MBA in India vs. MBA Abroad
Last updated on May 6th, 2019
Once you’ve made the decision to pursue an MBA, the biggest question you have to deal with is where to get your MBA from. Many of our students find themselves grappling with this question:
Should I get my MBA in India or abroad?
Frankly, an MBA is a big investment and we know that you can’t afford to make the wrong choice. This is not merely a matter of money, it is also an investment of time and effort. Add to that the fact that you can only do your MBA once… Let’s just say we understand why it is super important for you to make the right decision about where you should get your MBA from.
In this article, we will talk about the following:
- What are the benefits of doing an MBA in India?
- What are the disadvantages of doing an MBA in India?
- Is it better to do MBA abroad?
- What are the risks of studying MBA abroad?
- How do I choose between MBA in India and MBA abroad?
The idea is to try and give you a frame of reference along which you can place your thoughts, to help you make the best decision for yourself.
First of all, let’s look at the advantages of doing your MBA in India.
1. Advantages of Getting Your MBA in India
There are many obvious advantages to doing an MBA within your own country. Let us elaborate on a few from an MBA perspective:
- Affordability and ROI
- No Visa Problems
- Familiar Network and Culture
On the whole, doing an MBA within India is going to work out to be much cheaper than doing an MBA abroad. Even if you decide to exclude all the auxiliary expenses on flights, accommodation, and cost of living, the tuition cost of an MBA from a foreign university can be very high.
One of the only ways you can escape high tuition costs abroad is if you do an MBA or MS in Germany. Most public universities in Germany don’t charge you for tuition.
But almost everywhere else, the expenses involved in getting an MBA are stupendous.
The important thing to note here is that the more expensive the program gets, the lower it’s return on investment shrinks.
Unless you’re looking at going to a Harvard, MIT, or Wharton, you’ll need to look very carefully at the expected program expense and the ROI you get from it. In our opinion, doing an MBA abroad only makes sense if you’re doing it from a top B-School.
This may sound unimportant but the amount of work you have to put into getting a visa is incredible.
Securing admission and then being denied a visa, or being unable to get a visa that allows you to work – these things can really put a dent in your MBA dream.
If you do an MBA in India, though, life is much easier because you don’t even have to worry about this.
Don’t underestimate the power of working within a familiar environment. If you do your MBA within India, you can make use of all your ‘contacts’, if you know what we mean.
It’s easy to dismiss this before you realize the value of having a network. After a certain age, your next job won’t come from online job portals. It will come through your network in the form of recommendations and connections.
No CEO was ever appointed based on a CV. For that job, you need strong connections.
If you do your MBA abroad, you’ll end up having to start network-building from scratch. Doing this alongside rigorous study is not a cakewalk.
However, it is not all sunshine and meadows to do your MBA in India. It comes with its fair share of disadvantages as well. That’s what we will discuss in the next section.
2. Disadvantages of Studying MBA in India
The advantages mentioned in the previous section might convince you that doing an MBA in India is your best option. But hold your horses!
There’s always a flipside to the coin. Here, we take a look at the limitations or disadvantages of earning your MBA in India.
- Limited Use if You Want to Move Abroad
- No/Limited International Exposure
- Limited Growth Opportunities
This depends entirely on where you see yourself in 5 years post-MBA, literally. If you dream of going abroad and working in the US or Europe, an Indian MBA degree is not going to help you.
Here’s the thing:
Working in the US or anywhere abroad means that you will be competing against young professionals who have earned their MBAs in the country you’re looking to go to. That gives them an edge over you.
So, getting your MBA from an Indian B-School won’t serve you well if you plan to move and work abroad.
The thing about Indian B-Schools is that they rarely study with an international perspective.
Although you may get to study abroad for a semester as a part of the program, the outlook of the program in India is focused on the way things work within India. The chances of you getting to study global problems are fairly low.
This limits your perspective and may even prove to be an obstacle to your progress beyond the Indian market, especially if you aspire for higher positions in MNCs.
By remaining within India, you will effectively stay in your comfort zone. While this is not necessarily a bad thing, it does mean that you will have fewer chances to push and challenge yourself to grow.
In comparison, going to do your MBA abroad will expose you to different work cultures, different social norms, maybe even languages.
This is not something you will get if you do your MBA in India.
Now that we have succinctly outlined the good and bad parts of studying for your MBA in India, we’d like to take you through the same for doing an MBA abroad. In the next two sections, we will examine the pros and cons of doing your MBA from a university outside India.
3. Pros of Doing Your MBA Abroad
There are many reasons why you should study abroad. But there are some benefits specific to doing an MBA abroad, which we will be discussing here.
- Global Exposure
- Better Pedagogy
- Learning Opportunities
The most important part of studying abroad is getting global exposure.
When we say global exposure, we mean it on two fronts: networking and handling global issues.
In terms of networking, studying abroad will inevitably mean that your classroom itself will have representatives from multiple countries in one place. This helps you gain insights into the way things work in various countries around the world. Besides, your network will, at some point, become your net worth. At that point in time, having a global network will certainly play to your advantage.
Getting exposure to handling global issues will mean that you will be in a position to help a company maneuver its way not only through domestic markets but also in the international arena.
This adds a lot of weight to your profile.
These aspects of getting your MBA abroad cannot be quantified, so you can’t find a numeric value to add to the balance while calculating the ROI of an MBA.
But they are massive advantages that can help in incredible and unexpected ways throughout your life.
The methods of teaching, or pedagogy, used by most B-Schools in the US, Canada, Europe, and Australia, is significantly different from how things are done in India.
B-Schools outside India generally use a host of tools and techniques to enhance your learning experience. The process of learning is significantly more interactive and experiential than it is in India.
India’s best B-Schools like ISB and IIM-A are beginning to adopt more international standards of teaching.
However, they are no match for the standard offered by B-Schools offering MBA abroad.
One of the benefits that comes by default with studying abroad is that you are forced to grow beyond your comfort zone.
Studying abroad will expand your horizons like nothing else. When exposed to hitherto unknown cultures and faced with new kinds of challenges, you will end up learning new skills and coping mechanisms.
In sheer numbers, you will have more opportunities to learn than ever before if you do your MBA abroad.
In spite of these benefits, there are a few disadvantages to doing your MBA abroad that you should think about before deciding. That’s what the next section is about.
4. Cons of Getting Your MBA Abroad
Everything in life has its good parts as well as bad ones. So, no matter how rosy the picture of studying abroad looks, it has some shortfalls you should consider. Here, we take a look at the cons of doing your MBA abroad.
- It’s Expensive
- Starting from Scratch
- No Safety Net
The most obvious and nearly needless thing to say in this regard is that getting an MBA abroad is prohibitively expensive.
Higher program costs, including ancillary expenses, bring down the ROI of the MBA, overall. You can opt for one year MBA programs in the US or across Europe to help slash the expenses, but you’ll need to carefully evaluate the returns you can expect before you pick the right program for yourself.
In any case, compared to Indian MBA programs, getting your MBA abroad is always going to be more expensive.
Having grown up in your home country, you are likely to have a sizeable network of people from different walks of life. When you go abroad for your MBA, you will be forfeiting this.
In effect, you will need to begin building a fresh network of connections from scratch.
Don’t forget to account for the fact that building a network of professional connections at this point is likely to require some investment as well.
Last but not least, you need to take into consideration the fact that failure is not an option if you go abroad.
When you’re in your home country, making mistakes and wrong choices may be expensive but it doesn’t usually cause irreparable damage. There’s always a protective net to catch you if you fail while you’re still in your home country.
Given how much of a challenge it is to fund your MBA abroad, you simply cannot afford to fail or make mistakes.
It is always advisable to know what you’re getting into before you make a decision as big as getting your MBA in India or abroad. You should be aware of both, the advantages as well as the disadvantages of the same.
Now, let us move on to talking about how you should arrive at your decision.
5. How do I choose between MBA in India and MBA abroad?
When you are trying to figure out where to do your MBA, keep in mind that you should not be following a herd. Don’t go abroad simply because your friends are doing that, and don’t stay in India because everyone recommends it, either.
Your MBA and where you get it from will define how the next 30-40 years of your life will turn out. This is a decision you must make on your own terms.
There are two things we recommend for you to consider while making up your mind:
- Your Background
- Your Aspirations
This is inclusive of everything about you – your academic background, your upbringing, what part of the country you come from – literally, everything.
Why your academic background matters is fairly obvious, but let us tell you a quick fact: even though most MBA students in India as well as abroad are from an engineering background, being an engineer will significantly affect your chances of getting an admit.
Since a huge majority of the applicants come from the same background (engineering), the competition among them is very high. Add to that the fact that most MBA programs try to focus on getting as much diversity in the class as possible and you know why it is tougher for engineers to get MBA admits.
Now, you may be wondering how your upbringing and place of residence matter. Here’s how.
If you come from a rather traditional and conservative background, going abroad can prove to be a rather overwhelming culture shock. It can distract you from your main goal, which is to get your MBA.
And as for the place of residence – if you’re used to urban life, it will be easier for you to find your feet in a new city in the West. If not, you may have a rather rough time getting by. Another reason this is important is that it forms the baseline for how much of a change in weather you can handle.
People often underestimate how important it is to take these facts into consideration. Don’t make that mistake.
These factors are far from being trivial.
If you come from a city in Rajasthan and are looking to join a B-School in Canada, be warned that the Canadian winters are way harsher than anything in India can prepare you for. You may not be accustomed to being unable to leave your house because you’re snowed in – something that may be very common in the city where you plan to go.
In short, your academic background may determine whether you get an admit or not, but whether you should take it or not must be based on a lot more than that.
There’s no point in getting admitted into an MBA program that doesn’t offer the specialization you want to build a career in.
Especially where prestigious universities are involved, you may be tempted to just apply because it’ll be good to have that name on your CV. We recommend that you don’t do this.
Consider very carefully where you see yourself in a few years after the MBA and only apply to the B-Schools that can get you there.
If you see yourself working abroad, whether at a higher level or otherwise, it makes sense to start by getting your MBA abroad. But if you don’t see yourself leaving the comforts of staying with your family behind, then maybe you should just get your MBA in India itself.
At the end of the day, it all comes back to you and what you want from life.
No matter where you apply, your MBA application essay questions will make you seriously think about factors like these, anyway. So, take some time to consider them before you begin applying itself.
To conclude, let us say that the ultimate choice has to be your own, but we do hope that this article has succeeded in guiding you through the decision-making process.
If you still have questions or doubts, reach out to our application experts to schedule a call and they can help you figure things out!