The Rise of the One-Year MBA in India

The Rise of the One-Year MBA in India

The rise of the one-year MBA in India

The one-year MBA is rising in popularity in India for many reasons including value for money and the convenience of a faster program.

Reasons More Indian MBA Applicants are Opting for One Year Programs

One-year programs teach students to analyze situations quickly, think on their feet and apply their skills to real business situations. Students learn to combine their industry expertise with the fundamentals of management that are acquired over the year. Career interruptions are minimized for students while companies encourage promising employees to prepare for leadership roles. One-year programs have a great advantage over the two-year model because of the tremendous savings in opportunity costs.

A one-year MBA is an ideal platform to recharge before returning to the corporate world. Typically, a one-year MBA can cost anything between Rs 750,000 and Rs 1,700,000 (US$15,000 and $34,000) depending on the school.

Tarun Mehra, an analyst at a Gurgaon-based knowledge process outsourcing (KPO) firm, wanted a management qualification that would add a competitive edge to his resume and help him move up the professional ladder. As his academic credentials were impressive, Mehra could easily have taken his pick from any of the top business schools within India. Instead he enrolled for a one-year MBA at local business school, SOIL (School of Inspired Leadership).

“I did not want to spend two years studying for an MBA so I chose a one-year program. This is value for money. I am not paying for that extra year, yet the course curriculum is the same.”

In the words of Bala V Balachandran, founder and dean of Great Lakes Institute of Management (GLIM) in Chennai, “the monetary value of time, or opportunity cost, is more important than the time value of money.”

In a bid to cater to professionals who do not want to devote two years of their work life to earn an MBA, an increasing number of business schools have started offering one-year accelerated, full-time courses. The one-year program, popularized by business schools in Europe as an alternative to the predominantly two-year US-style MBA.

Says Bani Wadhwa, an HR manager in Chennai, “I wanted to take up an MBA program but did not have the time or the inclination to do a two-year. So I opted for a shorter, one-year at GLIM. The course content was the same, only shorter. What’s more, my company sponsored me, so it all worked out well in the long term.”

Professor S Sriram, executive director, Great Lakes Institute of Management explains: “People increasingly feel pressured for time these days. For working people, taking two years out proves to be expensive and difficult. If one can get the same value in one year, why not?”

Work experience requirements for one-year MBA programs

Schools such as GLIM, the Indian School of Business (ISB), SOIL, SP Jain Institute of Management and Research (SPJIMR) among others offer the one-year program with a focus on applicants with at least a few years of work experience. In fact, ISB pioneered the one-year format in India, an experiment that turned out hugely successful.

“One year programs are fast track courses with shorter duration terms. You need to have students who have exposure to how things work in real life. So typically, one year MBAs admit students with work experience,” explains Sriram.

The average experience of the current batch at GLIM is around four years. According to Sriram, these students are also very clear about the kind of industry and job they look for post MBA, which is not usually the case for students with little or no work experience, who are more open and less focused in terms of career choices.

Differences Between One and Two Year MBA Programs and Students

The one-year full-time postgraduate program in management (PGPM) at GLIM helps students understand the interactions between the various functional areas of a business system and thereby appreciate the need for developing cross-functional perspectives in business. The intensive program demands students with a proven record of academic brilliance along with an ability to demonstrate vision, initiative, leadership and hard work.

“The one-year program at SPJIMR is different from the traditional two-year model on the following counts. The participants are more experienced, have a clear idea about what kind of job they want to have after their MBA in terms of role and the industry, have reached a stage in their career where they are ready to manage people besides managing issues which was their sole concern in their pre MBA career,” says Dr M L Shrikant, honorary dean at SPJIMR.

Shrikant adds that another group of applicants for one-year programs includes individuals who would have worked on pursuing an MBA program earlier and have realized the importance of a formal degree for career growth and also may have acquired financial strength to do the same.

“In fact, given the opportunity cost of having to give up a job to do the MBA, the one year students are also much more hardworking, focused and serious about utilizing every minute of their stay at the institute,” notes Professor Sriram.

Specialized MBA course content

Just because an MBA program is shorter, it doesn't mean that the curriculum isn't as extensive extensive enough. The course has been tailored to meet the needs of business and industry. For instance, the post-graduate program in management (PGPM) offered by SPJIMR is an 11-month, full-time course. The SPJIMR program is an intensive course that has been designed to meet specific skill requirements of industry.

ISB’s program has been ranked 13th in the Global MBA Rankings 2011 released by the Financial Times. It also recorded the highest salary percentage increase among all the top 100 schools. During the last four year period, ISB’s class size grew by over 35% to a current size of 570 students.

Despite these statistics, there some MBA applicants who are clearly not bitten by the one-year bug.

Take Mani Sharma, a digital marketing professional from New Delhi for instance. “I don’t want to take up a one-year MBA program as these are more expensive and without company sponsorship, do not make economic sense. One-year works for students who have a background in business or a company sponsorship. Also, one-year programs do not allow students time to network or intern with companies. In the long-term, these are valuable experiences and help in professional development.”

Be that as it may, with the growing popularity of the one-year format in India, it is likely there will be an increase in the number of business schools switching over from traditional two-year MBA program formats to offer this shorter route to professional development.

To find out more about the many different MBA programs available, QS organizes several kinds of international events designed for those considering applying to business school.