PGDM or MBA? Solution to your Dilemma

When we go for students counselling for admissions, the most pertinent question that an aspiring student asks is what is the difference between PGDM and MBA? This question is followed by the other popular question, which is better, PGDM or MBA. For years these questions have been found to crowd the mind of candidates and their parents. Here is an attempt to make things simple and help you to understand what PGDM and MBA have to offer.

Let us first understand the core nature of the two; the two are not actually different, other than their names. Both actually mean a Masters in Management. MBA, i.e. Master of Business Administration, is a Post Graduate Degree in Management. PGDM is a Post Graduate Diploma in Management. So, at a superficial level, one is a degree and the other is a diploma. Well, should a diploma and degree mean two widely different identities to the learner? There are definitely some fine lines of differences that make the programmes perceived differently. Let us try to understand the differences between how the two work, and I leave it on you to decide finally which one you want for yourself.

PGDM has its curriculum generally designed by corporate doyens, or you can say the curriculum get vetted by corporate honchos; thus the curriculum you come across in PGDM is more trendy, meets industry needs and is liked by recruiters, whereas, MBA curriculum is generally designed by the universities under which the institute is affiliated. So the nature of PGDM curriculum is flexible and it is frequently updated, focusing on industry needs and job requirements, as placement is a vital student expectation. PGDM programme emphasizes on honing skills for employability as well as entrepreneurship. On the other hand, MBA curriculum revision takes place generally once every 3-5 years.

As offering a degree inevitably requires that the institute be under a university, let me also tell you that MBA institutes are under universities (both Government and Private), whereas PGDM programme can be run by autonomous institutes that are recognized by Government of India’s nodal body for technical education – All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE). Even colleges that offer UGC recognized MBA Programmes need to have AICTE approval. Of course, there are many institutes that run both PGDM and MBA programmes.

As autonomy has been given to the PGDM institutions to produce graduates to meet industry requirements, autonomous colleges have a student-friendly environment and processes which lead to better quality assignments and healthy student-faculty relation happen to be a substantial part of it. And that is very natural as autonomy allows the institute to go outside stereotypes and engage in some ‘beyond the syllabus’ activities. If seen from another point of view, are you looking for some higher education after your management programme? Say you are interested in doing a Ph. D in management. In that case, I will say MBA is more suitable for candidates who are attracted towards earning a Degree for higher studies and academic career.

With respect to time, both MBA and PGDM programme would be of two years full-time duration. Few institutes also offer a one-year PGDM course, for which you may explore the internet and find out which institutes do so. In MBA, examinations are conducted by Universities and in PGDM programme examinations are conducted by the respective institutes.

In PGDM, students get a lot of exposure in live-projects and learn hands-on. This leads to an all-round development of the student, including technical skills, interpersonal skills and handling situational problems. With such a kind of exposure, students develop to a much more industry-ready professional.

Now, before deciding which one to choose, let me give you a simple formula, what is your future goal? Do you want to join the corporate world? Well, in that case, whether it is PGDM or MBA, it hardly makes any difference. You need to look at a few things, like curriculum, faculty, infrastructure, projects, exposure, industry integration and placements, and NOT at the degree or diploma they offer. Recruiters will not treat MBAs or PGDMs differently. If you want an academic career, I will definitely suggest you to look for an MBA degree. Also look at the course fee and your budget. MBAs from universities will definitely be a cost-friendly one.

By Dr. Tanusree Chakraborty
Associate Professor, Rajalakshmi School of Business, Chennai
Email – tanusree@rsb.edu.in

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  2. But when it comes to quality and the learning exposure, PGDM is anyday bette. Even though the credits are same for both as per AICTE, but the number of courses are much higher in PGDM comparing to MBA. The average package of PGDM is also higher than MBA. Choose PGDM. Choose wisely. Decide your career whether on academic or corporate. If you decide as Corporate then PGDM is definitely a better choice.

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