PGDBA Insights From The Inaugural Batch – IIM Calcutta, ISI Kolkata & IIT Kharagpur

PGDBA stands for Post Graduate Diploma in Business Analytics (PGDBA website), probably the first two years full time course in India, jointly offered by Indian Institute of Management, Calcutta, Indian Statistical Institute and Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur. On behalf of the inaugural batch, it is a responsibility to introduce the course to aspirants out there, who are really excited about this course and are planning to join. In recent days, we received a surge of queries ranging from scope of this course to placement opportunities. We feel it a high time to formally contribute to a Q&A article for interested people. 

What is PDGBA? What does this course offer? 
PGDBA started with a philosophy that data is the new oil in this century. With an abundance of data, driving a business successfully and effectively is the trickiest part. For your information, McKinsey & Company estimates that big data could create $300 billion in value in healthcare alone each year; clever use of location data across industries could capture $600 billion in consumer surplus. Conversely, poor data management can cost up to 35% of a business’s operating revenue, according to a research from A.T Kearney. While the possibility and ability to capture and store the ocean of data has grown up staggeringly, but the right use of techniques to extract ‘information’ from these data sets has been slower steadily, and there continues to be a worrying skills shortage across all sectors. More specifically saying, crunching data to generate necessary business insights requires strong hold on Statistics, Technology and Business at once. The requirement is so rare that industry hardly sees individuals having all of these three crucial skills in domain of business analytics. To cater to this need, PGDBA has been built based on three pillars: Math and Statistics, Technology and Business, as clear from the expertise of parenting institutes. This course offers four semester with an introductory pre-semester. It is true that two years is not enough to generate data scientists for any course and one can hardly scratch the surface of Machine learning and Data mining, but the unique combination of this course makes it distinctive which unravels unbound opportunities to the participants: Financial analysis, Consultancy, PhD in Machine Learning, R&D, entrepreneurship to build data-driven startups…you name it!  
How this course is different from MBA or regular PGDM course?
As the name suggests, this is not a course for Business Administration. PGDBA is a specialized course which deals with knowledge of mathematics, knowledge of computer science and most importantly knowledge of business. Pre-semester in IIM-Calcutta introduces students with basics of Corporate Finance, Marketing management, Organisational behavior and importance of business analytics to achieve competitive advantage. The whole pre-semester is stuffed with handful of case studies, quizzes, presentations to give a feel of different domains in Business. The first semester in ISI deals with five important subjects related to statistics namely Probability and Stochastic Process, Statistical structures in Data(SSID), Inference, Computing for Data Science and Database Management. Stochastic process course introduces students to Markov chains, theory of Random sampling and a glance of Time series. SSID starts with univariate analysis and ends with discussing multivariate analysis in detail. Multivariate hypothesis testing, Principal Component Analysis, Factor Analysis, Multivariate regression are taught in this course which are essential for data interpretation, data modelling and testing hypotheses in any Business Analytics project. Inference course deals with data visualization, hypotheses testing and data simulation. Database Management has basics of data management, SQL and necessary introduction to parallel and distributed data cluster management. Computing data science course is a course which gives you the feel of the full breadth of machine learning algorithms which are regularly and religiously applied in Business analytics. The course in ISI has been designed in such a way that at every moment one can connect one subject to another. On top of it, the knowledge of different domains of business, gathered in IIM-C helps to get a big picture of the applicability of various machine learning and statistical learning techniques in the domain of business. Being a participant of the inaugural batch, I can give a glance of what we were able to deliver after the first semester. We have completed 13 separate projects on the topics of Business analytics where project problems were from Kaggle competitions, competitions held by Xerox, Musigma, ZS associates and few projects were based on independent thoughts as well. Here is the course website for ‘Computing for data sciences’ course for this fall (2015): PGDBA_CDS_2015
For upcoming IIT semester and IIM-C semester, the syllabus has been already updated in PGDBA website. Since the article is written based on experience of first batch, I’m skipping those parts. FYI, we have just finished our first semester at ISI and heading towards the second semester in IIT-KGP.
The above discussion sums up many ideas, including the important one that how this course is different from regular PGDM.
What is the view of Industry about this course? 
The most interesting part of this course is its fourth pillar. Industry. As the articles from conclave suggests, this course has been desigen based on the need of Industry, just not to create another flagship program from three top institutes. As far as we have interacted with Industry people, they are keen about this course as this course offers individuals having three important skills at a time. Like the philosophy of data-driven analytics, this course also in a feedback loop which takes continuous feedback from industry people about the course content: What to be done, what is not important etc. This makes the course unique since the direct interaction from industry people is rare in other regular question when you have instructors in PGDBA who are directly connecting from industry and are serving the required knowledge to drive business using data. They have promised to conduct workshops on some specific topics which are very important namely Hadoop, JDBC, Tableau etc in coming days. Among them, American Express has already conducted a workshop at the time of pre-semester. There is a surging interest among companies from various domain: from banks to e-Commerce, Consulting firms to IT Giants. Here goes the list those who came to interact with students as a part of orientation program:
LatentView, American Express, Microsoft, TCS, IBM, SBI, SAS, Deloitte, Flipkart, Reliance, Xerox, BPCL, Ideal Analytics, ARW.
Moreover, as the Chairman of this program informed that there are handful of other companies which have shown keen interest about the course (not disclosing the names, but these are the biggest e-commerce, I-Banks and Consulting firms).
What is the admission procedure for this course?
As the course website suggests, a written test will be held on February 14, 2016, to shortlist candidates for personal interviews. Candidates shortlisted after the written test will be called for personal interview to be held in March, 2016. The final offer would be made on the basis of performance in the written test, personal interview, work experience, and academic background.
Breaking the procedure into parts to discuss in depth, the written exam is the new criteria they have introduced this year. In previous year, Five qualifying examination including CAT, GRE were there to shortlist candidates but this year the creteria has been changed.
Entrance examination:
There was a written exam on the day of interview in previous year, that was in small scale. 10 question were there, all from plus two level mathematics. This year aspirants may expect questions more in number, though we are not sure about the exact format of the exam. Based on previous year questions and implicit requirements of this course, it seems likely that the standard of the mathematics of the test would be in the level of AIEEE with an emphasis on combinatorics, probability, algebra. It shouldn’t be assumed that other sections like trigonometry, coordinate geometry, calculus are not important. Last year, there were tricky questions from these later sections and it can be safely assumed that this year also, they will test these abilities of an aspirant. There is no such guideline for preparation for this entrance exam, but a good preparation on any good plus two books (AIEEE standard) with medium difficulty should be effective for the exam. For VA and LR section of this exam, you can expect questions similar to CAT questions. We are not sure about these section though, since last time they did not ask any question from these sections.   
As long as you can clear your entrance examination, you can expect a call for interview. A panel of three (mostly) will consists of experts from all three parenting institutes. Questions from Statistics (Distribution, Central tendency, Measures of spread, Moments) are obvious in interview as they will grill your knowledge of statistics in every way. You can also expect your domain related questions. Puzzles, mathematical puzzles, counting, combinatorics, probability are probable topics of questions. They might ask questions from basic of machine learning to check your understanding. A probable question would be: “What is the difference between clustering and classification?” Having specific interest towards economics, computer science algorithms, game theory, any business domain related knowledge like marketing, Finance will help a candidate if s/he can answer question from these topics properly. Individual profile would matter a lot in interview, and having good academic credentials will help candidate to secure a good position in interview. Related work experience will matter a lot as they will prefer professionals having experience in this field of analytics or at least in related field. A final suggestion for interview would be to have a proper well defined motivation for joining this course. Specifically saying, the motivation for joining for regular PGDM and same for PGDBA are completely different. One should keep that in mind while appearing for interview.
What is the ROI of this course where course fee is as high (16.2 L) as regular PGDM? 
The concern is obvious for every aspirants but as discussed there are several companies waiting for hiring students for internship and full placements. Since the course is a bit technical, and if one can sail through and come out with flying colors, placement is not an issue. Moreover, there are 51 odd students in first batch, and there will be maximum 60 students in coming batch, hence you can expect good placement if you do good in the course. As an insider, we see a very bright prospect of this course, considering the uptake of analytics in companies. PGDBA being the only full-time residential program (of such stature), demand is going to be very high and the hopes are as well. We, along with our professors, coordinators and chairman of this course are quite confident about decent placements. The progress of this course so far makes us believe that placements and internships are going to be no less than regular PGDM or any other Masters course at any of the three institutes. Lastly, for your information, this year, in 2015, IIM-A,B,C has seen an increase of internship offers in the domain of analytics from 6 to 14% which is the highest among all other domains.
What implicit and explicit characteristics do you need to be successful in this course?
This answer will conclude this article. To be succesful in this course, you should have a good understanding of mathematics, statistics, an exposure to programming languages and an analytical mindset. Implicitly, you should have an eagerness to learn. This course is rigorous so it is evident that people those who are interested in Business analytics or crunching data, or mathematics or any field of computing and most importantly have business sense to drive an organisation would be the best fit to this course.
On behalf of the inaugural batch, we wish best of luck to all aspirants those who are appearing for written test in February. Our batch is eagerly waiting for a superb batch of juniors!  
For any admission related query, contact: 
Mr. A.K. Ramtake, PGDBA office Vinod Gupta School of Management Indian Institute of Technology Kharagpur Kharagpur 721302 Email: Phone: 03222-282312
For any other queries, you may drop a mail at:
You can also message in our Facebook page: PGDBA Facebook Page
Link for important dates: Important dates



Srishti Sawla

I want to give the written exam for 2017-2019 batch.Please guide me how to prepare.Would there be a separate exam conducted or should i prepare for CAT.Please help