India’s entrepreneurial culture and booming tech sector make it an attractive destination for management education, but it has traditionally failed to attract international MBA students in large numbers.
According to the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC), which administers the GMAT exam, Indian business schools received 18,647 GMAT score reports in 2018. A GMAT score report is a sign of a candidate's interest in a school—but just 1% of scores sent to Indian programs were from non-Indian citizens.
These reports came mostly from Nepal (0.63%), the US (0.13%), Canada (0.10%), and South Korea (0.06%).
India’s reputation as a study destination for internationals is still limited, but with the growth of the Indian economy, this could be set to change.
Here’s five reasons why you should study an MBA in India:
1. Top-ranked business schools
The lack of international MBA students in India creates an opportunity for those applying outside of India to get into the top schools.
There are a number of good schools to choose from, but four business schools consistently rank in the Financial Times top 100 Global MBA Rankings.
Indian School of Business (ISB) comes in at number 24 in the 2019 ranking. The Indian Institute of Management's schools in Ahmedabad, Bangalore, and Calcutta also rank in the top 50 globally.
The relative lack of international students creates an opportunity for those applying outside of India to get into top schools. Manish Gupta, Chief Consulting Officer at MBA Crystal Ball, notes that international students have an opportunity to access world-class education in India and a competitive advantage in the application process.
2. Return on investment
The cost of MBA education at India’s business schools is a fraction of what management education costs in the US or UK. The Indian School of Business estimates the annual cost of education there, plus living expenses, to be around $55,000. That compares to an estimated $80,000 for an MBA from Wharton (excluding living expenses).
There are also a number of scholarships set aside for international students, that cover up to 100% of tuition.
Calculating your return on investment (ROI) can be an important factor in choosing an MBA program: do your homework about both the course costs, and the average salaries after the program.
The Financial Times Global MBA ranking puts ISB’s average salary increase post MBA at 187%, in the top 3 MBA programs for salary increases globally. Graduates from the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad earn an average salary of $186,170, placing the school in the top six MBA programs for average salaries globally. That’s a higher average salary than both University of Chicago, Booth, and INSEAD.
Like many of their counterpart MBA programs in the West, Indian programs also have a high focus on employability. Aditya Singh, director of Athena School of Management, says India's growth is creating more job opportunities for internationals.
Guru Kumara, director for external relations at ISB, agrees. "Indian economic growth is fueling a massive need for high-quality talent," he says. ISB, Amazon, Bain, BCG, Google, McKinsey, and Uber were among the companies who reported their largest single-campus hiring from ISB in India last year.
MBA Crystal Ball’s Manish, however, warns students from outside of India that they’ll have to be proactive.
"There are not established career paths available for international candidates," Manish says. "Traditionally, these candidates need to create their own path. The corporate companies are not very cosmopolitan when it comes to hiring international candidates out of business schools.
"However, the cultural and learning experience is phenomenal," he continues. "The question is how you will leverage your experience in India or back home."
India is currently one of the fastest-growing and most dynamic economies in the world, with corporate expansion, as well as family business and entrepreneurial ventures, contributing to the array of opportunities available to enterprising business students.
This focus on entrepreneurship looks set to increase, as it is becoming a major trend in management education across India.
Aditya credits the skyrocketing number of start-ups being founded in India, as the country becomes one of the largest startup hubs in the world, and says that international students can benefit from learning the Indian way of doing business—the ‘Frugal Innovation’ style Indian businesses have perfected.
5. A unique perspective
All of the above contributes to the distinctive character of Indian business education.
As Guru from ISB explains, "MBAs in India are not different from MBAs anywhere else in the world, and yet are very different. They are a good blend of quality academic rigor combined with an ability to get things done."
Guru elaborates that the key differentiator when it comes to graduate management education in India is that students get access to the India-centric content that they need in order to succeed in the country.
"India is a country with 29 states, each differing from the other in terms of language, culture, customs, etcetera," he says. "The ability to manage this diversity comes naturally to someone who [has studied] here."