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MBA vs PGDM, PGDBM, PGPM, MMS: Differences and Similarities

One rather crucial feature, that is not lacking for all prospective business apprentices, is options. If anything, these would-be students are bombarded with so many choices of business degrees that it’s almost too easy to get lost and confused, as witnessed by the scores of questions, crying out what should I do next, is this program right for meor will this degree put me in the league of extraordinary gentle(wo)men?

And what do you do when there are equivalent degrees with alternate names, or alternate degrees with equivalent names? Puzzled yet? And what if some of them aren’t degrees at all?

Before you pull your hair and proceed to a premature baldness, let us intervene and help you demystify the world of business education for you.

In this article, we will discuss the business education degrees (or non-degrees) in India, their similarities and differences– MBA vs PGDM, MMS, PGPM and PGDBM.(Explore more conversations on MBA Forums – MS, MFE, MFin, MPhil, PhD, other degrees).

While PGDBA (Post Graduate Diploma in Business Administration) also falls in the same league, we’ve left it out intentionally to avoid confusion, since some business analytics programs also use the same acronym (Post Graduate Diploma in Business Analytics).

MBA vs PGDM, PGDBM, PGPM, MMS: A Comparison


MBA – Master of Business Administration

There is not a whole lot more we can say about this degree that has not been already said before in our previous articles. Nevertheless, to reiterate a few salient points, an MBA degree is a popular academic entry into the business profession. It lays the foundation for basic business education, its specializations, and provides intellectual growth through practical training.

In India, The MBA degree is exclusive to universities, or institutes granting the degree in affiliation to universities, owing to education regulations in India, only allowing universities the right to offer degree courses like Master’s.

  • Program Type: 2-year Degree course.
  • Academic Focus: The curriculum, in MBA programs in India, tends to be more technical and theoretical in nature.
  • Cost: An MBA program, in India, is significantly cheap, especially if directly granted by a university. Affiliated programs maybe somewhat more expensive but still far more reasonable than international MBA degrees. In any case, MBA is still cheaper than PGDM. In the interest of clarity, an MBA from the Faculty of Management Studies (University of Delhi), will cost an academic fee of about INR 1,00,000 ($1,500), for the entire program.

    Some, like the Symbiosis Institute of Management (Symbiosis International, a deemed university) can charge much higher tuition ~ INR 14 lakhs ($21k) (Read How much does an MBA cost in India, USA and Europe).

  • Eligibility:
    • Undergraduate from a recognized university, an institution of national importance, or a foreign university with blessings from the Association of Indian Universities (AIU). Candidates should have secured a minimum score of 50%.
    • Some form of aptitude test, such as the Symbiosis National Aptitude Test (SNAP), the Common Entrance Test (CET) conducted by the Government of Maharashtra as part of their Centralized Admission Process, or even the scores of CAT, CMAT, GMAT, MAT, XAT, ATMA, etc.

      Candidates are well advised to research the university specific aptitude testing criteria. Read GMAT vs CAT differences

    • Final selection is contingent on success in group exercises, interviews, writing ability test, and previous academic record.
  • Institutes: Symbiosis Institute of Management (Pune), Faculty of Management Studies (University of Delhi), Mumbai University, Savitribhai Phule Pune University.


PGDM – Post Graduate Diploma in Management

Some of the top business schools in India don’t grant an MBA degree. Instead, they go for its flashier, more emancipated, cousin, the PGDM. As the name suggests, it is NOT a degree but a diploma. While a lot of people sneer at the notion of investing time in a diploma rather than a degree, there are some very good reasons why sometimes these PGDM “undegrees” are more prestigious and useful.

As mentioned before, degrees are proprietary to universities, in India. But being a part of a university system also means that the curriculum is rather rigid and constant updates, keeping up with industry trends is out of the question, often requiring long bureaucratic procedures.Hence a lot of autonomous institutes voluntarily choose to stay away from university affiliations, while still being recognized by the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE).

An accreditation by the Association of Indian Universities (AIU) makes the PGDM equivalent to MBA (Source).

  • Program Type: Usually 2 years full time. One year PGDM is not equivalent to MBA.
  • Academic Focus: Basic foundation plus practical training keeping up with industry demands.
  • Cost: Generally, more expensive than a university MBA. S P Jain PGDM costs INR 16 lakhs ($25k) for its full academic fee of two years.
  • Eligibility:Much like the MBA degree, it too requires an undergraduate degree with a minimum score, group exercises, personal interviews, written ability tests, CAT score. The selection is contingent on weighted combination of these plus factors like gender and work experience in a managerial role.
  • Institutes:The Indian Institute of Management (IIMs), XLRI, S P Jain Institute of Management, and more.

The PGDM is very well recognized within the Indian as well as the international job market. Institutes like the IIMs carry their heavy weight around quite successfully. As far as pursuing higher education is concerned, both MBA and PGDM, notified by AIU as equivalent to MBA of a University, are eligible for a PhD degree in India.

Programs unlike the PGDM from the IIMs, such as those atISB that are not recognized by AICTE, are not considered equivalent to MBA, outside India, and hence don’t qualify as advanced degrees.


PGDBM – Post Graduate Diploma in Business Management

It is similar to the PGDM structure. It is also a two-year program approved by the AICTE. Eligibility is decided by the individual institutes.

For instance, the Ambedkar Institute of Management Studies relies on previous academic record, group discussion, viva, and a good score in MAT/ATMA/ICET or any Admission Test of University/Government (Source).

PGPM – Post Graduate Program in Management

The PGPM is not an AICTE recognized diploma or course. It is essentially an award or certification for a duration of one year. In that sense, it doesn’t feed into your qualifications towards, say, a PhD. It is also quite flexible, and can be designed to suit the needs of current relevant industry needs.

For instance, Great Lakes offers a PGPM program for a duration of one year, geared towards experiential learning, peer participation, and it is taught in collaboration with international faculty.

Eligibility requirements mandate either of GMAT/CAT/XAT/CMAT scores, a good academic record from a recognized institution, essays, and a minimum work experience (specified by the school). The Great Lakes PGPM costs about INR 15 lakhs ($23k).

Read Best One year MBA in India for Executives

MMS – Master in Management Studies

MMS is a two-year management degree approved by the AICTE. Being a Master’s degree, it is offered by universities and colleges affiliated with universities. The program provides a detailed understanding of business specializations. The cost of education is much more reasonable than the MBA or PGDM courses while the eligibility follows different State required assessments.

For instance, institutes associated with the University of Mumbai follow eligibility directives of the Directorate of Technical Education under the Government of Maharashtra – i.e. a form of Common Entrance Test or any one of the accepted aptitude tests in India, group discussions, writing ability test, interviews, etc.

The choice between an MBA (or equivalent) or MMS is really dependent on the candidate’s motivation and situation. Most MMS degrees don’t require a work experience and can be pursued right out of college. It is somewhat less competitive than the MBA degree and an MMS from a reputed institute affords the opportunity for a more effective business training than that from a lesser known MBA or PGDM program.
In the end, our choice, from among the variety available, is really conditioned on your study goals – Do you want to pursue a higher degree after? Do you want to keep up with the industry demands and be better situated for the job market? Do you want to look into study abroad options? Do you want play it safe with your finances?…etc

Your final decision should weigh in your enquiry into your study goals, your research into your chosen programs and b-schools, and finally a peek into where the alumni are currently placed.

Good Luck!
Meanwhile, here are some useful and relevant links.


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3 thoughts on “MBA vs PGDM, PGDBM, PGPM, MMS: Differences and Similarities”

  1. Finally my all doubts regarding the MBA and Pgdm is solved . Now i can completely focus on the exams that I want to target.Can you please tell how to prepare for MBA in pharmaceutical management


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