Which is better? MBA or PGDM

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What is the difference between MBA and PGDM, which is better and which of them has a greater number of career opportunities, are some of the questions that Management aspirants seek to get answered. 

MBA and PGDM are both business and management-oriented courses. The main aim of these courses is to equip a person who wants a boost in their career, most in-demand and needed a set of skills and experience.

While both the courses have the same prospective employments, there is still a difference between the two. 

The foremost difference between the two is that PGDM as the name suggests (Post Graduate Diploma in Management) is a diploma course, whereas MBA (Master’s in Business Administration) is a professional degree program.

Incidentally, many people have a conception that the market value of PGDM is not at par with that of its MBA counterpart. However, this notion is not accurate.

The degree programs like MBA are generally conducted by Universities and institutes affiliated to those Universities.

PGDM courses, on the contrary, is conducted by those colleges and institutes that are autonomous and are approved by AICTE (All India Council of Technical Education) and Ministry of HRD Government of India. 

In fact, currently even IIM’s, the most prestigious Business and Management Institutions of or country provide Diploma courses widely over a degree course.

Along with approval from AICTE and MHRD, the MBA course providing organizations needs to get approval from UGC as well.

MBA courses are generally 2 years long in duration. On the other hand, PGDM courses are quite flexible, as they are provided by autonomous institutes, their duration can vary from 1 to 2 years.

Moreover, the course curriculum for MBA courses is very unlikely to change as the institute cannot elementarily add or remove an elective without proper consent to the affiliated university.

PGDM course can introduce new and innovative changes to the curriculum to make education more effective.

Talking more about the focusses and practices, MBA courses focus more on developing the business and technical knowledge of a student.

Here students develop theoretical concepts that are essential in the business and management industry.

PGDM courses focus on preparing students for hands-on experience in real-life scenarios so as to train them for finding the most feasible solutions.

Since PGDM courses are offered by independent autonomous institutes, students need to take extra care while choosing the right college, making sure that college has right accreditations, as many institutes make false claims and don not have proper affiliations, rendering the program almost useless. These courses focus on skill-based learning based on market requirements.

Entrance examinations for PGDM include popular national level entrance tests like CAT/GMAT/ATMA/MAT and XAT exams.

The admissions in MBA courses are given on the basis of these exams as well as on the basis of state-level or university level entrance tests.

It has been observed over the few years that the ost of MBA degree courses is subsequently less than that of corresponding PGDM counterparts.

This is mainly due to the nature of the parent organizations affiliated to the institute. State or Central Government Funded universities generally have lower costs in comparison to autonomous institute bodies that have a different fee structure altogether.

However, being two different courses, theses programs have equal acceptance rates in the world market. The PGDM degree is equivalent to an MBA degree from a government recognized university or college.

The examinations under an MBA degree are conducted by the university and remain consistent throughout the course. The exams in PGDM programs are conducted by AICTE and are sometimes subject to change, depending upon the changing norms and supervision of AICTE.

Another plus point in opting for an MBA degree course over PGDM is that the candidate can specialize in more than one subject at a time. In PGDM, candidates are required to choose certain electives and then stick to it for the duration of the course.

If we talk about the impact of the course on our career, in purely Indian context, there is NO DIFFERENCE when it comes to hoe organizations and industry treats PGDM and MBA graduates. This is in fact a testimony to the fact that virtually, there is no difference in the two programs.

However, if we talk with respect to higher education, yes there is a difference between an MBA and a PGDM program. Having a certified MBA degree will help you moreover a Diploma course such as PGDM/PGPM.

Though the difference is minuscule when it comes to the admission criteria or evaluation of your admission form, MBA does give you an edge in front of the admin panel, being an internationally recognized university degree course.

So if you are not looking for higher studies, that is opting for a post-doctorate course or a Ph.D., then there is virtually no difference between the two.

Areas of Focus of the Courses

The MBA degree course focuses more on theoretical knowledge along with industry practices that make perfect professionals ready to handle complex situations in the market.

The syllabus of an MBA degree course is finalized by the affiliated University, and hence has a very good scope and does not revolve around only bookish knowledge.

In a PGDM course, Training and Teaching are multidimensional, they go on hand in hand. The course structure is a lot more flexible, as the institutes are formally delivered as autonomous bodies, can make their own set of rules under the norms registered by AICTE or other affiliation governing body, and thus can introduce a more modern approach towards problem-solving and creative thinking.

This makes the learning process much more fun and latest trend-oriented for students, and thus helps them to practice in the real scenarios, preparing them for the hurdles out in the real world.

Both courses are designed to provide complete knowledge to students and prepare them to be hired by firms. The aim of providing managerial education remains the same, to produce better industry professionals.

There may be a slight difference between the methodologies and written operating procedures in the programs, but the result and the vision are nearly the same.

Indian Context

In the purely indigenous Indian context, there is no difference between the value of each course. Both of them are postgraduate courses. Both of them are being currently provided by some of the most reputed colleges and institutes if our country.

Both of them have nearly the same duration, generally 2 years. However, the PGDM courses can be flexible and hence a little shorter in length.

But, according to the Business India survey in 2018, every 9 out of 10 B School developed after 2000, offer PGDM over the MBA course.

There are several reasons for it as the PGDM course is more structurally flexible, allowing for greater changes and improvements in teaching methods.

Career growth and opportunities are the same for both. In-fat, the career growth is dependent on the individual’s skill and knowledge, and not on the degree itself.

Starting Packages and work placements are dependent on Students caliber, vast alumni network, and collage brand value rather on the name of the course.

Global Context

From a job perspective, even outside India, there is no significant difference between the two programs, especially if you are coming from a reputed Business School like IIM, etc. According to Forbe’s survey 2018 about Hiring Candidates for Managerial scores, more than 91 percent of recruiters said that along with the academic qualification, a candidate’s industry approach towards problem solving and creative thinking is judged while providing a work placement. 

Outside India, the brand image of the institute or the university, the vast alumni network, and most importantly, the skills of the candidate play a much more pivotal role in acing an interview, over the minuscule difference between the two courses. 

The purpose of both courses is to help the candidate achieve a higher understanding of managerial subjects like finance, Human Resource Management, Information system management, Data Analytics, Business Analytic Management, and other electives.

Institutes and universities of both the categories, have a motive to produce great industry ready professionals to continue developing the growing industry.

If a candidate is pursuing a Master’s course from outside India, it is highly unlikely that he/she will encounter a PGDM course. The universities in USA/Europe, generally provide a fully-fledged MBA degree course. The MBA courses were first originated in the US.

The Management Courses outside are more theoretically sound and are generally longer in duration. For research opportunities as well, having an MBA degree is preferred over a diploma program certificate.

Colleges/Universities offering these courses

There are many prestigious institutes and universities of India offering both the types of courses. 

Some of the more popular ones offering PGDM courses are:

  • IIMs (all Indian Insitute of Management)
  • XLRI  Xavier School of Management Jamshedpur 
  • SP Jain Institute of Management, located in Mumbai
  • NMIMS Hyderabad

Some of the popular universities offering MBA courses are:

  • Faculty of Management Studies, University of Delhi
  • Symbiosis Institute of Business Management Bangalore
  • NMIMS Narsee Monjee Institute of Management Studies Mumbai
  • IIFT Indian Institute of Foreign Trade Karnataka
  • IMNU Institute of Management, Nirma University


It is very important to clearly understand the difference between both the courses before the candidates apply for either of the two. Also, candidates are advised to surely go through the college and program details carefully before applying.

While preparing for entrance exams like CAT and GMAT, candidates should ensure to put in the best of efforts to secure a good rank. Though rank in the exams is not the sole criteria for admission in the institutes, it plays a vital role in setting up the academic credibility of the candidate.

Apart from academics, candidates need also to perform well in written aptitude tests and personal interview rounds to secure a seat in their dream colleges and kickstart their careers.  The candidates should clear one thing that though both the courses have different names, their value in the industry is almost the same.

The better work placement and working environment are only subject to an individual’s knowledge and hard work one has put in to get admission in a good B school.

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