When you’re looking into studying an MBA, it’s important to know about the importance of MBA accreditation. There are a number of different types of MBA accreditation, which ensure students studying on that specific course, or at that specific institution receive a high quality of teaching, and that the course meets a set of criteria concerning curriculum.
MBA accreditation is given by external bodies, which are independent from the institution, in order to ensure the course meets the needs of both students and employers. There are two main types of accreditation provided by accrediting organisations:
This type of accreditation means that the institute itself is accredited to ensure high quality teaching across the board. This is available in two forms; regional and national. Regional accreditation for MBA courses is the most common form of institutional accreditation and has been around longer than its national equivalent. National accreditation is less common and is often given to vocational or trade schools.
The specialised accreditation is the second type of accreditation, and is also known as programmatic or professional accreditation. As its name suggests, a specialised accreditation focuses on specialised or professional aspects of a course, which means it only covers specific degrees and courses at the university, not the institution as a whole.
Due to the fact that most major business schools hold regional accreditation, it is the best recognised of the institutional accreditation types.
What is an ‘Accredited MBA’?
MBA courses can have both an institutional and specialised accreditation or may only hold an institutional accreditation. It is important when picking a course for you to look into which type of accreditation a business school holds if it promotes an ‘accredited MBA’.
MBA accreditation can be an indication of the quality of the program. Note that this is not the same as being high in MBA rankings tables, but accreditation is arguably just as important as an institution’s ranking. Different courses and institutions are accredited by different bodies, which have slightly different criteria and focus.
Who accredits MBAs?
Now we know that there are different types of MBA accreditation, we need to know who accredits the courses and why. In the US there are three major accrediting bodies which are recognised widely:
Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) – this organisation accredits research universities and business schools worldwide, including 650 institutions in over 40 countries and US territories. This is the most renowned specialised accreditation for MBA study, so this is a good accreditation to look out for.
Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP) – this organisation accredits business programmes which focus on teaching and learning in the field of business, with 529 accredited member institutions in 2010.
International Assembly for Collegiate Business Education (IACBE) – this organisation accredits universities and colleges across the globe. It accredits bachelors, Master’s, Associate’s and doctoral level business programmes. Its accreditation principles look at eight main areas: outcome assessment, curriculum, strategic planning, faculty, resources, scholarly and professional activities, educational innovation and external relationships (with other institutions and businesses).
All three of the above are recognised by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA), which encourage high quality teaching and curriculum through the encouragement of self-regulation of accrediting bodies.
Institutional accrediting organisations in the US
Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools (MSA) – regional
New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASCSC) – regional
The Higher Learning Commission (HLC) of North Central Association of College and Schools (NCA) – regional
Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU) – regional
Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) – regional
Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) – regional
As you can see by the names of the above accrediting bodies, it is easy to get a rough idea of the areas each of these bodies accredit institutions in. For more information simply visit the website of each organisation to see the areas and schools they include.
Accrediting organisations outside the US
Association of MBAs (AMBA) – this organisation is based in the UK and accredits an institution’s postgraduate business programs rather than the whole school or institution. This specialised accreditation is not simply for UK institutions only though and it is recognised worldwide, with accredited institutions in 47 countries.
All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) – as suggested by the names, this organisation accredits institutions in India as it is of the national institutional variety.
European Quality Improvement System (EQUIS) – this organisation awards accreditation based in the general quality of a business school, with 138 accredited institutions across 38 countries, mainly across Europe and Asia.
Central and East European Management Development Association (CEEMAN) – this specialised accreditation is awarded to encourage growth in the quality of management development of its members.
Foundation for International Business Administration Accreditation (FIBAA) – this is a specialised accreditation with a focus on economic science and sociologically oriented studies in business.
South African Council on Higher Education (CHE) – this accreditation ensures good quality teaching in higher education across South Africa.
Why is MBA accreditation important?
The accreditation of an MBA course is often something an employer or potential employer is looking for from MBA graduates. This is because the employer knows that you will have been taught the curriculum necessary for the course, and at a high quality. This can help to set you apart from other candidates, enhancing your job prospects.
If you study an MBA at an institution which holds both an institutional and specialised accreditation then you could be even more employable, especially if the specialised accreditation is in the form of AACSB, the most renowned of its type.
Remember to look at the specific accreditation of an accredited MBA, as it could make a huge difference in future employment. Start looking for an accredited MBA today with our intuitive course search feature at the top of the page, or click here to find MBA courses worldwide.