What is AACSB Accreditation and Why Does It Matter?

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When students are searching for the right place to earn their traditional or online MBA, they might notice that some schools have “AACSB accreditation.” But what does this mean, and should it really be a factor when it comes to choosing the right business school?

Who is AACSB?

The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) is an international group of educators, students, and businesses that strives to improve the quality of business education around the world. This means that, for a business program at the bachelor’s, master’s, or doctorate level to have AACSB accreditation, it must meet the association’s rigorous quality standards.

While there are many standards a school must uphold in order to earn AACSB accreditation, they generally need to prove that they meet the association’s core values and guiding principles. This means that the school promotes ethical behavior, fosters a strong collaborative environment, and consistently addresses social responsibility issues.

With these strict quality standards, AACSB accreditation has become known as the most recognized and respected form of professional accreditation that a business program can earn.

Why it’s important

The main benefit of enrolling in an AACSB-accredited business school is that students can rest assured that their classes, curriculum, and faculty are meeting current industry standards. This, in turn, can help ensure that when students earn their MBA, they’ll be well prepared to lead a successful career.

“The objectives of accreditation are to make sure that the school assures student learning,” John Fernandes, former president and CEO of the AACSB, told Poets and Quants. “That process means schools must do annual data reporting, participate in a periodic peer review, and follow a set of standards … At least with AACSB accreditation, students know the school is going to meet a certain consistency of student learning, of faculty quality, and a level of engagement with business that the schools are required to do for students as part of curriculum. It is that level of assurance.”

In fact, several studies have proven that student outcomes are often greater at AACSB-accredited schools. In 2007, for example, researchers saw that accredited schools had a 23 percent higher graduation rate and a 15 percent higher full-time retention rate than non-accredited schools, according to an article in the American Journal of Business Education.

Similarly, when employers are hiring recent MBA graduates, seeing that their alma mater holds an AACSB accreditation can give them peace of mind. With this stamp of approval, employers know that their recruits have participated in a world-class business program.

Again, research shows this to be true. According to an AACSB study, 86 percent of students who attended accredited schools said that their program improved their chances of finding a job that meets their expectations. Additionally, another 86 percent said it gave them a competitive advantage in the job market.

When it comes to choosing an MBA program, students have many options. However, by selecting an AACSB-accredited MBA, they can rest assured that they will be set up for academic and professional success.