Choosing the right business school is no less important than say, having a good GMAT score to be admitted into one. When I say “right,” I mean “accredited” right.
So what is this b-school accreditation and how important is it?
Accreditation is the process that a business school voluntary undergoes in order to get public recognition that they have achieved a certain standard of quality education.
It is important because of three reasons:
– First, it assures that the quality of education from a business school has passed the criteria set by accreditation bodies;
– Scholarship grants are available only for accredited schools;
– Employers are more inclined to hire MBA graduates from accredited schools.
To become accredited, schools must meet the criteria established by the accrediting body.
Is it easy to find an accredited business school?
There are probably more than 8,000 business schools, world-wide. But it is not a matter of finding an accredited business school but one that suits your personal interests and limitations – the perfect fit. There is not one business school that fits every MBA candidate.
A candidate must understand what accreditation a school or program has received, and why before making the decision to apply.
Who accredits business schools?
There are various accreditation bodies to do this. They can either be local or international.
In the U.S., majority of MBA programs are accredited by regional accrediting organizations. Some of these are the:
– Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools (MSA);
– New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC-CIHE);
– North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (NCA-HLC);
– Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS);
– Western Association of Schools and Colleges.
You can find an accredited school in the U.S. through the website of the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Postsecondary Education.
Internationally, there are three major accreditation bodies. These are:
– The Association of Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB):
ASCSB started out accrediting U.S.and Canadian business schools but is now accrediting schools outside of North America, as well;
– The EQUIS, the accreditation body of the European Fund for Management Development (EFMD):
This accredits schools outside the European Union.
– Association of MBAs (AMBA) based in theU.K.
It is worth your while to take note of the following:
– Both AACSB and EQUIS accredit the school, considering its resources, quality of faculty and programs offered;
– EQUIS focuses on diversity, largely from its pan-European background. It offers Executive MBA, as well as part-time programs;
– AACSB accredits full-time MBA programs only and focuses on how the school uses its resources to bring it to top levels;
– AMBA, on the other hand, accredits the MBA programs rather than the school as a whole.
To give you comfort, send applications to business schools which are both locally and internationally accredited.
Can schools be multi-accredited?
With the current number of business schools and dwindling enrolees, the trend for multiple accreditations is increasing.
According to statistics (AACSB.com), there are now 173 schools worldwide, with multiple accreditations, up from 129 three years ago. Of these, 57 are classified “Triple Crown,” – those with accreditations from the three top international accreditation bodies, AACSB, EQUIS and AMBA.
The reason for getting multiple accreditations is pretty obvious. That’s competition in action. But how far must schools go, accreditation-wise, to reach its point of diminishing returns has been the subject of much debate. .
Pros and cons of accreditation:
Accreditation is not without its critics and defenders
Some senior members of some business schools have questioned its long-term results, while others are concerned that business schools which thrive by differentiating themselves from others, may become too similar owing to the system of benchmarking they are subjected to.
Not so, counters accreditation defenders. They say that accreditation is:
– A system of governance by the education industry to raise the standards of MBA programs;
– It forces business schools to compete on quality, not just on program cost;
– Multiple accreditations create top-quality second and third tier schools for students who don’t make it to the higher level of business schools.
On the whole, though majority finds accreditation important in harmonizing education, it must not be taken as the only criteria MBA candidates should look for. For example, “culture” is impossible to accredit.
Others suggest that MBA applicants should consider a school’s programs on Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and Environmental Sustainability.