The 3 Questions One Year MBA Grads in India are Tired of Answering


The 3 Questions One Year MBA Grads in India are Tired of Answering executive mba vs one year mbaBy Shikhar Mohan

More than 14 years after the one-year MBA became popular in India, in what is a telling commentary on the slow pace of change in India, many one-year MBA students here report of feeling frustrated at the confusions still surrounding the course.

As per them, many recruiters and HR professionals are still wrapping their head around the one-year MBA. 

The confusions they harbor and the reasons behind these confusions will regale you and are fit for an episode of Mind Your Language.

Below are 3 questions from recruiters that one-year MBA students in India have reported of clarifying over and over again.

Q. So this is not a regular MBA?

A regular MBA simply means that a course is a full-time general management MBA course. But for many recruiters in India, regular instead means ‘the usual’.

Since the two-year full-time PGP/ PGDM programme was the only full-time management programme in India for over 30 years, recruiters assume anything else is as fantastical as an alien in diapers.

The reason this confusion takes the cake is because the one-year MBA is the only ‘regular’ MBA in India as per global accreditation awarded to management courses in India. For a course to be called an MBA, AMBA, the global MBA accreditation body, requires the graduating class to have an average of 5+ years of work experience.

As the only MBA course in India to live up these international standards, the one-year course in India is globally accredited as an MBA, while the two-year PGP/ PGDM course stands accredited as an MIM. Read this for more.

How students respond

Different people have different ways of responding to this query – some are more blunt than others. As one student told us, every time he is asked if “this is a regular MBA?” he retorts, “no, not at all – this is a premium MBA”.

Q. So it’s not a full time MBA?

A full-time course, elsewhere in  the world, is simply a residential course that students attend on campus throughout the course duration as opposed to a part-time or executive MBA course which you attend on weekends or evenings.

But in India, ‘full-time’ takes on a new meaning. For some recruiters full-time means full to the brim like a Mumbai train – anything less than two-years in their minds is ‘half-time’ and therefore an MBA course of one-year duration literally half an MBA.  

Q. So you did an Executive MBA? 

This one was brought upon themselves by B-Schools in India – most have thoroughly convoluted brandings for their one-year MBA courses – what’s common even among the best of them is the use of the word ‘executive’ within the course nomenclature.

For all the problems it has led to, the B-Schools seem to have had their heart in this right place when they came up with this nomenclature. They believed this was a good way to separate the one-year course which mandates work experience from the two-year PGP course which doesn’t.

It’s also quite possible that the authorities who came up with the terminology, may simply not have known better.

It might come as a surprise to you, as it did to me, that many academicians in India genuinely believe that the one-year MBA is in fact an executive MBA! If I have countered this view during a discussion, I have been told sternly, “look here gentleman, executive MBAs can be full-time and part-time!”.

If I have pressed further and shared that this notion of a full-time Executive MBA is a purely ‘indigenius’ creation, much like the word indigenius itself, it hasn’t been received well 🙂

Adding the word ‘executive’ to the nomenclature was surely not the most appropriate step since the word is understood globally to signify a part-time programme for people who work in the day as executives and study in the evenings or on weekends.     

One student wrote a blog on this in Financial Times to sort the mess, as did this author who wrote an eight article series in Business Standard

Why is this happening?

14 years have passed since ISB popularized the one-year MBA course in India. Over 17  years have passed since XLRI started the first one-year MBA in India in 1997. What gives? Recruiters and HR professionals are a major constituency that should be crystal clear on the proposition of a one-year MBA. Why are they still confused?

One big reason is the lack of effort made by most B-Schools to clarify the positioning of their courses to HR and recruiters.

This possibly has roots in the much deeper underlying issues at play in India – the two-year PGP course has been around much longer and enjoys ‘MBA Equivalent’ status by AIU and AICTE and the course has a substantially larger student intake – clarifying these aspects and following global norms could easily impact admissions for the two-year course, which has been positioned as an ‘MBA degree’. 

So while many have gotten on the international accreditation bandwagon and are elated at having got the AMBA accreditation for their one-year MBA, they are simply not adopting the same in their course terminologies.

Some B-Schools are also facing unique logistical issues – since the IIMs are not universities, they are unable to call their degree an MBA. Once this gets sorted, they might shift to calling their one-year programmes a one-year MBA. Whether they then also shift to calling their PGP course an MIM in tune with its global accreditation is anyone’s guess.

Till then, just to be sure, I have come up with my own nomenclature for a one-year MBA in India that I think covers all bases.

If anyone asks me what course I did, I blabber off this descriptive: One Year Fully Full Time Completely Residential 100% Regular Genuine Bonafide MBA – maybe, just maybe, this one will do the job.



  1. I typically stop at “One-year, Full-time MBA.” If I only had a rupee for every time I’ve had to reiterate that…

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