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MBA vs PGDM: Key Differences on eligibility, admissions, course structure, duration, and accreditation

The dilemma of MBA vs. PGDM has been a burning question for all the aspirants willing to pursue a postgraduate course in management. The difficulty often arises due to candidates being not entirely aware of the similarities or differences between MBA and PGDM.

IIMs, before the IIM Act 2017, conferred PGDM degrees, which earned considerable popularity for PGDM courses. However, the word Diploma also has a stigma attached to it in India. Hence, it is essential to know what parameters to look into before getting admission into any particular course – MBA or PGDM.

mba vs pgdm : the dilemma

The topics that will be discussed in this article are as follows:


MBA vs PGDM: What do they mean?

mba vs pgdm what does it mean

One of the major differences while comparing MBA and PGDM is that MBA or Master of Business Administration is a degree course that can only be offered by the colleges affiliated to universities, whereas PGDM or Post Graduate Diploma in Management is a diploma course offered by autonomous institutes.

For example, The Faculty of Management Studies (FMS), Delhi, is affiliated to Delhi University and hence offers an MBA degree. While MBA colleges like SP Jain Institute of Management Studies and Research (SPJIMR) or Management Development Institute, Gurgaon are autonomous in nature and hence offer PGDM courses.

Planning to pursue an MBA? Check out our article on why you should pursue an MBA and is it really worth it?


IIMs, too offered (offer) PGDM courses before IIM Act 2017, when they were under the umbrella of Societies Act. As Societies aren’t eligible to offer degrees, IIMs offered diploma courses. But after the passing of the IIM Act 2017, they were termed newly as institutes of national importance and made eligible for awarding degree courses.

However, not all IIMs have started offering MBA degrees; some chose to stick to awarding diplomas as they’ve now brand equity attached to it. IIM Bangalore was the first IIM to award a degree in 2018, followed by Indore, Ahmedabad, and Calcutta.


What is the difference between MBA and PGDM?

mba vs pgdm : key differences


Evaluating similarities and differences between MBA and PGDM is the key to find which course suits your needs. In the table below, we have compared MBA vs. PGDM on 6 different parameters that should give you clarity about their compatibility with your needs.

MBA vs. PGDM Differences MBA PGDM
    • The full-time graduate degree of minimum three years duration.
    • Different colleges set different cut-offs for percentage secured in graduation. However, on a broad basis, 50% is the accepted percentage level.
    • Candidate appearing in the final year of bachelor’s degree/equivalent qualification is eligible for the admission, provided he/she can produce a letter from their college’s head confirming about their present status as claimed.
Qualification Degree course Diploma course
Course Structure and Approach University approved curriculum, hence, mostly theoretical based and uniform across institutes affiliated to a university.





Mostly semester-based system.

Industry oriented program focused more on building soft skills.






Mostly trimester-based system.

Accreditation Accredited by University Grants Commission (UGC) Accredited by All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE)
Perception Both MBA and PGDM are viewed as equivalent during recruitment. The influencing factor is mostly the institute offering it. Also, while PGDM courses might be industry-oriented and preferred by the corporates, they might have to face roadblocks while applying to pursue higher education or jobs overseas.

Even though there might be few differences in the way these courses – MBA and PGDM are designed, the objective is ultimately to make the student ready for Industry.

But caution needs to be maintained while getting admission to PGDM courses. Since the awarding institutes are autonomous, to check their course’s accreditation becomes of utmost importance, without which there can be severe cases of fraud.

Here are few articles on the eligibility criteria of a few colleges in India: IIM Ahmedabad, IIM Bangalore, IIM Calcutta, SPJIMR, SJSOM – IIT Bombay, and ISB.

Types of Entrance Exam

Many entrance exams are held every year in India to get admission in management colleges – for both MBA and PGDM courses. There are exams that fulfill eligibility for several institutes – like CAT, MAT, GMAT, etc. And there are some exams that are essential for admission to particular institutes – like IIFT, SNAP, NMAT, etc.

We have mentioned details about a few of the popular entrance exams for admission to MBA and PGDM courses in the table below:

MBA vs. PGDM – Types of Entrance Exams
Entrance Exams Conducting Body Mode of exam Sections Frequency
CAT (Common Admission Test)





Learn the difference between CAT and GMAT.

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






NMAT (NMIMS Management Aptitude Test) GMAC (Graduate Management Admission Council) Online Language Skills, Quantitative Skills, and Logical Reasoning.






Annually (with the flexibility of 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.






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.






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


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Top Colleges Offering MBA and PGDM

Let’s now look at some of the top colleges providing MBA and PGDM courses in India:













Colleges Location Accepted Exam Average/Mean/Median Salary Tuition fees
IIM Ahmedabad Ahmedabad CAT/GMAT INR 25,83,126 INR 23,00,000
IIM Bangalore Bangalore CAT/GMAT INR 24,54,000 INR 23,00,000
IIM Calcutta Kolkata CAT/GMAT INR 27,90,000 INR 27,00,000
IIM Indore Indore CAT/GMAT INR 20,79,000 INR 16,00,000
FMS Delhi New Delhi CAT/GMAT INR 23,20,000 INR 1,92,000
IIFT Delhi New Delhi IIFT/ GMAT INR 18,00,000 INR 17,25,000
NMIMS School of Business Mumbai NMAT/GRE/GMAT INR 17,79,000 INR 19,76,000
IIT Kharagpur Kharagpur CAT/GMAT INR 16,11,000 INR 9,00,000
DoMS IIT Delhi New Delhi CAT INR 18,47,000 INR 9,60,000
SIBM Pune Pune SNAP INR 20,14,000 INR 18,80,000














XLRI Xavier School of Management Jamshedpur XAT/GMAT/CAT INR 24,30,000 INR 20,00,000
SPJIMR Mumbai Mumbai GMAT/CAT/XAT INR 22,00,000 INR 17,50,000
NMIMS School of Business Management Bangalore NMAT/GMAT/GRE INR 10,50,000 INR 19,76,000
IMT Ghaziabad Ghaziabad CAT/GMAT/XAT INR 13,60,000 INR 18,30,000
IMI Delhi – International Management Institute New Delhi CAT/GMAT INR 13,07,000 INR 13,16,000
TAPMI Manipal – T A Pai Management Institute Manipal CAT/XAT/GMAT INR 11,06,000 INR 14,60,000
Great Lakes Institute of Management Chennai CAT/GMAT/XAT/CMAT INR 13,10,000 INR 10,10,000
IIM Ranchi Ranchi CAT INR 15,02,000 INR 15,00,000




INR 7,04,000 INR 10,00,000

After comparing data for just these colleges, 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.

Learn more about the Average MBA salary industry wise and factors affecting post-MBA salary in 2020. 

The difference in average salary while comparing  MBA vs. PGDM courses can also be attributed to the passing of the IIM Act 2017, which entitled IIMs to award degrees. This also inflated the fees section for MBA degree colleges as IIMs have them high too.


MBA vs. PGDM: Which should you choose?

mba vs pgdm : what to choose

In this article, we informed you about the similarities and differences between MBA and PGDM courses. Various data points were presented and compared for these two courses. We also pointed out the requirements for admission to MBA and PGDM courses and what cautions need to be taken while selecting either.

However, despite several differences between both the courses – MBA and PGDM, the major influencing factor is the institute providing them.

Recruiters mostly quantify the degree or diploma secured by a student looking at skills possessed by the student and the brand equity of the institution.

Although, PGDM courses certainly are known to lay more impetus on honing the skill set while MBA degree colleges focus more on management theory.

Planning to pursue an MBA or PGDM? A good GMAT score can increase your chances to get an admit. Sign up for our FREE Trial today.

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What is MBA?

MBA stands for Master of Business Administration. It is a postgraduate degree with a course duration of 2 years. It helps one delve into the realm of management and prepare for leadership roles.

What is PGDM?

PGDM stands for Post Graduate Diploma in Management. It is a diploma course in management offered by autonomous institutes.

What do IIMs offer – MBA or PGDM?

Before the passing of the IIM Act 2017, IIMs awarded PGDM to their graduates. After the passing of this Act, IIMs are entitled to award degrees. However, not all IIMs have yet made the transition.

Can I go abroad for higher education after PGDM?

Yes, you can pursue full time MBA abroad after completing PGDM. But for a PhD, one needs to have an MBA degree. However, career prospects for both MBA and PGDM are almost equal in India as well as in abroad.

Is the duration of an MBA or a PGDM course different?

Both the courses have a duration of 2 years. While most of the MBA courses have semester pattern, the PGDM courses usually are seen to have a trimester pattern.

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2 thoughts on “MBA vs PGDM: Key Differences on eligibility, admissions, course structure, duration, and accreditation”

  1. In my opinion, PGDM (Post Graduate Diploma in Management) is far better in Term of Quality Education & Placement’s
    Even MNC’s Prefer PGDM Students for Long Term Job Profile.

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