Big Splash: IIM-Ahmedabad Launches An Online MBA

Ahmedabad Launches First Indian Institute of Management Online MBA Program

IIM Ahmedabad has become the first India Institute of Management to have an online MBA program

One of India’s top business schools has taken the plunge into the world of digital degrees. The Indian Institute of Management-Ahmedabad has launched an online MBA program, the biggest of the IIM schools to do so, in a move that may be another step toward the demise of the school’s full-time, two-year residential MBA.

IIMA’s new two- to three-year Online MBA is designed for working professionals and entrepreneurs with at least three years’ experience. A blended program, it combines on-campus, in-person sessions and live, synchronous, interactive online sessions. Like all IIMA’s programs, the new online MBA will predominantly follow a case-based approach. Admissions will be based on an admission test — the IIMA Admission Test, the Graduate Management Admission Test, there Graduate Record Exam, or the Common Admission Test — and a personal interview.

“The Online MBA program is the most extensive of a new generation of programs offered by IIMA,” says professor Pradyumana Khokle, IIMA’s dean of programs. “It combines the ability of the online to reach across the world with the power of the offline to do things that are done best offline. We expect that through the Online MBA, practitioners will be able to further develop into some of the best leaders and managers of the world.”


Ahmedabad Launches First Indian Institute of Management Online MBA Program

Bharat Bhasker, IIMA’s director: New online MBA “combines the flexibility of online learning with the richness of on-campus interaction, ensuring participants gain the knowledge and skills they need to succeed in their chosen careers”

Rival IIMs in Bangalore and Calcutta do not yet have online MBA programs, though Bangalore has offered a suite of Massive Open Online Courses through the Harvard/MIT platform edX for about a decade. Elsewhere in India, among the 21 IIMs, IIM Kozhikode, IIM Shillong, IIM Rohtak and IIM Raipur also offer Online MBAs, as do many schools not found in any major rankings — see a list here.

Ahmedabad is a major school with a global profile, which makes its move into the digital business education one that will have reverberations. Recently, for the third consecutive year, IIMA took the top spot in the 2024 IIRF Business School Ranking, a partnership between the Indian Institutional Ranking Framework, a non-government body that ranks Indian higher education institutions in fields like business, architecture, law, and medicine, and The Education Post, a monthly magazine covering higher education.

The IIRF MBA Ranking analyzes 46 government and 111 private graduate business programs. In this year’s list, IIM-Ahmedabad edged out the Faculty of Management Studies at the University of Delhi (FMS Delhi), but only by 3.5 index points out of a possible 1,400 points. FMS Delhi improved by 20.69 points over the previous year, enabling it to jump from fifth to second place; in contrast, IIMA gained just 5.09 points from the 2023 IIRF ranking.


IIMA is also the oldest of the IIMs, along with IIM-Calcutta, both having been founded in 1961. But globally IIMA has been losing ground to other Asian B-schools in recent years. In The Financial Times‘ annual MBA ranking, the school’s MBA program ranked 51st in the world in 2023, down 21 places over the previous six years. In 2017, IIM Ahmedabad’s MBA ranked as high as 29th best globally, well above the MBA at IIM-Bangalore; at its lowest, in 2022, IIMA’s MBA ranked 62nd on the FT list. The Indian School of Business in Hyderabad remains the highest-ranked MBA program in India, according to the FT, placing 39th best in the world in 2023. (FT’s 2024 ranking will be released next week.)

The launch of an online MBA program may be evidence that IIMA’s full-time, two-year MBA program, which a past director has said will be phased out over the next several years, is on borrowed time. In November 2022, IIMA’s then-Director Errol D’Souza said the school would gradually end its full-time two-year MBA program over the next decade.

“We think going ahead, the two-year program will slowly phase out,” D’Souza told Business Today in India in 2022. “India is a young population. So, the two-year program is still going to be there, but advanced markets have moved more towards the one-year program. We think the same thing is going to happen here maybe ten years down the line. There’s still time, but it will.”


The new Online MBA at IIMA promises a rigorous curriculum with a focus on case-based learning. Course delivery will be in online synchronous mode through a combination of five distinct on-campus modules.

“We are excited to launch the Online MBA program, which expands IIMA’s reach and provides world-class education to working professionals and entrepreneurs around the world,” says professor Bharat Bhasker, IIMA’s director since January 2023, in a news release. “This innovative program combines the flexibility of online learning with the richness of on-campus interaction, ensuring participants gain the knowledge and skills they need to succeed in their chosen careers.”

Adds professor Joshy Jacob, online MBA chairperson: “The program curriculum is designed to equip participants with the functional and organizational skills necessary to thrive in a challenging world. It aspires to upskill working professionals by exposing them to managerial decision-making frameworks that are grounded in human behavior, economics, finance, etc. The in-person classes conducted at IIMA focus on interpersonal and organizational dynamics that are complex to maneuver and hard to learn. On the other hand, the sessions that are held online through live classes are around content that is more amenable for quantitative and systematic analysis.”

For more information about IIMA’s online MBA program, click here.

Learn about online MBAs at Poets&Quants’ Online MBA Admissions Event April 16-17.


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