What no one tells you about BMS and BBA. The inside scoop from an ex-student.

3-idiots

Bachelor’s of Management studies is a Mumbai university course otherwise known as BBA (Bach. Of Business Administration) across India. Read more on the course content here.

In India, very few students are prudent enough to have a fall back career – or a field of study which they could take when their chosen field is out of reach. I was in that place just over 8 years ago. In the 12th std., I wanted to do something in Medicine, but my scores in the entrance tests (MH CET at the time) were low and those in Biology were not overly impressive. I decided to take an alternative course that was separate from Science because science had already dimaag-ka-dahi-ed my brain.

I was drawn to BMS because of it’s glamour at the time. Reading material on the web I saw that it was a sought-after course for Commerce undergrads. People were giving first preference to BMS and then to BCom/BAF. There was an entrance test too to add to the exclusivity which basically meant the course was hard to get. In my mind, I automatically, and rather foolishly, ascertained that this was a premium course. The course was supposed to have a lot of presentations and was to be the pre-MBA kind of course. Having lost out to engineering and Medicine, I thought eventually getting an MBA would be good for me and here was a course which would make it easier. Also, I loved giving presentations and had a knack for public speaking.

I wouldn’t have gotten in to BMS if it was not for the Mumbai University to scrap entrance tests in 2008 – because of low demand – a fact that in retrospect I should have thought over.

I graduated in 2010. By God’s grace I had much fun in the course over three years. It was a cakewalk for me personally. It is very important to have decent classmates. They make all the assignments and group work easier. Thereafter some of us got jobs ourselves while others were recruited on campus.

That’s where we learnt some hard truths about BMS.

  • BMS had and still has no status in the Job market. We were shocked when we realized that contrary to being laid out the welcome mat after clearing BMS, corporates rather undervalued BMS/BBA students compared to specialists in the respective fields. E.g. Banks wouldn’t prefer us over BCom. The course which was supposed to be better than BCom, sought after by so many Commerce students apparently wasn’t the choice of recruitment for a lot of recruiters. BMM students were preferred for marketing/advt. jobs over BMS. BA Psychology students were preferred for HR over BMS students. There was no specific BMS/BBA only jobs in the job market.
  • We were the ‘Jacks of all trades’. It didn’t take us long to realize that we had done a wide spectrum of studies over 3 years. Finance, Marketing, Human resource, Programming, Accounting, Logistics etc. were the subjects we had covered. Each semester was 4-5 months long and there were 6 subjects a Sem and 2 semesters a year. That’s a total of 36 subjects over three years. Given the time, it wasn’t possible to go in-depth to each of the subjects. As such, a BCom student would be better able to keep a business’ books compared to BMS. BMM students had more exposure to films/ads videos and marketing overall – than a BMS student. We had mastery over no field.
  • MBA, A Mile wide & Foot-deep course. As mentioned earlier, some of us, including me, wanted to do an MBA after BMS. Tying in with the Jack of all trades point, A BMS course is already a wide course covering certain subjects at the surface. An MBA is supposed to do the same although the level of a masters, is more detailed than a graduate level course, it still covers a wide spectrum of subjects. In mathematical terms this means it is ‘Jack of all trades and master of none’ raised to the power of 2.
  • No Ease of doing an MBA. Let me tell you something, the MBA portion overlaps with BMS but it does not do anything to make it easier. Take the Human Resource subject. You’d cover basic concepts like Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs, Organizational Structure & Behavior etc. These are concepts whose “Knowledge is already common, but so that they can earn a PhD., some people have written books about” as one of my professors put it. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is a concept every one already knows practically – that food clothing shelter and dignity are required by humans in some order. MBAs still do the basic concepts AGAIN, and you’ll have Maslow’s mentioned along with some other theories in an MBA. So it doesn’t matter whether you ‘remember’ the concepts from BMS/BBA, they’ll make you do it once more in detail. Given that MBAs are case study driven, the knowledge gleaned from BMS may not give you an edge in the deeper curriculum in the MBA.
  • Changing Supply/Demand curve of an MBA. The market is saturated with MBAs as a result the value has dropped. Packages being offered on completing an MBA are much lesser almost on par with some graduate courses unless done from a Tier 1 or Tier 2 colleges. And jobs after an MBA are supposed to be the main USP of doing an MBA. As such, from the last three points, the viability of an MBA after BMS/BBA is much lower now in my opinion.
  • No Entrepreneurial insight or Startup Training – One would think a course like BMS would stimulate creativity like Harvard did to the likes of Zuckerberg and Gates. No such epiphanies occur. In our course, there was only one subject for a semester called Entrepreneurship. It was more like what entrepreneurs should do, than a course which taught students to ideate. A shout out for one of my professor’s from St. Andrew’s – Mrs. Jenny Mathews. She went beyond the course material and actually forced us to come up with a ‘new business’ idea as part of our internals. We felt like were on the ‘Shark Tank’ show. We loved every bit of it. It would have been nice if BMS curriculum had more such activities and subjects especially since startups are so much in abundance now.
  • Soft skills are not intentionally sharpened – The universities require presentations to be done as part of internals. Please note that however, the university has not outlined the requirements for a presentation neither is there any subject in BMS to help students understand the basics of a good presentation. This is obvious from the fact that students make PowerPoints with text splattered all over the slide on a white background and end up reading from a paper. While some students do get better over time, a lot of them don’t. It would be helpful to have a course that deals with soft skills and how to present (posture, appearance) in the curriculum. FYI, one of the subjects Business Communication doesn’t cover presentations.
  • Other issues with BMS –
    • Most colleges do not have dedicated BMS staff who are there entirely for BMS. It’s usually borrowed staff from other departments and visiting faculty resulting in a lack of coherence in teaching.
    • Choosing your college matters. Not only for teaching but also for placements. Colleges like St. Xavier’s are known to have good placements in some renowned corporates and for good jobs. It’s not the name of the corporate that matters, it’s the kind of jobs.
    • Fees are relatively higher for BMS since it is a ‘self funded course’. And judging by the fact that corporates value other courses over BMS, it’s not a valuable investment.
    • The group work, if you don’t have a good team, is a royal pain. Each subject per sem has minimum 3 internal assignments. That’s 18 assignments per semester! That’s high people. To add to the melee, some professors love mixing up the groups for each subject. So that can sometimes mean having to be part of 6 separate groups per semester turning in a group project/presentation.

A word in favor of the course. 

I will say for all it’s shortcomings, that BMS does make you a better multi-tasker or task-switcher as they call it nowadays. It also does a lot to sharpen your soft skills because of the number of times you have to do presentations and pubic speaking. On campus, BMS is considered to be more ‘posh’ than your average Bachelor degree so there is that kind of status you have on campus. Being from a science background, it did allow me to move seamlessly into commerce without much trouble. It has my respect in that regard.

Are you doing BMS currently?

My condolences with you but don’t lose heart. If someone does end up wanting to do BMS or is in the process of completing BMS, I would recommend you to do another course simultaneously. For finance I would recommend CA/CFA/CPA/ACCA. If you are tech savvy, and since startup jobs are in demand, either to work for a startup or to create your own app/site, you need to know coding. Try doing a coding course simultaneously from somewhere for Android/iOS. Big Data jobs are also on the rise, so learning Python, Ruby, Hadoop etc. may come in handy in the years to come. From a marketing and advertisement or films standpoint, stay in close touch with your colleagues in BMM and attend every major film festival – make every attempt to make movies using your phone cameras. Movie making is an amazing talent which everyone can learn. If you’re planning something in HR, do something offbeat – like create a fictitious company, call people for interviews, give them offer letters and all.. and then call them up later and tell them they’re fired.. Donald Trump Apprentice style. Sorry I couldn’t think of anything else 🙂

You will need to ascertain which specific field you want to do ultimately and learn more about that through a side course. In case e.g. you want to build your accounting concepts, pick up the CA-CPT entrance book which has more than required level of Accounts knowledge you need and solve it over the summer. Stuff like that. Your career is in your hands. Do the best with what you have.

In Summary

BMS and BBA are courses that will not skill you enough by the end of 3 years. Alas, by then you should either be able to run your own business or help someone else run theirs. But because of lack of specialisation, the course helps you do neither of them. Find a course that can make you skilled like an expert worth hiring. Like the saying from 3 Idiots goes, “Kaabil Bano, bachoo, kabil. Kamyabi jhak marke peeche aayegi”.

Do you have any other questions about BMS you would like answered? Please don’t forget to share this with your friends. 

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22 thoughts on “What no one tells you about BMS and BBA. The inside scoop from an ex-student.

  1. WOW Sir ! ..I just read your “What no-one tells you….” And it’s literally been what everyone is telling me these days. When I first read “6 things to keep in mind before joining BMS” in March, I thought “Okay..Challenge accepted!”But now, your latest article has got me gaping in surprise as it really leaves me heartbroken. I took up commerce with a thought of getting better job opportunities than the rest in the future and did not enjoy studying the stream later. Honestly Accounts and Economics got me bored. I’m done with HSC this year and so my choices broke down to BMS or BMM for an under graduation degree. I chucked out BMM from my list and hoped that BMS would be better as the ones doing it had a positive outlook at it till today… I wish to pursue an MBA later on. After a year and months of research your article concludes this to me. I still wonder why is the cut off so high? Anyways, Thank You for sharing your views about it. It leaves me with a BIG question mark now, not easy to erase at all ! 😦

  2. WOW Sir ! ..I just read your “What no-one tells you….” And it’s literally been what everyone is telling me these days. When I first read “6 things to keep in mind before joining BMS” in March, I thought “Okay..Challenge accepted!”But now, your latest article has got me gaping in surprise as it really leaves me heartbroken. I took up commerce with a thought of getting better job opportunities than the rest in the future and did not enjoy studying the stream later. Honestly Accounts and Economics got me bored. I’m done with HSC this year and so my choices broke down to BMS or BMM for an under graduation degree. I chucked out BMM from my list and hoped that BMS would be better as the ones doing it had a positive outlook at it till today… I wish to pursue an MBA later on. After a year and months of research your article concludes this to me. I still wonder why is the cut off so high? Anyways, Thank You for sharing your views about it. It leaves me with a BIG question mark, not easy to erase at all ! 

    • Glad to have been able to help Kate. Reading through your comment, you were deciding between BMM and BMS. Those are two really different courses I’m sure you know. If I may, your confusion and question marks can be reduced substantially if you focus on what you’d like to do in life. Don’t decide your future by a degree. I made that mistake already. Decide what you’d like to be doing and then choose.

      The advantages of studying today is there are plenty of courses to choose from. Make use of them.

      • Sir, as you said decide what I’d be doing and then choose..So, I wish to be a manager in a corporate or something, like with the human resources department or any other department…Im just 17 and selecting a career is still confusing so I just made up my mind to go with this, cuz kind of liked it, hence i thought BMS and then MBA would be the best option acc. to my research and everything…sooo ..I secured 85% in 12th and Im trying but I haven’t got into any good colg in the first list for BMS yet..I have a B.com seat in Podar at the same.But I do not want to do B.com.I do not want to be an accountant.Hence, Management. Is still doing BMS a threat to me ? :l

      • you can be an investment professional if you do BCom and add a CFA degree to it. Not all BCom student become accountants. You’ve given thought to what you want to do in life so that’s great. The only thing i’d warn you about is that a BMS and MBA might not still place you where you want to be for the reasons mentioned in the post. But still, the rationale behind is the same I made when I was 17. All the best. Hope things turn out better for you!

  3. I had decided to do bms ….but after reading ur post m confused….i got 88.6…n m trying to get in NM college for BMS …..plz help should i do it???….should i go for something else.???
    RSVP…..admission started already!
    P.s.: m much into finance…so suggest stream related to dat@

    • BAF would be the best steam for finance. BMS in NM I don’t know much about whether it is really good or not, so can’t really comment. Your score is quite good I think you can try Xavier’s for BMS. Even HR / jaihind shouldn’t be a problem.

  4. This is by far the most honest post I have read on BMS. I want to be an an entrepreneur, sir. The startup environ in India is amazing today. But I have no wish to do engineering. As mentioned, I will take crash courses and build up my skills as and when necessary. But BMS from DU looked promising as the one course that can actually help me do what I want to. Is it really just a bunch of obvious theories and prima donna books that have less to do with the real world than the extra curriculars we can engage in? I need help here. B.Comm focuses too much on accounts for it to be of any use to me. I have a purpose, I just can’t find a road that leads me to it. Money won’t be an issue. Can you suggest something.

    • Thanks for the compliments. As far as I’ve seen, BMS portion which I covered nearly 7-8 years ago may have evolved. But I still think it’s mostly obvious stuff. I would recommend to check with someone who’s already doing the course currently. Also, you should be allowed to go to the DU library and check the portion for BMS (the librarian should know the relevant books). Make your decision accordingly. Hope this helps.

  5. Thank you for the insight, I have just dropped out of engineering realizing that it isn’t what i wanna do in my life. I am looking for more options and want to know every bit of inside scoop of all the professional courses as i can get, I have a knack for public speaking and consider myself good at soft skills, marketing has always been appealing for me but i dont have the slightest clue as to what could by next career option could be. if you could just help me with some advice it would be much appreciated.

    • BMM would be a nice place to go if you’re outgoing and keen on Marketing. It will open a fair number of doors including some media roles if you’re lucky. BMM is an arts based role and given your comment that’s what i’d recommend. As for BMS, yes, being an extrovert helps, but that’s where it also ends. The hand-in-hand knowledge upgrade is far lesser in BMS. E.g. if giving presentations is what i’m good at in life, it will help me with an Investment Banking role, but BMS does little to sharpen my accounts and finance knowledge. It covers it, but more like skims it.

      Sorry for the late response.

  6. I m pursuing pcmb 2nd pu right now. But I m thinking to switch to commerce stream. So I m confused to between bcom n bms. Which has better placements?

    • Sorry for the incredibly late reply. Don’t know how this got missed. But there’s no difference between placements in either. It all depends on the negotiating power of your college department. Because the HOD has to negotiate with HRs of various companies to come on the campus to recruit. As such, I have written that BMS guys sometimes can be on the backfoot if the firm wants hard core commerce students.

  7. Your post was really helpful, thanks!
    I’m appearing for my +2 exams this year and hoping to score between 75 to 85 Percent. I’m interested in graduating with a BBA degree and an MBA after that. Just like you said, it would be better if I specialize in a specific field while graduating, I’ve been told the same thing by other people in the corporate world I look up to.
    I’ve loved and preferred B.St. over Acc. and Eco. from the very beginning and I’m very much inclined towards the management field.
    Should I prepare for CS?
    Can you please help me guide me with the courses related to Management that I can do which won’t put a lot of burden while regularly attending a college. I hope to hear from you soon.
    Thanks!

    • Hi. Thanks for pointing out that other seniors who are working have also given you similar feedback as mentioned in the post. I too learned it from my own peers albeit after starting to work.

      I’m going to comment only on the basis of your points here. So please continue to do your due diligence before applying my opinion.

      A statistical degree I presume is what you’re referring to. I think in today’s world it has much more relevance, however I suggest that you compliment it with a diploma in computer or data sciences or some specialisation in big data. In the near future, people who can analyse data and come up with meaningful observations will be much needed. A language like Python can also be learnt as it is one of the programming languages used in data analysis programs.

      Some of these courses can be done after your graduation from abroad (especially the US). How trumps Visa bans affect students is yet to be ascertained but that notwithstanding as a post graduation, an MSc. In data sciences or something of that sort.

      Don’t limit yourself to an Indian course like CS. Think global applicability. Because even MNCs who bring their operations to India would need you to support global teams across locations.

      As for a management degree, do it unless you’re doing it from a Tier 1 college. Or at least tier 2.

      Hope this helps.

      • Thanks a lot for your time and efforts to clear my doubt. I really appreciate your work.
        Could you please help me out with what I should specifically look for in a college that I want to pursue my BBA from cause everyone on the internet has their own notion about every other college in the country.
        It would really help me and some of my friends a lot if you could just name some of them that I could apply for according to the expected percentage that I mentioned earlier.
        And would taking a year off after the graduation for the preparations of an MBA entrance exam will be a wise decision or one can pull off CAT or MAT while graduating (side-by-side)?
        Thanks!

  8. Sir, I m a 12th science student confused about my further studies , wanting to start my own business company , while going through details of variety of courses BMS made a special place in my mind ,but after reading your views I m just feeling more confused ,……….so in want of clearing my doubts by just asking your views about want would be a better option for a career like business! Wanting for a positive reply!

    • If you are into starting a business then BMS may be for you. But please note it covers everything at the surface level and doesn’t go in depths . Having said that, I’ve heard a lot of people who would rather spend their time hands on doing their business. BMS would make it extremely difficult to do that as you would have to set aside plenty of time for your group activities. An believe me they are a lot. Especially if the professor randomly assigns your group member. So choose wisely. Since you are running a business and end up choosing BMS, choose a college where attendance is not a big issue. That way you can give time to your business. (note that the advice has been given assuming you have already started your business or are in the process or starting it before your graduation completes.)

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