MBA or PGDM? Degree v/s Diploma

It has been observed that a lot of students who aspire to do a PG programme in management get confused when some institutions offer them post graduate diploma while others promise to give them MBA degree. They fail to distinguish between the two. The situation gets further complicated when many institutions offering PG diploma further state that it is equivalent to MBA degree. It is not clear what do they mean by the term ‘equivalent’. The students and their parents, therefore, face the difficulty to choosing between a diploma or a degree. This articles aims at clearing the confusion surrounding this issue.

In India, in our statutory set up of higher education system, a degree can be awarded only by a university which is recognized by the University Grants Commission. There are four types of universities in India namely central universities, state universities, deemed universities and private self financing universities. Some universities have the authority to affiliate colleges / institutes to it. The students studying in these affiliate institutes are also awarded degree by the affiliating university. For example, if a college in Delhi is affiliated to the Delhi University, its students will get degree awarded by university of Delhi, if an institute is affiliated to IPU its PG students in management will get MBA degree by GGSIPU. In the field of management education in India, the lead was taken by the Indian Institutes of Management popularly called the IIMs. In various surveys IIM Ahmedabad invariably ranks the top management institute in India. However, please note that the IIMs did not have till recently university status, therefore, the IIMs could not award MBA degree so what they gave is PGDM. Apart from IIMs, the regulator of technical education in India i.e. All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) had also given approval to many institutions from 1990 onwards. These institutes were given the authority to conduct their autonomous PGDM programe without having any university affiliation. These autonomous institutes also therefore awarded Post Graduate Diploma in Management not degrees. This is the status as far as the statutory difference between degree and diploma is concerned.

Let us now address the next issue. In practice as far as the employers from the corporate world are concerned, they are least concerned with the question whether a student has done a diploma or a degree. Various rankings of B Schools are also done not on the basis of degree or diploma but on the basis of their reputation, quality and placement record. You should not be surprised to find that among the top B Schools of India, a large majority of them are those who offer diploma and not a degree.

Many times either out of a conservative approach or traditional thinking, parents prefer a degree more than a diploma. This may be true for traditional subjects like economics, english, political science etc. This issue has also been addressed by many institutes offering diploma. In India, there is a statutory body named Association of Indian Universities (AIU) which has been entrusted with the power of granting equivalence status to any diploma or degree awarded by any institute outside the Indian university system. Some of the AICTE approved autonomous institutes have obtained the MBA equivalence status for their PGDM Programme. In such cases the diploma awarded by these institutes is at par with MBA degree in all respects. A diploma without an MBA equivalence does not allow a student to pursue a career in teaching or enrolment to a Ph.D programme. A masters degree is a must for these. However, in case of those institutes whose diploma has been awarded equivalence to MBA degree, they are eligible to teaching post and Ph.D enrolment. It has been further observed that since an MBA degree is awarded by a university its fee structure is regulated by the state and in most of the cases it is much lower than the fee charged by AICTE approved autonomous institutes offering post graduate programmes; So for those students whose objective is just to acquire a PG qualification in management an MBA degree is a cheaper option than a diploma. However, it has been observed that barring a few isolated instances the placement reocrd of autonomous institutes offering PGDM is much better than those institutes which award MBA degree. The student should therefore take decision depending upon his / her personal circumstances, purpose and fee structure of the various options available to him / her.


Dr. J.K. Goyal

Professor, Management

JIMS Rohini

Posts created 115

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