A MBA refers to a master's degree in business administration recognized and awarded by universities around the world. The PGDBA is a postgraduate diploma in business administration, as of January 2011, that is awarded by technical institutions in India who are not authorized by the state to award the MBA. The programs are quite similar in educational requirements in some cases, but not always. One key discerning factor is the PGDBA programs often have less stringent criteria for admissions to the program. The main differentiating factor, however, is the legal structure resulting in the designation of the degree or diploma awarded.

Legal Issues

The University Grants Commission (UGC) in India has the mandate of regulating and maintaining standards of higher educational institutions in India. Only universities belonging to the UGC are authorized to award a MBA degree: these are, for the most part, state universities in India. The All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) on the other hand, is responsible for setting and maintaining the standards for technical education centers. A technical education center, however, cannot award a graduate degree, only diplomas. As a response to the market demand in India for business students trained at the graduate level, many technical education centers and private management institutes began offering the PGDBA as an alternative to the traditional MBA.

Admissions Criteria

Most MBA programs in India will require a bachelor's degree at the undergraduate level, in addition to a minimum of three years experience in executive business management in order to gain admission. This means students cannot continue their education until they find an executive management position and fulfill the three-year requirement. The problem is that the market demanded more MBA holders than the state universities in India could turn out. To compensate for this, many technical institutions and private management institutions began offering PGDBA programs that did not require any experience for admissions.

Program Structures

In many cases the structures for MBA and PGDBA programs are very similar, often requiring the same amount of credits and courses, over a two to three-year period. The PGDA, however, usually did not require a dissertation or thesis, making it an applied professional diploma. Essentially, the PGDBA at many institutions answers the market demand for postgraduate trained business leaders. It provides intensive programs on par with state MBA degrees, thereby, helping to fulfill the demand in the market, while allowing students to continue their studies right after graduating with a bachelor's degree.

As the market evolved and the degree became more popular, many private management institutions also started offering the degree, but often those degrees are a lot less comparable to an MBA and usually completed within one year.

Program Recognition

While a two to three-year PGDBA program has gained widespread recognition in India, on par with recognition of an MBA, outside of India little to no research exists revealing the acceptance of the diploma. Inside India, PGDMA holders looking to advanced to a Ph.D. or DBA program in business will find that the qualification is not accepted by universities authorized by the UGC to offer such degrees. This means, those wanting to advance to the doctorate level of study, only have the MBA route open to them and will essentially have to take the same courses again under a UGC approved MBA program.