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PGP - ABM : A backdoor entry into IIM A - Rishabh Baldi, IIM Ahmedabad

Rishabh Baldi graduated in 2013 from IIM Ahmedabad. After working for a year and half in a start up, he resigned from his job to travel. He is a newbie blogger and writes mainly on life in a B-school and his travel plans. He is socially active on Facebook and Quora.

As an alumnus of IIM A, I am going to share with you one of the easiest way to crack into the most sought after institute. . Even if you have screwed up your academics in 10th, 12th or Engineering or even CAT scores, it doesn't matter. The PGP-ABM programme can come to your rescue. It is considered by most as a backdoor entry into IIMA. The programme is not as bad as you may think it to be. In fact, it is quite good.

This post will have four parts:

What happened with me in 2011?

Why did I get through PGP-ABM?

The one thing that you need to do right

Details about the programme

What happened to me in 2011?

I appeared for the two examinations- GRE and CAT. My inclination was towards GRE and I managed to receive an admission call for MS in Rutgers University-Mathematical Finance in US.  There was absolutely zero chance that I will score > 99 percentile in CAT because you need practice for that. My only preparation for CAT was the 5-6 tests in a test-series. The result was as expected. With anything <99, you cannot get admission in any of the top 5-6 IIMs. If your academic performance has not been not good enough, then even the thought is a sin. I did not even bother to check whether I had received a call. One of my friends, with a similar percentile as mine, called me up and said that he had received a call for GDPI in IIM A and IIM L for Agribusiness Management.

If there is anything that can describe the whole process of me getting into IIM A, it can be called as destiny. (Percentile<99 + Screwed up academics + Silent throughout the GD + Waitlist 17)

Why did I get through PGP-ABM?

My undergraduate college degree said - "B.Tech in Food Engineering and Technology"

I graduated as a Food Engineer from ICT (formerly UDCT) in Mumbai and PGP-ABM programme prefers people with technical background (Agri-Science/Food).  For diversity, they include people from non-technical backgrounds too.

The one thing that you need to do right

If your dream before signing up for engineering is to get into IIM A, then you should probably consider getting into the following streams in the following colleges as per your ranks. This is one thing that you need to do right.

Agricultural Engg in IITs

Food Engg in UDCT

Agri/Food Engg in other colleges

There are other non-technical colleges too from which IIM A takes students from.

Below is the list of students along with their undergraduate colleges who made it to this program.

2014-16 batch ( Page on ) , 2013-15 batch ( Page on )

Just check if your college is in this list.

This link has IIM A's eligibility criteria for admission in PGP-ABM (Page on

Having an Agri/Food stream in under-graduation gives you significant advantage. If it doesn't matter to you whichever branch of Engineering you choose and if you want to do MBA further up, then it is in your best interests to choose Agri/Food related field. The reason is that you can get into the ABM programme at IIM A and IIM L even if you score less in your engineering and even if you score less in CAT. If you score good enough in Engineering as well as CAT, you anyway have the option of getting into the PGP.

About the PGP-ABM program

The PGP-ABM programme of IIM A has been ranked as number one in the world in Agri and Food Management for three consecutive years (2011, 2012, 2013).

Something to boast. \m/

The irony is that it is still very low on the preference order of students and considered as a back-door entry.


People do MBA from IIM A only because once they pass out they get better roles and better pay and the brand of the institute (which is kind of over-hyped in our country). The pay is lower for PGP-ABM. If by any chance, you are a seeker of knowledge who wants to get into IIM A to enhance faculties, there is no difference between the PGP and the PGP-ABM programme on that front.

How much does it pay?

Not as high as PGP but not very low either. Average placement is INR 10-12 lakhs, maximum is INR 18-20 lakhs and minimum is INR 8-9 lakhs. Contact current students for more details about placements.

Is it worth it?

Well, from the point of view of spending 2 years in IIM A, it is.  But pay-wise, it is your call. If your undergraduate degree is not from a reputed college, you can give it a serious thought because it is very likely that you will end up with a same pay in PGP or any other institute  as well.

Percentile required

Significantly low as compared to PGP in IIM A, B, C, L or even I. Again, changes every year. Contact current students.

You won't be cultivating crops

You will be having normal corporate jobs similar to PGP.


Finance- sitting on desk if you get into Agri-Fin (few banks)

Marketing- roaming in rural areas if you get into sales for initial 2 years (most companies in this domain)

Operations and Supply Chain (few companies)

Consulting- (very rare)


Again, you may be looked down upon by some during the two years in the institute, but that is ok. You have to learn to not give a damn to what people think.

Academic rigor and quality of courses

Negligible difference. First year is common to both PGP and PGP-ABM. Second year you can take 30% of the optional PGP subjects. There are many common subjects too.

Brand IIM A

Once you get out, nobody will ask you whether you are from PGP or ABM. IIM A is what sticks to you. Now you will know because I am telling you. So once you are out, you can remove the ABM tag if you want to. I would not recommend that. If getting into IIM A at any costs is your dream, then this is your path through the back door. And, if the above information helps you somehow in getting into PGP-ABM of IIM A, then you owe me a treat :)