USA’s insane fee structures, UK’s strict visa rules, crashing European markets and a lot of other casualties notwithstanding, an MBA abroad is still a big lure for our students. Unfortunately not many make the cut. It could be for a variety of reasons — low scores, lean budgets, shorter duration, etc. Whatever be the reason, students are increasingly opting for master’s in management, wealth management, operations management, financial management, financial engineering, account and other non-MBA management courses. “Among the substitute courses, master’s in management are probably the most popular,” says Sarith Nair, centre head, IMS-Adyar, Chennai.
According to him, one good measure of checking the credibility of the courses is the annual ranking published by Financial Times. “The courses cost less when compared to MBA programmes. There is not too much stress on standardised test scores and the duration of the programme is also very less. You can wind up most of the courses under a year,” Nair lists the benefits.
Typically an MBA programme abroad costs Rs 60 lakh while these master’s courses will only make you poorer by Rs 15-20 lakh. “The most attractive thing is that most of these programmes require you to have less than a year of work experience. In some cases like St Gallen University, Switzerland, you need not have any work experience. Gallen only admits BBA students for its master's in strategy and management course and the fee comes to less than Rs 3 lakh,” says Nair.
Providing a counter view is Ramnath Kanakadandi, course director-CAT, TIME, Chennai, who says, “These options might work for someone who has decided to go abroad just for the ‘sake’ of it and I wouldn’t advise the same for an MBA aspirant. Even for freshers, working for a few years and gaining some experience wouldn’t hurt — if your job profile doesn’t matter, it is important that you convince the admission panel of your leadership skills, team spirit, the value you bring to your organisation, etc.
Warning: If you want to pursue a master’s in any of the subjects mentioned earlier, you need to decide early, preferably while you are still in college or when you have just graduated as somebody with even two years of work experience is considered to be ‘old’ to pursue these courses.
While career prospects are dim in comparison to an MBA, Nair advises students to not dismiss such courses. “You can even apply to multiple scholarships offered by the university and other sources like British Council. What more, Philip Kotler, considered to be the marketing guru, can be your teacher if you get into HEC Paris’ master’s in management programmes,” Nair paints a beautiful picture.
Other than the schools mentioned above, you can check out the programmes offered by London Business School-UK, ESC-Paris, Otto Beisheim School of Management-Germany, London School of Economics-UK, Rotterdam School of Management-Netherlands, etc.
These substitute options is a big boon to BCom, BBA students, etc, as some universities are more than happy to welcome non-engineers and women to boost diversity in the classroom. Says Vijay S, a working professional, who is preparing for a master’s in management abroad, “It seems unnecessary to wait to gain professional work experience when you have the option of pursuing such courses. Though I hope to join in the lower ranks, pre-management experience is nothing compared to the post-management that I will gain.”
However, freshers, who would still want to give a shot at an MBA abroad, can choose from Harvard’s 2+2 programme, Yale’s Silver Scholars course, etc. Sameer Kamat, founder of MBA Crystal Ball, an admission consulting firm and author of Beyond the MBA Hype, has a few words of solace for those who settle for these substitute options. “MBA or the substitute courses doesn’t make either of them superior or inferior to the other. But it is important to understand the difference between the two and choose one that is well-aligned with your profile and aspirations. That said one cannot ignore that MBA candidates can expect better designations and a higher salary upon graduating.
— shilpa.vasudevan@ newindianexpress.com