MBA degree v/s PGDM course: Which one should I choose?

Apr 17, 2019 15:27 IST
6 Key Differences between an MBA degree and A PGDM course

MBA degree v/s PGDM course is one burning question which often complicates the decision-making power of the candidates. This happens because candidates are not aware about the similarities and differences between the two courses. In India, the brand IIM confreres PGDM degree where as institutes like FMS Delhi confreres MBA degree.

So, why is there a difference in the name when the course curriculum is designed on the similar pattern? Why IIMs do not offer an MBA degree but only a diploma in Management? This fact often comes not only as a surprise to students but also leads to a lot of confusion among them. Thus, to help candidates make a better and informed choice we have listed in this article the 6 key differences between an MBA degree v/s PGDM course.

Read on to find out what sets an MBA degree apart from the PGDM Course:


As far as management education in India is concerned, there are two basic types of management courses available i.e. MBA and PDGM. While these two terms are used interchangeably by students and even B-schools, there is a vast different among them as far as the certificate they offer. MBA translates to Master in Business Administration, which is a degree course, whereas PDGM stands for Post Graduate Diploma in Management, which as the name clearly mentions is a diploma programme.

Type of Institute

Now, coming to the more important point, if the courses are concerned with management education, then why the difference in name. This is because, under the current education system, only university or institutions affiliated with universities have the power to award Degree certificates. Therefore MBA Degrees can only be awarded by Universities for their affiliated institutions. On the other hand, PGDM which is a diploma course can be awarded by autonomous institutions that are registered with AICTE (All India Council for Technical Education).

Taking this into the real world context, FMS (Faculty of Management Science) which is an affiliate of Delhi University can award an MBA Degree, but IIMs which work as autonomous bodies can only award Post Graduate level Diploma Programmes i.e. PGDM. However, with the IIM Bill being introduced in the Parliament, there is very high likelihood that even IIMs and other top B-schools mentioned in the Bill will be given the power to award Degree certificates for MBA. But, that is still in future, until then, you must remember this basic difference between MBA degree and PDGM diploma.

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Course Duration

Now, like every degree course, MBA programmes offered generally by Universities or Colleges are of three years, on the other hand, the PDGM programmes are of two years duration. Although, there is no such fixed rule which determines the course duration and many MBA degree programmes are also curtailed to 2-year duration to keep it more aligned with industry requirements. But the general rule of thumb is, MBA Degree = 3-Years course duration, whereas PDGM = 2-years course duration.

Academic Orientation

Moving away from the technical stuff, another interesting differentiator between MBA degree and PGDM diploma is the academic orientation of the programmes. As stated above, MBA degrees are generally awarded and governed by Universities, which are managed by UGC. Therefore, like all major universities the syllabus and the academic orientation of the programmes, both are managed by the university. This means that the syllabus is not that easily upgraded and even the academic orientation is more theoretical in nature.

On the other hand, PDGM programmes are offered by independent B-schools and institutions which set their syllabus. This gives them the opportunity to align their teaching pedagogy to the more contemporary model that is suited to the current economic scenario in the country. Simply put, PDGM programmes are more practical and contemporary in nature, whereas MBA degrees are more theoretical and focus on traditional business practices and models.

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Another major differentiator between the two is the affordability factor. Generally speaking, because MBA degrees are offered by universities (mostly by-state funded universities) the fees for such academic programmes is relatively lower as compared, as education is subsidized by the government. But, this might not hold true completely when it comes to private universities or deemed universities.

On the contrary, PDGM diplomas are offered by completely autonomous institutions like IIMs and NMIMS, and therefore the courses are priced much higher, comparatively. Also, as the government doesn’t hold any administrative rights over such institutions, the fee is not at all regulation and is generally determined on the basis of market forces.

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Entrance Exam

Finally, coming to the screening process which is followed to join these management programmes! Generally, MBA degree programmes are offered by universities and therefore the admission is given on the basis of a state or university level entrance tests. The reach and scope of these university-level tests are limited and MBA aspirants can only seek admission to one university or colleges affiliated to that university through the entrance test. For instance, XLRI organizes their own MBA entrance test i.e. XAT exam and thereafter conducts separate admission screening process to shortlist students for admission.

But, when it comes to PDGM programmes, especially in top MBA colleges in India, candidates have to undergo a national level MBA entrance exam like CAT or MAT, which is highly competitive in nature. In addition to this, the score/percentile/rank obtained in these national level exams are often valid for admission to many other B-schools across India. For instance, CAT score is generally accepted by almost all major B-schools in India for shortlisting of candidates.

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These are just a few of the core basic differences between MBA Degree and PDGM diploma programmes on offer in India today. While each one has its own merits and demerits, when it comes to picking the right one, it generally depends upon the priorities and preferences of the candidates. So, if you are planning to take up management education in near future, you must consider these factors and differences between MBA and PDGM before taking a final call.

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