MBA Vs PGDM : 11 Key Differences That You Must Know

  • By Christy J. Varghese
  • 5 June 2020

Aspiring managers and students in the field of management want a higher education that can provide them with tools to be on top of their career game. One fool-proof way of making it there is by pursuing a management program after graduation. But between PGDM vs MBA, which management program should you ideally pursue? Let’s find out!

India has over 5000+ B schools offering both MBA & PGDM programs. However, one dilemma faced by all students at this crossroads is ‘what is the difference between PGDM and MBA, and which course is better?’ Many factors need to be kept in mind while choosing which one is better. However, before that, you need to consider your career goals and personal interests. 

So, let us explore the difference between an MBA and PGDM together and help you decide which one’s better suited for you!

PGDM vs MBA: Understanding The Difference  

We live in an age where corporate firms are rising as great powers and entrepreneurial projects are held in high regard. All this greatly contributes to management being one of the most sought-after fields by graduates and freshers. When we choose the field of management to pursue, we are faced with two program choices, a PGDM vs MBA. Next, we rack our brains to answer these particular questions:

What is the difference between an MBA and PGDM? Why do we have two options to choose from? Is PGDM equivalent to an MBA?

MBA is a degree that can only be provided by universities or colleges affiliated with a university. For example, FMS is affiliated with Delhi University and thus, it offers an MBA. Whereas IIMs, despite being the top most colleges in the country to provide courses on management, offer a diploma as they are not affiliated to any university. Hence, they offer PGDM or PGP. Statistics show that out of every 10 management colleges, 9 offer PGDM, and only 1 offers MBA. 

Is PGDM considered a Master’s?

This answer to this is slightly complicated, so let me break it down for you. This will help you understand the main difference between PGDM and MBA. PGDM offered by these colleges is autonomous or in other words, not university-affiliated.

However, this does not mean that PGDM is less valuable than an MBA. The corporate world and industry view the MBA and PGDM courses as equivalent. It is just that PGDM is a Diploma as individual institutes can only offer PGP and MBA is a degree.  

At this point in time, many questions may arise in your mind,  some of which may include-

For a successful corporate career, which course is better, PGDM vs MBA? 

PGDM vs MBA in India, which is better?

Fear not! We are going to clear that dilemma for you in the next section. 

11 Key Differences Between PGDM Vs. MBA

Comparison can be made on various grounds between an MBA and PGDM. However, understanding the foundational level to their professional implications is a must to develop a clear mindset. Before understanding the difference between PGDM vs MBA, we should find out what an MBA is. 

An MBA stands for Master of Business Administration. This means that an MBA is a master’s degree that can only be offered by a UGC-approved university. UGC is the University Grants Commission, and all universities are listed under this. 

On the other hand,  a PGDM stands for Post Graduate Diploma in Management. This is offered by deemed institutes and colleges under the AICTE or AIU-approved list. AICTE is an acronym for All India Council for Technical Education.

MBA & PGDM Entrance Exams in India

Entrance Exams Conducting Body Mode of exam Sections Frequency
CAT (Common Admission Test) IIMs (on a rotational basis) Online Quantitative Ability (QA), Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning (DILR) and Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension (VARC) Annually
IIFT (Indian Institute of Foreign Trade) NTA (National Testing Agency) Online Logical Reasoning, English Grammar, Vocabulary and Comprehension, General Knowledge & Current Affairs, Data Interpretation and Quantitative Analysis Annually
MAT (Management Aptitude Test) AIMA (All India Management Association) Online and Offline Language Comprehension, Critical Reasoning, Data Sufficiency, Mathematical Skills, and Indian and Global Environment. Four times a year – February, May, September, and December.
GMAT (Graduate Management Aptitude Test) GMAC (Graduate Management Admission Council) Online Verbal, Quant, Analytical Writing Assessment, and Integrated Reasoning Throughout the year
SNAP (Symbiosis National Aptitude Test) Symbiosis International (Deemed) University Online English, Quant (Data Interpretation and Data Sufficiency), and Analytical and Logical Reasoning      Annually
NMAT (NMIMS Management Aptitude Test) GMAC (Graduate Management Admission Council) Online Language Skills, Quantitative Skills, and Logical Reasoning.      Annually (with the flexibility of a 75-day testing window )
CMAT (Common Management Admission Test) AICTE (All India Council for Technical Education) Online Verbal, Quant, and Logical reasoning, the exam has a General Awareness section.      Annually
XAT (Xavier Aptitude Test) Xavier School of Management (XLRI) Jamshedpur Online Verbal and Logical Ability, Decision making, Quantitative Ability, and Data Interpretation, and General Knowledge.      Annually
IRMASAT (Institute of Rural Management Anand Social Awareness Test) IRMA (Requires CAT/XAT scores too) Online Quantitative Ability, Analytical reasoning, Issue of Social concern and English Comprehension Annually

 Differences between MBA & PGDM

Criteria MBA PGDM
Full-Form Master’s in Business administration Post Graduate Diploma in Management
Approved By/ Affiliated to UGC AICTE or AIU
Curriculum Rigid, Vast & Rarely updated Specific & industry-aligned
Value of Course Master’s degree Diploma
Higher studies Can go for PhD Can go for other PGP’s
Program Offered by an institution that is affiliated to a University.  Offered by an institution that is not affiliated to any University.
Study Focus Based on developing technical skills and business knowledge. Based on Industry-specific needs & Practical skills.
Curriculum Rigid, due to an involvement of the University. Flexible & subject to change as per the colleges offering the PGDM.
Duration Two to three years One to two years
Controller of Examination University Institute itself
Job Market Both Stand Equivalent for the corporate world

Top Colleges offering MBA & PGDM

  • IIM's (Ahmedabad, Bangalore, Kolkata et al)
  • FMS Delhi
  • NMIMS Mumbai
  • Christ University
  • TISS Mumbai

PGDM vs MBA: Consider These Factors to Make the Right Choice!

There are many factors that one needs to consider when trying to find out the difference between MBA and PGDM. Some of these factors are cost, time, effort, location, job prospects & placements, ROI, etc. 

But, is PGDM or MBA better?  The answer to this is based on the difference between PGDM and MBA which will lead you to choose the one better suited for you. For instance, if you are pressed for money but not time, you could opt for an MBA, as in some cases, a PGDM may have a higher fee and a shorter duration. Like these, numerous factors play a vital role in making this choice. However, the most important factor to consider is the career path we want. 

Who Should Go For An MBA?

The people in support of an MBA  may say that it is the better choice when you have to select between an MBA vs PGDM. However, this conclusion may be based on myths more than facts. Are we saying that an MBA is equivalent to a PGDM? Not exactly. 

One fact that is missed by most of us is the value of the course. The value of an MBA degree is that it is a master’s degree, which might play a big role if you see yourself with a career in academics. If you are sure that you wish to pursue a Ph.D., following your postgraduate degree, then going for an MBA is important, as you will not be able to apply for a Ph.D. after a PGDM.

The curriculum of an MBA touches upon all the fundamentals of business administration and governing theories, leaving very little room to consider what the industry demands. An MBA curriculum will teach you all the core business theories that have helped businesses around the world survive and succeed. One may also find the MBA curriculum rigid and unrevised as all changes have to be first approved by the University Grants Commission (UGC)  As a result, changes in the syllabus may be implemented only once in 3-5 years. 

It is of utmost importance to recognize the interests and goals that will fuel your ultimate decision. In short, one might go for an MBA because:

  1. It is a master’s degree
  2. Can pursue a Ph.D. after MBA
  3. Provided by UGC accredited universities
  4. Duration is 1 or 2 years (based on the college or university’s curriculum)
  5. The curriculum is widespread and basic, touching all fundamentals of business

Who Should Choose To Do A PGDM?

PGDM or Post Graduate Diploma Program is a professional course. It teaches you the practical aspects of work by indulging in state-of-the-art learning techniques like experiential learning, case studies, vestibule training, etc.  

So is an MBA and PGDM the same in terms of the curriculum? The course contents of MBA vs PGDM may be similar, but the purpose of each is different. Many renowned institutes offer a PGDM or PGP as they are autonomous, deemed colleges. By autonomous we mean colleges that are not affiliated to any university or institute and are recognized by AICTE as technical education providers. Colleges providing a PGDM or PGP can also be accredited by the AIU (Association of Indian Universities).

A PGDM curriculum is up to date and in sync with the current demands of the industry. In short, the reasons for choosing a PGDM are:

A PGDM’s curriculum is up to date and in sync with the current demands of the industry. In short, why you should choose to do a PGDM are:

  1. It is a Diploma degree
  2. Duration might be 6 months to 2 years
  3. Provided by autonomous and nodal institutes
  4. Considered by the industry to be equivalent to MBA
  5. Allows one to gain more insight by means of specialization in a field

Which is Better an MBA or a PGDM?

A clear career path is one we can define by understanding our own capabilities and professional endeavors. The key takeaway from this is the need to visualize one’s career path. 

If we are sure about being in a particular field or are looking for a career change, we can go for a PGDM. However, if we want to learn about how businesses work or delve into the field of research or academics, an MBA may be the better choice.

So focus more on what you want, keeping in mind what is being demanded by the industry and job market. We say this because, for the world and India, an MBA and PGDM lead to the same career prospects. 

PGDM graduates have the advantage of learning through practical workspace situations and experiences. An MBA graduate follows a classroom curriculum while gaining valuable knowledge through networking amongst their students, faculty, and alumni.

We should weigh in all the aforementioned factors alongside our personal goals to bring out the best in ourselves through our professional lives. 

Also Read...

Benefits of MBA for jobs in the banking sector
MBA after B.Com
Dual specialization in MBA
MBA eligibility in India?
Criteria for placement after MBA
Frequently asked MBA interview questions
Top MBA Colleges in Indore
Why MBA after engineering?
IIFT Admit Card

PGDM vs MBA FAQs

What is the difference between PGDM & PGP?

PGDM is the short form for Post Graduate Diploma in Management and PGP stands for Post Graduate Programs. So, as the name suggests, PGDM is a specific management program that falls under PGP’s. A college or institute may be offering many programs under their PGP’s.

What is the difference in the syllabus & course structure between MBA & PGDM?

The syllabus of an MBA is found to be more rigid and rarely updated as all changes need to be approved by the UGC first, which is a long process. This results in the syllabus being changed only once in 3 to 5 years. 
Whereas, in PGDM, the course syllabus is found to be more flexible which is frequently updated according to the industry needs & job requirements.

What program should I choose if I want to make a career in academics?

If you aim for a Ph.D., or to become a  professor of management education, going for an MBA is the right choice. Since it is a master’s degree, you will be able to go for a Ph.D. after.

Which course is better to make a career in the corporate world?

Students who want to enhance their job readiness and employability skills for a better corporate career, have a desire to engage in jobs in MNCs, or wish to start their enterprise without investing a lot of time into studying management, should opt for a PGDM.

What entrance exams would one need to qualify to study PGDM?

For an MBA there are various level management entrance exams like CAT, XAT, MAT, and a few state and university level exams too. However, these exams can be used for admission into both programs. But the final decision lies with the universities offering the said programs.

In the corporate world, is there any preference given to either an MBA or a PGDM graduate?

Corporate firms make it a point to recognize talents that come from both these programs. Additionally, they remain more interested in brilliant students, and brands instead of paying much heed to an MBA or PGDM degree.

Which degree will give a higher-paying career, PGDM or MBA?

Candidates should understand that a degree does not determine their competence in the corporate sector. The vital thing to consider is the choice of institution whether an aspirant is opting for an MBA or a PGDM. The remuneration is based on the individual’s skills and capabilities, how they perform in their field, and their overall personality is assessed by the management.

MBA or PGDM, which has more value?

PGDM graduates have the advantage of learning through practical workspace situations and experiences. An MBA graduate follows a classroom curriculum while gaining valuable knowledge through networking amongst their students, faculty, and alumni. If you are to assess the value of the two courses in the present world which demands practical workspace experience, a PGDM course may be better suited for you.

MBA vs PGDM salary.

The average salary for an MBA degree comes out to be around INR 21.3 lacs, and that for PGDM is INR 12.96 lacs. When the average fees are compared, for an MBA college, it is about INR 16.5 lacs, and that for a PGDM course is INR 15.38 lacs.

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