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Q. 1. What is MBA all about ?

The MBA is a postgraduate management degree recognized internationally. It is awarded to students who have mastered the study of business. MBA students study the theory and application of business and management. It is therefore widely accepted as a passport to a successful corporate career. It brings together students of diverse backgrounds in an intense, rigorous academic experience, usually for two years. However, the trend is fast changing wherein there are several programs available in European and Asian schools that are for a duration of 10 to 12 months as well. MBA is popular mainly because of the career flexibility it allows, the leadership mindsets it inculcates, and the acceleration it provides.

Q. 2. When is the right time to pursue an MBA ?

The best time to pursue an MBA is when you want to pursue one.

There are several programs to suit the specific needs of different groups of people like fresher, working professionals, entrepreneurs etc. Therefore, it is the program that you choose is more important than the timing of your MBA. In other words, you must choose a program that is sync with your career objectives at present.

Q. 3. Who is eligible to pursue an MBA ?

In India, the eligibility criterion for pursuing an MBA is a minimum of 3 years of bachelor’s degree with a 50 percent from a recognized university/institute. Most B Schools abroad however look for a minimum of 2 years of full time work experience and 16 years of education (in the case of B Schools in US and Canada)
Apart from the above, one needs to clear an entrance test, group discussion and personal interview in order to finally make it to a school.

Q. 4. Is there any age bar for pursuing an MBA ?

Just like the timing, there is no age bar for pursuing an MBA. Any age is good to pursue one. Of course one needs to choose a program that is in keeping with the requirements of the career at that particular age.

Q. 5. What is the benefit of pursuing an MBA for a fresher ?

Simply speaking, an MBA acts as an enhancer to your graduate degree adding actual marketplace perspective and gives you a launch pad to the corporate world. It brings together economists, humanitarians, engineers, accountants, medical practitioners etc. under one roof, instills in them the business and management skills and makes them industry ready. It does not change the basic skill set but rather enhances it. Thus if your graduate degree gives you direction, an MBA is your passport to the corporate world.

Q. 6. How can working professionals gain from an MBA ?

There are several advantages that a working professional can draw from an MBA, namely:

  • Skill enhancement, to perform better at the job in keeping with the changes in the market conditions
  • Prepare yourself for a career acceleration, like holding a managerial/team lead position
  • Making a career shift, like, from being a software engineer to an investment banker

Q. 7. How important is work experience for making it to B School ?

When talking about the 2-year full time programs offered by Indian B Schools, work experience is not mandatory. However, most top B Schools have working professionals with two to 3 years of experience applying for an MBA. And given that they clear the school’s cut-offs many also make it to the schools. However, work experience is only an added advantage to your profile and may not really help you secure the final offer. None the less, if you have already completed your graduation B Schools appreciate work experience as that displays your multitasking abilities which is so much a necessary skill for becoming a successful manager.

Yet there are several programs offered by B Schools in India that are exclusively for working executives, prominent among them being:

  • PGP offered by ISB (Hyderabad) that asks for a minimum of 2 years of work experience
  • PGPX offered by IIM (Ahmedabad) that asks for a minimum of 6 years of work experience
  • PGPEX offered by IIM (Calcutta) that asks for a minimum of 5 years of work experience
  • PGDM offered by SP Jain (Mumbai) that asks for a minimum of 5 years of work experience
  • GMP offered by XLRI (Bhubaneshwar) that asks for a minimum of 5 years of work experience

As far as B Schools abroad are concerned, a minimum of 2 years of work experience after graduation is a must.

Q. 8. Is it mandatory for B Schools to be recognized by the AICTE ?

In India, it is more or less important for a program to be recognized by the AICTE. The recognition ensures that the program offered meets all the quality standards that are important for the successful delivery of the program.

None the less, you will observe that the top B Schools in the country that is the IIMs are not approved by the AICTE but rather the Ministry of HRD and are accepted not only in India but worldwide. Other exceptions are programs offered by universities like MMS offered by the University of Mumbai through B Schools like JBIMS, Sydenham etc. Yet there are others like NMIMS that hold a Deemed University status.

Q. 9. What are the implications if the B School is not recognised by the AICTE ?

As discussed in the previous question, it is recognition by a competent authority that is more important which may or may not be AICTE. Given that a program is not recognised by AICTE, University etc, students passing out of such programs could face the following implications:

  • May not be allowed to pursue higher studies like a PhD/Fellow based on the present qualification
  • May face problems while applying to government/public sector companies in India
  • Qualification may not be considered valid while applying for positions abroad

Q. 10. Are programs in collaboration with universities abroad recognised in India ?

No. In India, the concept of collaborating with universities abroad is not standardised across institutes. Hence, degrees/diplomas offered by foreign universities while pursuing studies with a school/institute located in India is not considered valid. It would be therefore important to check out the credibility of the institute in the market before taking the final leap. A good example to quote here would be Indian School of Business (Hyderabad). The school despite international linkages and without any recognition from any authorised body in India stands tall in terms of providing the best inputs and placements to its graduating students over the years.

Q. 11. What is the difference between MBA and PGDBA/PGDBM ?

Both MBA/MMS and PGDBM/PGDBA are postgraduate programs in management and are used to connote the same thing. However, an MBA/MMS is usually a degree program that is offered by a university, while a PGDBA/PGDPM is a postgraduate diploma offered by autonomous B Schools/Institutes.

The denomination hardly makes a difference as long as the program is recognised by a competent authority like a University under the Central/State Legislature, Deemed University, Institutes recognised by the Ministry of HRD and the AICTE.

Q. 12. What is the difference between Full time, Part Time and Distance Learning MBA Programs ?

accepted as a passport to a successful career in the corporate world. However, this is true only if it is pursued from one of the reputed B Schools in the country or abroad. Further, it is only a Full Time program that gives you the complete “MBA Experience”. The following points will give you a feel of the part time and full time MBA program:

  • A full time program allows you to dedicate yourself to the coursework and be able to participate in a wide range of learning opportunities beyond the classroom.
  • Further placement services generally focus on full-time students. Most B Schools do not offer placement assistance for students pursuing a part time program. Also the contacts made at a B-school can help you throughout your career. It is comparatively difficult to develop the same kind of relationships with peers - or do the same kind of networking that full-time student enjoy. The entire MBA program is so designed, that the maximum benefit is gained from a fulltime program.
  • A full-time student who progresses intensely through the curriculum can complete the program between 18 months to 2 years. Conversely, a part-time student usually takes an average of 3-years to complete the program.
  • Given the nature of the program you will be required to devote a lot of time working on group/individual projects and presentations on a regular basis apart from attending the classes. Devoting quality time to the program may therefore be difficult in a part time program since you would also be required to meet your commitments at the workplace.

You will need to evaluate the above-mentioned points in keeping with your career objectives and then arrive at a decision to best suit your needs.

Q. 13. What is the cost of pursuing an MBA ?

The cost of pursuing an MBA would primarily depend on the program and the location of the school.

  • A 2 year full time MBA from a B School in India would cost somewhere around Rs.3 lakhs to Rs.6 lakhs.
  • The 1-year full time executive MBA programs would cost between Rs.10 lakhs to Rs. 20 lakhs.
  • An MBA from a B School abroad could range between Rs. 15 lakhs to Rs.40 lakhs depending on the location and duration of the program. Schools in the US are usually considered costlier than those in the UK, Canada, Australia, Singapore etc.

Part Time and Distance Learning Programs are usually more affordable than the Full Time Programs.

Q. 14. What are the factors to be taken into consideration while choosing a B School ?

The selection of a B School is crucial as the decision is to impact your career for the next 30 to 40 years and mostly a once in a lifetime investment. And there is no denying the fact that management education only from a reputed B School can assure you with a jump-start to a career in the corporate world and a bright future ahead. So ideally one needs to arrive a list of 15 to 20 B Schools to apply for in keeping with the individual requirements and of course the budget. Some of the key factors that one needs to keep in mind while making the selection are:

Placements: This is arguably one of the most important factors that one needs to consider while choosing a B School, as a good career is what one is looking forward to; for freshers it’s a good start to their career and for those with work experience its career acceleration. So apart from the placement claims made by the B Schools via advertisements, website etc. it is good to do some amount of research by talking to seniors, past/current students at the B Schools etc.

Specialization: Certain institutes like IIFT, IRMA, IIFM, MICA etc offer specialized programs that focus on a specific industry and develop specialized skills to a career in the specific field. Hence one must completely understand the course content and long-term career opportunities before opting for such programs. Otherwise its best to opt for B Schools like IIMs, XLRI etc that cater to specializations like Finance, Marketing, Systems, Human Resources & Operations and thus keep options open in terms of career opportunities across industries.

Student & Faculty Profiles: It always pays to check out the faculty and student profiles as that to a large extent determines the quality of the program and nature of interaction and learning. For faculty one could check for factors like qualification, work experience, research undertaken etc. For students, its would be good to check the composition of the past 2 to 3 batches in terms of academic background, average age and work experience etc.

Infrastructure: The prime concern here is whether the programme is residential or not. We firmly believe that MBA is not just about the learning that one receives in a classroom but the real gain is the composite exposure one gets in two years; more so since B-school education mainly consists of group work where students need to work as teams.

Location: This mostly holds true for institutes that are not of a notable repute. Such institutes despite having good infrastructure facilities may lack on faculty support because of location disadvantage. Further, they might fail in giving sufficient industry exposure, which in turn might impact the placements. Keeping this in mind, if one is applying to any of the lower rung colleges, it makes sense in sticking to the ones based in metros

Expenses Vs Returns: Certain autonomous/private B Schools charge a hefty fee. Though they may have a great infrastructure to boast about its always better to do a cost benefit analysis in terms of the expected returns. The returns can be evaluated by looking at the average placement figures for the past 2 to 3 years.

Once you have done this comparison, it will be easier for you to judge as to which school would be the best suited for you.

Q. 15. Is it good to take the help of B School Ranking surveys published in the leading magazines of the country, while making a choice ?

No. We believe that you are the best person to evaluate the schools and arrive at a decision. You must therefore use the parameters explained in the previous question alone to arrive at a decision rather than rely on the B School rankings. This is primarily because we do not really know how authentically these rankings have been arrived at. Moreover, different surveys offer different rankings and therefore it becomes all the more confusing to arrive at a choice.

However, rankings such as the US News, Business Week, TopMBA etc play an important role while choosing a B School when it comes to pursuing management from a B School abroad.

Q. 16. What are the specializations that one can purse in an MBA ?

Traditionally most B Schools offer specializations is the fields of Marketing, Finance, Human Resources Management, Systems and Operations. However, the boost in the economy, the increase in FDI and boom in sectors like retail, pharma, insurance etc have given an impetus to industry specific specializations like Retail Management, Pharma Management, Risk and Insurance Management, MBA Biotech etc. Let us take a look at what each one stands for:

Marketing involves understanding consumer needs and meeting them profitably. You might like marketing if you are curious about people, like analysing data, enjoy travelling and meeting people and building a consensus. In the broadest sense, its getting people and products together.

Finance is concerned with the efficient use of an important component of business - money. One works on designing financial offerings to maximise the returns investors get on their investments, and adapting to the dynamics of the market.

Human Resources, involves activities directed towards development of people in the organization: performance appraisal, employee counselling, employee training and employee motivation.

Systems would involve helping companies leverage technology to business value, especially in wake of restructuring, consolidation and growth in dynamic scenarios.

Operations > is for those who are fond of processes and is important in manufacturing ad well as service delivery. It also involves areas such as quality control and optimisation.

Q. 17. Is it advisable to take up industry specific specializations like retail, pharma, biotech etc ?

Both MBA/MMS and PGDBM/PGDBA are postgraduate programs in management and are used to connote the same thing. However, an MBA/MMS is usually a degree program that is offered by a university, while a PGDBA/PGDPM is a postgraduate diploma offered by autonomous B Schools/Institutes.

The denomination hardly makes a difference as long as the program is recognised by a competent authority like a University under the Central/State Legislature, Deemed University, Institutes recognised by the Ministry of HRD and the AICTE.

In keeping with the above the following points may be worth noting:
  • The reputation of the institute offering the program
  • The recognition of the program by competent body.
  • The acceptance of the program among corporates in terms of salary packages and job profiles.
  • The pedagogy of the program
  • The fact that it would be difficult to switch sectors in the long term.

So, by and large, it is always advisable to look at the reputation of the institute and its industry standing rather than the program. An MBA with traditional specializations in marketing, finance, human resources, systems, operations etc. from one of the top schools in the country or abroad is a much better bet than a retail or pharma management program from a not so well known school. MBA being like a finishing school one must always look at it as a final preparatory tool for a rewarding career in the long run.

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