Choosing the right B-school

T.I.M.E. B-School Categorisation

India is home to more than 3,000 business schools offering the Master of Business Administration (MBA) programme. A significant number of these schools boast of offering great quality of management education and great placements. Most of these boastful claims are just that – boasts without any basis in facts. However, there are some excellent schools which offer the right springboard for a successful leap into the business world.

In such context, MBA aspirants often face the unenviable task of choosing the right b-schools to consider for application (and later enrolling). It is well-known that an MBA benefits the aspirant only if its pursued from a top b-school. However, what constitutes ‘top’ varies between people and between years.  

It is important for students to consider the key parameters for the selection of b-schools. Students should evaluate the performance of the b-schools on these parameters and make a shortlist of good schools. This is a complex process which needs a lot of information about the schools. While trying to obtain this information, there is a great possibility that aspirants might fall prey to the false claims found in various media, including the internet. With the avowed aim of helping students make the right choice without getting swayed by false claims, T.I.M.E. has been releasing its list of top B-Schools for several years now.

The B-School Categorization List, which features b-schools in various categories, is the result of several months of extensive research and data collection and is monitored by experts who have over 25 years of experience in guiding students on MBA admissions.

The basic purpose of this article is two-fold: (a) make you aware of the various parameters that should be looked at while selecting a b-school and (b) introduce you to T.I.M.E.’s List of the Top 150 B-Schools in India.

METHODOLOGY

(a)  How is the list arrived at?

T.I.M.E. uses the strength of its country-wide network of experts who have been mentoring students for years for the b-school selection process. The B-School Categorization process followed by us is an elaborate multi-step process where due weightage is given to the data available about an institute in the public domain and the opinion of experts at T.I.M.E.. This blend of expert opinion and objective data is what makes it the most accurate categorization available.

The parameters used comprise the following: (a) placement data; (b) cut-off score in entrance exam; (c) location; (d) institute’s age, and (e) fee. While these parameters constitute the objective aspect of the categorization methodology, the rating given by T.I.M.E. experts to each institute along with the quality of alumni and faculty constitute the subjective aspect. An elaborate scoring system is devised for each of the objective parameters, which is reviewed and modified by the expert panel. The data related to each institute for each of the above parameters is collected and scrutinised for its authenticity. Finally, scores are assigned to the institutes based on the scoring system according to the authenticated data of the institute.
Please note that only the schools offering two-year programmes, with at least one graduate batch, have been considered for this exercise.

The objective parameters that we use for our categorization process are:

(i) Placements

The career opportunities that an MBA provides in the short- and long-term, the speed of growth that it offers, the variety of roles that one can get into, etc., should be the main reasons for doing an MBA. Salaries are only a concomitant factor and should not be the only reason for one to get into an MBA programme. However, as the other parameters can only be visualised and objectively measured long later after one graduates from the MBA programme, salaries at the time of campus placements are used as an indirect measure to gauge the MBA programme.

The advantage with salary data is that such data are broadly objective – one can lay a finger on them and come to a general understanding about the quality of placements at a b-school. The data are also important, considering that students at b-schools invest not just two valuable years of their life but also a considerable amount of money (in fee). To expect a commensurate return from this high investment – more of time than money – is only natural. The salary data hence reflect the ‘quality’ of return.

A large number of b-schools resort to statistical (and other kinds of) gimmickry while reporting the salary figures. While some schools may not release any placement data, some list only the names of companies that visit the campus for recruitment without revealing other info (like salary and job profiles offered). Some carry historical data of the names of companies to create an impression as if all of them visited the campus for the recent round of placements.

While inflating the salary figures happens often, adding ‘signing or joining bonuses’ or ‘variable pay’ into the reported pay packages happens frequently.

Most schools do not reveal the percentage or number of students who do not secure jobs. This kind of gimmickry, as one can see, is fairly common. As such, one needs to be careful while trying to understanding the placements at b-schools.

Unfortunately, there is no standard procedure for reporting placement data that b-schools are required to follow. Any such requirement could have put a stop to making false claims and would have rendered the picture on placements clear.

In 2011, the Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad (IIMA) took the initiative of putting in place a set of reporting standards called the Indian Placement Reporting Standards (IPRS). This laudable initiative has, unfortunately and not surprisingly, found little traction among other b-schools.
T.I.M.E. greatly admires the transparency that a standard like IPRS can bring into the system, especially because it mandates that b-schools have their placement report audited by a third party. As one of the very few coaching institutes, which gets its results audited by a third party, we understand the kind of honesty and effort that goes into ensuring the quality of such an audit. We have, hence, as part of the categorization exercise, accorded positive credit to the schools that report their placements in line with the IPRS.

(You can know more about the IPRS at http://www.iimahd.ernet.in/iprs/index.php.)

(ii) Cut-off in entrance test

Students help a b-school get stronger on its brand and the b-school’s brand value in-turn helps the students move ahead faster in their career. It is only natural for the schools to select the best students while the brightest students would definitely wish to get into only the best schools.

It is also important to note that the quality of students directly impacts the quality of learning, especially as the amount of peer learning that happens at a top b-school is quite significant.

In this context, cutoff percentile is, therefore, a strong indicator of the quality of the students at a b-school – the higher the cutoff, the better the quality of the students.

Some b-schools give significant weightage to other important parameters like academics and work experience. However, even at these schools, the entrance test percentile cutoff are significantly higher than some of the schools which are listed in the categories immediately below them.

(iii) Fee

Fee is not a direct indicator of the quality of a school. One should rate a school high just because of its fee nor should one trash a school solely because of it. Many top schools charge a pretty high fee of around `19-`20 lakh while a few top schools charge as low as `3 lakh. As fee cannot be an independent parameter to evaluate a b-school, it should be used in conjunction with parameters like placement and brand value of the b-school.

The RoI (Return on Investment) needs to be considered carefully, particularly when the fee level is high. This would mean that unless a student gets a pay package of a certain value, the fee expense doesn’t make much financial sense. The RoI becomes a significant factor as one moves down the list of b-schools, particularly in schools beyond the top three categories.

(iv) Location of the b-school

What has been said about fee not being a straight-forward parameter to handle also applies to the ‘location’ parameter. There could be an excellent school in a relatively inferior location or vice versa. However, do keep in mind that location plays not a minor role in attracting faculty and industry (for placements) to the campus.

The brand strength of an institute can counter the effect of location to a very large extent. A good brand can attract faculty and industry even to a relatively less popular location. This is the primary reason why the New IIMs, despite being in so-called ‘remote’ places, have been able to command respect from both the academia and the industry within a short span of time. But, as one moves down the categorization list, particularly outside the top 50, the brand strength wanes and the influence of location looms large.

(v) Other factors

The quality of faculty and the quality of infrastructure are two important factors to be considered while evaluating a b-school. Necessary care should be taken while reading into these data points, as some things are not quite as straightforward as they seem.

Claims like the number of PhD faculty, visiting faculty, etc., should not be taken at face value as some of the names so cited may not actually be teaching at those schools.

The number of full-time professors versus part-timers can also be a misleading data point and neither a high nor a low number here indicates better/inferior teaching. JBIMS, a top 10 b-school, with its many visiting professors, is a case in point.
One may be tempted to consider the lack of infrastructure as a severe handicap. However, it is to be noted that some of the new b-schools, which have a good ‘parent’ brand, have been able to overcome the infrastructure handicap and have performed well. The New IIMs (Kashipur, Raipur, Ranchi, Rohtak, Trichy, and Udaipur) and IIFT Kolkata are prime examples.

(b)  What the list contains and what it doesn’t

Those looking at our list may have queries like:  why are the one-year MBA programmes missing from the list, why is IIM Jammu not in the list, and why is the HHR programme of IIM Ranchi in the list.

As mentioned earlier, we have considered only two-year MBA/PGDM programmes for the list. We bring any eligible schools into our consideration set only after they have completed two years of operation, which would mean that their first batch would have graduated. That is because only then we can assess the school on all the parameters that we consider for our categorization. IIM Jammu, for example, has not been considered this year as its first batch will graduate next year.

Also, the categorization considers only the flagship programme of the schools. For example, for IIM Ranchi, the flagship PGP is considered. While it is true that the institute’s PGP-HR cannot be considered on par with the flagship PGP, the former programme benefits significantly from the rub-off of the latter programme.

CATEGORIZATION

The B-Schools in the list below are divided into seven broad categories:

Top 10 category features world-class institutes, like XLRI and some of the IIMs, every student aspires of securing an admission into. Many of these institutes are comparable with the best in the world. Indeed, some of them regularly feature in the lists released by international business magazines. These institutes invariably have a 100% placement record. Even the not-so-academically-good students at these institutes manage to get good jobs due to the ‘rub-off’ effect of the institute.

AAA+ & AAA categories of institutes make the Top 30. They offer high quality of education, faculty, and infrastructure. These institutes have a 100% placement record. A significant number of the top students at these institutes secure placements that are comparable to those offered at the Top 10 institutes.
AA & A categories of institutes offer a consistent and high quality of education, faculty, and infrastructure facilities. A good number of students at these schools get placements which are much better than the placements of the lower half of the categories above (Top 10, AAA+ and AAA). These institutes are successful in providing high quality placements to their top students, especially those who have effective communication skills.

BBB+, BBB and BB categories of institutes are well regarded by the industry and are generally successful in placing their students. Some of these schools have been very strong brands themselves earlier, and have been pushed down the list only because of the addition of the New IIMs in the last few years. This shows that most of these hold their ground successfully and that students can rely on them to give a boost to their career.
B+ and B categories of schools enjoy a good reputation in the business world. These institutes may not provide too many national-level placement opportunities but are generally successful in providing placements to many of their students with prominent companies – local and national.

Apart from all these, we have also listed b-schools under the ‘Others’ category. These institutes may be found to be lacking in one or more of: (a) infrastructure; (b) industry interface; (c) faculty; (d) alumni network; (e) curriculum, and (f) placements. However, we believe these colleges are better than the hordes of others that do not feature in our list at all. You are hence advised to get thorough information (by visiting the campuses and speaking with past and current students) about these institutes before making any decision regarding them.

In short, the above categorization would mean that the top 50 schools – Top 10, AAA+, AAA, AA and A categories – would be the schools to aspire for.

How will this categorization help you?

The first question you should address is: ‘How many b-schools should I apply to?’. The answer will depend on a few factors.
The first factor is your budget. With the cost of the application for each institute being in the range of `500 to `2500, you may not want to look at more than 7-8 institutes. But whatever be the number of institutes you wish to apply to, it is always a good practice to select institutes across categories.

The second factor is what you are doing currently:

(a) Pursuing final year of graduation: In this case, you may be keen on getting into a management institute but can afford to try again if you do not get into an institute of your choice. So, you may apply rather selectively.

(b) Completed graduation in the last academic session, not pursuing any higher studies, and not working either: In this case, you should try get into a reasonably good institute. So, the number of institutes that you apply will be higher than in the case of the first category.

(c) Completed graduation and currently working: You can be pretty selective unless you have been working for more than 4-5 years in which case, you may not want to lose further time in getting into a management institute.

The third factor in deciding the number of institutes to which you should apply to is your performance in the entrance exams. Depending on your performance, you may want to hedge your risk by applying to more institutes – particularly, to institutes across categories that we discussed above.

Once you decide the number of institutes you wish to apply to, let us look at how you will go about deciding the types of such institutes. Here, the cardinal principle is to safeguard your interests and reduce your risk; so, you should apply to institutes in at least three different tiers.

Let’s say you wish to apply to seven institutes. First, you should consider your performance in the AIMCATs. If your scores are in the 85–95 percentile range, then apart from the IIMs (which you can apply to in the same form while registering for the CAT), you should apply to three other institutes in the next category and two institutes in the category after that. It will also be worth applying to MDI and/or SPJIMR. Also, if you are interested in sectoral programmes, you should apply to some of the sectoral institutes, like IIFT and TISS.

Finally, it is always a good idea to apply to as many institutes as possible, based on one’s budget, to maximise one’s chances as one is never sure about the criteria each institute would follow for admissions.

Key points to note

(i) As one moves into the BBB+ towards the B and other categories, one has to pay increasing attention to the RoI factor – a combination of the fee and placement statistics.

(ii) A b-school that may appeal to an aspirant may not appeal to another. This is because of differences in aspirations, abilities, financial conditions, etc.

(iii) Do not go only by the placement data and generally be wary of the attractive claims made by the b-schools.

(iv) As you know, the presence of a school in a particular category is determined by a combination of factors. You may find a school, listed in a category below, doing better on a particular parameter. However, when all the factors are looked at together, the schools listed in the higher category are better overall than the schools listed in the category below.

(v) Within a category, the schools are listed only alphabetically, i.e., ‘in-category’ ranking has not been done. Assigning individual rank to schools is not objectively possible and is also not totally fair to the b-schools. We arrive at category sizes keeping in mind that the schools in a particular category should broadly be equal. You would observe that the grouping categories do not have uniformity about the number of b-schools per category. This was done to ensure brand homogeneity across parameters (like placement) within a category.

If you wish to choose between schools within a category, you are advised to find more information about the specific schools.

Best Wishes from All of Us at T.I.M.E.!

 

India’s Top 150 B-Schools (all lists in alphabetical order)

 ‘Top Ten’

  • Faculty of Management Studies (FMS), University of Delhi, Delhi
  • Indian Institute of Foreign Trade (IIFT), New Delhi
  • Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad (IIMA)
  • Indian Institute of Management Bangalore (IIMB)
  • Indian Institute of Management Calcutta (IIMC)
  • Indian Institute of Management Lucknow (IIML)
  • Jamnalal Bajaj Institute of Management Studies (JBIMS), Mumbai
  • Management Development Institute (MDI), Gurgaon
  • S. P. Jain Institute of Management & Research (SPJIMR), Mumbai
  • XLRI – Xavier School of Management, Jamshedpur

 ‘AAA+’

  • Department of Management Studies, Indian Institute of Technology Delhi (IITD)
  • Indian Institute of Foreign Trade (IIFT), Kolkata
  • Indian Institute of Management Indore (IIMI)
  • Indian Institute of Management Kozhikode (IIMK)
  • Indian Institute of Management Ranchi (IIM Ranchi)
  • Narsee Monjee Institute of Management Studies (NMIMS), Mumbai
  • National Institute of Industrial Engineering (NITIE), Mumbai
  • Rajiv Gandhi Indian Institute of Management (RGIIM), Shillong
  • Shailesh J. Mehta School of Management (SJMSOM), IIT Bombay (IITB)
  • Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), Mumbai

‘AAA’

  • Department of Management Studies (DOMS), Indian Institute of Science Bangalore (IISc.)
  • Indian Institute of Management Indore (IIMI), Mumbai campus
  • Indian Institute of Management Raipur (IIM Raipur)
  • Indian Institute of Management Rohtak (IIM Rohtak)
  • Indian Institute of Management Trichy (IIMT)
  • Indian Institute of Management Udaipur (IIMU)
  • Indian Institute of Management Kashipur (IIMKa)
  • Symbiosis Centre for Management & Human Resource Development (SCMHRD), Pune
  • Symbiosis Institute of Business Management (SIBM), Pune
  • Vinod Gupta School of Management (VGSOM), Indian Institute of Technology Kharagpur (IIT-KGP)

 ‘AA’

  • Department of Commerce, Delhi School of Economics (DSE), University of Delhi
  • Department of Financial Studies (DFS), University of Delhi
  • Department of Industrial & Management Engineering (IME), IIT Kanpur (IITK)
  • Department of Management Studies (DoMS), Indian Institute of Technology Madras (IITM)
  • Indian Institute of Management Nagpur (IIM Nagpur)
  • Indian Institute of Management Visakhapatnam (IIMV)
  • International Management Institute (IMI), New Delhi
  • MICA Ahmedabad
  • Sydenham Institute of Management Studies, Research & Entrepreneurship Education, Mumbai (SIMSREE)
  • Xavier Institute of Management Bhubaneswar (XIMB)

‘A’

  • Bharathidasan Institute of Management (BIM), Trichy
  • Department of Business Economics, University of Delhi
  • FORE School of Management, New Delhi
  • Great Lakes Institute of Management (GLIM), Chennai (PGDM Two-Year Programme)
  • Indian Institute of Management Amritsar (IIM Amritsar)
  • Indian Institute of Management Bodh Gaya (IIM Bodh Gaya)
  • Indian Institute of Management Sambalpur (IIM Sambalpur)
  • Indian Institute of Management Sirmaur (IIM Sirmaur)
  • Institute of Management Technology (IMT), Ghaziabad
  • Institute of Rural Management Anand (IRMA)
  • K.J. Somaiya Institute of Management Studies & Research (SIMSR), Mumbai
  • MISB Bocconi, Mumbai
  • National Institute of Banking & Management (NIBM), Pune
  • Symbiosis Institute of International Business (SIIB), Pune
  • T. A. Pai Management Institute (TAPMI), Manipal

‘BBB+’

  • Department of Humanities & Social Sciences, MHRM, IIT–KGP
  • Department of Management Studies (DOMS), IIT Roorkee (IIT Roorkee)
  • Faculty of Management Studies, Banaras Hindu University (FMS–BHU)
  • Goa Institute of Management (GIM), Goa
  • Institute for Financial Management & Research (IFMR), Chennai
  • Lal Bahadur Shastri Institute of Management (LBSIM), Delhi
  • Loyola Institute of Business Administration (LIBA), Chennai
  • MANAGE, Hyderabad (only for those interested in Agri-Business/Rural Management)
  • Narsee Monjee Institute of Management Studies, Bengaluru (NMIMS–B)
  • Narsee Monjee Institute of Management Studies, Hyderabad (NMIMS–H)
  • Nirma University Institute of Management (NIRMA), Ahmedabad
  • Prin. L. N. Welingkar Institute of Management Development & Research (WE School), Mumbai
  • Shri Ram College of Commerce, MBA-GBO, Delhi
  • Symbiosis Institute of Business Management, Bengaluru (SIBM–B)
  • University Business School (UBS), Panjab University, Chandigarh

‘BBB’

  • Birla Institute of Management Technology (BIMTECH), NOIDA
  • Birla Institute of Technology & Science (BITS), Pilani
  • Christ University Institute of Management (CUIM), Bengaluru
  • Delhi School of Management (Delhi Technological University), Delhi
  • Hyderabad Central University (HCU), Hyderabad
  • ICFAI Business School (IBS), Hyderabad
  • Indian Institute of Forest Management (IIFM), Bhopal
  • Indian Institute of Social Welfare & Business Management (IISWBM), Kolkata
  • National Institute of Technology Tiruchirappalli (NITT)
  • National Insurance Academy (NIA), Pune
  • SIES College of Management Studies (SIESCOM), Mumbai
  • Symbiosis Institute of Management Studies (SIMS), Pune
  • Symbiosis Institute of Operations Management (SIOM), Nasik
  • Symbiosis Institute of Telecom Management (SITM), Pune
  • Xavier Institute of Management & Entrepreneurship (XIME), Bengaluru

‘BB’

  • Bharati Vidyapeeth University, Institute of Management & Research, Delhi
  • Department of Business Management, Osmania University (OU), Hyderabad
  • Department of Commerce & Management Studies, University of Pune (PUMBA), Pune
  • Department of Management Studies (DOMS), Anna University, Chennai
  • ICFAI B-School (IBS), Mumbai
  • International Management Institute (IMI), Bhubaneswar
  • IMM-FOSTIIMA B-School, New Delhi
  • Institute of Management Technology (IMT), Nagpur
  • Institute of Technology & Management (ITM), Navi Mumbai
  • Pondicherry Central University (PCU), Puducherry
  • School of Petroleum Management, Pandit Deendayal Petroleum University, Gandhinagar, Gujarat
  • Symbiosis Center for Information Technology (SCIT), Pune
  • Symbiosis School of Banking & Finance (SSBF), Pune
  • Welingkar Institute of Management (We), Bengaluru
  • Xavier Institute of Management & Research (XIMR), Mumbai

‘B+’

  • Amrita School of Business (ASB), Coimbatore
  • Balaji Institute of Modern Management (BIMM), Pune
  • Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan’s Usha & Lakshmi Mittal Institute of Management, Delhi
  • Chetna’s R. K. Institute of Management Studies & Research, Mumbai
  • IES Management College & Research Centre, Mumbai
  • Institute of Management Technology (IMT), Hyderabad
  • Institute of Public Enterprise (IPE), Hyderabad
  • International Management Institute (IMI), Kolkata
  • Lala Lajpat Rai Institute of Management, Mumbai
  • MET’s Institute of Management, Mumbai
  • National Institute of Technology (NIT) Calicut
  • N. L. Dalmia Institute of Management Studies & Research (NLDIMSR), Mumbai
  • Rajagiri Centre for Business Studies, Kochi
  • Rizvi Institute of Management Studies & Research, Mumbai
  • SDM Institute for Management Development (SDM–IMD), Mysore
  • Siva Sivani Institute of Management (SSIM), Hyderabad
  • Symbiosis Institute of Mass Communication (SIMC), Pune
  • Thakur Institute of Management Studies & Research, Mumbai
  • Vignana Jyothi Institute of Management (VJIM), Hyderabad
  • Xavier Institute of Social Service (XISS), Ranchi

‘B’ 

  • Amity Business School, Noida
  • B. K. School of Business Management, Ahmedabad
  • Badruka College – Post Graduate Center (OU–affiliated MBA), Hyderabad
  • Bharati Vidyapeeth’s Institute of Management Studies & Research, Mumbai
  • Christ Institute of Management, Ghaziabad
  • Christ Institute of Management, Pune
  • Fortune Institute of International Business, New Delhi
  • IFIM Business School, Bengaluru
  • Institute of Management Development & Research (IMDR), Pune
  • Kirloskar Institute of Advanced Management Studies (KIAMS), Harihar
  • MIT School of Management, Pune
  • PSG Institute of Management, Coimbatore
  • R. A. Podar Institute of Management, Jaipur
  • School of Communication & Management Studies (SCMS), Kochi
  • School of Management (SMS), Cochin University of Science & Technology, Kochi
  • Symbiosis Institute of Business Management (SIBM), Hyderabad
  • SSN School of Management & Computer Applications, Chennai
  • St Francis Institute of Management and Research (SFIMR), Mumbai
  • Symbiosis Institute of Computer Studies and Research (SICSR), Pune
  • Symbiosis Institute of Health Sciences (SIHS), Pune
  • University of Petroleum & Energy Studies (UPES), Dehradun
  • University School of Management Studies - Indraprastha University, Delhi
  • Vanguard Business School, Bengaluru
  • Vivekanand Education Society’s Institute of Management Studies & Research, Mumbai
  • Xavier Institute of Management & Entrepreneurship (XIME), Kochi

‘Others’

  • Acharya Institute of Management Studies, Bengaluru
  • Army Institute of Management, Kolkata
  • Birla Global University – Bhubaneshwar (formerly BIMTECH Bhubaneshwar)
  • Birla Institute of Technology (BIT), Mesra, Ranchi
  • Dhruva College of Management, Hyderabad
  • Gitam School of International Business (GSIB), Visakhapatnam
  • Globsyn, Kolkata
  • ICFAI B-School (IBS), Ahmedabad
  • Indian Institute of Finance (IIF), New Delhi
  • Indian Institute of Tourism & Travel Management (IITTM), Gwalior
  • Indian School of Mines (ISM), Dhanbad
  • Indira Institute of Management, Pune
  • Indus Business Academy, Bengaluru
  • ISME, Bengaluru
  • Jaipuria Institute of Management Lucknow
  • M. S. Ramiah Institute of Management, Bengaluru
  • Motilal Nehru National Institute of Technology (MNNIT), Allahabad
  • National Institute of Technology (NIT), Durgapur
  • National Institute of Technology (NIT), Suratkal
  • National Institute of Technology (NIT), Warangal
  • New Delhi Institute of Management (NDIM), New Delhi
  • St Joseph’s College of Business Administration, Bengaluru
  • Symbiosis School of Media & Communication (SSMC), Bengaluru
  • Vishwa Vishwani Institute of Systems & Management, Hyderabad
  • VIT Business School, Vellore