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There are many accredited universities that offer Master of Business Administration degrees worldwide. However, many students do not realize that accreditation standards vary depending upon the accrediting association and the requirements to which those institutions hold educational programs. Most accredited universities receive their accreditation from national agencies that have over-arching, blanketing criteria for accreditation. When pursuing higher education in business, which is a highly competitive field, students want to ensure that they can obtain the upper edge over their peers in order to secure rewarding careers. One way for a student to stand out from the crowd is to enroll in a Master of Business Administration program at a university that is held to stricter standards than most. Schools that are accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) fall under this category, as the AACSB not only holds MBA and other business degree programs to strict standards, but it has also gained worldwide attention as one of the most trusted resources for business education. The AACSB continues to work on improving the quality of business and management education, and remains committed to advancing business education. Many employers recognize this, and will see graduates from an AACSB-accredited institution as prepared individuals, ready for the fast-paced fields of business and management.

What is the AACSB?

The AACSB was established as a non-profit organization in 1916 with the goal of providing a place for business schools to network. It wasn’t until 1919 that AACSB adopted accreditation standards, which were a means by which business education could be improved. Since then, the AACSB accreditation standards have been continuously revised, in order to stay on top of the emerging trends in business, such as the use of technology and the global marketplace. The AACSB provides services for member universities and business programs worldwide and embarks on research that seeks to overcome the challenges that business education programs face in today’s society.

What is AACSB Accreditation?

Membership with the AACSB and accreditation from the AACSB are different. AACSB membership provides networking opportunities for schools, businesses, professional associations, and other organizations related to business and management that strive for the betterment of business education. Membership is also one of the first steps toward achieving accreditation. However, membership with the AACSB does not ensure that a school will be accredited. Schools with AACSB accreditation have undergone a voluntary process of self-review and outside evaluation of all aspects of their business and management programs, and have met or exceeded the AACSB accreditation standards. A school with AACSB accreditation is known to have highly qualified and current faculty, a high-caliber of relevant curriculum, an environment that facilitates positive and meaningful interaction between students and faculty, measured learning outcomes, and a continuous drive toward improving business education for students.

What Does It Mean for a School to Have AACSB Accreditation?

There are both basic and strict criteria under which AACSB accredits university business and management programs. The basic criteria encompass membership with AACSB, the availability of degree-granting business programs, and the support of continuing resources. As the AACSB delves into a university’s business program, it will then gauge other aspects of the programs according to rigorous standards in areas of participation/independence, branding/distinctiveness, and control/autonomy. Faculty, staff, student resources, and overall quality of education will also be closely examined by the AACSB. Accreditation is only awarded to the schools that provide the best quality of business education and that are committed to addressing current and future challenges in educating students. Once accredited, schools are constantly reviewed for progress, as they must submit annual reports and undergo a thorough review every five years. This ensures that the program has consistent and unwavering dedication to improving business education for its students.

AACSB Online MBA Programs

Though the AACSB has accredited many campus-based MBA programs, such as The London Business School, Columbia University, Harvard University, and others, there are also a number of AACSB online MBA accredited programs. Whereas online MBA opinions traditionally were not very high, due to employers viewing online degrees as lax and lacking in true educational value, employers and accrediting associations are beginning to see the importance of technology as both a teaching tool and medium. The AACSB, committed as it is to advancing business education, has therefore accredited many online MBA programs. Despite the online component of these programs, AACSB online MBA accredited institutions must adhere to the same criteria as their campus counterparts. They are expected to maintain a high caliber of education and a dedication to constant business education improvement. Schools with online MBA AACSB programs include Colorado State University, Pennsylvania State University, St. Joseph’s University, and Temple University.

The Benefits of AACSB Online MBA Accreditation

As the AACSB accreditation process is known world-wide to be highly selective, awarding accreditation only to schools that adhere to strict criteria, an individual that has taken a set of AACSB-accredited online MBA courses will be viewed as educated according to the highest standards, and will therefore have the upper edge over his or her peers. The AACSB accreditation standards are recognized internationally, which provides an even wider career sphere for graduates from AACSB online MBA programs. Earning an MBA can open up a wide field of career choices, including management occupations, which average an annual salary of over $105,000. The chances of securing such positions increases for graduates from AACSB accredited programs, as these graduates are rare and therefore highly sought after. While all online MBA programs should be accredited, only AACSB accredited online MBA programs will carry a guarantee of worldwide recognition and prestige.