GMAT for India & Abroad

Graduate Management Admission Test or GMAT as it is known in short, is one of the widely accepted exams for admission into some of the top business schools across the globe. The exam has also started getting acceptance in some of the top business schools in India over the past decade.

Let us try to understand the reason for the global acceptance of GMAT. To do this, we shall look at the world and India separately as in India, CAT still holds sway but GMAT is getting closer by the year.

GMAT for Colleges Abroad -

GMAT is typically used as a qualifier along with other criteria such as SOP, work experience, resume, academic record, etc., into many colleges across the world. Most of these universities have a score range below which a student is very unlikely to get admission. Today, more than 2100 universities across the globe accept GMAT scores for admissions into their management programs.

The top programs offered by these universities are -
  • MIM - Masters in management
  • MBA - Masters in Business Administration.

Most of us have heard and know about MBA programs but not many would have heard about the MIM programs. MIM has been seeing an increase in demand steadily over the past few years. To understand this growth in demand, let us try understanding both the management programs and compare them. MIM is a two-year program where as MBA programs are for 2 years as well as 1-year duration. The comparison below is mostly between 2-year MIM and MBA programs

Availability of the programs:

While MBA programs were offered all over the world, the MIM programs were mostly a European phenomenon till recently. The popularity of the program over years has led the US universities also to offer this program to their students. It is no wonder that the top-ranking colleges in MIM program are mostly European as the US universities are playing the catch-up game where as US universities are in the top rakings for the MBA program.

Work experience:

MBA program requires the students to have had a significant amount of work experience. The program is designed to cater to the need of mid-level managers or non-management personnel who would want to shift into management role after having had decent exposure in their line of work. Typically, MBA program from the top schools would want the applicant to have at least 3-4 years of work experience. MIM program on the other hand is designed for students who are fresh out of college or have less than 1-2 years of work experience. The program is designed to produce entry level managers. An MIM degree holder can consider an MBA program after 7-10 years of work experience. This second masters in management would propel the student to the higher echelons of decision making in the organization.

Age of Applicant:

Because of the difference in work experience requirements of the MIM and MBA programs, typically, the age of MIM applicants range about 22-24 years where as MBA applicants have an age range of 27-32


There is roughly a 30% overlap between the two curricula. While both programs aim to train students on the general management principles, build teamwork, there are stark differences in the methodology adopted.

MIM because of its student background (little or no work-ex) focus more on the theoretical side of management. Many programs would have strong Math courses as a part of the curriculum coupled with research based final dissertations.

MBA programs on the other hand are for students with relevant work experience. Hence the theoretical aspect while present, will be limited to introducing the various concepts. The emphasis of the program is mostly on the practical applications of the theory discussed. There will be an exposure to some of the elemental concepts like accounting, business finance but the focus will quickly shift to the applications of these concepts. There will be many live company projects that a student has to complete as a part of curriculum.

Admission criteria:

Most MBA programs offered by the top universities require students to have a respectable GMAT score. While some accept GRE scores, almost all the Ivy League universities accept only GMAT scores. The score requirement varies as per the college reputation and the profile of the applicant.

MIM programs offered by universities consider GMAT as well as GRE scores. Some of the universities have their own entrance tests too. Roughly 40% of the universities accept GMAT scores for their MIM programs.

Apart from the GRE/GMAT scores, the colleges take academic performance, extracurricular performance, interview performance of the applicants very seriously. Based on MBA or MIM, work-ex also has its importance.

Tuition fee:

MIM programs on an average are cheaper than the MBA programs. This in hindsight should be obvious given the students they target. MBA with its work-ex crowd is offering the next level of jump on the management ladder and hence can price the program at a premium. MIM caters to the young and fresh crowd with little earnings and hence cannot play the premium game. The MIM programs are cheaper by a factor of 1/3 to 1/2 compared to the MBA programs.

Career options:

Both the programs give varied options to the students. However, the MIM graduates typically are taken into entry level roles whereas the MBA graduates are taken into mid-management or leadership roles.

Clearly, the pay packages of MBA grads are way above that of the MIM grads. But this once again should not be surprising given the nature of the applicants. MIM however gives the student the much-needed edge to dive into the management world at an early age. With the right planning and a MBA at a later stage in their careers, MIM graduates can end up doing better than an ‘only MBA’ graduate.

Now that there is some idea about the two courses, let us look at some of the top universities offering these courses.

MIM program -
  • University of St. Gallen, Switzerland
  • HEC Paris, France
  • Essec Business School, France/Singapore
  • CEMS, Europe
  • Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University, Netherlands
  • London School of Business, UK
  • WHU Otto Beisheim School of Management, Germany
  • ESADE Business School, Spain
  • ESCP Europe
  • Universita Bocconi, Italy
MBA Programs -
  • Harvard University (730)
  • London Business School (700)
  • Wharton (University of Pennsylvania) (720)
  • Stanford University (730)
  • Colombia University (715)
  • University of California - Berkley (715)
  • Insead (705)
  • Booth - University of Chicago (715)
  • MIT Sloan (717)
  • Kellogg (Northwestern University) (714)

*numerals in parenthesis are average GMAT scores needed

GMAT for Indian colleges -

Most of the Indian colleges offer 2-year MBA program or a PGDM diploma. The MIM program is almost unheard of in the country. The 1-year MBA programs have gained prominence only in the last 5 - 7 years. None of the top colleges in India consider GMAT score for their 2-year MBA program. Most of them have their own entrance exams or accept scores of exams like CAT, XAT etc. The only exception is for non-resident students who want to pursue a 2-year MBA program; GMAT scores are accepted for such students. The 1-year MBA program offered by these colleges however do accept GMAT scores apart from the other entrance exam scores.

So why should students in India take the GMAT? Clearly, GMAT is useful for those students who would want to go for a 1-year MBA program; almost all top B-Schools do accept GMAT scores for their 1-year program. Also, GMAT score is valid for 5 years as opposed to the other exam scores that are valid only for 1 year. So, if you are fresh out of college, you could have taken GMAT during your final year of college and used the score 3 years later! B-Schools like ISB in India have started the deferment program for their 1-year flagship MBA courses. The idea basically is to give admission to an applicant based on GMAT and other criteria and then defer his/her admission for 2 years so that the student can come after gaining relevant work experience that is much needed for the 1-year program. The students admitted have an average GMAT score of 705.

Some of the top colleges in India accepting GMAT scores for their 1-year programs -
  • ISB Hyderabad
  • All IIMs
  • S.P Jain
  • XLRI
  • MDI
  • FMS
  • IIFT
  • Great Lakes Institute of Management
  • ICFAI Business School
  • Goa Institute of Management
  • MICA
  • TISS
  • IIT - Delhi, Kanpur, Bombay, Madras, Roorkee & Kharagpur

*Please note - the list is not per ranking