In today’s more competitive economic climate, a Bachelor’s degree is simply not enough. Employers are looking for more education, experience, and solid credentials in the individuals that they hire. One way to attain such characteristics is to pursue a graduate degree. If you are in the field of business or would like to start a career in business, the ideal solution is to attain your MBA, or Masters of Business Administration. Attaining an MBA isn’t easy. It requires two years of education, internships, and becoming an individual whose focus is team work, efficiency, and generating profit. For this reason, it is important that you don’t just choose any program for your MBA degree, you need to choose an accredit program that is well regarded. It is important to choose a well respected, accredited program for achieving your MBA degree. Here’s what to look for in MBA accreditation.
The Basics of MBA Program Accreditation
Accreditation is a figurative “seal of approval’ that is given by dozens of organizations to business schools. The value of the accreditation varies depending on how highly the organization is regarded by students, employers, and other educational institutions. When you choose a business school, the first thing that you need to verify is whether or not the school is accredited by an organization that carries value in the field.
The Benefits of Accreditation
According to the Association of MBAs, accreditation adds a great deal of value to institutions that grant MBAs. A few of these benefits include an assurance of quality, a positive signal to employers, credibility, status, and influence at the international level. Therefore, the higher the accreditation the more highly regarded the institution. Below are a few of the most prestigious national accreditations available to schools:
The AMBA stands for “The Association of MBAs.” Schools that gain this accreditation are some of the most highly ranked business schools in the United States and throughout Europe. To become accredited by the AMBA, the school must be more than just a leader in the field, it needs to be global leader. Schools are subjected to rigorous review criteria, which not only provides the value of the program, but also helps the program realize shortcomings and fix them. In addition to this, the school must have a mission, have financial viability, have a discrete identity, be innovative, be well founded, and have an excellent faculty.
To become accredited by the AMBA, the school must submit a petition for review, undergo an extensive and long review process, and it needs to meet all of the standards outlined on the AMBA website.
The AACSB stands for “The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business.” The purpose of this accreditation is to indicate that the educational institution is truly working towards advancing the quality of a business management education among its students. To become accredited by the AACSB, the school must be managed strategically and have a high level of innovation, the faculty and staff must not only teach their students, but produce intellectual contributions, the teaching methods must facilitate an active learning environment, and the school also needs to ensure that students are not only attaining educational experience but also professional experience.
Upon sending in a petition, the AACSB will review the petition and work with the school so it works to meet the standards of the AACSB.
The European Quality Improvement System (EQUIS)
The European Quality Improvement System (EQUIS) is an international education accreditation agency. EQUIS concentrates on accrediting business and management educational institutions. The European Foundation of Management Development operates EQUIS, and the agency has accredited over 138 educational institutions in 38 countries.
EQUIS differs from the AMBA and the AACSB. The agency standards are based on the quality of the business school, but the agency also considers the school’s level of internationalization, which is not a standard for the AMBA and the AACSB.
The Distance Education and Training Council (DETC)
The DETC focuses on accrediting online educational institutions internationally and throughout the United States. There are more than 100 distance learning educational institutions that are accredited by the DETC. These colleges are located in over 21 states and are made up of non-profit institutions, military organizations, and colleges and universities.
The standards of the DETC are based on many factors:
- Student services
- Academic support services
- Ethical business standards
- Curriculum requirements
- Learning and research resources
- Administrative and financial capacity
Apart from national accreditations, and often more relevant, are regional accreditations. Regionally accredited schools are advantageous for individuals that are looking to remain in the area after the completion of their MBA. These accreditations are given to universities that are meet the region’s regional standards. Below are the six top regional accreditations:
- Middle State Association of Colleges and Schools includes Delaware, District of Columbia, Maryland, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands
- New England Association of Schools and Colleges includes Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont.
- North Central Association of Colleges and Schools includes Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming
- Northwest Association of Schools and Colleges includes Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, and Washington
- Southern Association of Colleges and Schools includes Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia
- Western Association of Schools and Colleges includes California, Hawaii, and the Pacific Basin
A positive for regional accreditation is that they signify that the school is well-regarded in the region that you are looking to study. In addition to this, while the national accreditations are meant for traditional schools, regional accreditations are also willing to provide online MBA programs and distance learning programs with accreditations so long as they meet the organizations standards. Upon first glance, it may seem that regional accreditations are easier for a school to attain, but this is not the case. Regional accreditations are just as rigorous and meaningful as national and international accreditation.
Online Learning vs. Traditional Learning
The most reputable MBA accrediting agency, the AACSB, primarily concentrates on accrediting traditional campus MBA programs. They do recognize a small number of MBA programs. The AACSB stated they only accredit 30% of MBA programs. There are less than 100 online MBA programs that are accredited by the AACSB.
The Distance Education and Training Council (DETC) accredits the majority of online MBA programs. However, this is the least significant of MBA accrediting agencies. Most reputable MBA programs are regionally accredited, and it is important for potential student to select a college that is regionally accredited and AACSB accredited.
It is important to conduct research and look for schools that are regionally and nationally accredited. There are schools known as diploma mills, which are schools that offer little course work and effort from the student. Potential students should always inquire about accreditation to enrollment advisors before deciding on which educational institution is best.