The Indian School of Business in Hyderabad is a mecca for ambitious management students looking for lucrative jobs. Each year, its students dream bigger and look higher.

Last year, four ISB students were offered jobs with a salary of more than RS 1 crore per annum. Don’t let the outliers distract you though, but what’s interesting to note is that the big offers are being made by Indian companies, not the European banks as it used to be the case.

Similar to the IIMs, the ISB placements are also going global. Companies are coming from Asia Pacific, Europe and the United States. Sounds like the news we used to hear about IIM placements. True. Which is what gives rise to the on-going debate between the IIMs and ISB. As ISB grows in size and the IIMs add ever more campuses, this is one debate that is not going away.

There are several differences in the two schools. CAT versus GMAT. Two years versus one year. Exam versus essays. Younger versus older. Low fees versus significantly higher. The infrastructure and facilities at both institutions are comparable.

When we look at statistics, it appears that the IIM Ahmedabad beats the Indian School of Business in average student-to-faculty ratios. However, unlike ISB’s internationally trained (and often tenured) faculty, IIM faculty tends to be home-grown.

One of the complaints used to be that the jet-setting faculty of ISB would not be familiar with the business norms and vagaries of India. Through the Center for Case Development, ISB is attempting to pull together a massive database of Indian cases and paid to those rumors that the program not being indigenous enough.

In placements there is a clear gap between the institutions. The ISB’s average salary of Rs.15.4 lakhs, the lowest in their bands (for those with about 5 years of work experience) is at least Rs 3 lakhs more than what an IIM graduate could expect. ISB costs much more, which negates this gap. It also offers graduates a chance to work one extra year, which is a big attraction these days.

The differentiating factor, however, for ISB seems to be the input in terms of the global diversity of students and work experience of candidates who look for lateral placements. IIMs seem to have a lot more engineering students. Since the entrance is largely driven on the basis of the exam, it means a lot of great candidates are unable to apply.

What stands out clearly, is the research output of ISB. With far fewer faculty, ISB is able to create far more research. This emphasis on original research is lacking at several IIMs.

MBA applicants are today finding it difficult to select between the two of the most prestigious brands in India. It is because both are mighty names, offer excellent learning opportunities and help graduates bag dream jobs, yet offer two different experiences.

Whether you are contemplating applying to these schools or are making that final decision, you need to do a comprehensive comparison between both the schools. You won’t go wrong with either.

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  3. In conversation with Pratik Agarwal- First Indian at HBS 2+2
  4. Kiss Those Student Loans Goodbye
  5. Interview with Kanchan Mukherjee, A PhD from INSEAD

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