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Planning Your StudiesPGDM vs MBA: What is the Difference between Them?

PGDM vs MBA: What is the Difference between Them?

There is a considerable amount of confusion on what a PGDM and an MBA means in terms of their educational value. Potential students who are looking towards completing a higher education degree are often unsure what the differences between the two are, and to what extent do they influence your future job prospects. To solve this confusion and settle the matter of what the difference between MBA and PGDM are, we have noted the main points to consider when choosing one or the other.

What is PGDM?

To fully understand what the primary difference between MBA and PGDM is, we first have to define them and know what the mean. PGDM stands for Post Graduate Diploma in Management. It does not convey an official degree, but at the end students receive a diploma.

PGDM is issued by independent institutions, so these institutions are autonomous bodies of education and they are not affiliated with any university. As such, they are not allowed to issue university degrees but can only give diplomas.

What is MBA?

The MBA stands for a Masters in Business Administration. When a student completes an MBA program they are awarded their official degree from the university where they attended. MBA degrees cannot be issued by any other institution except universities.


Now that we know what the definitions of a PGDM and an MBA are, we can look deeper into the details of each program and find the differences. The main difference between MBA and PGDM is their awarding institution. For PGDM it is an autonomous organization, while for MBA it is a official university.

Other differences are in:

  • Program Duration
  • Course Structure
  • Curriculum Updates
  • Credentials
  • Fees

Program Duration

MBA duration

In terms of the duration of each program, an MBA will definitely be conducted over a two year period if the student is enrolled as a full-time participant in the university. The duration can be shorter for Executive MBAs, where students take more courses per semester and thus the heavier course load leads them to graduate and get the degree in about a year or one year and a half. An MBA can be longer if the student is working so they enroll as part-time into the program or if they choose to complete it online as distance learning programs.

PGDM duration

A PGDM on the other hand does not have a specific duration. Since PGDMs are operated by independent institutions, each one has the authority to determine how long the program takes to complete. Because of this, a PGDM program can be at least one year or extend more. However, for it to be equivalent to a MBA degree, the PGDM must be completed for two years.

Course Structure

As part of the course duration difference, another way in which the MBA and the PGDM are not the same is in the structure of their coursework.

MBA Course Structure

  • MBA classes are spread out during the day with breaks in between and what courses are taken depends on the students and how they choose to arrange their schedules.
  • MBA students get to do extracurricular activities, work, or do internships during the hours of the day that they are not attending classes
  • Most MBA programs are in semester structures, meaning that courses are typically taken from August or September until the end of December for the Fall Semester and from January to May for the Spring Semester

PGDM Course Structure

  • PGDM courses have lectures which last up to 8 hours for all week days, so they do not leave room for any other activities.
  • PGDM students have to be present in lectures and class work for the whole day.
  • The PGDM is organized in a in a trimester pattern. The way this structure works is that there are three quarters per academic year, each quarter lasting about 8 to 10 weeks long. This means that the long winter break which is so typical in university settings is shortened in a PGDM and the classes are more intense in terms of the coursework.

Curriculum Updates

Universities pool a number of experts when they start a program and conduct research in order to determine what courses they should and how many should students take each semester. They spend a lot of money to compile the curriculum and then it takes some time for it to be approved by the responsible people. These bureaucratic procedures make the creation of a curriculum a long and expensive process, so universities are reluctant to do it very often.

The fact that it takes universities three to five years to change their curriculum means that they operate with the same coursework and concepts for quite some time. With industry standards and practices constantly changing and evolving, universities sometimes teach outdated methods.

MBA Curriculum Updates

For MBAs specifically, business practice are always becoming different due to the introduction and implantation of technology in the processes, but universities take their time to teach them to students because of these rigorous procedures.

In addition, MBA program syllabi are not changed by professors and lecturers as often as they should and again the reason for it is the bureaucracy that they need to undergo to get approval. MBA programs also most often focus on teaching their students a way of thinking about business, so they spend a lot of time on theoretical approach and trying to build the business mindset in their students.

PGDM Curriculum Uptades

PGDMs on the other hand are independent from such long and rigorous procedures. Because they are not affiliated to any university and do not report to other institutions, they are free to change their curricula as often as necessary.

This leads to PGDMs being more flexible in terms of what they teach to their students. They are constantly updated with the latest business practices and technologies. They adapt their syllabi and other materials to reflect the changes in the market and the industry, so they are more relevant in these terms in comparison to MBAs.

What is more, PGDMs also focus more on the training aspect of business. They teach minimal theory, only what is necessary and only the basic concepts, but focus more on practice. Their courses involve more case studies and students are encouraged to go into the field and do research to complete their assignments, conduct business experiments to test the theories in practice and so on. Despite the fact that they are so intensive in terms of their duration, they manage to embed business practices into their students.

In general, the courses taught are quite similar for both MBAs and PGDMs, but the content of the courses is adjusted more often for PGDMs rather than MBAs.

Different Credentials

One of the main differences between MBA and PGDM is the fact that they are governed by different regulatory bodies and thus have different credentials. MBAs are subject to the university that they are part of so they have the accreditation that the university has. Their regulatory body is usually the government higher education institution.

On the other hand, PGDMs are independent so they do not need to be accredited by higher education institutions. Instead the most famous PGDMs are accredited by institutions that govern technical or vocational education organizations.

This does not necessarily means that MBAs have more credentials than PGDMs, both their governing regulatory bodies are valid and have authority in this regard.

Varying Fees

The final difference between MBA and PGDM is that they have different fees. MBAs are under university procedures and governance so their fees reflect university fees. PGDMs on the other hand can charge as much as they want to and that is why their fees are higher.

Since PGDMs offer more in depth practice on business and management and they make their own curricula, they have higher costs and thus paying for a PGDM will be more expensive than paying for an MBA.

PGDM vs MBA: Which one to choose?

Now that we know what the differences between MBA and PGDM are, we can discuss which one to choose. You might be asking yourself what the benefits of doing PGDM course vs MBA degree are or MBA or PGDM which has more value, but the answer depends on what you are looking for from your education.

PGDM courses have higher industry relevance in comparison to the MBA courses, but the MBA will grant you a degree whereas PGDM will only give you a diploma. In recent years with the emergence of more PGDM institutions, many employers have started accepting and treating PGDM diplomas in similar value to the MBA degree.

Therefore, in terms of job perspectives and getting promoted, employers place similar values to both MBA degrees and PGDM diplomas. What could play a role in terms of getting an interview or a job after graduation is the name of the institution and their reputation in terms of what kind of students they educate.

However, if you are looking to do a PhD or other post graduate studies in the future, then doing an MBA will increase your chances of being accepted into the program. The MBA is affiliated to universities so post graduate programs place more value in them than in PGDM diplomas.

In essence, the most important thing to check for whether you decide to do an MBA or a PGDM is accreditation. Many institutions give fraudulent statements and you might be scammed into giving your money to get a diploma or a degree which has no value at all. So first check whether accreditation is valid and then decide which one to complete.

At the end of the day, employers will not place that much importance on your credentials and whether you have an MBA or a PGDM. In their evaluation, what matters the most is your experience and the skills you have, so what you can contribute to their companies.

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