The Big question – MBA or PGDM?

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After several years of working in the education industry and interacting with students from nook and corner of India, I have come across a common dilemma that pops up in the mind of aspiring managers i.e. to decide between MBA and PGDM – two of the major management courses offered in India.

The face of management education has changed astonishingly in the recent past. The ubiquitous influence of technology in each and every sphere of life is unavoidable and education sector has also not been left untouched by it. Also, it’s highly recommended to go with the trend, adapt and upgrade constantly to do away with the fear of becoming obsolete as also to prove oneself as a go-getter.  

Now, more than ever, is the time to practice the concept of learn, unlearn and relearn. We need to understand that in today’s glocal (global + local) scenario, where the competition is as sharp as a razor blade, one has to be in sync with the changing face of world. The things which were good enough 5 years ago are of no use today; therefore before taking one of the most important decisions in the professional life of a person it’s necessary to choose the right stepping stone.

A student is no longer ready to follow any fad blindly but he/she makes a very calculative investment that can catapult their career to new heights. This article sheds some light on the comparison between the two management courses available in India – MBA and PGDM, in lieu of technical aspects and market dynamics.

MBA which is for Master of Business Administration, is a Post Graduate Degree in Management. PGDM stands for Post Graduate Diploma in Management. The main difference is that MBA is a degree programme conducted by Universities and by the colleges affiliated to those Universities. The diploma programme, i.e., PGDM is the course that is conducted by those autonomous institutes that are recognized by the AICTE approved by the Ministry of HRD and Government of India. As of now, top B schools of India like the IIMs offer a Diploma course and not degree.  

Course curriculum
The PGDM course curriculum is updated very frequently and designed as per the needs and dynamic market scenarios.  The curriculum is kept in tandem with the emerging trends to train the budding managers as a proper fit in this rapidly changing business environment. Whereas in case of MBA the course curriculum is updated after every 5-10 years (depending on the university); therefore, its very rigid. PGDM is more concerned with the veracity of the field. You should know that corporates always have a penchant for practical know-how over theory. In case of government jobs also, PGDM is considered equivalent to MBA.

Dynamic or Static Pedagogy
MBA is more of a Static learning program, which operate more like a one-way street: they deliver course content without understanding the needs of the individual learner. This type of learning program offers the benefit of enabling you to deliver a lot of information, but the passive nature of this delivery may also contribute to low retention rates. Static programs can be boring for some learners, causing them to quickly lose interest in the learning material. Most importantly, the average human attention span is quickly decreasing, thus pushing the course designers to take the dynamic learning route.

PGDM on the other hand practices Dynamic learning mode. Dynamic learning programs are interactive and include tasks that involve a high-level of learner engagement, and the use of multiple learning mediums. Various tools like smart classrooms, vestibule training, simulations, language labs, technical training on trends like IOT, big data analytics and digital marketing constitute the pedagogy of a PGDM program.

Such activities contribute to the overall development of an individual, taking the focus away from course grades, and moving it to acquiring new skills. 

The customizations involved in this mode of learning helps course instructors deliver personalized learning experiences to students. Personalized learning sets the student up for success, as it takes their strength and weaknesses into account. Dynamic learning is quickly transforming the way educators design courses, with more emphasis on student needs and delivering blended learning experiences to the different types of learners. 

Global and Domestic Job market
As mentioned above, the content of a well designed PGDM program gives an extra edge to the students in terms of hands-on experience with the emerging trends in the market through dynamic learning and skill enhancement courses. The strong focus on personal grooming, imbibing business etiquette, communication trainings and various technical electives makes the students ready to rise in the corporate world with their skills all polished.

When it comes to applying for public sector or government jobs, a degree or diploma doesn’t matter in current times. Both the courses are valued equally in terms of job prospects. Even if a person is going for a management course after some corporate experience for better career prospects or promotion, then PGDM is a better option due to flexible and updated structure.

In case a person wants to pursue higher studies after such courses, like PhD then in the entrance procedures and selection process an MBA is more preferred as compared to PGDM. But if an individual has no such plans, they can opt for any of the courses according to their requirements.

Industry Interface and Alumni network
In terms of industry interface and alumni network there is no major difference in these two courses as it is the pursuit of the college hosting the course; so no generalisation can be done. But due to more practical design and flexible structure of a PGDM course the industry interface is quite well established. Also live projects, summer internships and industrial visits facilitate good exposure to the “live” working of the corporate sector.

As far as alumni network is concerned, that totally depends on the legacy of the college. Nowadays each and every college tries to maintain a strong alumni network in order to smoothen the placements and summer internships of their students.

Personality development and grooming
Personality is an aggregate of an individual’s professional and personal capabilities encompassing skills of communication, leadership, confidence, decision making and an attitude to bring positive approach to challenges facing the corporate working.

Corporate Grooming is aimed at providing an edge for achieving success in the corporate environment through imbibing desirable professional etiquettes, interpersonal skills and overall corporate awareness so that one’s acceptability in the professional environment is enhanced.

Mostly MBA programs focus on developing the subject matter expertise of the students and not much attention in given to grooming. Due to rigid curriculum,  personal attention to distinguished need of students may not be possible in MBA. Whereas in a PGDM course the focus is equally distributed between the subject expertise and personality development of the students. Polishing their professional and academic skills is the agenda of such programs.

Industry oriented PGDM courses help the candidates spruce up their overall personality and perk up their communication skills which is an imperative prerequisite in this globalized era. The Personality Development Programme also covers multifarious abilities like Presentation skills, Public speaking, Interpersonal skills, Team skills, Time management, Business etiquette, Social grace etc., which help to enhance the Soft Skills of the students, thereby improving their career prospects. The students go through an extensive Personality Development Programme in PGDM which lays emphasis on the holistic development of the student hence preparing skilful and professional communicators to cater to the dynamic requirements of the business community.

Due to the above discussed features in terms of overall grooming orthodox MBA programs don’t stand quite up in front of tailored PGDM courses.

Going through the most important parameters that differentiate these two programs in the current scenario of dynamically changing world, one must go for a course that changes as constantly as the economy and business around them. I hope the above given account is enough to help students and parents make an informed and researched decision.

As rightly quoted by Sir Winston Churchill “to improve is to change, to be perfect is to change often”.

Dr. Swati Jha
Assistant Professor
IMM Delhi

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