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Harvard vs IIM: Which One is Right for You?

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The decision to pursue a business education from the esteemed Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) or the prestigious Harvard Business School (HBS) can significantly shape an individual's career trajectory. Both institutions have established remarkable reputations in management education, offering distinct experiences and opportunities to their students. While HBS enjoys global acclaim, IIMs hold substantial prestige within India.

Contrary to popular belief, IIMs are no less than Harvard. In fact, in 2017, the highest salary package offered by IIM Ahmedabad exceeded that of Harvard, with IIM Ahmedabad offering USD 181,863 (INR 1,51,66,455) compared to Harvard's USD 178,113 (INR 1,48,53,720). Additionally, IIMs have consistently demonstrated better returns, with an approximate 44% ROI compared to Harvard's 15%.

This blog aims to dispel the popular myth that IIMs are no match for Harvard and provides a comprehensive understanding of the differences between these two prestigious institutions. Both institutions have merits and demerits. The choice depends on an individual's career goals and aspirations. Are confused between both institutes? Connect with Yocket Premium. We will assist you in finding the right university that will help you fulfill your dream of studying for an MBA. So, what are you waiting for? Explore Yocket Premium today!

Harvard vs IIM: Overview

Before moving to the difference between Harvard and IIM, let us first understand both institutes.

Harvard Business School

Harvard Business School (HBS), founded in 1908, is the esteemed graduate business school of Harvard University. Known for its rigorous curriculum and innovative approach, HBS played a pioneering role in developing the case method of teaching, where students analyze real-world business scenarios and propose solutions. This method draws inspiration from Harvard Law School's approach to legal education. Beyond academics, HBS boasts Harvard Business Publishing, a powerhouse for business publications including case studies, leadership articles, and the renowned Harvard Business Review magazine. The school's primary library, the Baker Library/Bloomberg Center, further supports its world-class learning environment.

Harvard Campus

Source

Indian Institute of Management(IIM)

The Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) are centrally funded business schools that offer undergraduate, postgraduate, doctoral, and executive programs, as well as some business administration-related courses. Jawaharlal Nehru, India's first prime minister, initiated the development of IIMs in response to the Planning Commission of India's recommendation. There are a total of 22 IIM Campuses in India which are:

Sr. No.

IIM Campuses

1

Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad

2

Indian Institute of Management Calcutta

3

Indian Institute of Management Bangalore

4

Indian Institute of Management Lucknow

5

Indian Institute of Management Indore

6

Indian Institute of Management Kozhikode

7

Indian Institute of Management Shillong

8

Indian Institute of Management Rohtak

9

Indian Institute of Management Udaipur

10

Indian Institute of Management Ranchi

11

Indian Institute of Management Raipur

12

Indian Institute of Management Kashipur

13

Indian Institute of Management Tiruchirappalli

14

Indian Institute of Management Visakhapatnam

15

Indian Institute of Management Amritsar

16

Indian Institute of Management Nagpur

17

Indian Institute of Management Bodh Gaya

18

Indian Institute of Management Sirmaur

19

Indian Institute of Management Sambalpur

20

Indian Institute of Management Jammu

21

Indian Institute of Management Mumbai (formerly NITIE)

22

Indian Institute of Management Guwahati

Full-time Master of Business Administration (MBA) programs are the flagship programs at all IIMs. The full-time MBA degree is a two-year Post Graduate Programme in Management (PGP) or a one-year global MBA (EPGP, PGPX, MBAEx, PGPEX-VLM, PGP-BL, and IPMX). Seven top IIMs (IIM Ahmedabad, Bangalore, Calcutta, Indore, Shillong, Lucknow, and Kozhikode) offer a one-year full-time MBA program that adheres to worldwide MBA standards. Some IIMs also provide a two-year part-time (executive) MBA to graduates with greater work experience.

IIM Campus

Source

Harvard vs IIM: Factors to Consider

Let us understand some key factors to understand the difference between Harvard and IIM.

Factors

Harvard

IIM

Location

Boston, USA

India (21 Campuses)

Rankings

#4 QS World University 2025

-

Programs Offered

  • Post Graduate Program in Management(PGP/MBA)
  • Executive MBA (EMBA)
  • Fellow Program in Management(FPM/Ph.D.)
  • Post Graduate Program for Executives(PGPX)
  • Management Development Programs(MDP)
  • Certificate Programs

Online Programs

  • Online Programs
  • CORe(Credential of Readiness)
  • Online Executive Education
  • Blended Programs
  • Online Certificates and Credentials
  • Online MBA(2 years)
  • ePGP(Executive Post Graduate Programs)
  • Online Certificate Programs
  • Executive Education Programs

Acceptance Rate

3.59%

2%

Entrance Examination

CAT

Admission Criteria

GMAT/GRE followed by personal essay & interview

CAT exam followed by WAT and GDPI

Eligibility Criteria

  • Harvard Business School has strict eligibility requirements for its MBA program.
  • Candidates must hold a bachelor's degree from a recognized institution. While no specific undergraduate topic of study is necessary, candidates should have a high academic record.
  • Candidates must submit standardized test scores, such as the GMAT or GRE, as part of the application process.
  • Work experience is also a significant factor in admission to Harvard's MBA program. While there is no minimum, individuals with a few years of relevant work experience are frequently recommended. 
  • The admissions committee seeks people with demonstrated leadership potential and a track record of influence in their professional jobs.
  • The IIMs have specific eligibility requirements for their respective programs. While the requirements may differ significantly from one IIM to the next, there are certain similarities.
  • Candidates applying to postgraduate programs, such as the Master of Business Administration (MBA), must have a bachelor's degree in any discipline from a recognized university or institution.
  • Candidates must also achieve minimal academic performance standards, such as a specified percentage or grade point average (GPA).
  • IIMs may accept candidates with extensive job experience for executive programs and fellowships. In such circumstances, admittance may be contingent on a certain number of years of work experience.
  • Standardized test scores, the Common Admission Test (CAT), is an important part of the admission criterion for many IIM programs. Candidates are often needed to score a minimum on these examinations to be considered for admission.

Admission Procedure

  • Initial application
  • Written test (CAT)
  • Group Discussion
  • Personal Interview

Top Alumni

  • Barack Obama
  • George Bush
  • Bill Gates
  • Natalie Portman
  • Michael Bloomberg
  • Mark Zuckerberg
  • Hellen Keller
  • John F. Kennedy
  • N.R Narayan Murthy
  • Raghuram Rajan
  • N. Chandrasekaran
  • K. Radhakrishnan
  • Arvind Krishna
  • R. Gopalakrishnan
  • Aditya Puri
  • R.C. Bhargava

Tuition Fees

USD 236,804 (INR 1,97,44,750)

USD 21,590 to USD 29,980 (INR 18,00,00 to INR 25,00,000)

Average Salary

USD 175,000(INR 1,45,91,530)

USD 23,990 to USD 29,980(INR 20,00,000 to INR 25,00,000)

Top Recruiters

  • Amazon
  • Apple
  • Google
  • Goldman Sachs
  • McKinsey&Company
  • Facebook
  • BCG
  • IBM
  • Deloitte
  • Loreal
  • Amazon
  • Microsoft
  • Google
  • Goldman Sachs
  • McKinsey&Company
  • TCS
  • BCG
  • Infosys
  • HUL
  • Reliance

Campus Life & Student Experience

Harvard Business School provides a dynamic and intellectually challenging campus atmosphere within the context of one of the world's most prestigious universities. Harvard's student experience is distinguished by a strong feeling of community, with students from all backgrounds joining together to establish a close-knit network of peers.

IIMs offer a vibrant and enriching campus life that extends beyond the classroom. Each IIM has its cultural ethos, as does the student body, which is diverse in area, background, and experience. This diversity creates a dynamic learning environment where students can participate in meaningful debates and exchange ideas.

Also watch: Affordable Universities To Do MBA in Abroad

Choosing Between Harvard vs IIM: Which is Better?

Studying at an IIM (Indian Institutes of Management) or Harvard Business School has its own advantages and disadvantages. Individual objectives, aspirations, and circumstances all influence which option is "better". Indian students aiming to establish their professions largely in India may benefit greatly from IIMS's local relevance and extensive network. However, if the goal is to get a worldwide perspective and work in international contexts, Harvard Business School may provide a more comprehensive platform.

To help you balance your selections, consider the following benefits and downsides for each institution:

Benefits of Harvard and IIM

Harvard

IIM

  • Global Prestige: Harvard Business School is well-known and holds a high level of prestige in the international business community. A Harvard degree is generally regarded and respected.
  • Varied Network: Harvard attracts students and teachers across the world, creating a truly varied and international learning environment.
  • Extensive Specialisations: Harvard provides a wide choice of specializations and concentrations, allowing students to delve deeply into their areas of interest.
  • Innovative Teaching Methods: Harvard's case-method approach is well-known to encourage critical thinking, problem-solving, and decision-making skills.
  • Cost-Effective: Tuition fees at IIMs are often lower than at foreign universities such as Harvard, making them a more affordable alternative for many students.
  • Local Relevance: IIMs have in-depth knowledge of the Indian market and business environment. They frequently have excellent contacts with Indian firms, which might be useful for job placement. 
  • Strong Alumni Network in India: IIMs have a large and influential alumni network in India, which allows students to make crucial connections and receive mentorship.
  • Government Recognition: IIMs are government-recognized universities with a long history of generating top-tier graduates in the Indian corporate world.
  • Cultural FamiliarityFor Indian students, studying at an IIM provides a culturally familiar environment, which might help them adjust to the academic setting.

Suggested: How Much Does The Harvard MBA Cost In 2024?

Drawbacks of Harvard and IIM

Harvard

IIM

  • High Tuition Costs: Attending Harvard Business School can be much more expensive than studying at an IIM, and living in the United States can be costly.
  • Competitive Admissions: Harvard's admissions process is exceedingly demanding, and acceptance requires extraordinary academic achievements, leadership, and professional experience.
  • Cultural Adjustment: Adjusting to a new cultural and academic environment can be difficult for international students.
  • Less Local Industry Insight: While Harvard has a global reputation, its direct connections to specific local sectors in places such as India may be restricted compared to IIMs.
  • Limited Global Exposure: While IIMs are gaining international prominence, they may not provide as much global exposure and opportunity as Harvard.
  • Narrower Program Specialization: Depending on the IIM, the variety of specialized programs and concentrations may be more limited than at a worldwide institution like Harvard.
  • Competitive Admissions: Admission to IIMs is extremely tough, with a stringent selection process that may necessitate good exam scores and a solid academic background.
  • Fewer Financial AidWhile some financial help is available, IIMs may offer fewer scholarship and fellowship opportunities than foreign universities.

Remember that both institutions are highly respected in their contexts, and your decision should be consistent with your long-term professional goals. Consider seeking guidance from experts in your field and speaking with alumni or current students from both institutions to gain further insights.

If you are worried about whether work experience is necessary to pursue an MBA abroad, check out our YouTube video to learn more about it!

From the Desk of Yocket

The decision between the prestigious Indian Institutes of Management (IIMS) and Harvard Business School is critical and depends on various variables. Both institutions have distinct characteristics, and the selection is ultimately based on individual aspirations, professional goals, and personal preferences. Whether one chooses to embark on the transformative journey at an IIM or Harvard Business School, the experience promises to be an important moment in one's professional development. Both universities have a history of generating executives who build industries, promote innovation, and have a significant effect on the commercial world.

Do you need help to find the right university? Fear not! Yocket will assist you right from applying to your dream university to getting a visa, and everything in between. Having assisted dozens of aspirants in securing admission into their dream universities in 2024, we can help you realize your educational objectives! Become A Premium Yocketer Today!

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