New Delhi: Chemical engineer Sanjay Kuberker spent more than a decade working in information technology, finance and banking, and travelling between India and the US, before thinking about going back to school for an MBA (master’s in business administration).

But by that time he had had a son and couldn’t afford to take time off for the two years needed to pursue a traditional postgraduate management programme. So, he looked at schools in India and China, and chose the one-year course at the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad (IIM-A). “It was aligned with my own experience and age, and IIM-A has a fantastic brand name," Kuberker says.

Business schools know a good idea when they see one, and after the Hyderabad-based Indian School of Business created a successful one-year postgraduate programme in management for students with a few years of work experience, its state-run brethren quickly followed suit.

The first one-year batch at IIM-A graduated in 2007, and classes at the IIMs in Calcutta (IIM-C) and Lucknow (IIM-L) came soon after. Last month, IIM Bangalore (IIM-B) launched its own programme but tweaked the formula to focus not just on students with a decade of experience, but also those interested in emerging economies.

Back to school: The Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad, which graduated its first one-year batch in 2007, has seen the number of applicants grow from 750 in that year to 1,350 in the latest pool. Madhu Kapparath / Mint

Students have traditionally finished their education first, before beginning to work. But with large numbers of employees hired straight from college campuses in the past decade, particularly by technology companies such as Wipro Technologies and Infosys Technologies Ltd, many Indian employers are struggling to fill middle-management positions with qualified administrators. By then, employees might have five or six years of technical experience, but no managerial training, and no time to take two years off for a traditional MBA programme.

So, business schools are setting up programmes to tap into the growing need. Besides increasing the number of one-year management programmes targeting professionals with seven or eight years of experience, and at least a few years as a manager, institutes are also offering part-time MBAs.

“I wanted to get a good understanding of how business works and how industry works," says S. Jagadish, who recently finished a part-time MBA at IIM-B, and is employed by the city’s technology industry.

Business schools have also teamed up with companies to offer crash courses in executive education to their employees. IIM-L, for example, designed a one-year certificate programme exclusively for mid-level executives at outsourcing giant Genpact Ltd. The first batch started in February, with Genpact covering 60% of the costs and students paying the rest.

IIM Indore recently launched certificate programmes for working executives with the training company Everonn Systems India Ltd. Classes are taught out of a studio in Indore, but students will be based at Everonn’s centres around the country. The professor is connected to the centres via video link.

One-year programmes tend to be priced at least twice the cost of two-year or part-time sessions. Not only because they usually cover one month abroad or bring in more faculty from industry, but also because they are not government-mandated programmes, so the institutes have more flexibility in terms of fees.

The one-year programme at IIM-L costs around Rs10 lakh, and at IIM-A, about Rs14 lakh. The investment seems to be paying off, though; the last batch in Ahmedabad, says Arvind Sahay, who chairs the one-year programme, received an average offer of Rs26 lakh per year—a 140% jump from what they came in with.

These alternative courses are maturing as they go through their first few batches. IIM-A’s 750 applicants in the first year grew to 850 in the second, and 1,350 in the latest pool. At the part-time programme at IIM-L, only 65% of the first class survived to graduation, but 80% made it in the second batch.

And IIM-B is trying to capitalize on the success of these courses. “We would like to get people from all different kinds of professions and nationalities," says Malay Bhattacharyya, who will oversee IIM-B’s new programme. “We have been receiving calls from all kinds of people (who say), ‘Why don’t you start a one-year course?’ We are a little late."