International MBA vs ISB MBA

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ISB vs International MBA

Before we dive into all the thoughts that are running in your head about doing an international MBA or an ISB MBA, choose your MBA destination by asking yourself “where do I see my career going?”

The goal is to find the MBA program tailor made for your needs and goals. And we are going to help you decide exactly how you arrive at that conclusion.

The first thing that you would be thinking about is the brand value. Does an Indian MBA holds as much reputation as compared to a top international MBA.

Well, it depends on your ultimate intent behind pursuing an MBA and want to work or maybe  settle down abroad. Maybe your industry, like consulting or product management does not allow you to grow without an international MBA degree on your resume.

Brand Value: International MBA or ISB MBA

If its just the brand value that you want to evaluate first, when you pit ISB against a European B school like INSEAD or LBS; US B schools like Harvard or Kellogg, then read on. As a relatively new school, ISB has gained a lot of traction and international respect, but can that be enough to counter the established structures that are foreign B schools?

ISB has been set up by stalwarts of the Indian business world and has partnerships with Wharton and Kellogg schools of business adding to the status it enjoys in India and abroad. With multiple job offers from top consulting /FMCG and eCommerce giants pouring in, ISB has seen quick rise to the 28th raking in the financial Times global MBA rankings.

So we can be assured, that it is not the prestige or brand value that one will miss out on when choosing between ISB MBA and an international MBA.

Indian Economy vs International Economies

In today’s uncertain times, you must use your business sense and evaluate the economy of the country you intend to seek job opportunities in. This can be in two principle ways:

1) If you want to work outside of the country after your MBA, then applying to schools in the target country or in nearby areas is a good idea. But make sure to evaluate the economic situation and availability of jobs in that country, moreover, the jobs should suit the challenges you are looking for.

2) If you are one of those aspirants who wish to continue working in India after their MBA, then you have to be ready to stay in a foreign country post your international MBA to add credibility to your degree.

Candidates consider this to be brilliant exposure to bring a fresh perspective to business. However, an ISB MBA will provide more insights into workings of the Indian industries and you can be assimilated into a job in India immediately after.

Placement processes : How they differ?

But once you sort through your economic, financial and future considerations, what next? In order to not miss out on all the action and develop a serious case of F.O.M.O, what if you lose out on your chance at an international job later? What if the high pay at a foreign location adds to your rise to the top? What if an international MBA makes you lose out on crucial insights into the Indian business scenario?

While international schools do not usually have a placement procedure, the prestige and networking one is exposed to, opens many doors. As far as a job is concerned;

1) International MBAs add traction and push individuals to search for their own job opportunities. As a foreign resident in a new country, this might not always pan out, but the tag of a good school means that your chances remain high.

2) ISB MBA, on the other hand, will provide on campus placements. While this is not the guarantee of a job, it seems to streamline the process and make it easier. Here, you might lose out on the exposure and experience of striking out on your own.

Jut as a quick reference, the table below illustrates the placement trends of ISB:

YEARS (CLASS OF)201420152016201720182019
Class size766760813903873884
Avg. Age272727272727
Avg. Work Exp.5554.84.64.2
No. of Students759742812898873877
No. of Companies350267297411375373
Total offers8849871151111311361309
International offers6870101123024

Source: https://www.isb.edu/pgp/careers/placement-trends

For international MBA placement reports, do check out official website of the same.

Return on Investment

Once you have successfully sorted through your prioritization of brand value, arrived at a consensus regarding expected job and considered placements, opportunities and the economy (sounds like a lot we know, but trust us, it is worth it!), it’s time to think about Return on Investment.

The goal of the degree is to accelerate your career, but as in Indian student, an international MBA can mean spending a lot of money and taking on loans. Here, you must envision your finances and your ability to pay back. Ask yourself questions like, “What kind of job do I expect to receive after this degree?” “Will my expected salary cover loan costs?”

The question then comes down to where you will be able to reap the most benefits of making such a large investment and where can you easily pay off a loan. An ISB MBA will cost about 45 lakh INR, while an international MBA would cost anywhere from 75 Lakh to 1 crore INR.

While at the first glance, ISB MBA is the cheaper and economical alternative, one needs to look at additional factors such as cost of living, expected salary from each MBA etc.

In a comparative therefore, an international MBA will be more economical when we consider the following:

1) If you manage to secure a job, you will be earning much more per annum. The Mid career median pay for a Wharton graduate is 184,600 dollars.

2) The cost of living and infrastructure is cheaper and more manageable in India, making the ISB degree more expensive relatively.

Therefore, in terms of strict financial returns (if you manage to get employed), an international MBA will be more lucrative. How does the ISB program compare to this then? While the total cost will be less, if you intend to take up a job and repay the loan, it might take longer since jobs in India will not pay the same. At the same time, ISB will provide you with access to the job market, streamlining the process.

The Finer Points: Diversity!

Many aspirants also struggle with making a decision on the finer points of difference, for instance, the cohort in ISB MBA will not be as diverse as the ones in top international MBA schools. This could have two possible insights:

1) At a homogenous cohort like ISB’s the chances of you learning from other’s global experiences is significantly reduced. An international school will allow you to learn and grow as an individual through your interactions with fellow peers.

2) However, if you are someone who will eventually come back to India, knowing people in the Indian industries along with make connections that will help in the future.

Another one of these fine points (although of less importance for majority of you) is the consideration of further study. Are you someone who wants to study further after an MBA? Have you considered taking on a PhD in the long run? In that case, you should know that the PGPM program of ISB is not considered to be a masters degree for further education.

However, if you do not intend to study further, the PGPM is a stellar program that has a lot of recognition in Indian and foreign circles. ISB aspirants often state the lofty place the school occupies in the minds of Indian companies and businesses as their reason for choosing it.

The choice is definitely not an easy one. But, if anyone can make this choice is an MBA aspirant, someone who is prepared to challenge themselves. You can read Akshay’s story who took the ISB MBA path over top international programs.

Start with the very basics like making a list of schools that suit your interests, move on to your subjective priorities and then make your way down this article.

We hope you arrive at the conclusion soon!

Want to check out more on ISB MBA?

A Second MBA from ISB – Possible?

ISB PGP Admissions | ISB MBA Application Help

The ISB MBA: an Excellent Option for Reasons Beyond Academics

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