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What Is the Value of AACSB Accreditation?

Pursuing an online Master of Business Administration (MBA) can significantly help business professionals advance in their careers. Combining in-depth business education with real-world experience, degree candidates can develop and hone their understanding of effective business practices as well as their ability to apply that knowledge in the real world.

But how should prospective students decide which school to apply to, given the many MBA programs available today? How does one know and trust the quality of the education delivered, not to mention the school’s reputation and impact on employment following graduation?

One important factor in making this decision is a school’s accreditation (or lack thereof) by a widely recognized accrediting body such AACSB International: The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business, or simply AACSB.

For instance, the University of West Florida (UWF) College of Business holds accreditation from AACSB. AACSB demands the highest standards of business education, awarding less than 6% of business schools worldwide their accreditation. This seal of quality education is highly valued by business educators, professionals and employers. With AACSB accreditation, prospective students can be assured of the quality and reputation of UWF’s MBA programs.

What Is the Purpose of AACSB?

According to the 2020 AACSB Business Accreditation Standards:

“AACSB’s mission is to foster engagement, accelerate innovation, and amplify impact in business education. The mission informs AACSB accreditation standards for business schools. AACSB strives to continuously improve engagement among business, faculty, institutions, and learners, so that business education is aligned with business practice. To fulfill this goal, AACSB will encourage and accelerate innovation to continuously improve business education. As a result, business education will have a positive impact on business and society, and AACSB will amplify that impact. In achieving its mission and vision, AACSB emphasizes and models the values of quality, diversity and inclusion, a global mindset, ethics, social responsibility, and community.”

Believing that “Business and business schools are a force for good, contributing to the world’s economy and to society,” AACSB’s vision is to “transform business education globally for positive societal impact.” This may seem lofty, but it is founded in the ethos that as the economy has become globalized, involving diverse cultural practices and standards, the business community must play an integral role in this globalization, embracing diversity, inclusion and social responsibility. This responsibility should therefore be reflected in business education and innovation, preparing students to be successful leaders in the global marketplace.

What Does AACSB Aim to Accomplish Through Accreditation?

Through intensive processes of external evaluation, institutional self-evaluation and industry peer review, AACSB awards accreditation to schools that demonstrate excellence in the three pillars of AACSB’s mission: engagement, innovation and impact. As such, the 2020 standards can be grouped into three sections:

  1. Strategic management and innovation
  2. Learner success
  3. Thought leadership, engagement and societal impact

Schools are evaluated based on these standards and 10 interrelated guiding principles. As a shift from the previous iteration of AACSB’s standards, the principles-based 2020 standards focus on outcomes, societal impact and collaboration while embracing alternative instruction delivery models.

Yet, the standards still emphasize maintaining curricular content aligned with current best practices in business as well as utilizing diverse teaching methodologies shown to be effective in modern business education. Schools must also demonstrate well-developed institutional policies and governance designed to improve the quality of their educational programming and positive societal impact.

While demanding the highest standards of education from accredited programs, AACSB strives to encourage innovation and experimentation in both education and business practices.

How Does AACSB Accreditation Help Students and Employers?

AACSB accreditation has long been considered the benchmark for quality in business schools. AACSB accreditation processes are now ISO 9001:2015 certified, the global standard in quality management systems. Beyond a school’s self-advertisement, this accreditation affords the student an objective, outside view of that school as well as its alignment with AACSB’s mission and values.

It is also important to note that this accreditation is recognized by many prospective employers, and can thus have a substantial impact on career advancement — and income potential — for MBA grads. Employers have some idea of what to expect from a candidate educated at an AACSB-accredited school. This expectation can be based on both that school’s demonstrated quality of education as well as the global perspective and innovation implied by AACSB accreditation.

Clearly, AACSB accreditation reflects an MBA program’s high level of educational quality and positive engagement with the business world and society at large. It is a useful standard by which prospective students can judge a school’s merit. Earning an MBA from an AACSB-accredited school can also help graduates substantiate the worth of their education to potential employers.

In effect, AACSB accreditation can simplify the difficult decision of choosing an MBA program and add value to that MBA degree once you’ve earned it.

Learn more about UWF’s online MBA programs.

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