Why School Accreditation Matters
Accreditation is a symbol of excellence recognized worldwide by students, educators, and employers.
Accreditation is a voluntary, non-governmental process of validation in which colleges, universities and other institutions of higher learning are evaluated. The accreditation process is an external review of a school’s ability to provide the highest quality programs, including the school’s mission, faculty qualifications, and curricula. Once earned, accreditation must be maintained and reevaluated at regular intervals in order to ensure the university, program, or school unit continues to provide the best education it can.
Accreditation is vital to your success in business school because it ensures that you are learning material most relevant to your field of study, so that you’re prepared to be an effective leader upon graduation.
The two types of accreditation prospective b-school students should be aware of are:
- Institutional accreditation: An overall review of the entire university, and is typically done by a country’s national or regional accrediting body (such as the six regional accrediting bodies in the United States). These national agencies perform a review of the entire university, from its operating budgets to its student services. Depending on where the university is located, it must be approved by one of these agencies in order to grant degrees and be considered legitimate in the country in which it operates. In most cases, institutional accreditation must be maintained, requiring a school to be reviewed every few years.
- Specialized accreditation: Once institutional accreditation is earned, universities can also seek "specialized" or "professional" accreditations for each of their disciplines. Specialized reviews are done by non-governmental, private agencies that are knowledgeable about a particular field of study. For example, a College of Medicine can apply for specialized accreditations that specifically review its medical programs. Specialized accreditation communicates to other schools, potential employers, and the general public that the university’s degree programs in a particular field have passed a rigorous review, and that students are learning all they need to know about that area of study. In addition, there are specialized accreditations that only evaluate community/vocational colleges and two-year programs, and those that include undergraduate, masters, and doctorate degree programs.
AACSB Accreditation is known worldwide as the longest-standing, most recognized form of specialized/professional accreditation an institution and its business programs can earn. Less than five percent of the world’s 13,000 business programs have earned AACSB Accreditation, and AACSB-accredited schools produce graduates that are highly skilled and more desirable to employers than many non-accredited schools. AACSB provides internationally recognized, specialized accreditation for business and accounting programs at the bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral level. The AACSB Accreditation Standards are used during a comprehensive, rigorous external review that challenges educators and institutions to pursue excellence, innovation, global engagement, societal impact, and continuous improvement throughout their business programs.