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What is the difference between MBA and PGDM?

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What is the difference between MBA and PGDM?

MBA or PGDM? While you are thinking for an MBA and  exploring the internet for an ideal management program for you, you realize that some of the business schools, you really want to get into, are actually offering a PGDM program instead.

Why these prominent globally acclaimed Institutes are  offering an PGDM, a diploma program, and not an MBA degree program?

Let us understand what are the similarities and differences in MBA & PGDM. MBA stands for Masters of Business Administration and is offered by universities, whereas a PGDM or Post Graduate Diploma in Management is offered by B-Schools. Both the programs have duration of two years and are offered by Universities and prominent B-schools respectively to prepare aspirants for a lucrative management career.

Similarities between MBA and PGDM:-

Both programs teach management skills.

What matters here is the quality of education imparted by the b-school? What are its unique value propositions? What is the track record of its alumni & their placements?  When it comes to recruiter the value that the graduates bring to the table is what matters. In fact, in b-schools offering a one year ‘certificate’ program in management, also called PGPM or PGP or other names depending on the b-school, recruiters do not even differentiate between these students and the PGDM students. Hiring is done purely on the basis of work experience, background and skill requirements of an organisation and how the students fit in their criteria.

The same can be said for pursuing higher education, such as a PhD or a Fellowship program. The PGDM Diploma is equivalently valid for pursuing a PhD as an MBA degree is. At the undergraduate level, a degree is always regarded to have a higher value as compared to a diploma. But in case of post graduate courses, such as management programs, the quality and value offered by the b-school and the programs determines the value, and not the nomenclature.

Let us summarise a striking difference between MBA and PGDM?

In short:

Business schools  offering PGDM has an authority and flexibility to revise their curriculum in response to changing business demands and industry scenario. They are quickly and highly adaptive to new models, tools and technologies to deliver cutting-edge education to their management aspirants. Whereas, Universities undergo such revision in a time-based manner, mostly in 3 to 5 years.

Visiting Faculties / Guest Lecturers from Industry are frequenlty invited and engaged by  B-schools offering PGDM courses  for the benefit of students in exploring industry exposure and enhances their learning experience. The B-schools offering PGDM program also focus on overall development of students through soft-skill and leadership-based courses and extra-curriculars activities.

If you are looking forward to investing two years of  your life in any of these highly indulging programs, you must completely understand their value propositions, offerings and industry perception before making any decision.

The Long Story:

Degree vs Diploma:

The first and basic difference between the two programs is that the MBA is a degree program whereas a PGDM is a diploma program.

An MBA program is offered by a government or private university or a college affiliated with a university. Only these universities, which come under the University Grants Commission (UGC), can award degrees.

A PGDM program is offered by  b-schools and standalone/autonomous b-schools which are approved by AICTE under the Ministry of Human Resource Development (HRD), Govt. of India..

Under the IIM act of 2017, 20 IIMs were declared as Institutions of National Importance and were granted the authority to award MBA degrees, before which they were awarding diplomas just like every private b-school.

While choosing an Institute one should focus more on major quality determinants such as faculty, curriculum, campus, peer group, rankings / accreditations and placements, to determine which program would put you in the searchlight of promising recruiters.


MBA programs in general have a fixed curriculum and they are generally more theoretical in nature. There is a certain rigidity in the revision of curriculum to maintain pace with changes in the industry and economic landscape. Such revisions take place over a period of 3-5 years.

PGDM curriculum, on the other hand, are revised and regularly updated at the b-school’s discretion, keeping at par with latest industry trends and standards. This allows the schools to maintain a competitive advantage and such competition encourages rampant innovation in curriculum and pedagogy. Such programs also have more room for practical application-based learning in contrast to pure theoretical learning.

In fact, a good PGDM program would have huge involvement of industry practitioners and veterans in designing the curriculum. These Industry Practitioners bring fore-sight that encourage inclusion of emerging and disruptive technologies such as AI, Design Thinking and Business Analytics into management curriculum.

On these lines, one must also note that MBA exams are conducted by respective universities and all colleges affiliated under a particular university would have the same exams. In case of b-schools, the PGDM exams are conducted by the b-schools themselves who, to a great extent, have control over their evaluation criteria.

Teaching Methodology:

PGDM from a B-school focus more than just a classroom-based teaching. Case studies & pedagogy offered in PGDM courses help participants understand the application of concepts in real-time and are based on classic as well as contemporary business cases that have shaped the industry over the years. The learning takes place outside the classroom as well, in the form of extra-curricular activities, social initiatives, events, competitions, etc., for developing numerous soft skills essential for management professionals.

Students in a PGDM program also get a chance to interact with numerous thought leaders & CXOs during intense industry interface programs which help them gain industry perspective and blur the lines between theory and practical application. For instance, the PGDM program offered at Valia School of Management includes live projects, summer internships with leading corporates, along with regular guest lectures, conclaves and symposiums – all of which help in developing strong leadership, managerial and analytical skills which are crucial for a successful management career.

Fee Structure:

A PGDM program undoubtedly is a huge investment of money. Since institutes and autonomous business schools running PGDM programs, mostly on-campus, unaided and hence incur all their costs by themselves, the effect is seen in the form of much higher program fees. But these fees are justified and it is utilized to provide state-of-the-art infrastructure, enabling global faculty exposure, delivering cutting edge curriculum  and grooming the students to bag the highly coveted corporate jobs. Since, PGDM is an AICTE Approved program,  all  nationalised and multinational banks and financial institutions provide education loans at affordable interest rates for such high quality PGDM programs.

Entrance Exam Criteria:

Both programs accept scores of various competitive tests such as CAT, MAT, GMAT, XAT & CMAT. In case of MBA programs, many universities and colleges also accept scores obtained in respective state level tests such as MAHCET, TSICET, PGCET & TANCET.  A few top schools also conduct their own tests such as XAT (XLRI), SNAP (Symbiosis) & IIFT EXAM (IIFT).

There is no one-size-fits-all concept in case of entrance tests. The Indian School of Business (ISB), for instance, does not accept CAT scores, which is the most widely accepted one in India. PGDM schools may also not have a definite entrance score cut-off, but a safe score criteria since shortlisting would also depend on other factors such as past academic and professional performance, achievements, diversity of background, and so on. These test scores are a crucial entry point into schools of your choice. Therefore, you need to know which are the preferred test scores at those schools, and their cut-off or safe score requirements, and then prepare accordingly.

Your Goal:

Finally, what matters your ultimate goal in life. What is it that you want to do with your management qualification? What kind of career do you see for yourself in the future? This should be the major deciding factor for the choice of your program. You may also ask yourself what is your preference in terms of nature of the program (on-campus or otherwise), location, and immediate career outcomes? You might also want to consider how much you are willing to spend on it.

A PGDM course  will surely land you a highly rewarding career. PGDM graduates will always have some edge because of the pedagogy of the program and close industry interaction, helping you remain more pragmatic and relevant in the industry for a longer period. However, an MBA from a college or university, can also help you achieve to a certain limited career goals for a fraction of time and not for a longer period. due to learning becomes obsolete in a longer period of time.

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