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How Important is AACSB Accreditation?

25 Aug
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When you think of pursuing an MBA, there are many criteria to take into account. You need to find a program offering the degree that fits your goals, delivering the quality you expect, in the format and on the schedule that fits with the rest of your time commitments.

As the number of degree-granting institutions increases, accreditation is another important factor to consider. Business schools may obtain different types of accreditation, and some schools are not accredited at all. Read on for context on AACSB accreditation and the impact it can have on your education and career.

What is the AACSB?

The Association of Collegiate Schools of Business was founded in 1916, with 17 member universities that included several Ivy League institutions.1 After postponing its activities due to American involvement in World War I, it resumed operation and, in 1919, created the first minimum accreditation standards for member business schools.

With a 1925 name change to the American Association of Collegiate Schools of Business, the AACSB created the moniker by which it would be known for 72 years. In 1997, it became the AACSB—The International Association for Management Education, and in 2001, the AACSB International—The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business, due to a growing number of member organizations outside of the United States. The association opened offices in Singapore in 2009 and The Netherlands in 2014.

Since its founding, the AACSB has continually updated the standards and requirements for business schools, with the ultimate goal of ensuring the highest-quality business and leadership education from its member institutions.

Differences in Forms of Accreditation

All educational accreditation is not alike. It’s important to understand the distinction between national, regional and programmatic accreditation.²

National Institutional Accreditation
National accreditation agencies focus on trade and vocational schools, as well as career programs that offer certifications and degrees. Course credits from nationally accredited institutions will not necessarily transfer over to regionally accredited ones.

Regional Institutional Accreditation
This is perhaps the best-known type of accreditation. In the United States, six regional accrediting agencies oversee higher education institutions within their respective geographic areas.³ The U.S. Department of Education and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation oversee these regional accrediting bodies. These two bodies are not specifically in charge of accreditation, but they do set the federal standards that regional accreditation bodies use.

Regional accreditation organizations generally provide accreditation for an entire institution of higher education—that is, a university or college with all its departments and degree programs. Most non-profit schools and state schools seek regional accreditation because it is the most widely recognized and maintains very high standards.

Regionally accredited colleges and universities are mostly academically oriented. They’re typically reluctant to accept transfer credits from nationally accredited institutions, often because the latter haven’t met the former’s stringent academic standards.4

Programmatic Accreditation
AACSB accreditation comes from an international accrediting body, but it is different from both of the accreditation options above. It falls into the category of programmatic accreditation, which has standards that focus only on the business school, not the entire university. This more specific focus helps the accrediting body ensure that graduate and undergraduate business school students will receive the best education.

The Importance of AACSB Accreditation

All accreditation is voluntary. Most academic institutions choose to go through the AACSB accreditation process because it:

  • Verifies to prospective students, faculty, and donors that the school meets high educational standards
  • Can help potential applicants compare different programs and feel confident knowing that the ones with AACSB accreditation have a proven ability to deliver strong outcomes
  • Ensures that a transferring student’s credits will be accepted at the destination institution

Benefits of an AACSB-Accredited MBA

There are many important reasons to prioritize earning your MBA from an AACSB-accredited institution:

Proven reputation
A program with AACSB accreditation has shown that it meets the highest standards for providing quality education to its students.

Exceptional faculty
Universities with AACSB accreditation can attract high-quality faculty, and must show that their instructors are qualified and experienced in business.

Challenging and relevant curriculum
Accreditation is reviewed every five years—a process which ensures that a program’s curriculum is keeping up with an ever-changing business world.5

Transfer acceptance
By choosing an AACSB-accredited Online MBA program, you confirm that the credits you earn in it will be recognized at such time as you pursue a doctorate or other subsequent graduate degree.

Job prospects
Universities with AACSB accreditation are often highly reputed among employers for their quality education, which helps set you apart from other job applicants when it’s time to start your career.

Confirming a Program’s AACSB-Accreditation Status

As you begin your search for an Online MBA program, look at each university’s accreditation status. Universities and colleges publicize their AACSB accreditation on their websites. You can also find a full list of accredited schools on the AACSB website.

Choose the Strongest Online MBA Program

The AACSB-accredited Raymond A. Mason School of Business at William & Mary delivers the unsurpassed, in-depth graduate experience that your career deserves. Our Online MBA program is a national leader, lauded for the excellence of its faculty and curriculum. Reach out to an Admissions Advisor today and build your career advancement on the strength of our foundation.

1. Retrieved on August 24, 2021 from aacsb.edu/about/who-we-are/timeline
2. Retrieved on August 24, 2021 from edsmart.org/regional-vs-national-accreditation/
3. Retrieved on August 24, 2021 from chea.org/regional-accrediting-organizations
4. Retrieved on August 24, 2021 from edsmart.org/regional-vs-national-accreditation/
5. Retrieved on August 24, 2021 from aacsb.edu/accreditation/journey/process-overview