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A business degree can be directly proportionate to a good career. And a management degree from a good B-school not only insures one’s credentials, but also assures a good placement.
But often, pursuing a full-time MBA is beyond the scope of a candidate for a host of reasons such as lack of time, money, geographical location, etc. So in lieu of full time education, candidates opt for part-time or correspondence courses. The need to keep working and pay through quality business education is a very attractive proposition. It is also a great way to avoid the burden of student loan.
Today, some of the best B-schools in India are offering part-time and correspondence courses. But what is the right fit or the right course for you? Let us try to understand some of these new age MBA options available and their importance from the perspective of recruiters and students.
Twenty-eight-year old media professional Iram Nasser has been working with NGEN Media Services (an NDTV-Genpact joint venture) for the last six years. Realising the need to further her education, she decided to pursue an MBA degree. “But quitting job was not an option for me. Luckily, my firm in collaboration with IIM Calcutta was offering a satellite based business course program. Called Executive Programme for Young Professionals (EPYP), the programme courses were conducted through live online sessions.”
Like Nasser, various working executives are increasingly opting for these new avatar distance-learning programmes. These programmes are offered on virtual platforms such as satellite or online mode, with a small campus tour towards the end or during the course. “The faculty from IIM Calcutta would run us through the subjects. We were allowed to ask questions and present our viewpoints like a normal classroom session,” recalls Nasser.
Anshul bose, a senior HR professional with more than eight years of experience with two Fortune 500 firms, went for a similar education enhancement. “When I started off as an executive, I had Masters in Clinical Psychology. After five years of HR experience, I opted for a PG programme in Human Resources Management/Personnel Administration. The need to validate my experience from a reputed B-School like NIMT was somewhat necessary,” says Bose. Her courses were held on certain days every week in a virtual learning centre, where senior faculty would conduct the classes.
Almost all the leading B-schools in India are offering such satellite-based programmes. These courses cost anywhere between Rs 2 lakh to Rs 10 lakh. Although CAT, XAT, GMAT and other management test scores are not required, seats are offered after a thorough selection procedure.
And unlike the traditional correspondence degrees, attendance at virtual learning centres is a must. “It is like the new-age correspondence courses, except, it is not a correspondence course,” says a cheerful Nasser, who hopes the new IIM-C tag would add feathers to her resume.
Apart from the B-schools, various firms are also collaborating with institutes to offer specialised management courses for the employees.
Stressing on the importance of quality learning, Anuradha Manjul, public relation officer, IIM Lucknow, says, “As opposed to smaller institutes, we can offer quality education. These intensive courses focus on selective modules and implementation. Such courses are convenient for working executives. There is no financial instability for the candidate or the requirement for geographical relocation. A student sitting in Chennai can attend the mandatory online classes.”
Another option is a part-time business education. Herein, the student has to take intensive classes during the evenings/weekends or for a few days at a stretch in the institute’s campus. These programmes typically last between two to five years.
Payal Bisani, an associate consultant with Ernst & Young, is pursuing a special 22-month part-time executive course that her firm is offering in collaboration with Indian School of Business (ISB). Bisani attends her classes at the ISB Hyderabad campus for a stretch of 10 days in every three months. “My work profile is quite good and hence I did not want to quit. So along with my ongoing business degree, I am eligible for all the promotions.”
She laments, “However, these 10-day classes are highly stressful and exhaustive. The course load is double when compared to a regular degree, since we have limited time to study. Also, I am not eligible for international exposure or placements.” One of the drawbacks of these management courses is that, the candidate is not eligible for placements and other goodies that a full-time course offers.
Often questions arise on whether these satellite and part-time courses have the same value like that of a fulltime MBA degree. “If you are looking to change track or field in your career or a huge pay hike, go for a full-time MBA,” says Rema (name changed), a senior recruiting personnel from Head Hunters India. According to her, candidates often assume a part-time or correspondence degree will give a similar leverage like that of a full-time MBA. Echoing similar views, Isha Goyal, assistant manager of client relations, Naukri.com, says, “Vying for a position on the basis of part-time or correspondence degree and little or no experience will not help a candidate.”
Both these HR professionals agree that these courses can be beneficial for mid-level or senior executives, who are looking to strengthen their career position in the same field or same organisation. “Various companies look for a certain years of work experience and a management certificate. Here, work experience takes precedence over full-time MBA education,” says Rema.
“During a job change, my experience did have more intrinsic value. But I was given due credit for management qualification. They even cross-checked about me with the NIMT professors before hiring,” says Bose.
But what if there is a choice between part-time and correspondence/satellite programme? “Of course, the part-time programme,” answers Rema. “But between a satellite course from a top-ranked business school versus a part-time programme from a B-list institute, go for the satellite course,” says Rema, who has placed various management professionals in top firms.
At the end, before going for a part-time or correspondence course, keep the following things in mind:
- What is your purpose and need? For instance, if you are hoping for an outcome similar to that of a fulltime degree, remember miracles are rare. However, if you are an experienced professional looking to strengthen your position and career in the same field, go for it.
- Before joining a course, think about ‘How will it benefit your career?’ If you are a newspaper editor and pursue an MBA in Marketing, it will be of no value to your present profile. “It is good idea to discuss your future in the firm and how or what education can further your position with a senior, before taking a decision,” says Anshul bose.
- Finally, make sure you are pursuing your MBA from a good institute that can substantiate your credentials.
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