Get a top-rated Mini-MBA Certificate for $199 $29 (Limited time offer)

Second MBA abroad after IIM, ISB, other Indian programs: Pros and Cons

You could earn multiple degrees in different ways. You could go for a double-major.

Another way to get a double degree is by joining a program such as the Wharton Lauder MBA-MA dual degree. It is one integrated program that combines two independent degrees.

The least common way is to sign up for the exact same degree twice. Strange as it may sound, there are a lot of folks from India applying to MBA degrees abroad, when they already have an MBA from India (Read Second MBA abroad from M7 school (Kellogg) after IIM).

In the past few years, we have witnessed a surge in those seeking a second MBA. This used to be a case earlier for people who had done their MBA from obscure colleges but now, every year we have folks from the revered IIMs and ISB coming to us, seeking advice on whether to take the plunge one more time.

Is a second MBA worth it? Before I get into the advisory mode, let me first present the reasons why this trend has been happening.

Why second MBA after IIM, ISB from India


Too Soon

This applies in the case of IIMs and many other CAT based Indian programs that take students with zero experience. For most of them, the experience turns out to be a turbocharged version of their undergrad. They get the theory but when they enter the real world, there is a huge chasm which takes a time for them to bridge. Ever so often, they come across colleagues who have done it from global schools and this starts putting seeds in their minds about a sort of la la land that they’ve been deprived of. Partly true, partly story but that is one reason for you – we investigate this more later.

Too theoretical

Some of the MBA programs mentioned above, not necessarily the top tier ones, can be a bit too theoretical / non-case-based. This means that while you know the ‘formula’, you don’t know the ‘heuristics/thumb-rules’ that invariably have to be applied in an actual setting. As time evolves, these industry practices might evolve too and having missed the bus in learning things the first time around, some candidates want to get the learning right. Side note: those seeking true knowledge are a mere minority.
Why a second MBA after an Indian MBA and career in the entertainment industry

Too same

This is another of a subtle reason, similar to the one above. With no or very less experience, a large majority of the people in many of the MBA programs are fresh engineering grads who are committed but may not necessarily light up the scene in terms of real world insights. This means that all students look to the faculty and books for learning but miss out on the crucial peer-learning aspect. Again, this is rarely the reason why people seek a second MBA but tends to be a good motivator for some once they fathom it.

Too Indian

This one perhaps takes the cake when it comes to the motivator, especially for the Tier 1 MBA guys. Indian MBAs can be pretty awesome when it comes to RoI but for most purposes, offer an excellent ‘Indian’ career. Sure, a lot of IIM and ISB grads move out of the country, but as a proportion of the actual class size, it is still miniscule – call it selection bias. Most of those seeking international MBAs come to us with the dream of launching themselves on the global arena – something their Indian degrees take much more effort to; many countries don’t even recognize our prestigious MBA degrees/education as MBA!

Pros and Cons of Second MBA

With the reasons ascertained to some extent, let’s now look at the pros and cons and finally try to arrive at a conclusion. Expectedly, some of the pros/cons will be a derivative of the reasons already outlined above.

Benefits of a second MBA


Professional Maturity

Most good international MBA programs are very hands-on and put a lot of focus on applied learning. Apart from internships, there are a lot of other avenues of applied learning in the form of projects, study groups, clusters, presentations, seminars, student organizations et al. These avenues allow students to bridge the gap between theory and practice to a good extent – the reality is still different mind you, but these help. Employers recognize this as it helps reduce the learning curve they need to provide and everyone is happy.

Peer Maturity

Harking back to a point mentioned earlier, the average experience range in an international MBA classroom is 4-5 years (read here for more on this). And not all of them come from one type of professional background. In fact, the diversity is just explosive – race, language, color, ethnicity – you find it all. This can be intimidating and humbling for some but for most parts, it is supremely enriching. The experience truly prepares you to take on the world, in any part of the world literally speaking.

Faculty Maturity

This in no way is to comment on the quality of teaching in our country – that’s a different topic. The point is that like peers, the faculty you encounter in a good global school is also very diverse and global. Many of them are very active in the industry and not just academia; some are considered leading thinkers in their respective fields. Tapping into this goldmine can leave you quite satisfied when it comes to the true pursuit of ‘knowledge’.

Global Maturity

Just like certain passports mean lesser visas, a good brand can mean more doors – not all MBAs are created equal. A global name means access to a global network which means access to opportunities not just in the country of your MBA, but in quite a few places worldwide. Those motivated with this reason will not find things wanting.

Cons of a second MBA


More Effort

By effort here, I mean the effort required in terms of application. Not all schools out there are open to the concept of a second MBA and even the ones that are, would want to understand your logic for going through the grind again. We’ve put up a list here, but the reality is more complex since not all schools have a standard stance on this subject. Let’s just say that the entire options list is not open for you and you have to research on each option for feasibility at the basic level.

More Expensive

International MBA programs are expensive – period. See a basic comparison here. That apart, especially if you are from a Tier 1 MBA already, chances are that you are at one of the most productive (financially speaking) phase of your career. Consequently, the opportunity cost alone can be huge. The point can be argued alternatively too saying you may have more savings and hence the lesser debt obligation, but it usually gets shadowed due to the opportunity cost involved. Suffice it to say that it might take you longer than a first MBA grad to recoup the investment. So those seeking a second MBA should think beyond money alone.

More Risk

The risk is more pronounced if you are looking to change your career trajectory/direction through an MBA. It will be tougher to convince a prospective recruiter and in general, you are likely to end up discounting your previous MBA as well as experience. Instead, if it is for career acceleration, the risks can be lower. Even so, the sovereign (read work permit related) risks remain. Generally speaking, the remuneration expectations of a second MBA grad can be higher compared to those who are out in the market for the first time. This can again mean lesser options and consequently, more risk.
Though we have talked about IIM and ISB in the same breath here a short note is in order. ISB in many ways has been designed on the global MBA program and it provides many of the things mentioned above. Even so, there are folks from ISB that explore a second MBA from time to time – in our experience, this population is lower; also perhaps because the school is younger. The main motivator for these candidates is to explore the international market more than anything else.

In Conclusion

Should you go for it then? The answer, as they say, is it depends. If the pros far outweigh the cons in your case, go for it. This decision however for many prospective candidates is a more personal one and often times, necessitates a larger discussion with the family. Our stance on this is that of cautious optimism – meaning, go for it but be very very careful.

Once you decide to go for your second MBA, get in touch with us. We’ve got plenty of experience in getting applicants into the elite business schools for a double MBA. We’ve shared some stories below to help you understand how others have managed the process.

Read these related posts:
USA business schools accepting second MBA applicants
Second MBA for Bschool professor
Second MBA abroad with scholarship for happy IIT IIM grad
Michigan Ross MBA admit for second MBA applicant
Second MBA degree abroad (USA) with scholarship after 30
Second MBA for Indian couple
Second MBA in Germany for Welingkar grad.
Second MBA from Switzerland for HR consultant after 30
Second MBA after distance degree
ISB PGPpro application story – Executive MBA without GMAT requirement
Image credit:

Mini-MBA | Start here | Success stories | Reality check | Knowledgebase | Scholarships | Services

Serious about higher ed? Follow us:


Manish Gupta
About Manish Gupta
Chief Consulting Officer at MBA Crystal Ball, ex-McKinsey, IIT & ISB topper. MG can help you get into the top B-schools. Read more about this top MBA admissions consultant. Connect with MG on Linkedin, Facebook or Email: mcb [at] mbacrystalball [dot] com

34 thoughts on “Second MBA abroad after IIM, ISB, other Indian programs: Pros and Cons”

  1. Hi MG,

    I have done my MBA ( Marketing) from IIM Indore last year and post that ( 7 months) working as product manager in banking sector. I have 3.3 years of Pre MBA experience with Infosys Limited. Now i want to go for executive MBA from abroad because i am planning to settle abroad. But considering age( 28 y) I am in dilemma that whether i should go for Teaching/ research associate role in abroad universities or executive MBA. Is it justifiable for me ?

  2. Hi Manish,
    I am currently working in an IT software company in Sales and have 8+ yrs of sales experience post my MBA (2yrs). I also have a yr experience prior to MBA in an automobile company as trainee engineer.
    For the past couple of years I am feeling stuck in same kind of profile and it is looking hard for career progression (moving up in hierarchy). I am also interested for International career. I am looking to do 2nd MBA from any top university in Canada or USA. Can you please suggest will doing 2nd MBA a good option? Which should i prefer USA/CANADA from job & residency perspective?

  3. @Manish Gupta

    You have missed out on the most important aspect while going for a second MBA: Search for a “TOO easy a path to settle abroad”

    International MBA is a ticket to settle abroad. It’s simple as that.

    India’s GDP is growing at 7+%, Modi-Ji is transforming the nation, corruption is going to be a thing of past, there will be many smart cities to chose from to live a good life …

    …..but hey, but who believes all this? These are just to score points in a political debate. When it comes to deciding on my career and life expectations, settling abroad is the only aspiration of all Indians, with or without MBA !!

  4. Thanks for the excellent article. It was just what I was looking for.
    I am 26 and have about 2 years work ex in an Indian multinational major, earning around 22lpa. I had done my MBA from a top 10 college in India. Now looking for a second masters. I have couple of international supply chain certifications also, like CSCP, CSSBB

    I had a couple of questions
    1. Got 730 in GMAT. Should I write it again?
    2. I’m working in core supply chain. Will my work ex broke valued outside (unlike IT, SCM can be quite country specific) .
    3. What are the best programs available for me? Will INSEAD find my profile attractive? I couldn’t find any other good (top 5) 1 year programs other than INSEAD. So, is investing another 2years a wise decision?
    4. As work permits are getting tougher, will I be able to get jobs in easier regimes like Canada if I did my MBA from a US?

  5. Manish,

    I am looking for a second MBA . I have total 5 years of experience apart from my MBA from IIM-R. Couple of questions I had was what is the average work experience these top B-schools look for and do they count the 2-years of MBA in the experience

  6. Manish,

    I am thinking of a Masters of Science in Analytics from the US. I am currently working in consulting (~2 years) after my IIM MBA.

    Will my IIM Degree help me in MS? I have around 5 years of experience (3 in IT pre-MBA and 2 in consulting).

    • The pedigree helps sure but the treatment might vary from program to program. While some might be open to a second master’s, others might need a justification. So once you have your target schools, try to ascertain that by directly interacting with the schools.

  7. Hi Manish,
    I am thinking of doing another MBA from US (top 30 schools in FT rankings) or from ISB. I completed my MBA from TAPMI, Manipal in 2013 (I had 97 %ile in CAT). I have 5 years of experience post MBA and had 1.5 years experience before that. I am 31 right now and will be 32 at the time of joining, if I get accepted. I have passed all the 3 levels of CFA exam and other pre-requisites for charter and am hopeful of receiving a charter before I begin the application process. I am more interested in the kind and quality of jobs I may land in post a foreign MBA and am not interested only in settling in the U.S. I wanted to get your opinion on whether it is even worth trying for a foreign MBA at this age. I am only interested in 2 year full time MBAs and PGP for ISB. I think a good degree will be invaluable in the future and am not basing my decision of ROI and other considerations, though I’ll have to fund my education through loans.
    I worked for TCS for 1.5 years before MBA and am currently working in a finance KPO supporting a boutique sell side research firm in the U.S.


  8. Hi Manish,
    Thanks for the article which provide great insights.
    I am currently working with an IT major and have around 2.5 years of post MBA experience. Before my MBA I worked with TCS for 1.5 years. I have done my MBA from a reputed institute after scoring 97% percentile. My queries are as below:
    1. I am looking for a Masters in US. I am still not sure to go for another MBA or 1 year MS program. I am 28 yrs and my sister is staying and working in SF.
    2. I weighed my options for a Canada PR too but that will make it difficult for me to move to US. Right ?
    3. My reason for change is – Not enough remuneration is what I feel. Also, I stayed in California for 4 weeks and found it really great, the culture, people, opportunities..
    4. Am I late for writing GMAT or GRE considering it is touching December already. Please guide me.

      • @AA, the transition from the US to Canada is not a linear one. The brand of Canadian MBA programs doesn’t carry much outside the country either.

        Not impossible of course, but not an easy one as it may appear to many.

  9. Hi Manish,

    This was the exact article I was looking for.
    I had completed my PGDM in Marketing from Loyola, Chennai in 2017.

    I worked for year at Citibank, as a Relationship Manager (Sales).
    I moved on to Business Development with OYO recently.

    However I had recently learned that there as some health issues that will not allow me to sustain in a field sales role for long.

    Now, I am going to 27 this year and I am confused about what opportunities are there for me to transition into a non-field marketing role without a hit on salary/career growth.

    The most common suggestion is do digital marketing courses, which I feel is highly overrated in India where people don’t understand the difference between digital marketing and social media marketing.

    I however have an inclination towards marketing analytics. I do not have any prior certification/ experience though.

    Now the question is, does it make sense to start all over by doing a second MBA from abroad from a reputed B-school. Scoring in GMAT, yes I’ll do what I have to do for that. But apart from that will it give me a better chance at career opportunities? I am also open to working abroad for a year or two..but eventually will move back to India.

    If not a second MBA, does MSc in Marketing Analytics or Data Analytics from NUS make sense? I will be spending a good lot of money and need to make sure it’s has a placement guarantee.

    Or are there an Masters courses in India itself that can help me out.

    If neither of the above what are the other options left for me. Though I like my sales role, I have no option but to move out of such a profile. The internal movement within the company is bleak. And external jump is impossible without a deep pay cut.

  10. Hi Manish,

    Hope you are doing well!
    First of all I must say you are doing an amazing work by helping people like us. Secondly, this article was really worth reading.
    Now about me, I have done my MBA in Marketing from Nirma University, Ahmedabad, India. But in my professional career i am not getting much because of my studies. I m having 2.7 years of experience with me. Now I am planning to go for further studies or may be some certification courses in Marketing domain or Digital Marketing courses or any other choice that I can align to my current set. But I feel I am not really sure what to do next. I don’t know if you can guide me on any of this but I am sure if you do it would be a great helping hand in order to take a big step now in my career.
    I hope I can get some valuable advice from you.

    Thanks and Regards,
    Pratiksha Agarwal

  11. Hi Manish,
    You’vewritten an excellent article to start with.
    My doubts are

    1. I have done PGDM from Welingkar institute of management and I have pre-MBA experince of 3 years. My total experience is 5.5+ years and I’m currenctly working for a Swiss Investment Bank as a Business Analyst in India. I’m preparing for GMAT and looking for a second MBA as I wish to work in a global environment (US/ Australia) [I’m single]. Is 1 year full time MBA a good option for me?

    2. I have paid off my education loan and ready to take another. How much approx. money is required for the degree aborad?

    3. Why would a company/ college would admit me as I have already done MBA (PGDM)? The only truth is I wish to work and learn in a global environment. What more I should know/ tell? Based on my qualification do I need to target any special colleges that admit students who have same qualification?

    4. Will my post MBA experince before my 2nd MBA will add any value for a better career? or it will be treated as am MBA fresher?

    Best Regards,

    • Ruturaj, the article above should help you get a sense of whether to do a second MBA or not. If you are convinced of the value it brings and your goals therein, from an experience profile perspective, there is no reason why you cannot pursue it.

      Not all schools look at second MBA favorably but it’s tough to know beforehand. Only some our totally upfront. See here: For the rest, you take a calculated risk.

      How to articulate and pitch you candidature is something that is beyond a quick one line response am afraid. It requires extensive deep dive and brainstorming, which we cover as part of our professional services.

      The experience always helps showcase transferable skills. It is common for international MBA grads to have 4-5 years of pre-MBA experience. So, you will be treated on par with those peers.

  12. Thought-provoking article, Manish.

    About me : MBA 2018-20 Fin-Mark grad from IIM Raipur. Currently placed in a reputed Indian financial services firm as a Wealth Management Trainee.

    I’m considering a 2nd MBA from a globally recognized B-school.
    Should I wait for a few years or jump in with the applications immediately ?
    How should someone with zero work-ex prepare for a 2nd MBA abroad ?

  13. I am a BITS Pilani grad with MBA fro NITIE (2 years pre MBA IT experience and 5.5 years of post MBA Corporate banking experience) . I am looking at top 1 year MBA programs in Europe and US. I only want to go ahead if i get a really good admit. What can I expect with a 730-40+GMAT score. I am 31 years old and will be 32 by the time I apply. Is it advisable to look at 1 year programs at this stage or I am too late and should focus on EMBAs later on.

  14. Hi Manish,

    Great article! I have 2 years of pre-MBA work-ex in IT, following which I’ve done my MBA in HR from XLRI in 2018, and am currently working with a reputed FMCG organization. I’m 29 now, and want to pursue the 1 year MBA from INSEAD – targeting the September intake.

    Primary reasons for considering this are:
    1. Want to settle abroad, which would be difficult to do in HR.
    2. Want to move out of HR as I feel the roles aren’t exciting enough.
    3. The pandemic and the resulting recession provides a good opportunity to upskill oneself.

    Do you think this is a good idea? Can I switch to a non-HR role post the one-year MBA from INSEAD?
    Also, I’m considering the INSEAD Singapore Campus, but want to settle in Canada. Is this a good idea? I’d be grateful if you could suggest a few good Canadian B-Schools as well.

    Thanks a ton!

  15. Hello Sir,
    Just got graduated in 2020 from Delhi University got a decent CAT-2020 Percentile of 98.54.
    But still didn’t got a admit from IIM-A/B/C.
    I’ll surely do an MBA from any reputed IIM other than what stated above but I feel my career needs won’t be fulfilled from them.
    I’ve already planned for a second MBA after 3 years of professional exposure.
    What way would you suggest me so that I can get accepted into any of those ivy-leagues colleges??

  16. Great Article Manish,
    I am MBA from Symbiosis (2 years ) with 9 years of work experience in banking and 3 years prior MBA experience .Is it good choice to go for 2 nd MBA ?
    If yes one year or 2 year and i would also looking for settling . Which country would be best , Europe , Australia or Canada.


Leave a Comment