Business School Accreditation and Quality Standards

Learn why business school accreditation matters and understand how the rigorous process works.

Business School Accreditation and Quality Standards

When it comes to studying for an MBA, choosing a business school and an MBA program with a good reputation among MBA recruiters has got to be a major consideration. The marketplace for MBAs is increasingly international and employers want to know where to recruit top talent. Accreditation is one way in which employers can differentiate between the large number of business schools around the world offering MBA programs.

With 110 000 MBAs graduating each year in Europe and the USA alone, accreditation provides assurance of the degree's value at a time when the market risks saturation. Accreditation provides a reliable guide to the quality of an MBA programme and is especially important if you studied at a less well known school. According to a recent survey of MBA graduates, more than 60% believe having an accredited MBA makes a difference. Accreditation guarantees the quality of the people you will be learning from and establishing contacts with for your future career. For prospective employers it signals that the skills and knowledge you can offer will be of a high calibre. Accreditation is generally defined as the process of quality approval of a business school or particular program(s), although the definition does vary in different regions of the world.

The Association of MBA's is unique in monitoring the quality of MBA programmes, acting in the interest of the consumer (the individual MBA student and graduate) in a rapidly expanding and unregulated global market. The Association's accreditation is increasingly recognised world-wide as the quality assessment of the MBA. Accreditation is market-driven, independent and international. It is also a voluntary process on the part of the school.

The accreditation process is a rigorous one, involving assessment at least every five years. During an accreditation visit, the characteristics of a school and its MBA programme are assessed against a set of criteria established by senior academics and representatives of corporate organisations. Schools must be able to demonstrate a clear sense of purpose and involvement in a high level of management research, scholarship and consultancy work. The MBA should have clear learning outcomes and cover all aspects of general management.

The Association started assessing schools in the seventies and set up a formal accreditation scheme in 1989. An International Accreditation Advisory Board, which convenes at least once a year, has been set up by the Association to ensure that the strategic issues within the international MBA arena are reflected within the accreditation criteria and process. The Board, Chaired by Sir Paul Judge, consists of senior academics of schools offering accredited MBA programs.

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