IPM (5-Year Integrated Programme) vs CAT (2 Years Regular MBA) - A Comparative Analysis

Integrated management programmes are very much in vogue right now in the country. One of the main reasons for that has been the Integrated Programme in Management (IPM) initiated by the Indian Institute of Management in Indore (IIM- I). Subsequently, IIM Rohtak has also begun the same programme. There has been some hesitation among students as well as academic experts. People feel IPM qualification was no way at par with the one attained post belling the CAT (Common Admission Test).

Let us study these claims in greater detail and try to give a new perspective to this narrative.

Integrated Programme in Management (IPM):

Five-year Integrated Programme in Management (IPM) is a prestigious 5-year Integrated Management Programme offered by IIM Indore. This course is divided into 2 parts – the first three years build a foundation, and the last two years focus on management. Students in the last two years are added in IIM Indore MBA/PGDM batch. Students would be awarded Bachelor of Arts (Foundations of Management) and Master of Business Administration (under the Dual Degree Programme) at the end of the five-year programme. It should be noted that only 120 seats are available in IIM Indore for IPM programme. 

Common Admission Test (CAT):

Common Admission Test or CAT exam is a common aptitude test through which aspirants can hope to get into one of the 20 IIMs and over 1,200 B-schools in India. Once the candidate clears this exam, the course offered is usually 2 years and the candidate is awarded Post Graduate Diploma in Management at the end of 2 years. Candidates usually compete with each other to be among the top percentile holders so that they can attain admission in the top 20 B-schools of India. 

Comparative Analysis:

If we look at both these exams and the courses offered, we realize they have quite a few similarities as well as differences. For easier comparison, let’s just look at the top 20 colleges that give admission based on CAT score and IPM offered by IIM Indore. Let’s look at the similarities first.

Similarities:

  • Both offer MBA degrees of relatively equal value. As mentioned above, IIM Indore integrates its IPM students along with the MBA students. The curriculum taught for both these courses are the same in the last two years
  • Since the curriculum is the same, both offer a top academic environment with the best of teachers and access to world-class resources in terms of libraries as well as journals. IPM students also get to have these lecturers teach them during their under-graduate level too, elevating their learning even further
  • Both have difficult entrance exams with a lot of competition. If we look at the numbers, IPMAT was given by 19000 students in 2019, competing for 120 seats. While in case of CAT 2020, almost 2.1 lakh students appeared, while there are only around 5000 seats in all 20 IIMs combined
  • A large campus is offered by most of the IIMs and IPM can also boost of the same. This comes with excellent physical infrastructure as well as resources that most other B-schools don’t offer
  • As we can see, most of the similarities are common for all the IIMs, and this is because IPM students experience the same academic culture as their IIM Indore batchmates who get admission via CAT. Now let’s look at the differences.

Differences:

  • Some critics point out that IPM students also miss out on the rich alumni list older IIMs boast about. But the fact is, this is rapidly changing since it has already been 5 years since this course has been introduced and the alumni list will keep growing. Besides, since IIM Indore students and IPM students study together, IPM students can also boast of the large alumni connect IIM Indore already has, being an old IIM

Why Should You Not Wait For CAT and Choose IPM:

At the end of the day, this is a personal choice but a candidate should carefully weigh all the options available and make the best possible choice. Let me help you with that by stating some clear advantages that IPM course has over traditional MBA:

  • Students who clear IPMAT are the early risers, with a clear and early career advantage. They know what they want to do in life and start working towards it right after XII
  • Students can reserve a seat at an IIM which boosts of comparable salaries to other top IIMs, that too right after class XII. This usually reduces the stress and confusion related to career choices that accompany a lot of students
  • IPM’s first three years are uniquely curates, with almost a liberal arts profile, which is perfectly well suited to the modern-day business professional
  • IPM students also have to complete a social internship at the end of year 2, as well as the usual summer internship offered by most B-schools in the years between 4 and 5. This experiential learning inculcates leadership qualities and hones a student’s managerial skills further
  • Students can also opt for exit option after successful completion of the third year of the programme, as well as take a sabbatical is also available for students to up to two years between the year three and four
  • Finally, Rural engagement programme in the fourth year and Himalaya Outbound Programme in the fifth year offer IPM students the same experiential learning as their IIM Indore counterparts
    Both the routes have their pros and cons and it is not my intention to say that one is better than the other. But both these courses offer a lot of value and students can extract much success from either of the career options. 

 

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