Jack of All Trades, Bachelor of …?


Manil S Sodani explores whether the BMS and BMM programmes are really a bang for your bunk as opposed to the conventional BCom and BA degrees

When Darwin described the evolutionary theory, little did he know that by the 21st century, Herbert Spencer’s mantra of the ‘survival of the fittest’ would have extended into the educational space. Each year a rat race breaks out and is generally called admissions period. The finish line seems bleak like the light at the end of a dark tunnel. The runners appear reluctant to give up as they know that slowing down would impact their future irreversibly. The prize being (almost) priceless – a place in the college of your choice! Being one of the many frantic runners in the very same rat race, I know precisely how difficult and exhilarating it can be for any student to pursue a course of their inclination and yearning – a three-year course where a catalytic overhauling of their attitudes and aptitudes would occur. With the advent of new curricula and teaching methodologies in the Indian education system, a plethora of undergraduate courses were introduced in the new millenium that offered an array of new subjects and also a specialisation in a field of your choice such as banking, insurance, finance, management and so on. Not only were these specialisations introduced with the objective to add value to a standard BCom degree, but to also lend a sense of professionalism to it and help students gear up for a corporate life or take over their ‘khandaani businesses’.
In the year 2000, five courses were launched by the University of Mumbai. These unaided courses were Bachelor of Management Studies (BMS), Bachelor of Mass Media (BMM), Bachelor of Banking and Insurance (BBI), Bachelor of Accounting and Finance (BAF) and the Bachelor of Financial Markets (BFM). These courses aim to offer an edge over a standard BCom degree for the commerce stream and a BA degree for the arts stream. This ‘edge’ is offered via a more comprehensive curriculum and pragmatic set of subjects. The subjects are designed to arm students with specialised skill sets which would help them tap specific industry prospects. To illustrate, a BAF student has additional subjects related to finance and accounting applications, in place of import and export trade and so on. This piece aims to shed light on the sharp distinction (and viability) between two courses that are extremely popular and have now become the first choice for those studying in Mumbai.

St. Xaviers (wikimerdia, Someone200)

Read on as we have these courses pitched head to head against each other to see who comes out on top; will it be the ‘new’ BMS (14 years old) or the trusty old BCom? The Bachelor of Management Studies programme was launched in 1999-2000 by the University of Mumbai “with an aim to create middle cadre management personnel”. BMS is a three-year degree course spread over six semesters. The course is managed by a mix of permanent and visiting faculties in most colleges. Since there are approximately 40 subjects that students write papers for, faculties tend to be drawn from corporate, industry and service sectors
to deliver classes in an efficient, professional fashion. BMS students require high percentages in class 12 board examinations as a prerequisite for admissions. Additionally, in the case of outstation students, they must also be willing to relocate to Mumbai for this course. Despite the oddities, a tremendous influx of students from all over the nation takes please each year, increasingly so for BMS. BMS tends to be a popular choice especially amongst family business heirs as this course promises to sharpen management, interpersonal and theoretical skills that can be harnessed to come up with effective solutions to real world problems. Compulsory summer internships, presentations and projects on digressional topics and industry experiences make BMS a hard choice to put down  over BCom. Arwa Master, an FYBMS student from Jai Hind College affirms, “I think BMS is a relatively better course than BCom since it is designed to give students a sharper edge to manage businesses right after they graduate. This course helps enhance managerial skills which make the student a better candidate at the workplace. It covers a wide array of topics involving practical knowledge and is suitable for students from the arts and science faculties too!”

BMS offers resplendent opportunities after completion of the course. BMS graduates can choose to pursue an MBA immediately after their course, it is not uncommon to see students pursuing an MBA with diverse specialisations in health care and management sciences, among others. “BMS provides experiential learning through research intensive assignments and activities conducted by various people, both from academia and industry,” explains Dr Rakhi Sharma, the co-ordinator of Jai Hind College’s BMS programme. Job options via college placements are available to those wanting to get some experience before heading to a master’s degree. BMS is the ideal foundation course for an MBA since a large chunk of the portion taught in the first year of an MBA is uncannily similar to that of a BMS degree. But it may not be the best option to pursue it as a standalone course for three years. “Those pursuing BMS should look to combine it with certifications such as the CFA or FRM. This completes the last step required in making oneself fully employable,” quips Rahul Jagwani, a 2012 BMS graduate from HR College. With that bit out of the way, let’s look at the Ford Model T of all commerce courses – the BCom degree.
One of the oldest and probably the most recognised and accepted courses in the field of commerce, the BCom hardly needs an introduction. The core difference between a BCom and BMS is really the basic foundation that both these courses rest on. A traditional BCom contains a mix of accounting, auditing and import and export management. However, a BMS is a more general and applied management degree to be pursued by those enthused by management principles and organisational behaviour in a simulated corporate environment. BMS tends to be largely a project-based assessment course, where students are forced to summon their entrepreneurial spirit and latch it onto their first business venture. A BCom on the other hand seems to be the foundation course choice for a qualification such as .

mumbai university (wikimedia)

The Bachelor of Mass Media course,one of the many professional courses by the University of Mumbai, is a glamorised version of our regular BA a degree. Featuring new dimensions in a rather slow evolving curriculum, BMM (like the BMS course) offers a specialisation area in the third year; students can choose between advertising and journalism. A few newly introduced subjects include Landmark Events in 20th Century History of the World, India & Maharashtra, Culture Studies, Media Planning and Buying, and News Media Management. Technically, these subjects are more like modules that one would learn to derive a career in the media industry and not necessarily for an allure of the arts. BMM comprises a blend of theoretical foundations and practical applications in line with the digital media age. Another key distinction between BMM and BA is an enforced summer internship in the second year of the programme, equipping students with another level of hands-on skills. This internship acts like a springboard to a career at the end of the three years of this degree. Students tend to start with basic entry level jobs at media organisations, advertising agencies or print media agencies.
The BA on the other hand offers a more comprehensive and extensively detailed study of certain core subjects as part of its syllabus. Political science, economics, psychology, sociology, history and philosophy along with set of national and international languages are standard issue for this course. One notices a constant overlap of the choice of careers after a BA or a BMM, while there is no specific study or evidence to prove that the demand for a BMM student is higher than that of a BA. Critics argue that a BMM tends to appear lucrative with its new curriculum and student-teacher practices but may not offer a solid ground for placements. Aarushi Agarwal, a second year BA student explains, “I chose BA mainly for the focus. In our final year, we have six papers in one subject. This ensures an in-depth and all-round understanding of any subject of my choice like English, economics, psychology or history. By investing an entire year in its study, I am guaranteed educational satisfaction as compared to only superficially breezing through subjects in BMM.”

Mass Communication (wikimedia, Subhashish Panigrahi)

Each course sports its own set of subjects and a different curriculum. After having compared them with one another, it is evident that each course is complete with its own set of subjects and specialisation areas. Your choice, of course, primarily depends on two factors – your percentage in the class 12 board examinations (a significantly high percentage of marks is required to pursue a professional course; BCom and BA cut-off scores are lower) and more importantly, whether one is inclined towards commerce or the arts. It also depends on one’s choice of industry. A BMS degree would help a student attain a management position at a firm or also help one setup their own venture, since entrepreneurial knowledge is the core focus of this course. A BCom has proven to be a rock solid foundation for a CA or other advanced certifications because the concepts of finance and accounting are taught in depth for industrial applications. A BMM gives one an insider’s view over the workings of the media industry and a career in the media and entertainment or digital sectors. A BA equips one with the skills needed to pursue a career in the media, news and publishing, public relations firms and even mainstream politics. Additionally, it can prove to be stronger a base for an MA in literary studies, political science or economics. At the end of the day, you must choose the course that is best aligned with your plans, career goals and what you are most passionate about.

“It is not the strongest or the most intelligent who will survive but those who can best manage change.” – Charles Darwin

One notices a constant overlap of the choice of careers after a BA or a BMM, while there is no specific study or evidence to prove that the demand for a BMM student is higher than that of a BA student

* Jai Hind College, Mumbai
* HR College, Mumbai
* St. Xavier’s College, Mumbai
* MMK College, Mumbai
* Lala Lajpatrai College, Mumbai
* National College, Mumbai


Volume 4 Issue 6



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