31 Mar 2021 18:22 IST

MBA admissions no longer CAT-centric, says Shiksha survey

Placements, scholarship, and faculty, are some of the important metrics that aspirants look for

Exams apart from CAT, MAT, and CMAT are gaining popularity for MBA students across India, reveals the MBA Outlook 2021 survey, conducted by a career and college selection website for students Shiksha.com, and a part of Info Edge Ltd. The overall preference for CAT, XAT, SNAP, MICAT, IRMASAT and SPJAT increased by a minimum of 10 per cent in 2020 compared to 2019, while preference for exams such as NMAT, IBSAT, and IIFT declined by nearly 12 to 25 per cent in 2020.

Large cities, preferred college locations

In 2020, the aspirants from East, North, and Central India preferred large cities such as Delhi, Bangalore, and Mumbai instead of their home State or town while looking for MBA colleges. On the other hand, aspirants from West and South India preferred their home State or town over large cities such as Delhi, Bangalore, and Mumbai while looking for colleges.

Students across India showed an inclination towards colleges in their home State instead of neighbouring States in the same region.

Chennai, an emerging choice

Nagpur and Chennai gained popularity over Indore and Surat in West India this year. Additionally, a trend showed Chennai as an emerging location for studying MBA among students from Central India as well. Students from South India showed lower affinity for cities such as Coimbatore, Mumbai and Delhi, compared to 2019. The prime cities — Delhi, Bangalore, Mumbai and Pune —witnessed a drop in preference in the pandemic year.


Similar to 2019, college reviews, admission requirements, college rankings, and fee and scholarships, were the top factors that guided students’ decision. Apart from finance, marketing is a popular MBA specialisation. As per the report, MBA in finance led the charts in 2020 as well with highest preference among aspirants from North, South, and Central India.

Preference for marketing and human resources and operations reduced whereas specialisations such as business analytics and IT and Systems gained traction. New emerging specialisations include entrepreneurship, agriculture and food business, and healthcare.

Top concerns

While enquiring MBA aspirants, it was observed that, unlike last year, weak placements emerged as one of the top concerns along with college ranking and accreditation. Concerns such as financial requirements, industry exposure, faculty, and student development marginally improved over the last year and concerns such as inadequate infrastructure, weak college brand, and language barrier grew significantly.

Job opportunities

As per the report, similar to 2019, placement opportunities were still the top requirement that students were looking for in an MBA colleges, followed by fee/scholarship programmes, experienced faculty, work-experience while studying, and industry-expert sessions.

The report also revealed a visible drop in parameters such as skill development infrastructure, practical classes, certification programmes, location of college, and corporate exposure in 2020. There was a considerable positive lift for categories such as internship opportunities and budget for start-ups in 2020.

Chief Business Officer of Shiksha.com Vivek Jain further elaborated,“Management has emerged as a clear differentiator for both students and working professionals looking to make a mark. A management degree not only helps in upskilling and moving up the corporate ladder, but opens diverse career avenues to be explored, along with increased opportunities of working with larger organisations. Students and working professionals who complete MBA from India are the most in-demand not just within the country but globally as well.”

Online, most preferred for getting information

The survey showed that students are moving towards online platforms for credible information. Besides Google, official college website and college listing/ranking sites were the strongest platforms for searching information about college. Due to Covid-19 and lockdowns, acceptance for online webinars and social media platforms increased significantly.

The report showed a y-o-y increase for preference for social media.

Regional exams

Similar to 2019 trends, CAT in 2020 remained less popular in South India compared to other regions. Beyond CAT and MAT, State entrance exams such as Karnataka PGCET, TSICET, and TANCET, maintained their popularity in South India in 2020. While in East India, CAT, MAT, XAT, CMAT, SNAP by Symbiosis, NMAT by NMIMS, IBSAT by ICFAI, and OJEEE, were the most popular exams in 2020; MAH-CET was the most popular entrance exam in 2020 in West India followed by CAT. In case of Central India, both CAT and CMAT were equally popular, followed by MAT and SNAP. Private entrance exams such as XAT, NMAT by NMIMS, and IBSAT by ICFAI were also equally popular.

It was observed that most of the regional exams have had overall neutral performance with marginal increase/decrease in 2020 over the last year. When aspirants from different regions were asked about number of MBA entrance exams they have appeared for, the numbers unveiled are:

In North India, 98 per cent of students appeared for up to eight entrance exams in 2020. Students from West, East, and South, appeared for a maximum of six exams. The average count of entrance exams a student in South India appeared for in 2020 increased by 14 per cent.