Which Course is Better, MBA or PGDM?

Which Course is Better, MBA or PGDM?

If you want to get a post-graduate management degree, you can go for either MBA (Master of Business Administration) or PGDM (Post Graduate Diploma in Management).

Basically, both are similar in many ways as both are business oriented courses and both the courses have a commercial orientation. The main aim of the courses is to equip a person who wants to move up in the hierarchy and enter into the management field.

Both these courses are pursued as they help one in the growth of their career, in getting a better position and obtaining a bigger salary.

While deciding their business and management qualification, students are often confused between choosing MBA or PGDM. Though both the courses have the same outcomes in the terms of employment perspective, there are some subtle differences such as:


  1. Degree vs Diploma 

Is PGDM equivalent to Master's degree?

MBA is a degree course that is offered by the colleges affiliated to the universities and it is accredited by the University Grants Commission (UGC).

PGDM is a diploma course that is offered by the institutes that are recognized by the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) and which are autonomous and not affiliated to any university and they conduct their own management course.

Many students think that a diploma course does not hold the same value as that of a degree course but that is not true. The accreditation provided by the Association of Indian Universities (AIU) makes an institute’s PGDM course equivalent to an MBA.


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  1. Syllabus 


Although there are similarities between the curriculum of both the courses, differences exist as well.

The course curriculum for MBA is designed by the university. The core syllabus, and sometimes even the elective subjects, is pretty much the same in two MBA colleges under the same university.

A student who is pursuing MBA studies more of the theoretical aspects of the management. The universities tend to lag behind and change their syllabus only after a few years and thus the syllabus is not updated as per the changes in the industry.

This can be a major deterrent in the management arena because the real business environment is very dynamic and full of sudden unexpected changes.

However, the PGDM courses are determined by the individual institutions and thus, this gives certain flexibility to the course curriculum.

PGDM course helps the students in gaining knowledge regarding building soft skills and the programme is more industry-oriented and prepares them for a senior level position in a company.

 An autonomous institute does not have to follow any university standards, so it is free to change its curriculum, unlike the universities, according to industry standards and change in the business environment.

PGDM would be a more suitable choice for people who are interested in the corporate world or want to be an entrepreneur as it gives them knowledge and practical exposure to the current industry standards.

  1. Duration

MBA course is generally of the duration of 2 years while some specialized MBA can be of longer duration.

PGDM course has a duration of one year or two years depending on the course.

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  1. Focus

The core subjects are common in both the MBA and PGDM courses. However, the MBA course focuses mainly on the theoretical and technical aspects of the management instead of adopting a practical approach.

PGDM course focuses mainly on the practical approach of management and teaching. Their courses have an industrial orientation and focus on skills based on the market requirements. Unlike MBA, the PGDM program lets the students specialize in their area of interest.

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  1. Susceptible to Fraudulence

Since the PGDM course is offered by autonomous bodies, students need to be very careful while choosing the college to get enrolled into as many small colleges and institutes make claims to provide the diploma but are not properly accredited by the required authority.

While the MBA course is provided by the universities, so there is a lower chance of fraudulent claims being made by the institutes.

What is the difference between MBA and PGDM?


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  1. Cost

MBA course has a lower tuition fee as compared to the PGDM course as mostly the government approved universities offer MBA degrees. The universities receive financial aid and grants from the government and thus making the degree cheaper for the students.

However, in the case of the PGDM course, the students have to bear the cost of the entire programme and thus it results in the higher fee for the students.

Though, there is no hard and fast rule to this as there are some MBA degrees which charge high tuition fees from the students such as IIFT.


The advantage of doing a PGDM from IIM is that most B schools from foreign countries will prefer it over an MBA. However, there is one drawback of this course that you need to earn the PGDM from a reputed business school otherwise it will lose its value and then going for MBA will be a far better option.

Also, the PGDM program is residential while MBA is not a residential program. One more advantage is that an MBA, you can take only one specialization but in PGDM, you can take dual specializations.


While after MBA you will be eligible for Doctorate program, but after PGDM you will not be eligible for Doctorate program.

When students go out for fellow programme, which is equivalent to Ph.D., they are asked to give certificate equivalent to a degree and they give their AIU certificate, which states that it is equivalent to the Ph.D. degree.

Foreign universities go clueless on this concept of equivalent to the fellow programme that is offered here. Earlier, a PGDM was not recognized for higher studies like M.Phil or Ph.D. as they seek a degree as a pre-requisite.

But now PGDM certificates of some top institutes like NIMT are also being considered equivalent to MBA for higher studies.

Which one is better: MBA or PGDM?

pgdm vs mba salary

An MBA is a better option for those students, who seek a university programme to get a holistic view of the programme while the PGDM is for those who seek specialization in the area of their interest.

If you are interested in a corporate job and career, you should choose a B-school/ MBA Colleges based on their Ranking, Curriculum, and Placements, and not by the degree or diploma they offer.

As far as industry is concerned, they recognize talent from the institutes of repute than bothering whether it’s an MBA or PGDM.

 Your starting salary will depend more on the reputation and brand name of your college/business school and not on the degree name.

Teachers believe that MBA is not an end in itself but a means. An MBA degree helps students to develop skills in various spheres such as finance, operations, economics, teamwork, ethics, and leadership.

Students should use the programme to develop a network of alumni, business and community leaders that will help in their career growth.

PGDM gives more learning opportunities as seminars and workshops are arranged to give students some practical knowledge. Top industry managers are called as guests for giving speeches and to motivate students.

Industries also prefer autonomous institutions for campus recruitments. PGDM teaches you the right skills required in the industry. It makes your job ready for the leadership and managerial skills you learn. These skills help you in surviving the competitive corporate world with ease.

Normally top university colleges are more trusted as they have experienced faculty and established curriculum while PGDM has an element of flexibility as the institutes are independent, but the choice has to be made carefully.

Aspirants should look for the brand/ reputation of the business school as the brand signifies its established practices that provide a better learning environment to the students for personal growth and its networking also helps the students in reaching to its alumni and industry easily.

Institutes with PGDM courses provide attractive placement offers since they are autonomous in nature. Whereas MBA doesn’t guarantee you a job and you have to struggle on your own for placement.

If you have both options to do MBA or PGDM from an average college or an average B-school, it would be better recommended to opt for PGDM.

Choosing the right college or institute is more important as it will help you in achieving your goals with its quality education and facilities.

The key parameters to choose the right B-school or college are: 

  1. Placement record

  2. Ranking of the B-school

  3. Legacy & Reputation of the B-school

  4. The fee of the B-school

  5. Student-faculty ratio

  6. Quality of peers/students joining the MBA/PGDM Program

  7. Location of the B-school


We hope it will help you in clearing your doubts and making the right decision. All the best.

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By Sourav Pathak

A Guy Without a "Title". Good friends, Good Books, and a Sleepy Conscience: That Sums of My life.

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