PGDM or MBA: Difference between, how to choose, and other MBA vs PGDM questions answered

You may be sometimes confused between choosing MBA or PGDM while deciding your business and management qualification. This article written by experts at will clear your doubts.

So, what is the difference between MBA and PGDM? Simply put, Masters in Business Administration or MBA is a degree course offered by the Universities (both Government and Private) and Colleges affiliated to these Universities. Post Graduate Diploma in Management (PGDM) is a Diploma programme offered by B-schools/Colleges that are recognised by Government of India’s nodal body for technical education – All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE). 

IIMs Now Authorised to Award MBA

After passing of IIM Act 2017, the Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) are also now authorised to conduct MBA programme and award MBA degree. It is however, upto the respective IIM to exercise the option to continue with the Post Graduate Diploma in Management or switch over to MBA degree program. Out of 20 IIMs, some have switched to MBA degree programme while many others are still offering PGPM leading to Post Graduate Diploma (PGDM).

ISB Hyderabad offers PGPM and not MBA as it is neither a University nor is an affiliated college to any other university.  

How to Choose Between MBA and PGDM?

We want to stress that while deciding between MBA or PGDM, what is most important for you as a student is to understand your personal goals. If you are interested in a corporate job and career, you should choose a B-school/Colleges based on their Ranking, Curriculum and Placements, and NOT by the degree or diploma they offer. Corporates don’t treat MBAs or PGDMs differently. They only want candidates that can perform well on the job. So,  curriculum and faculty is most important.

MBA From Government University: A low cost Programme

PGDM B-schools are at par with IIMs and MBA colleges as according to all good B-school Rankings 75 out of 100 Top B-schools in India are PGDM colleges. However, if you are looking for just another academic qualification, that too at a low cost, then an MBA from a Government university will work well.

Many top PGDM B-schools have received MBA Equivalence from Government body AIU, and their PGDM is treated at par with MBA when it comes for higher studies like M.Phil or Ph.D.

Key Differences between MBA and PGDM

Type of management courseMBA from Govt. UniversityMBA from Private UniversityIndian Institutes of Management (IIMs)Private PGDM Colleges
Programme offeredMasters of Business AdministrationMasters of Business AdministrationPost Graduate Programme in Management(PGP)/MBAPost Graduate Diploma in Management (PGDM)
AwardDegreeDegreeDiploma/MBA DegreeDiploma
Number of programme offering institutes200050020500
Top Institutes/collegesFMS – Delhi University; IIFT Delhi-Deemed University; JBIMS – Mumbai University; PUMBA-Pune University; Management Departments of IITsTop Private Universities are NMIMS-Mumbai; Symbiosis –Pune; XIM-XUB Bhubaneswar  IIM Ahmedabad, IIM Bangalore, IIM Calcutta, IIM Lucknow, IIM Indore, IIM Kozhikode and other 14 new and newest IIMsXLRI, SPJIMR, MDI, IMI, IMT
Degree/Diploma recognized/approved byUniversity Grants Commission (UGC)University Grants Commission (UGC)Ministry of HRD equivalent to MBA degreeAll India Council for Technical Education (AICTE)
CurriculumRigid, because approvals required from University Curriculum at most Government Universities and Colleges is theoretical, and not frequently updated.  Curriculum at good Private Universities like NMIMS and Symbiosis is at Par with IIMs, top PGDM B-schools. It is updated in accordance with industry demand.Flexible and Frequently Updated. Focus on Industry needs and job requirements as Placement is key student expectation.  Curriculum is frequently updated to keep pace with industry demands and changes.
Programme suitable forMBA offered by Government Universities is more suitable for candidates interested in earning a Degree for higher studies, academic career.  MBA offered by top Private Universities is good for both corporate career and academics.Students focussed on enhancing their employability skills for a better corporate career, job or starting their own enterprise.Focus on improving skills, employability, entrepreneurship
FeeFee at Government University/Colleges is very low. FMS Delhi fee is now increased to Rs.1.94 lakhs although basic fee is less than Rs 20,000 for the full MBA coursePrivate University MBA fee is at par with IIMs, PGDM B-schools based on their market acceptance. NMIMS Mumbai fee is Rs. 17.44 lakhs; SIBM Pune fee is Rs. 18.25 lakhsIIMs have a comparatively higher fee structure. IIM Ahmedabad fee is Rs.23 lakhs, IIM Bangalore fee is Rs.21.5 lakhs, IIM Calcutta fee is Rs.21 lakhs.   Top 10 PGDM B-schools charge between  Rs 15 lakhs to Rs.20 lakhs for 2 year MBA. SPJIMR fee is Rs. 16 lakhs, MDI Gurgaon fee is Rs.18.89 lakhs, IMI New Delhi fee is Rs. 15.41 lakhs Fee for many good B-schools is between Rs. 5-10 lakhs
Programme durationTwo yearsTwo yearsTwo yearsTwo years
Exam conducted byUniversityUniversityBy the Individual IIMAt College/ Institute and may also accept other exam scores like CAT/XAT/CMAT
Admission Process & Entrance TestTop Govt. Central Universities and their colleges accept National level entrance tests like CAT/XAT and/or also conduct their own entrance tests. Other Government colleges governed by State Governments, admit thru state level examination like MAHCET, PGCET, TANCET, although these colleges may also accept other national level exam scores as is done by JBIMS, PUMBATop Private Universities conduct their own exams like NMAT, SNAP, X-GMTCommon Admission Test (CAT) conducted by IIMs, is the mandatory entrance exam for Indian residentsB-schools can choose from one or many of 6 approved exams: CAT, XAT, CMAT, MAT, GMAT, ATMA

IIMs: Choice of MBA Vs PGDM
With effect from the academic session 2017-18, after passing of IIM Act 2017 in January 2017, many of the 20 IIMs have started to award MBA Degree instead of PGDM. A few IIMs have not changed their program name but have started to confer MBA degree instead of post graduate diploma while remaining other IIMs still prefer to award PGDM. Here is the list of 20 IIMs with their PGP/MBA programs leading to award of MBA/PGDM after completion of the course.

While top and older IIMs offer different types of MBA/PGP courses in different streams apart from flagship programs, including doctoral courses in Management, new IIMs offer flagship 2 years PGP programmes called PGP or MBA after passing of IIM Bill 2017. 

Besides, apart from MBA course specializations offered in the second year, some of the IIMs also offer specialized MBA courses in different streams like MBA in Food & Agriculture, MBA in Agriculture Business Management, MBA in Human Resource Management, MBA in Sustainability Management among others

Name of the IIMTitle of Management ProgramsAward of MBA Degree/PGDM
IIM AhmedabadPGP, PGP-FABM, ePGPMBA Degree
IIM BangaloreMBA, MBA-BA, MMSPP, MBA (1 Year), MBA-Part TimeMBA Degree
IIM CalcuttaMBA, MBA-ExMBA Degree
IIM JammuPGPMBA Degree
IIM KashipurPGP, EPGPMBA Degree
IIM KozhikodePGP, EPGP (IIMK, IIMK Kochi Campus)PGDM
IIM SambalpurPGPMBA Degree
IIM SirmaurPGPMBA Degree
IIM UdaipurMBAMBA Degree
IIM VisakhapatnamPGPMBA Degree

MBA or PGDM: How should you decide
Here is how you can decide between the two:

Since it is not possible for everyone to get 99+ in CAT and be a lucky one among 200 candidates to get admission in MBA programme at FMS, Delhi, there are good MBA colleges with low fee structure in the range of 2 to 10 lakhs in Delhi, Mumbai, Pune, Bangalore, Chennai, Ahmedabad where you can pursue your MBA/PGDM. However, before moving ahead, you should also see the Return on Investment that you would get after completing your MBA.

If you visit the different B-schools’ websites, you will find certain differentiating points for each B-school and its management course. It hardly matters whether you choose one of the top MBA or PGDM colleges, but it matters whether it caters to your needs. 

Following are the key parameters to choose the right MBA college:

  1. Ranking of the B-school
  2. Legacy of the B-school
  3. Fee of the B-school
  4. Student-faculty ratio
  5. Placement record
  6. Whether the sought after MBA programme is offered by the B-school
  7. Location of the B-school

Top Reasons to choose PGDM

1. Industry oriented course structure
The course structure of PGDM is such that it is more industry-oriented as compared to MBA. Since autonomous institutes offer this course, therefore the curriculum is kept in accordance to the latest developments. Also, PGDM has a more practical approach, whereas, MBA just gives you bookish knowledge.

2. Specialization in Any Field
PGDM lets you specialize in your areas of interest. For example, if you choose to go for a specialization in Human Resource Management, then you can choose minor subjects like Marketing/ Finance/IT/Project management which gives you an edge over other candidates.

3. Preference for Higher Studies
Many reputed Business schools in India, as well as Abroad, give preference to PGDM students over MBA students. This is due to the practical insight which PGDM offers and MBA which is more theoretical lacks. Hence it gives you an advantage over other students provided it is done from a reputed institute.

4. Real-time Business World Experience
In PGDM, students are given immense exposure to the real-time business world through rigorous classroom studies, meetings with top business leaders, management internships and various other similar ways. These techniques help the students to get comfortable with the business environment and makes them job ready.

5. Better Placement Offers
Institutes with PGDM courses provide attractive placement offers since they are autonomous in nature. Whereas MBA doesn’t guarantee you a job and you have to struggle on your own for placement.

6. Experienced Faculty
In institutes offering PGDM, the teachers are more qualified as they are offered lucrative salary packages whereas in MBA colleges due to the outdated rules of universities, college makes extra efforts to bring the latest corporate learnings.

7. Job Oriented Programme
PGDM is more job oriented than MBA which helps one in getting a suitable job right after completing the course. The job opportunities are widened with a PGDM due to the added skills you learn during the course.

8. Learning Opportunities
PGDM gives more learning opportunities, Seminars and workshops are arranged. Top industry managers are called as guests for giving speeches and to motivate students. Industries also prefer autonomous institutions for campus recruitments.

9. Better Financial Aid
It is easier to get education loans if you study in an AICTE approved business school Like Best B-School in UP they are widely recognised. In private or national banks, students can easily avail loans and complete their studies without any burden.

10. Job-Related Skills
Just getting a degree won’t get you a job. What you require are the right skills. PGDM teaches you those skills. It makes your job ready for the leadership and managerial skills you learn. These skills help you in surviving the competitive corporate world with ease.

Top Reasons to choose MBA
It appears B-schools have created more confusion for students claiming tall achievements. Good MBA programmes offered by top Government or Private Universities are compatible to the best management courses offered by any B-school in India. For example MBA from FMS Delhi, IIFT, JBIMS, XIMB, NMIMS, SIBM are the most sought after management courses that have commercial orientation and the PGDM offered by other top B-schools and IIMs goes hand in hand with them.

Although both MBA and PGDM are similar in outcomes in terms of employment prospective, there are still some differences as shared below:

  1. MBA a Degree programme
    At the end of an MBA programme, students are conferred with MBA degree instead of a Post Graduate Diploma. You do not need any AIU equivalence certificate to accompany your MBA degree while to prove that you have done MBA an equivalence certificate is needed with PGDM.
  2. MBA has Global acceptability for employment
    At the international level, MBA degree is well recognized for global employment opportunities and is acceptable by all the recruiters. Top B-schools in the world offer MBA degree and not PGDM diploma. 
  3. MBA degree – requirement for higher studies abroad
    If you wish to pursue higher studies like doctoral programme abroad, it is the MBA degree that makes impact and is acceptable. Foreign universities need your MBA degree instead of diploma to offer you admission in Ph.D/Doctoral programme.
  4. MBA backed by University
    MBA degrees are awarded by Universities. There is uniformity in education, learning among all the University affiliated colleges. Besides, students do not have to exercise so much caution while opting for MBA course offered by the University or University colleges as they carry all the university related credentials as again the private PGDM colleges who sometimes may not follow the AICTE norms meticulously. 

This happens at the time of fee refund as candidates find it difficult to get their paid PGDM fee back. Since the MBA colleges are affiliated to an University and Universities are controlled by University Grants Commission (UGC), the colleges have to abide by the university norms. In addition to UGC approval, these university affiliated colleges can also get AICTE approval for their different courses.

Not only this, the same college that offers University MBA and AICTE approved PGDM has a low fee structure for MBA and higher fee structure for PGDM.  

Since, mostly government approved universities offer MBA degrees, the MBA fee structure is regulated by them even for the private MBA colleges affiliated to them. These universities offer MBA at a subsidised fee as they receive financial aid and grants from the government but since private universities have to manage on their own they have high fee structure for MBA programme like NMIMS, Symbiosis, Xavier University Bhubaneswar among others.

Choose as per your requirement
If you wish to pursue management course, you need to go by your requirements. In fact, the MBA from lower rung colleges affiliated to Government University may give you a degree but may not give you that much of skills that you can get from a highly ranked PGDM college. On the other hand, MBA from a top Government University college like FMS, JBIMS, could take you to your career heights as against a PGDM from a comparatively low ranked PGDM college.

The decision therefore has to be taken in right perspective and a balance has to be made based on all the parameters discussed above to choose the right programme and right B-school. 

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