experiences and discussions among peers. You may end up with a strong network that you can boast about.
  2. ISB is a good brand name to bring on your CV. ISB has constantly figured in the Financial Time (FT) rankings and ranked 28 in FT Global MBA ranking 2018.
  3. Those pursing an EMBA get a chance to bring to their workplace all the learning that happens in the class. This benefits both the student and their employers.
  4. You don’t have to take a sabbatical which means that you have an ongoing income stream. Though the course fees are quite high, you have your monthly salaries coming in and you may be in a position to expect a better pay package once your program is completed.
  5. Classes are reasonably spaced out compared to other international executive MBA programs that require you to attend sessions every weekend or on alternate weekends.


Will the PGPMAX be worth it for me?

Despite the huge price tag on the course, don’t expect the same benefits from the PGPMAX as you would from the full-time one year MBA (i.e. PGP) from ISB.

Though the business lessons and skills you’ll pick up will have significant overlaps, keep in mind that the target audience for the two ‘products’ is vastly different. And so are the benchmarks to judge whether your investment has been worth it.

More than anything related to ISB itself, this has more to do with the differences between Executive MBA vs Regular MBA formats.

Go in with the right expectations, and you’ll come out satisfied. And vice versa.

The information shared here may have changed. For the latest data, check on the official PGPMAX site.

Also, try getting in touch with colleagues or friends(-of-friends) who’ve attended the program to find out what they felt about the ISB Executive MBA program.

On that last point, if you come across any enthusiastic PGPMAX alumni willing to help other applicants, please ask them to share their experiences about the program in the comments below.

Read these related posts:
Does a career change at 30 or 35 in India make sense?
Career change options after MBA for software engineers
ISB PGPpro Review: Why I selected a Part-time, Weekend Executive MBA
Career change: Why I left the corporate world
Fear and shame of career change
Image credit: PGPMAX Class of ’14

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About Swati
After working for over a decade in technical and managerial roles in the corporate world, Swati now works as a freelancer and writes on a variety of topics including education, career guidance and self-improvement.

3 thoughts on “PGPMAX Review: Is the part-time ISB Executive MBA worth it or not?”

  1. Hi,

    I have 12 years of experience in IT industry. I am fallen in to technical management which is not giving me much idea about the business going on. Planning proceed with executive MBA ,after contemplating for few years. I want to check if I am eligible for the admission. If I get a good score in GMAT am I eligible for executive MBA. I have strong reason for the variation of percentage of my 10th and 12th .

    10th -90%

    Could you please let me know if I get a chance in IIM-B? Or are they specific on the school percentages?

  2. Hi

    I have 11years of experience in procurement domain of power industry.
    Had appeared for GMAT and got 600 score.
    Designation senior manager
    Exposure oil power sector
    Btech in mechanical witj 65%

    Want to pursue One year MBA either from india or abroad.

    Can you pls suggest me colleges i should aspire for with thia score.

    Many thanks

  3. I wish they have the placements for PGPMAX as well, be it a 10% will be absorbed or 100%. That will definitely will boost the confidence in the applicant even there might not be vertical growth in the current company post the course I can get the good job offers. If they only wanted to learn strategic managment concepts they can learn from any where, if the certificate from ISB is the key, they should have included placements.


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