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Specialized Management program Vs General Management program

In this article we shall address one of the most widely stated concerns of management aspirants – a specialized management program or a general management program?
The challenge
Two kinds of programs are available for management enthusiasts: General MBA program& Specialized MBA program. The choice varies from one person to another and is determined by various factors which will be discussed at the end of the article. It’s an important decision for a management student as the entire career path depends on it.
What is a General MBA Program?
The General Program is typically spread over a two year span, with focus on management essentials in the first year along with basics of various functions of management. In the second year the students get to specialize in or more management functions, depending on the academic system of that particular business school. Students are also put though an industry internship of about 8 weeks before they get into the second year. Typically students choose to take an internship project in their intended function of specialization.
What is a specialized management program?
This program offers a directional set of inputs in a particular management stream. Other functions have a very limited inclusion in the program. The entire fabric is woven around a specific function of management. It is more suited for applicants with unidirectional interest in a management field.
Some elite schools offering specialized management programs
In India following are some of the business schools offering specialized management programs :
  • TISS : The Tata Institute of Social Sciences is a multi-campus public funded research university in Mumbai, India. TISS offers several Bachelors, Masters and Doctoral programmes in interdisciplinary areas from its Mumbai, Tuljapur, Hyderabad  and Guwahati campuses. It is particularly known for its Master of Arts (Human Resource Management & Labour Relations) program which prepares management students for a career in Human Resource Management. 
  • IIFT: The Indian Institute of Foreign Trade is an autonomous organisation to help professionalise the country's foreign trade management. The flagship program is a two year MBA (International Business) at New Delhi and Kolkata.
  • IRMA: The Institute of Rural Management Anand is India`s leading school in rural management committed to acting as the catalyst and facilitator of rural prosperity. IRMA educates those inspired to work with organisations serving the rural sector and engaging directly with rural communities.
  • NIFT: National Institute of Fashion Technologyis the pioneering institute of fashion education in the country and has been in the vanguard of providing professional human resource to the textile and apparel industry. It is based in New Delhi and has several other campuses across India.
  • IIFM : The Indian Institute of Forest Management is a sectoral management institute, which constantly endeavours to evolve knowledge useful for the managers in the area of Forest, Environment and Natural Resources Management and allied sectors. It is based in Bhopal.
  • Schools offering specialized programs in addition to the general management program: These are schools which offer both specialized and general management programs. For example, the Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad (IIM-A) offers a Post Graduate Programme in Food & Agri-business Management apart from the Post Graduate Programme in Management, which is the flagship programme here.
What factors influence the decision?
  • Goal Clarity/ Interest : Some students are crystal clear with respect to their career goals and this clarity helps them decide the management program they would like to pursue. For example, someone extremely passionate about contributing to the rural sector is all poised for a program at IRMA, while someone who is decided to work in the export sector is more carved out for a program at IIFT.
  • Skill Set :Some students are born with a particular skill which needs formal grooming to translate into a professional strength. For example, someone who is persuasive is apparently crafted for a career in marketing, while someone who connects well with people and has good interpersonal skills can do well in HR.
  • B-school cut-offs : Having a skill or being clear with respect to professional goals is one part of securing admission in a management school. The other part is the student’s performance in the selection process and eligibility on the basis of the cut-offs declared by the b-school. It is also possible that the cut-offs for the flagship program of a particular school do not make you eligible for that particular program, but the same may grant you admission in certain other programs offered by that school, which may be specialized offerings. 
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