Monday, September 29, 2008

An American MBA outside the Ivy League

Naveen is a regular reader of this blog and here's his (somewhat belated) 2 cents on my post of 4th Sept 2008, 'Ivy league goes the IIM way - II'.

Just for background, I did my full-time, MBA from a US (Purdue) university in 2002, ranked generally 23/24 as per US News, after working in India for 3 years in software.

Somehow, many students/professionals in India are aware of only the Ivy Leagues and the associated high fees of doing MBA from US (Ivy/non-Ivy) or Europe b-schools. This acts as a deterrent to them and they give up on their dream of doing an MBA from

Based on my experience, I can say, that US schools ranked from 20-30 are also pretty good and they have a very exhaustive program. Many State schools like Purdue, Penn State, Ohio State, Michigan State, Maryland fall in these categories and they all are very good schools (not only in MBA but also have strong Engineering schools) plus the added advantage of lower fees and high probability of getting assistantships (like teaching to undergrads) that reduces the fees a lot plus offers monthly stipend. (could end up being cheaper than studying at ISB or IIMs).

All these schools have very high-class facilities and offer an amazing MBA experience of good coursework & projects, case competitions (even funding going to other US schools case completion, if you qualify), doing projects/cases with other departments and collaborating with them, to develop business case for their technical products, ample networking and discussions etc.

The MBA program at Purdue offers a very diverse class (~40% internationals) and is very strong in Operations and Corporate Finance. One big advantage in these schools is the relative smaller class size (~150 per batch) as compared to 400-600 students at the Ivy Leagues and other top 20 schools. So, a smaller class size offers more opportunity to grow and reduces chances of being lost!!!

We had approx 10 people from India (from varied backgrounds of Engg, Commerce etc.) and almost all, had an assistantship from 1st semester, that reduced everybody’s tension of funding for fees and other living expenses and also the risk of ‘what-if I do not get a job in the US’!!! Most of them had arranged for bank loans from India to cover 2 yrs (and got them easily) but after getting an assistantship within few days of landing @ Purdue, they did not need the Indian loan money.

As for jobs after MBA, most of the Indian batch got jobs by graduation. It was a struggle for a couple of Indian guys due to the tough job market at that time and because they were trying to change their stream (like moving from Marketing pre-MBA experience to Finance and similar).

The visa issue also becomes a headache for some students (Indian, Chinese, Koreans, South Americans etc.) as many companies, would not do sponsorship for MBAs (even though they would sponsor for Engg students from same school). So, pre-MBA work experience plays a major role in post MBA job experience and I would suggest that people get minimum 2-3 years of work experience, before going for a US MBA, due to the job factor plus (my opinion) you tend to learn more, once you have had a solid job experience.

The negative side of doing MBA from 20-30 ranked schools is that your chances (if you want to) of getting into Investment Banking (especially) or Consulting would be reduced, as the big names IB firms (whichever are left now!!) don’t come to these schools and Consulting firms 1st priority is the top 15 schools (from where they pick a lot of students).

Another reason is location of some of these schools, as they are in Mid-West, which is not the hub of IB (New York) or Technology firms (Silicon Valley), but that in no way implies people do not get jobs in East or West coast. It's just that, general tendency of companies is go to schools where they are based out of, or of students, is that they want to find a job in the region, where they studied.

In case of Purdue (which is 2 hrs from Chicago), people from my batch of 150 got jobs all over the US but mainly in Mid-West, and in all sectors (mainly corporate finance, operations or marketing), with very few in IB or consulting. So, prospective students should keep in find their career stream, in choosing the school (stronger the school in that stream, more companies to recruit for that stream) or region of school.

All, I can say, is my MBA from Purdue, was one of the best experience for me and gave me lot of exposure to people from different cultures and a very good educational experience (plus also a good job :)

Thanks, Naveen!

In other MBA related news, the IIMs sold 2.9 lakh CAT forms this year, which is a new record. Wonder if the numbers would have been so high if the markets and I-banks had collapsed a couple of months earlier!


  1. just like the IT slump in 2000 had ZERO impact on IIT's # of applicants .... I'm sure there will be ZERO impact on applications to IIMs this year ... though the financial sector is in doldrums ... i'm more concerned about the passing out batch next year ...

  2. My observations about Indian students looking to study abroad: Firstly, they are obsessed by the average GMAT score to get into a B-School. They should realize that GMAT is only one of the factors, and NOT the factor. Secondly, Indian students are obsessed with rankings. I remember talking to a Deans from various business school, and they said they found it quite interesting that Indian students hardly focus on rankings rather than checking the match between school's offerings and student's needs.:). You know conclusion is that an MBA in India is a test of you aptitude, and an MBA abroad is a test of your attitude. Both are good, it is up to you to decide what you want in the long run.

  3. Very nice oveservation by indian blogger. I had gone to Rutgers, even though I was accepted in NYU. The primary reason for me was the cost factor; and I do not repent for my decision. There are plenty of excellent schools which are completely ignored by the Indian students. Realistic assesment of school/candidate match is the key and most Indian candidate seems to not realyze that.

  4. It’s an important distinction to draw as it seems to me that whenever anyone calls into question the value of an MBA for entrepreneurs quoting the cost and resulting return on investment they always quote the costs of Ivy League business schools not the run of the mill business school. Equally they assume that entrepreneurs would take the MBA on a full time basis instead of starting or running their business.
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  5. Nice and interesting blog you have here. I would like to invite you to join my contest @ my blog for a chance to win a free blog review from me. You should subscribe to my rss feed by email and let me know you have by commenting under the "Giveaway" post or emailing me and notifying you have entered the contest. Happy Blogging!

  6. Who would you consider the top 10 Indian bloggers?


  8. Anonymous1:41 PM


    top 10 Indian bloggers...
    Anyone but this bitch

  9. This comment has been removed by the author.

  10. I think the whole economic meltdown is a key event for everyone contemplating getting an MBA. Who's responsible for the global meltdown, for so much of value-drop in global fortunes.
    Take Lehmann bros, founded by son of cattle merchant Henry Lehmann who built such a huge valuable corporation. Who brought it down? Richard Severin Fuld, Jr. CEO of the firm in 2008, M.B.A. from New York University's Stern School of Business has been recently named by CNN as one of "Ten Most Wanted: Culprits" for 2008 crisis by making wrong financial decisions.
    George Bush jr, MBA, the famous eponymous alumni from Harvard whose Bushisms have given new vistas to extend of human imbecility. The man the world claims is responsible for economic policies among other things that have lead us to this abyss. The man who has given USA the bad name for being semen of global crisis. Circa April 30, 1789, George Washington, educated at home by his father and older brother, created a nation of ideators & entrepreneurs who would shape global economy.

    So now tell me who wants an MBA from Ivy League US school?

  11. Anonymous3:38 PM

    i totaly argree with indian blogger..good job brother..
    hi, my name is hemal currently working on an educational website call and during my research on it i frequently came across questions like, is it A listed university, how many indian are studying there, will i get good pay once i come out of it with a degree etc.. then there are many who want to go abroad for studies and doesnt necessarily feel getting into a A listed univ..may be cost factor or whatever. So what have i done is i have given a complete detail on different oversea university and institute from cost of fee to cost of bread. So a student whos plannig to study oversea gets full picture of it. Plz visit if you want any kind of info education.

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