DEGREE VS DIPLOMA – There are two kinds of management education that can be obtained at a graduate level. J K Goyal discusses the options

5B34C451-96E9-4CAA-90EE-540F3497216EMany students who wish to study a postgraduate programme in management get confused when some institutions offer them a postgraduate diploma while others promise an MBA degree. They fail to distinguish between the two. The situation becomes more complicated when many institutes offering PG diplomas say that the qualification is equivalent to an MBA degree. It is not clear what they mean by the term ‘equivalent’. Students and their parents, therefore, face the difficulty of choosing between a diploma and a degree. Let’s try to clear the confusion.

In the statutory set-up of India’s higher education system, a degree can be awarded only by a university recognised by the University Grants Commission (UGC). There are 4 types of universities in India – central, state, deemed and private universities. A number of universities have the authority to affiliate colleges and institutes. Students studying in these affiliated institutes are awarded degrees by the affiliating university. In the field of management education in the country, the Indian Institute of Managements (IIMs) do not have a university status to date. Therefore, they cannot award MBA degrees. They offer only postgraduate diplomas.

The regulator of technical education in India, All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE), had given its approval to many institutions from 1990 onwards. Such an institute could offer a postgraduate diploma in management without university affiliation. These autonomous institutes also, therefore, did not award degrees. This is the case as far as the statutory difference between a degree and a diploma is concerned.

Let us now address the next issue. In practice, as far as corporate employers are concerned, they are least concerned whether a student holds a diploma or a degree.

Often, people prefer a degree to a diploma. This may be particularly so in the case of subjects such as Economics and English.

The issue has also been addressed by many institutes offering diplomas. In India, the Association of Indian Universities (AIU) has the power to grant equivalence status to any diploma or degree awarded by any institute outside the Indian university system.

Career prospects

Some AICTE-approved autonomous institutes have obtained the MBA equivalence status for their PGDM programme. A diploma without an MBA equivalence status does not allow a student to pursue a career in teaching or enrol on a PhD programme. A master’s degree is a must for these options.

However, in the case of institutes which offer diplomas equivalent to an MBA degree, students completing the programme are eligible for teaching posts and PhD enrolment. Since an MBA degree is awarded by a university, its fee structure is regulated by the state. And in most cases, the fee is much lower than what AICTE-approved autonomous institutes charge for postgraduate programmes.

So, for students whose objective is just to acquire a PG qualification in management, an MBA degree is a cheaper option than a diploma. However, barring a few instances, autonomous institutes offering the PGDM attempt to score on the placement record.

The student should, therefore, take a decision depending on his/her personal circumstances, purpose and fee structure of the various options available to him/her.

By Dr. JK Goyal,

Director, JIMS, Rohini

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