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AACSB Accreditation: Its Standards and Benefits

20 Aug
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Accreditation by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) is an elite honor bestowed upon fewer than 5% of business schools worldwide. Choosing an AACSB-accredited online MBA program ensures that you'll study at a premium-quality institution where you’ll be taught by world-class faculty. The curricula and programs offered by top-tier, AACSB-accredited business schools likewise ensure that graduates are ready to make a positive impact as knowledgeable, effective and collaborative business leaders.

In this post, we explore AACSB accreditation and the many advantages it provides.

What Is AACSB accreditation?

AACSB accreditation is a non-governmental, voluntary process involving a comprehensive and rigorous external review of a business school's ability to offer the most relevant, highest-quality learning materials and programs. The accreditation process includes full reviews of a business school's mission, the qualifications of its faculty, qualifying standards of its curricula and in-depth reviews and self-evaluations by committees and peers.¹

The AACSB achieves its purpose by defining guiding principles and standards and coordinating comprehensive reviews. It offers accreditation to promote business schools' commitment to improvement through the foundational principles of strategic management, learner success and impactful thought leadership. It confers accreditation upon top-quality business schools which meet rigorous standards and actively embrace the accreditation process.²

The Three Pillars of AACSB Accreditation

The three pillars of AACSB accreditation are the primary drivers and measures of quality by which business schools are judged. In its continuous efforts to maintain relevance and increase value, the AACSB updated its pillars of accreditation in 2020. Reorganizing previous standards set in 2013, this revision reflects the AACSB's commitment to its own improvement.

Adopted in July 2020, the newly revised pillars of AACSB accreditation are:²

  • Strategic management and innovation
  • Learner success
  • Thought leadership, engagement and societal impact

The 2020 AACSB Accreditation Requirements

In July 2020, the AACSB Accreditation Council reorganized the three pillars of accreditation and the 15 standards set in 2013 into nine standards.³ A transition period is in effect from January 2021 until June 2023. During this time, business schools seeking AACSB accreditation may choose to be reviewed under the 2013 standards or the 2020 standards. As of July 1, 2023, however, the 2020 standards will be applied to all business school accreditation reviews.²

Taken from a comparison of 2013 and 2020 AACSB accreditation standards, these are the newly revised accreditation pillars, with the nine new standards organized under them:⁴

Strategic Management and Innovation

  • Standard 1: Strategic planning
  • Standard 2: Physical, virtual and financial resources
  • Standard 3: Faculty and professional staff resources

Learner Success

  • Standard 4: Curriculum
  • Standard 5: Assurance of learning
  • Standard 6: Learner progression
  • Standard 7: Teaching effectiveness and impact

Thought Leadership, Engagement and Societal Impact

  • Standard 8: Impact of scholarship
  • Standard 9: Engagement and societal impact

The Benefits of an AACSB-Accredited Online MBA Program

Accreditation carries weight in business school and in the job market. Students starting in online MBA programs may wish to transfer credits earned in other programs, and credits from accredited programs are more likely to be accepted. Additionally, accreditation ensures that online students are eligible to receive federal financial aid such as loans, grants and work-study opportunities.⁵

Beyond academia, accreditation ensures that students gain the leading-edge business knowledge, skills and expertise that employers require.

Although most employers are now familiar with the benefits of online degrees, most will still want to verify that a potential hire's online degree came from an accredited school or program.⁵ More employers recruit from AACSB-accredited schools. Accreditation assures them that their new recruits are ready to perform on day one. AACSB-accredited business schools produce students with higher overall GPAs and those students receive higher salaries upon employment after graduation.⁶

Heighten Your Business Acumen at William & Mary

The AACSB-accredited Online MBA from William & Mary's Raymond A. Mason School of Business will help you reach your goals. Our top-ranked curriculum prepares you for state-of-the-art business success by teaching you how to think systematically and logically to discover innovative, well-reasoned solutions.

With the flexibility of online instruction, we offer an elite learning experience that develops your knowledge, skills and expertise and sets you apart as a business leader.

1. Retrieved on July 14, 2021 from bestbizschools.aacsb.edu/blog/2015/november/what-is-aacsb-accreditation-anyway
2. Retrieved on July 14, 2021 from aacsb.edu/accreditation/standards/business
3. Retrieved on July 14, 2021 from aacsb.edu/-/media/aacsb/docs/accreditation/business/standards-and-tables/2020%20business%20accreditation%20standards.ashx
4. Retrieved on July 14, 2021 from aacsb.edu/-/media/aacsb/docs/accreditation/business/standards-and-tables/2020%20proposed%20standards%20comparison%20chart.ashx
5. Retrieved on July 14, 2021 from usnews.com/education/online-education/articles/2016-11-11/accreditation-of-online-degree-programs-frequently-asked-questions
6. Retrieved on July 14, 2021 from bestbizschools.aacsb.edu/aacsb-accredited/students