ISB or IIMs: Which B-School Should You Choose?


ISB vs IIMs – A Comparative Analysis

Studying at a top B-school can open up a world of career opportunities and provide a platform for further growth. With so many prestigious B-schools in India, choosing the right one can take time and effort. Also, some aspirants need clarification on ISB vs IIMs. Hence in this blog, we compare studying at the Indian School of Business (ISB) and some of the top Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs). We look into the various aspects of studying in these two institutes and explore which is better suited for you.

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There are currently 20 IIMs in India. To enter any of them, you must get a good percentile in CAT and do well in the subsequent evaluation stages. IIMs do not require you to have any work experience. It is also seen that IIMs have a comparatively younger student body compared to some of the other top B-Schools worldwide. Their flagship PGP programs are for two years and cost around 24 lacks INR. 

There is only one ISB, which has two campuses in Hyderabad and Mohali. ISB requires you to get a good score on the GMAT or GRE, submit an SOP and perform well in your interviews. Students require at least two years of work experience for the ISB’s PGP program, which is one year long and costing around 38 lakhs INR.

Check out our article on CAT vs GMAT to understand how the two exams compare against each other.

Work Experience and Student Body 

In most of the top IIMs, the average age of the students is 23-24. Hence the median work experience of the batch lies in the range of 18 – 24 months. Nearly 30% of the students are freshers with no work experience. Hence, if you are fresh out of college or someone with 2-3 years of work-ex, an MBA from the IIMs makes more sense.

In ISB, the median work experience is around five years, the lowest being 2 years and the highest being as much as 8 years. ISB focuses a lot on diversity. Hence you will rub shoulders with lawyers, CAs, doctors, fashion designers and other professionals. This is quite different from the IIMs, where many students (around 60-70%) are engineers. 

Hence, if you’re someone with more years of work-ex and looking to pursue an MBA, a quick one-year MBA from ISB makes more sense than getting an MBA from the IIMs.

Student Life

During the year-long program at ISB, the first half of the program is spent on academic sessions and then on getting placedIn the latter half, the students get to participate in an Experiential Learning Program (ELP) or in international student exchange programs. Overall, the schedule is jam-packed with many activities within a yearlong time frame. 

The IIMs have a two-year MBA program. The first year is spent learning all the management subjects, participating in student clubs and procuring internships. After the end of the internship, around 30% of the batch is placed through PPOs. During the second year, students get to choose their specialisation. Students with higher work experience get to participate in lateral placements, and finally, the remaining students sit for the final placements. All the top IIMs have well-established student exchange programs during the course of the MBA program. There is relatively more time for the students to pursue their interests and network with their peers. 


Since ISB does not have a summer internship program, the students only get one shot at the placement process. However, since the students have already spent at least two years in the corporate space, they are much more prepared and easier to place. For the students at ISB with low work experience, there are a lot of consulting companies, conglomerates that hire students for their leadership programs, and startups. Students with high work experience have general management, product management and marketing roles in addition to the aforementioned roles.

If you have more than three years of experience, you can derive the maximum benefit at ISB.

IIMs have roles that are much more attuned to fresher students or those with 2-3 years of work experience. All the aforementioned roles at ISB are also available in IIMs, but there are also high-paying investment banking and marketing roles. However, since most of the students are relatively young, if you have more than three years of experience, you might not be able to derive the maximum benefit from it. However, for the same roles that require relatively more work experience, ISB graduates usually get paid more than their counterparts from the IIMs.

Brand Value and Alumni Base

The ISB 1 year program is structured like an international MBA program in most western B-schools. Hence their program gets a lot of recognition worldwide. This is often reflected in the global B-school rankings, where ISB is often ranked the top Indian B-School.

However, the fact remains that ISB is much newer compared to the old IIMs. Hence the IIMs enjoy a much stronger alumni network. 

The IIMs also have created a powerful brand image in India and can open many doors that are otherwise out of reach in the Indian corporate world. Hence the IIMs enjoy a lot more recognition in India and are associated with a lot of prestige. 

Parameter ISB IIMs
Flagship Program Duration One Year Two Years
FT Ranking 39 51 (IIM Ahmedabad)
Course Fee 35 lakh INR 23-24 lakh INR
Entrance Exam GMAT CAT
Campuses Hyderabad, Mohali  20 Institutes across India
Unique Selling Point International Exposure Prestigious in India
Minimum Work Experience 24 Months Zero
Average Work Experience 5 years 18-24 months
Average Salary 34.21 LPA 32.79 LPA

In conclusion, both ISB and IIMs have their merits. ISB has the advantage of more international exposure and diversity, while IIMs have a powerful brand value and the prestige associated with them in India. While studying at either of these institutes has significant advantages, it is up to the individual to decide which institute best suits them, their profile, and career goals.

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