Choose the right MBA programme

BUSINESS STUDIES

Choose the right MBA programme

As a sector matures, it tries to come up with innovative products to capture an untapped market. This phenomenon is evident in the Education sector, especially with respect to management education in India. Over the years, due to the demand from the student community, a number of new colleges have started offering diverse MBA programmes. A student today therefore has numerous options if he/ she is considering management education.

Traditional MBA courses are of two-year duration. At the end of the first year, which consists of general business subjects, students usually get an opportunity to intern with companies to gain some experience. The second year covers subjects related to specialisation. This model of management education is widely followed all over the world.

Students without much work experience are well suited for this kind of an MBA programme. The internship and the duration of the programme provide students an opportunity to change their work domains.

One-year MBA: Many work-ing professionals who want to do an MBA are not willing to take two years off from work, owing to several reasons, including the loss of salary for that period. One-year MBA programmes target those who typically have at least two or three years of work experience. The programmes are rigorous and do not include internships or breaks.

One-year MBA courses save time, and candidates can get back to their earning ways in a year’s time. This kind of MBA is ideal for those who are looking for career progression in the same or similar work domain. Radical domain shifts are tougher to achieve although not impossible.

Many well-known colleges in India, including the IIMs, offer one-year MBA programmes.
Part-time MBA: Many work-ing professionals do not want to quit their jobs to study further. In order to cater to such students, many B-Schools have come up with part-time MBA programmes.

These programmes run on weekends and usually take longer to complete than the traditional MBA programmes.

There are diverse views about the effectiveness of a part-time MBA course and learning management through distance education. Many critics feel that such courses are not effective and the learning is not very good.

Executive MBA: These classes usually have professionals with considerable work experience — seven years or more. Many of those who take up an Executive MBA course are sponsored by their companies. The course usually consists of a minimum number of contact hours in a year and a lot of offline learning. Some colleges also conduct classes over the weekends and in the evenings.

Specialised MBA: A new trend that is catching up in India is specialisation in a niche area of management studies. Apart from the regular specialisations in management, finance, hum-an resources or operations, MBA programmes are available in insurance, retail manage-ment, mass communication, pharmaceuticals  etc.
However, these specialised MBA programmes restrict the students to a particular domain.

Others: Other options include MBA through distance education. With the advent of the internet, delivering courses online is now commonplace. There are also the traditional distance education progra-mmes offered by many universities.  
However, this mode of education is not recommended for management students.

College selection

About 20 years ago, an MBA course in India was synonymous with the IIMs. Though the IIMs continue to be the leaders in business education in India, several good B-Schools have emerged over the last few years with innovative courses to satisfy the needs of all sections of students. How do we differentiate between these colleges? Here are some tips that you can follow:

Reputation: Some colleges already have a very good brand value and are very well recognised in the industry. The brand value of the college adds value to the student’s profile. If it is a new or upcoming college, then it is advisable to consult with somebody in the industry – for example, your HR department – to understand the industry perception of the college.

Online information: Start finding information through online sources. Every college has a website. Go through the website and find out details about the college history, staff details — permanent staff and visiting staff, infrastructure, course contents etc. All B-School students blog about their college experience, and such blogs are a very good source of information. Every college has a presence on social media sites such as Facebook, Orkut and Twitter. Follow the college and get details of its activities, guest lectures, placement record etc.

Talk to students/ alumni: Perhaps the best way to collect information would be to talk to the current students and the alumni. Try and get your doubts cleared about the quality of education offered and the facilities available.

Accreditation: Does the college have the requisite approvals? Is it AICTE- approved? What other collaborations does the college have? These approvals and collaborations are important. If the college is not approved, then your degree certificate might not hold much value. AICTE approval is mandatory for loans from public sector banks and to seek jobs in  public sector units.

B-School rankings: Many magazines, websites and newspapers come out with B-School rankings. Although these rankings are not very reliable, they give some idea about the relative merit of the college. Do not blindly believe the rankings. In fact, the rankings of a college usually vary across different surveys. Coaching classes are another reference point to get more information on B-Schools.

Placement statistics: One of the primary aims of enrolling for a management degree is to get a good job at the end of the course. Most students carefully study the official placement report of the college. When looking at the placement statistics, try and find out the job profiles offered. Try to get information about the alumni  of the college and how well they are doing. If you are interested in some particular company/ sector, check if such companies visit the college for placement.

Campus visit: Visit the campus, if possible, to find out more about the infrastructure. Some colleges even allow prospective students to attend a lecture or two to experience the teaching methodology. A recent trend is to start MBA courses in engineering colleges. These institutions use the available infrastructure for running their MBA courses. An MBA degree from a well-established college with a dedicated campus and very good infrastructure adds a lot of value to your profile. Campus visits give you a fair idea about the college culture, facilities and students.

Staff: One of the major assets of any college is its staff. Qualified and experienced faculty form the backbone of any successful management programme.

All colleges have a mix of permanent and visiting faculty. Details of the faculty are usually found on the college website. A healthy mix of people with some industry exposure  is preferred. This brings in insights from the industry and academics to the classroom. In an era where almost all colleges have good infrastructure, the faculty play the role of the key differentiator.

Student mix: Data about the current students is usually available on the college website. Data such as the average CAT/GMAT scores, average age, average work experience and male-female ratio gives you a fair idea of the student mix of the college.

Ask yourself if you will fit into a similar student mix. For example, a prospective student might have 3 years of work experience, but the college may consists of 90 per cent students who have no work experience. In such a situation do you see the peer group as a value addition?

This might also matter during placements as all companies that recruit freshers do not always recruit people with work experience.

The average entrance test marks can give you a rough indication of the student quality.


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