Does MBA Accreditation Matter?
- Colleges receive accreditation from agencies who assess whether a school meets certain standards.
- MBA programs can receive programmatic accreditation from business-specific organizations.
- Students should consider the accreditation status of a school and program when applying.
- Most employers look for job candidates who graduated from accredited MBA programs.
MBA degrees consistently top the most popular majors at the master's level. However, with so many options, choosing the best MBA program can be daunting. Along with considering a program's location, cost, and curriculum, degree-seekers should also research the accreditation status of each potential school and program.
Read on to learn more about what accreditation is, the different types of accreditation available, and why attending a properly accredited MBA program is important for your future career.
Is MBA Accreditation Important?
Accredited MBA programs are evaluated by a third-party agency that assesses a program's quality in terms of its educational offerings and student outcomes. There are multiple types of accreditation that a college or program can hold, and prospective applicants should consider MBA accreditation when applying to grad school.
Prospective MBA students should look at each business school's accreditation status. Many employers only hire employees who have completed a rigorous business education. Accreditation is one way employers can gauge whether an applicant is adequately prepared for a position. Consider your future employment plans and career goals when checking the accreditation status of schools.
Additionally, accreditation may be important if you decide to transfer between programs. Not all credits are equally transferable. Accreditation may matter for future certifications and licenses, as well, depending on your field.
Types of MBA Accreditation
There are two general types of accreditation that students should consider when looking at MBA programs: programmatic and regional accreditation.
Programmatic accreditation is typically specific to an individual department or program housed within a college or university. This type of accreditation is specialized and these accrediting bodies generally focus on a specific industry or subject area, such as business or engineering.
Alternatively, regional accreditation applies to an entire university or college. These schools are nonprofits but may operate as public or private institutions. At the institutional level, schools may also hold national accreditation, although this is usually reserved for for-profit schools and vocational institutions. If you're looking for an MBA, you should be applying to regionally accredited schools.
ACBSP awards accreditation to business schools across the globe. Its accreditation team examines college business programs and awards accreditation to academically rigorous and quality institutions. Additionally, ACBSP is the only body that accredits associate degrees in business.
Since 1967, AMBA has provided accreditation to postgraduate business programs. The association emphasizes international business education and accredits programs in over 75 countries.
With over 900 accredited business schools, AACSB's mission is "to create the next generation of great leaders." AACSB is a global nonprofit with over 1,700 participating organizations worldwide. Since 1916, AACSB has provided quality assurance for accredited business programs, overseeing a diverse global community of members.
Focusing on developing socially responsible future leaders, EFMD is an international nonprofit organization that accredits business schools and programs. EFMD has over 900 accredited members in 90 countries.
IACBE accredits a variety of business programs. Since 1977, the council has accredited schools that focus on outcomes and prepare students for success in business. Offering accreditation worldwide, IACBE maintains over 1,800 member organizations.
Regional accreditation agencies are independent organizations that evaluate the academic standards of an entire institution. These agencies are recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation and the U.S. Department of Education. Credits earned at a regionally accredited school tend to be more easily transferable to other colleges and universities. The list below details the states and areas in which the different regional accrediting organizations operate.
- Higher Learning Commission: Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.
- Middle States Commission on Higher Education: Delaware, the District of Columbia, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
- New England Commission on Higher Education: Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont.
- Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities: Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, and Washington.
- Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges: Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia.
- Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior College and University Commission: California, Hawaii, Guam, and American Samoa.
Frequently Asked Questions About MBA Accreditation
Employers do care about MBA accreditation. Employers typically seek employees who attended a regionally accredited school. An MBA with programmatic accreditation demonstrates you went through a rigorous program with high academic standards.
AACSB is among the most rigorous accrediting agencies. Approximately 86% of schools stated that AACSB accreditation requirements were among the most stringent. Because of this, graduates of AACSB-accredited schools are often valued by potential employers.
Although you can attend a non-accredited MBA program, doing so may not be worth your time or money. If you need to transfer programs, other schools may not accept your credits. Additionally, many employers are only interested in hiring job candidates who graduated from accredited schools.
Typically, MBA graduates with a concentration in management or finance make the most money. For instance, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that financial managers earn a median annual salary of $134,180, while top executives make $107,680 per year.
Yes — choose a school that is known for its programs in your preferred concentration. Research the school's reputation and the success rate of its graduates, and make sure that it holds the appropriate accreditation.
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