MBA Dual Degree and Integrated MBA Programmes – Part 1

The Chairman of All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) Dr. SS Mantha has announced that Indian colleges will be allowed to offer dual degree and integrated course in management and engineering from the academic year 2012-13 onwards. This sounds like music for all the educationists who have been waiting for such a forward looking step from AICTE. Such programs are very common in United States of America and United Kingdom. Management education integrated with engineering, architecture and pharmacy offer immense opportunities for the youth of our country. In fact the integrated dual degree programs are not new to Indian education system. It is just that the AICTE has now opened it for scaling up the programs due to the potential they offer.

According to AICTE, a student can enroll in the dual degree integrated BBA-MBA course after 12th standard. At the completion of three years they will get a bachelors degree in management, after four years they will get applied management degree and then they can join the industry, if they so desire. After few years of work (but within the period of validity of their registration), students can do one more year and get a masters degree in management. There are several advantages and disadvantages with these programmes.

Dual degree integrated programs:

Universities offer ‘joint’ degrees, ‘double or dual’ degrees and ‘integrated’ programs. These terms are often used interchangeably. A ‘joint’ degree program is an outcome to an ‘integrated’ course of study. An integrated study program envisages a curriculum that has been jointly designed by two (or more) higher education institutions (sometimes from different countries) or disciplines and is regulated by a specific set of guidelines. Students who choose the program undertake defined periods of study in each institution or discipline in terms of duration and content. At the end of the courses and after the relevant examinations, the students are awarded a single qualification jointly signed by the academic authorities of both institutions and/or disciplines. The joint degree programs usually do not offer exit option to earn a single degree as the program content is interwoven. An example of this is integrated BBM - LLB degree. There are several private and Government institutions offering Dual Degree and Integrated MBA programmes in India and Abroad.

A ‘double or dual’ degree program has two possible outcomes to an ‘integrated’ course of study. An integrated study program envisages a curriculum that has been jointly designed by two (or more) higher education disciplines and is regulated by a specific set of guidelines. Students who choose the program undertake defined periods of study in each discipline in terms of duration and content. At the end of the courses and after the relevant examinations, the students are awarded the both the qualifications (double or dual degree) by the institution. An example of this is a student getting a BBA or B.Tech degree at the undergraduate level and MBA degree at the postgraduate level by enrolling into dual degree programs. These programs are designed in such a way that a student can exit from the program at a predefined stage and earn a degree.

The aim of AICTE in making the latest announcement in starting flexible dual degree and integrated courses in management is “to make higher education more industry-centric.” This is a step in positive direction for an educational system which is suffering from inflexibility. The students would find it interesting, practical and encouraging. The exit options with relevant qualification are what offer value for the student.

There are clearly five distinct features of these programs:

a) award of suitable degree at the end of the exit period subject to qualifying in the examinations
b) flexibility to return to the institute to pursue the remaining part of the program during the validity period of registration
c) no requirement to go through any admission test for promotion from the undergraduate level to postgraduate level
d) completing the two qualifications in lesser time than it would take to earn two degrees separately and
e) a saving on expenses in dual degree program as it costs less for the two qualifications than it would to earn both degrees separately.

For a country with largest young population with wide economic disparities, these flexibilities offer opportunities from the weaker sections, both economically and otherwise, to plan and pursue higher education in a phased manner. Thus the current directions of AICTE promote inclusiveness in higher education which is the need of the hour.

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