Along with rank and course offerings, accreditation is one of the most important factors to consider when selecting which business school to attend. Accreditation is the process by which schools are certified on the level of competency or credibility of their programs. Therefore, accreditation can be thought of as quality assurance for educational programs, which is meant to improve and maintain the standard of collegiate business education.
Accredited schools are viewed as being committed to the continuous improvement of the institution, its curriculum and students. When schools are not accredited, there is no governing body to oversee the program and ensure that students receive a quality education. For this reason, employers may opt to employ applicants who have attended accredited schools versus non-accredited ones.
The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) is the major accreditation body for business schools. The Accreditation Council for Business Schools & Programs (ACBSP) is not as prominent, but is also an organization that offers accreditation to qualifying business schools.
AACSB accreditation places a strong emphasis on business schools with a focus on research. According to the organization’s website, AACSB Accreditation Standards are used as the basis to evaluate a business school’s mission, operations, faculty qualifications and contributions, and programs. In order to obtain AACSB accreditation, business schools must meet the qualifications of all standards, which are divided into three areas: strategic management, participants standards and assurance of learning standards. Faculty members of qualifying schools must regularly contribute quality intellectual property, including research monographs, peer-reviewed journal articles, chapters in book, full books, peer-reviewed proceedings, seminars, non-peer-reviewed journal articles and peer-reviewed paper presentations. AACSB-accredited schools must demonstrate that they have the financial means to provide resources to achieve the schools’ mission and goals, and must be committed to the continuous improvement of their programs. Admission policies and staff are evaluated to ensure that students have the necessary support system while enrolled in the program, as well as to ensure that student retention rates and graduation rates are acceptable and maintained. AACSB standards also evaluate schools’ student selection, courses provided and testing procedures. You can find a list of AACSB accredited institutions here.
The ACBSP is considered a specialized accreditation for business schools and programs, and places an emphasis on teaching and learning rather than research. In order to obtain ACBSP accreditation, business schools must have an overall satisfactory score from the organization’s Board of Commissioners and peer-review evaluators in the following categories:
- Strategic planning
- Student and stakeholder focus
- Student learning and performance
- Faculty and staff focus
- Educational and business process management
According the organization’s website, school administrators and faculty of ACBSP-accredited business schools must be actively involved in the creation of innovative programs, and must continuously evaluate and improve curriculum and the school’s overall environment. ACBSP schools must also have a formal process to develop student courses and programming with an objective to continually increase student learning and overall satisfaction. Measurement and analysis of student learning and performance is also taken into account during the ACBSP accreditation process. However, this criterion is less stringent than that of the AACSB, as the organization takes diversity of educational institutions into consideration.