Why do Indian students prefer MS to MBA in US?

A recent report by the SEVP (Student and Exchange Visitor Programme) – the Department of Homeland Security,suggests that about 83% Indian students in the US are enrolled in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) related fields.This report is also suggestive of some prominent trends in the study abroad industry. About a decade ago, more Indian students were flying to the US to pursue MBA rather than STEM, but in recent years the trend has changed in favour of the latter field. There are 3 prominent reasons for this shift in Indian student preference.

Better MBA schools in India, better MS schools in the US
According to MBA aspirants in India, with the increasing popularity of IIMs, ISB and other premier MBA institutions, more Indian students are applying to MBA colleges in India. However, when it comes to pursuing an MS or MTech, the US has better institutes than those in India. Besides, the US is also known for its focus on research and development. Vibha Kagzi, CEO, Founder, ReachIvy.com also agrees that the US is a research driven economy, hence Indians find better research oriented jobs there. Jyoti Shah, a Teaching Assistant in IIT-Bombay, who is also pursuing her PhD research, says, “Research related funds and technology allocated to even top institutes in India is much less as that available in the US.”

Work-ex eligibility for US B-Schools:

In many top B-Schools in US, the admission eligibility criteria for applicants is to have some years of formal work experience. Ramya Tenali, a US MBA graduate, says, “You will learn very little if you go for an MBA without 2-3 years of work experience. You have to work in an organizational setting to comprehend and appreciate the full potential of an MBA. For this reason, most business schools in the US have requirement of 3 to 5 years of work experience as a major factor for admission.” However, students agree that those starting off with their career, should go for an MS and can then pursue an MBA a couple of years later.

OPT period for MBA vs MS:

The Obama administration, in May 2016, extended the OPT (Optional Practical Training) period to 3 years for students pursuing STEM fields. This means that students graduating with an MS degree can work for up to 3 years in the US in a related field. However, the OPT extension hasn’t been applied to MBA students, which means that they still fall under the original OPT period i.e. 1 year. An extension to the OPT period allows students to gain more work experience in the US and higher chances of acquiring an H1B visa. For students hoping to work in the US after their degree, an MS provides better options than an MBA in terms of the training period.

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