The top three accreditation bodies AACSB, AMBA, EQUIS are constantly assessing institutions to evaluate whether they adhere to high academic standards. Recently accredited business schools include institutions from Canada, China, Ecuador, Peru, Slovenia, and Sweden.
Business schools want to ensure that they are accredited by at least one of the three largest and most influential business school accreditation organisations. Accreditations are not obligatory, but they are sought-after because they are widely viewed as stamps of quality. In addition, many rankings simply disregard business schools that are not accredited. For instance, schools cannot participate in the Financial Times’ MBA rankings if they are not accredited by AACSB or EQUIS.
The big three
Although the top three accreditors have a common goal of assessing quality, they use different methods and their focus is on different aspects of management education.
The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB)
Most of the top-ranked schools in the world such as INSEAD (France), Harvard Business School (US), and Yale School of Management (US) are accredited by AACSB, the world’s largest accreditor of business education. There are 820 business institutions in 53 countries and territories that have earned AACSB accreditation. Similarly, 187 institutions hold an additional, specialised AACSB accreditation for their accounting programmes.
The Association of MBAs (AMBA)
AMBA is focused predominantly on MBA programmes. It differs from AACSB and EQUIS in that it does not accredit undergraduate programmes. It maintains a global network of MBA students and graduates, accredited business schools, and MBA employers. AMBA accredits over 240 business schools in more than 70 different countries.
The EFMD Quality Improvement System (EQUIS)
EQUIS is run by the European Foundation for Management Development and is known for its focus on internationalisation, international diversity, and a close interaction with the corporate world. EQUIS is not primarily focused on the MBA or any other specific programme. The organisation has now accredited 176 schools across 42 countries.
By and large, the top three agencies are committed to doing the same thing: assessing the quality of education and services provided by business schools. They operate both nationally and internationally, and have a stringent check-list of criteria for business schools.
Business school accreditation assures students that an institution aspires to a high standard in the education it provides. Once accredited, business schools are subjected to regular review cycles designed to ensure that they maintain standards and take steps to improve further.
Accreditors focus on areas including the curriculum, faculty credentials, student services, cohort composition, the environment for international students, career services, interaction with the business world etc.
Recently accredited business schools
Below is a list of business schools which have gained accreditation by one of the top three agencies over the last months:
- University of Lethbridge Dhillon School of Business (Canada)
- University of Saskatchewan (Canada)
- Universidad de Monterrey (Mexico)
- Lawrence Technological University (US)
- University of Shanghai for Science and Technology Business School (China)
- Graduate School of International Management (Japan)
- Chung-Ang University Business School (South Korea)
- Tunghai University (Taiwan)
- University of Maribor (Slovenia)
- Umeå School of Business, Economics and Statistics (Sweden)
- Aberdeen Business School (UK)
- Bournemouth University Business School (UK)
- University of Southampton (UK)
- ESPAE (Ecuador)
- INCAE Business School (Peru)
- Lee Kong Chian School of Business (Singapore)
- Frankfurt School of Finance and Management (Germany)
- ESIC Business School (Spain)
- Stockholm Business School (Sweden)
- Durham University Business School (UK)
- Dalian University of Technology (China)
- International Business School Suzhou (China)
A "triple-accredited" business school is one that has accreditations from each of the main international accreditation agencies. As of September 2018, a total of 88 business schools carry a "triple crown" accreditation, compared to 60 in 2014. INCAE Business School, Hult International Business School, and Singapore Management University were the latest institutions to obtain the coveted recognition.
Nearly 70% of the triple accredited business schools are located in Europe. It may appear striking that the US has only one such institution – Hult. The reason is that US business schools typically only seek accreditation by AACSB. Only three US business schools carry the EQUIS accreditation: Babson College (Olin Graduate School), Bentley University, and Hult.
What business school aspirants should know is that accreditation provides proof of the quality of an MBA programme. Accreditation not only guarantees the quality of the faculty members they will be learning from; it also signals to prospective employers that the skills and knowledge you offer will provide them with high value. Checking the accreditation of a business school is one of the key steps of choosing the right business school. Take care not to skip it.