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Difference between MBA in India and abroad

Are you in a quandary about whether to pursue an MBA degree from India or abroad?

If so, then it’s worth figuring out the pros and cons involved in each case so that you’re in a position to make an informed decision.

A few facts and statistics about business schools

According to ASSOCHAM (The Associated Chambers of Commerce & Industry of India), India has around 5,500 business schools offering close to 5, 20, 000 seats (data for the year 2015-16). Having an MBA degree from a business school with low credibility would neither be a brand addition on your resume nor can it help you land a well-paying decent job.

ASSOCHAM reported that only 7 percent of those who graduated were actually employable due to the lack of quality education which includes poor infrastructure and lack of quality staff. Even the placements through such institutions can fetch salaries as low as Rs. 10,000.  So, if you to choose to study in India, then make it a point to aim for the reputed MBA programs.

In terms of figures, those who opted for an MBA degree abroad was much lower. Perhaps, the prohibitive cost of education and living expense in a foreign country makes it a less viable option to the majority.

Those who apply for an MBA abroad either take the GMAT or the GRE. The number of Indian GMAT test takers, on an average according to GMAC (Graduate Management Admission Council) is around 29,000-30,000, out of which close to 80% apply to international programs.

Several business schools have started accepting the GRE scores as well, but the numbers are much lower than those opting for the GMAT. According to ETS (Educational Testing Service which conducts the GRE) data, the total number of Asians who’d taken the GRE with an interest in business major in the year 2015-16 was 1,199.

Even in case of an international program, a thorough research needs to be done to check if your career goals are aligned with the program you’re applying to. Some candidates are so keen to have an international degree that they tend to forget doing a background check.

A substandard bschool, in India or abroad, may offer a place with minimum entry requirements, but such a degree would neither add much value to your profile nor would it draw potential recruiters. You need to look out for various parameters including the college brand reputation, infrastructure, placement statistics, alumni feedback before you shortlist your country and list of bschools. Read how to select the best college for your MBA.

Pritish Bhaskar has been there, done that. He has not only completed a two year-MBA from IIM Indore, but also a second MBA internationally from INSEAD. Let’s hear the experiences and differences straight from the horse’s mouth: How Indian MBA programs differ from MBA abroad.

Differences between MBA in India and abroad: A comparison

What to do during your MBA course

Career goals and geographical preference

For those who’re not very keen to work abroad and have long term plans in India, the top MBA programs in India could be good options. Most of these programs including the IIM’s two year programs take in fresh graduates. On completion, most of these graduates are able to secure jobs through campus placements.

For the more experienced professionals, there are the one year MBA programs for executives – ISB-PGP, IIMA-PGPX, IIMB-EPGP, IIMC-PGPeX. These popular programs also figure in the prestigious FT global MBA rankings.

However, an MBA abroad is suited for those who wish to travel globally and work in a foreign location or across countries. If you’ve always been in awe of an investment banker’s job on Wall Street, an MBA from a top business school abroad may open the door to such dream jobs and help you land an opportunity abroad.

Read more on the 6 Benefits of getting an international MBA degree

No country can beat USA which is unarguably the top MBA destination for Indian students. Other countries popular among aspiring MBA candidates include Canada, UK, Europe, Singapore and Australia. Most of the US MBA programs have a two year duration while the others in Europe, UK, Singapore have a shorter duration, of around a year or so.

Learn more on one year MBA vs two year MBA

Also read best MBA abroad countries for Indian students

Before deciding to study in a particular country, it would be worthwhile making a survey of the job opportunities in and around that can be pursued post-MBA, the various work visa related procedures involved, the assistance received from the bschool careers team. In short, a survey that would help you figure out what your chances and odds are in securing employment at the end of your MBA journey.

Read Rohit’s story on how he chose between countries and bschools: MBA in Australia (AGSM) vs UK (Oxford)

Differences in entry requirements for MBA in India vs abroad

The traditional 2-year Indian MBA programs usually take in fresh graduates without any work experience. The main requirement is a good score in the entrance tests.  The CAT score is widely used, however there are other test scores like the CMAT, XAT, MAT, etc. This is followed by the rounds of group discussion and personal interview.

In case of international programs, especially the top ones, the entry criteria are more complex and competitive (since there are applicants from other countries vying for the same seat). The GMAT or the GRE score forms just one component, however there’s also a lot of focus on the overall candidate profile including academics, work experience, career goals and extracurricular involvement.

The applicant needs to produce high quality essays and recommendations along with coming up with a high GMAT score. Shortlisted candidates are usually required to go through an interview round.

Work experience criteria for Indian MBA vs abroad

Unlike Indian MBA applications, good work experience can have a huge impact on the MBA applications abroad. Applicants can leverage their previous work experience to produce stellar MBA essays or get high quality recommendations from colleagues or bosses that have a big role in the decision making process during MBA admissions.

Those applying to the US MBA programs have on an average around 3-5 years of pre-MBA work experience while candidates who apply to the UK and Europe based programs have an average work experience of 5-6 years.

Read this article to get more inputs on work experience requirement for MBA abroad.

Class contribution to the MBA experience

Learning from an MBA program is through various methods including lectures, case studies as well as group assignments. Students are required to participate and make their contribution, whether it involves finding a solution to a problem or tackling a case study. Having a more experienced peer group, which is true with international programs, translates into better learning and gaining valuable insights through peers who’ve had industry exposure working in a variety of roles.

A lot of learning is derived from the varied perspectives shared by batch mates, so you come across more efficient ways to deal with a complex problem or a difficult business situation.

During international MBA admissions, there a lot of focus on attaining class diversity which means that there’ll be a chance to interact with experienced peers from diverse industries working in a variety of roles and from varied ethnic backgrounds. Read more on how the top MBA programs manage classroom diversity.

Compare this with a class full of freshers which you’d find in most of the Indian MBA programs. In spite of the enthusiasm of a relatively young peer group, there would be very few who’ve had hands-on experience, so a lot of theoretical learning (as against practical learning) would be involved.

Comparing the MBA fees, salary & ROI of Indian MBA colleges vs international universities

Lastly, we come to the most important deciding aspect – the program fees. Often, this can be the deciding or restricting factor.

The cost of the two year Indian MBA programs would vary ranging from a few lakhs and may go upto 21 lakhs for the most-sought IIM Ahmedabad. The ROI (Return on investment) can be fantastic for the top-ranked IIM programs with average salaries in the range of 20-22 lakhs.

For the one year MBA programs for executives (ISB and IIMs), the basic tuition fees would be in the range of 20-25 lakhs. However, to this figure we need to add the taxes, accommodation charges, cost of meals, books and course material and other related costs which would take the total cost close 30 lakhs or even higher depending upon the program you choose. The average salary would be in the range of 21- 28 lakhs.

International programs, especially the good ones come very expensive. The cost of living, travelling and related expenses together make it an exorbitant option.

The tuition fees for the two year US based programs can vary from around $90,000 to $1, 40,000 depending upon the university you’re applying to. The one year programs would cost slightly less in the range of $55,000 to $80,000. To this, you need to add the cost of living, medical insurance, books and transportation.

The cost of living would be lesser for the one year programs. These costs would also vary depending on the city you live in. The average post-MBA salary would range from $85,000-$1, 20,000 for the most of the global top 100 programs.

Some of the reputed programs can help you land a well-paying job which would put you in an excellent position in terms of ROI. However don’t assume that top ranking programs will guarantee a better RoI than those ranked lower. If RoI is your only (or top most criterion), then schools like BYU Marriott are ranked higher than Harvard Business School for RoI.

This article will give more insights on how much an MBA would cost from India, Europe and USA.

Various education loans, scholarships and graduate assistantships are available that help ease the financial burden. A lot of scholarships are merit or need based.

MBA Crystal Ball has helped several candidates get a free ride (complete tuition waiver), so if you’ve dreams of studying in a top business school abroad and you believe you have excellent credentials, it’s always worth giving it a try.
Also read:
Studying in USA vs India: Student blog
Experience of an international student in Canada
Experiences of an international student in a Top MBA program in USA
Lesson from my bad Masters experience: MS in USA
References: 1 2 3

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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.

8 thoughts on “Difference between MBA in India and abroad”

  1. A good read. Thanks for the insights. I have one question. I have completed my MBA in India but want to do a second one from an international university.
    I prefer one year courses over two years and Europe over USA. I did a lot of research and found that most European colleges offer a one year MBA, but it is slightly difficult to find a job there when compared to US. Sometimes, people completing their MBA from colleges like HEC, even they cannot find a job.
    What’s your take on this? I mean it is a big investment of time and money for someone like me who is close to 30 and already working in a decent job. I prefer Europe because I want to work and stay there, but the job market in Europe is making me a bit worried. Can you please advice on this?

  2. Hi sameer,
    I have competed my B.E. this year.I want to pursue MBA without work exprience. Is it favourable to get admissions and jobs after MBA even without work exprience? What should I prefer India or Abroad?

  3. @Abhimanyu: Your concerns about getting a job in Europe are justified. And there’s no easy way around it. The risk of study abroad and trying to find a job after graduation will continue to carry risks. Which is why we caution folks to dig deep and evaluate if that’s the path they should take up.
    Read more here:
    And here:

    @Vijay: No, it’s not a good idea to go for an international MBA program without experience. Wait for a few years and gain some good experience. You’ll also have a clearer idea of whether you should do it from India or abroad. Read this:

  4. Hi Sameer,

    I have done Bsc(Hons.) mathematics, which obviously is a three year course from Delhi university. I have been working for the past 3 years in the financial services sector. Is 12 plus 4 mandatory? If yes, what can be done?

  5. Hi Sameer,

    Its an awesome, helpful and informative site. Currently i have 5 years of IT exp and I want to persue full time mba for career growth and exposure to business world… kindly suggest either 1yr or 2 years mba course will be helpful..

  6. Hello Sir, I did my B.Com in 2018 and took a gap to prepare for CAT18 which didn’t went well. Now I am studying for a Financial Modelling course and completed a certification course on Digital Marketing. I want to appear for CAT19. Now that I have 11 more months, What should I do in this period of time so that I can justify my Gap year (i.e. 2 Years Gap actually)?

  7. Hi,

    I completed my MBA in feb 2019 an I started working in a startup afterwards. Its been already 7 months. I am thinking of working and have an experience of atleast 2 or 2.5 years. I am 24 years old as of now. Will it be a good option to give general IELTS and opt for job in a foreign country. I prefer being in Europe. What would be your suggestion on that ? Apart from that which country would be suitable?
    P.S- No knowledge of Finance or Engineering related. I am a sales and Marketing guy.


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