New Delhi: If you are like most applicants to business schools, the road to a master’s in business administration (MBA) programme could seem blocked by two obstacles: near-impossible admission odds and soaring fees. In the case of the Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs), less than 1%—to be specific, between 0.1% and 0.4%—applicants even have a chance at getting a seat. And then, there are the no-name business schools you can get into—but the fees could go upwards of Rs10 lakh.
It doesn’t have to be that way. We set out to find quality MBA programmes that cost less than Rs5 lakh. We found some “bargains”; but, warning: There is no short cut to high scores and good interviews.
Faculty of Management Studies, or FMS, New Delhi: A.P.J. Adbul Kalam, former president of the country, teaches classes as visiting faculty at this business school where students pay a little less than Rs20,000 for a two-year programme in business administration.
The government-subsidized school has one of the most affordable MBA degrees in the country. But getting into this business school is not easy.
Value for money: NITIE charges Rs2.24 lakh for its two-year postgraduate programme, which it offers in three subjects. Ashesh Shah / Mint
FMS conducts its own entrance examination, where it selects roughly 600 candidates from among 61,000 applicants. The test is followed by a group discussion and an interview. Only 112 successful candidates make it, giving FMS an acceptance rate of 0.2%.
Students swear by the college that boasts a small batch size and a student-teacher ratio of 3:1. “The reason why I chose FMS is because it is in Delhi, and it has one of the strongest alumni networks as the college was founded in 1954,” says Pranima Das, 21, a 2009 batch student who turned down an admission offer from the Symbiosis Institute of Management Studies in Pune to join FMS. “Of course, fees is also a criteria. Where can you do an MBA in Rs19,000?”
Das says her batch has two students who turned down offers from the smaller IIMs.
FMS also hosts a part-time MBA programme where candidates with work experience can join.
National Institute of Industrial Engineering, or NITIE, Mumbai: This government-subsidized school charges Rs2.24 lakh for two-year postgraduate programmes offered in three subjects—industrial management, information technology management, and safety and environmental management.
Students get in on the basis of the Common Admission Test, or CAT, scores, which also opens the doors for the elite IIMs. Only those scoring in the 98th percentile or above are called for a group discussion, followed by an interview. But there is another stiff bar—this school only admits graduate engineers to its MBA programmes.
Ken D’Souza, 23, a 2010 batch student turned down offers from the Gurgaon-based Management Development Institute (MDI), the Institute of Management Technology (IMT) in Ghaziabad and the Mumbai-based Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) to join this business school. He cites another factor. “NITIE offers one of the best returns on investment—the placement packages grossly overshadowing the paltry fees.”
This year, the school selected 174 of the more than 10,000 candidates who applied, giving it an acceptance rate of 1.7%.
Jamnalal Bajaj Institute of Management Studies, or JBIMS, Mumbai: This government-subsidized business school is part of the University of Mumbai, and charges Rs1.6 lakh for a two-year MBA programme.
The 120 seats are much sought after; 70% of these seats are set aside for students who graduate from Mumbai University and sit for the Common Entrance Test, or CET, conducted by the directorate of technical education in Maharashtra. Around 80,000 applicants took the test in 2008. The other 30% seats are for out-ofMaharashtra candidates who sit for tests that include CAT.
Students say the Mumbai location means frequent faculty visits from industry as well as involvement in live projects throughout the year. “Another aspect in which we are unique is our strong alumni network which boasts of names like Mr Uday Kotak (vice-chairman and managing director of Kotak Mahindra Bank Ltd), Mr Nitin Paranjpe (chief executive and managing director of Hindustan Unilever Ltd), and many more,” says Urja Ketkar, 25, who turned down offers from MDI Gurgaon, the Symbiosis Institute of Business Management (SIBM), Pune, and the Narsee Monjee Institute of Management Studies, Mumbai.
Great network: At Rs4.2 lakh for a two-year MBA programme, NMIMS is not cheap. But its Mumbai location and alumni in senior positions are its strong points. Photo: Abhijit Bhatlekar / Mint
Jamnalal Bajaj also has one of the best, and most easily navigable, websites.
Institute of Management, Nirma University, or Imnu, Ahmedabad: It is one of the cheapest privately run business schools in the country, with a fee of Rs3.3 lakh for a two-year MBA programme. An annual charge of Rs32,000 is levied for the hostel and costs such as Internet usage.
Students say the business school, located within the 115-acre Nirma University campus on the outskirts of Ahmedabad, offers very good infrastructure, including air-conditioned classrooms and a Wi-Fi campus. “The infrastructure is wonderful, and we have faculty with industry experience. Placements are part (of the attraction),” says Arnav Sharma, 21, a 2009 batch student of the MBA programme. Sharma graduated from the Shaheed Sukhdev College of Business Studies, Delhi University, and got a call from the Mudra Institute of Communications (MICA), Ahmedabad, but could not convert it into an admission offer.
Nirma’s business school admits students on the basis of CAT scores, and the cut-off in 2008 was 91 percentile. It received 6,000 applications for 120 seats, an acceptance rate of 2%.
The school also offers an MBA in family business and entrepreneurship and a part-time MBA programme for candidates with work experience.
Narsee Monjee Institute of Management Studies, or NMIMS, Mumbai: It is a school that takes advantage of its location in Mumbai, the financial heart of the country. So, D. Shivakumar, vice-president and managing director of Nokia India Pvt. Ltd, is among the 250 visiting faculty members who teach its MBA class.
The bill for this school is not cheap; students have to pay Rs4.2 lakh for a two-year MBA programme. And the annual hostel fee is an additional Rs1 lakh.
Dipti Pillai, 22, who graduated from Hindu College in Delhi, found the institute’s location and its alumni network were its biggest pulls. “Alumni of NMIMS are in top positions in major cities down south— Mumbai, Chennai and Bangalore—so brand recall is very high,” says Pillai, who turned down offers from IMT Ghaziabad and SIBM Pune to join the business school.
NMIMS has just revamped its curriculum to introduce financial analytics, soft skills such as communication and courses on ethics and corporate social responsibility.
Getting in is tough. The school selects 240 out of the around 37,000 applicants for its core MBA through its own test, group discussion and interview; an acceptance rate of 0.6%.
Besides a core MBA, it also offers MBA programmes in capital markets, retail, services and banking, among other subjects.
Amrita School of Business, Coimbatore: It is a school that keeps a low profile but is relatively easy to get into. Its cut-off in 2008 was 75 percentile in CAT. The school received 1,500 applications for 120 seats in its MBA programme. “It is a ridiculously low number, but we depend on word of mouth,” says Easwar Krishna Iyer, chairman of admissions at the school, which charges a tuition fee of Rs5 lakh for a two-year programme in business management, with extra hostel charges, laptop charges and a mess charge. The extras amount to Rs1.4 lakh for two years. Students, especially those with work experience, give the school a thumbs-up. “I found the school after researching on the Net and pagalguy,” says Fareedul Hai, 27, who ran a business in Kanpur, Uttar Pradesh, for the repair of electricity transformers before opting for a management degree. “The infrastructure is good, the faculty is comparable to the best in the world.”
The school has 18 full-time teachers, some of whom hold degrees from foreign schools such as the Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management and Berkeley at the University of California.
Others worth a look: You also should check out the Indian Institute of Modern Management in Pune, the SIES College of Management Studies in Navi Mumbai, the Alliance Business Academy in Bangalore, the Institute of Management Technology in Nagpur and University Business School in Chandigarh.