The Executive Conundrum – The Rise Of One Year MBA

The two-year PGP (post graduate program in management), the flagship program at all IIMs, is the dream for a number of MBA aspirants in India. Now, the completion of this or a similar two-year course from another institute does not technically lead to the award of an MBA degree.  International accreditation organisation such as the Association of MBAs (AMBA) require students of MBA to have relevant average work experience of five years (a minimum of three). In contrast, work experience is not a pre-requisite when one  applies for PGP courses, hence technically it cannot be labelled as an MBA course. In fact, accreditation organisations consider PGP as an equivalent of MBM – Masters in Business and Management. This notwithstanding, when it comes to higher education in management, the PGP program provides an excellent platform to fresh undergrads from various disciplines and has churned out some great business minds over the years.

For experienced professionals though, the creation of the Indian School of Business (ISB) in the year 2001, did not only open doors to new opportunities but also brought a shift in the mindset. The flagship program of ISB lasts for one year and requires more work experience for admission – the minimum is two years; the class average usually being five years. Six years after the inception of ISB, the IIMs established their own one-year programs – the first of these being the PGPX at IIMA in 2007, closely followed by the introduction of EPGP at IIMB. Eventually, the one-year full-time MBA was introduced at all the IIMs, existing as well as new.

So one must wonder, why this paradigm shift from the traditional route of taking up a two-year PGP course, that is not only well established but is also highly recognised amongst  Indian recruiters? To answer this question, let’s talk about the features and potential benefits of a one-year MBA program in India for experienced professionals.

First, the original mission statement of an MBA, as defined by the Association of MBAs is“…to enhance and develop previous relevant experience…” By emphasising and mandating a minimum amount of work experience, the one year MBA programs offered by the premier Indian institutes such as the IIMs, ISB, XLRI etc. ensure that a candidate has gained perspective by exploring their interests before they plunge into the MBA challenge. Hence, this program makes sure the individual has had the time to discover oneself, before he/she decides to manage others.

Secondly, apart from the traditional classroom teachings, the peer learning potential is arguably the biggest component of these programs. In his book ‘The Idea of a University’, John Henry Newman says “…If then a practical end must be assigned to a University course, I say it is that of training good members of society… It is the education which gives a man a clear, conscious view of their own opinions and judgements, a truth in developing them, eloquence in expressing them…” Imagine the collective corporate wisdom and life experience of a class full of people who would have seen multiple years of work life! For instance, the PGPX class of 2016 at IIM Udaipur has class strength of 18 and a total of 105 years of candidate work experience.

Thirdly, compared to a two-year course, one definitely saves on a year’s worth of post qualification salary and also gets to resume work faster. Hence economically speaking, the opportunity cost of this program is almost half, as compared to a two-year course.

Fourthly, the international immersion component of this program, especially at the IIMs. This part of the course helps  students develop a more holistic view and practice of cultural sensitivity within the global business environment. The world is constantly becoming a smaller place and within the current multi-national business structure, global knowledge and sustainability has become paramount. Thus, such an exposure certainly adds great value to the profile of an MBA graduate.

Last but not the least, compared to the one-year MBA programs offered at the top-notch business schools in Europe, North-America, Singapore etc., the cost of a similar course in India is almost half, while the course curriculum and the quality of faculty are on par with the best B-schools in the world.

No one can deny the numerous strengths and benefits of the two-year PGP course in India. For a graduate student fresh out of college, it is undeniably one of the best routes to a business management career. That being said, for experienced professionals, the one-year course has opened a whole plethora of possibilities and with the introduction and evolution of the one-year MBA program in India, it seems like the Indian B-Schools are ready to take on their global counterparts.


**Published on behalf of Media & Industry Interaction Cell, IIM Udaipur.




About the Author:

Sahil Garg is a graduate from the University of Surrey (U.K.) and is currently pursuing his one year MBA (with specialisation in Supply Chain Management) from IIM Udaipur. Prior to taking up the MBA course, he worked within the supply chain & operations function of the world’s largest drinks maker Diageo for more than 4 years. He believes in the theory of ‘Less is more’.