Which business school should I choose, Stanford, Harvard or IIM Ahmedabad?

I am an Indian, born and brought up in Delhi and since childhood, my parents have taught me to dream big. Being from a middle-class family I have put my best efforts to study hard and score well. I was always drawn towards a corporate culture which had ignited the fire in my belly to join the best business school.

Since West has carved a niche in the education arena with a host of premier institutions like Harvard, Wharton, Stanford etc in its arsenal. We being Indians with a colonial past generally have an inclination for the institutions abroad. Does that mean that Indian business schools are not at par? Let me bust this confusion for you.

Before delving further let us ponder more into these vital questions-

– Which is the best 2 year or 1 year MBA program?

– Is it better to pursue my MBA abroad rather than from India?

– Should I choose international business schools over Indian MBA colleges?

These questions can streamline our approach towards the issue. Most of the students will consider IIM Ahmedabad (IIM-A) is the best Indian MBA program in the 2-year format. Or ISB is the best GMAT-based Indian MBA program. Or Harvard is the best 2-year MBA course in the world. But is it so?

These generalised assumptions cannot justify as there are no fixed answers to these questions. Every business school designs it’s curricula in a specific way which might be similar but never same. The curriculum of IIM Ahmedabad, Bangalore, Calcutta etc are also not identical, even though they operate under the same parent brand IIM. This applies to all the premier Business schools abroad. Each of the schools teaches something different.

In contrast, the objective for the takers of the entrance examination for IIMs which is Common Aptitude Test (CAT) and Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) for Business abroad are similar, i.e., to score as high as possible. These benchmark tests have fixed syllabus and mode of taking an examination, however, in the end, every successful candidate does not dive in for the similar course.

Most of the aspirants take MBA as a fixed idea, but in practice, there are multiple variants to this single course. Apart from the acronym, the duration of the MBA program, the syllabus, the teaching methodology (mix of classroom-based lectures, group assignments, presentations, case studies) are different. The various corporate competitions also shape up the business psyche of an individual, as these competitions mould them to think in lines of the company’s ethos, work culture, vision and goal. Most importantly, the takeaways from the MBA experience are different for every single person.

All aspiring candidates have different dreams and not all wants to become a business consultant or an investment banker. A few might like to look after the Human Resource domain while others can opt for operations or marketing. With all these variabilities it will be difficult to find the best under one roof. For example, IIM Ahmedabad is best known for its HR department whereas IIM Calcutta reigns Finance.

This is where the rankings can come to rescue. Every year there are various governmental and non-governmental, both national and international organisations publish their ranking report based on various parameters. If you compare the Global MBA Ranking Report of 2017 and 2018, one can easily understand the gravity of these institutes.

In 2017, Indian School of Business (ISB) was at 29th position followed by IIM Ahmedabad at 28th and Insead and Stanford Graduate School of Business occupied the top two ranks whereas Harvard Business School stood at 4th position. Even though Harvard ranked 4th but the highest salary package offered by recruiter was 178,113 USD whereas the highest salary package offered at IIM Ahmedabad was 181,863 USD, which is just after the first highest package offered at Stanford (195,322 USD).

However, the statistics for 2018 is slightly different, Insead has moved to the second position and Stanford has claimed the first. ISB has secured 28th rank whereas IIM Ahmedabad is in 31st position, IIM Bangalore at 35th and IIM Calcutta at 78th rank. Even though ISB is before IIM Ahmedabad the highest salary package offered is USD 148,974 and IIM Ahmedabad graduate received USD 166,651. Stanford continues to claim the first position and has been offered the highest package of USD 214,742 which is nearly 114 per cent hike than the previous year.

After meticulously going through the above statistics one cannot pinpoint a single business school to be the best as the position keeps changing and there are varying parameters like Infrastructure, Alumni Network amongst others described here to decide on a B-school and even though certain business schools like Stanford, Insead are certainly top in the hierarchy, however, ISB and IIM Ahmedabad are also in a pretty good position.

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