Destination USA: MBA popular among Indians going abroad

An MBA degree is traditionally earned in two years but can be completed in one year through accelerated programmes

By Author  |  Monika Setia   |  Published: 16th Feb 2020  12:03 amUpdated: 16th Feb 2020  12:59 am
Students who are directed towards a career in finance and financial markets may consider an MS in Finance rather than a more generalised MBA.

Last week we started our series on popular fields of study available at US higher education institutions and talked about the field of Engineering. In the next two columns, we discuss another popular field of study among Indian students – business administration.

Many programmes in business administration are applied, preparing students for professional opportunities at the managerial or executive level. Students may work in consultancy firms, large corporations, financial institutions including banks, start-up firms, and other businesses after completing a professional degree in business administration. They may also start their own enterprise after finishing the programme. Within the field, students may choose among a variety of specialisations, such as accounting, corporate strategy, decision sciences, economics, entrepreneurship, finance, management, human resources/organisational behavior, international business, marketing, information systems, telecommunications, etc.

The Master’s in Business Administration (MBA) is the most popular professional programme in the field at the graduate level for Indian students pursuing their higher education in the United States. An MBA degree is traditionally earned in two years but can be completed in one year through accelerated programmes.

An Executive MBA is more tailored to working professionals, allowing them to complete the programme in shorter duration and, in some cases, also allowing them to work while pursuing their degree. Students generally choose a major or specialisation and a minor or sub-specialisation during their MBA programme.

If a student is interested in pursuing research-oriented study in a particular area of business administration, they may opt for a Master of Science (MS) programme available under different specialisations. For example, students who are directed towards a career in finance and financial markets may consider an MS in Finance rather than a more generalised MBA.

Upon completion of the MS programme in Finance, a student may continue studies to become a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA). Similarly, MS programmes are available in marketing, accounts, engineering, management, and now very popular, business analytics and data science. Typically, an MS programme is one to two years and either involves a project internship or a research-based thesis.

Next week, we will continue our discussion about business administration programs at US universities.

Monika Setia (Regional Officer and EducationUSA Adviser at US – India Educational Foundation, based at the US Consulate General Hyderabad).


Q. My daughter is in Class XI. She plans to apply to US universities for bachelor’s programmes. What are letters of recommendation. Whom should she ask for these letters?
– Rajeev Asthana

A. A letter of recommendation is a critical piece of the undergraduate (bachelor’s degree) application for US universities. Also called letter of support or reference letter, a letter of recommendation highlights and personalises a student’s academic capabilities, personal character, extracurricular work, and other individual strengths. The letter may further discuss a student’s weaknesses, but in a positive manner, perhaps noting how the student has overcome challenges. The best recommendation letters are those that are unique and specific to the individual student.

In general, higher education institutions in the United States require letters from one school counsellor and sometimes one or two school teachers. Some institutions also accept additional recommendations from coaches or others. In cases where a school counsellor is not available, students may request either the principal or another teacher nominated by the principal to write the letter. Recommendations should not be written by direct family members. It is the student’s responsibility to request recommendation letters from appropriate recommenders. Students should request letters from someone whom they know very well. Also, it is always best to send a personal request well in advance, to give recommenders enough time to write the letter.

Q. I am in third year of BE. I have given my GRE and IELTS. I am not sure how to shortlist best universities for my profile. Please help!
– Ashwin

A.The best college or university is the one that is best fit for your needs and meets your requirements for academics, finances, and professional goals. Additionally, factors such as size of the institution and department, infrastructure and research facilities, geographic location, climate, housing facilities, international student services, etc. can be taken into consideration.

EducationUSA strongly believes that “the key to shortlisting universities is to begin by setting your own priorities.” You may start by posing a few basic questions to yourself – What subject(s) interest me and so what specialisation or major should I choose for my higher studies? Will I need financial assistance? Do I have a preference to study and live in a particular region of the United States? What are my research goals?

Once you have the answer to such questions, it will be easier for you to explore and identify universities that meet your criteria. You may use websites like,,, and to begin the search process.

Much of the additional information that you are seeking about universities or colleges is available on the institution’s own website. Graduate school webpages, college and department webpages are key sources of information on academics, research, financial aid, campus life, etc.

Last, but not least, it is extremely important for you to find out if a school you have shortlisted is accredited or not. You may visit the database of accredited programmes and institutions published by the US Department of Education at or Department of Homeland Security at

Past articles published in this column provide further details on the university search process.


Every question has an answer. And ‘Destination USA’ will strive to provide the right answer to all those youngsters who dream of studying in the US. Mail your questions and doubts to [email protected] to have subject matter experts answer them, right from the degree and programme of study you can pursue to what the application process entails, on universities, how to prepare resumes, financing your studies and even how it is like to live and study in the US, all are welcome.

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