AMBA MBA Accreditation
A guide to the Association of MBAs' accreditation process
Accreditation ensures that an MBA programme is of the highest quality and relevant to the changing world of business. The MBA should reflect changing trends and innovation in postgraduate management education. The accreditation process and the criteria under which MBA programmes are judged reflects this commitment to guaranteeing quality and fostering innovation.
- Accreditation is international in scope. The Association's International Accreditation Advisory Board (IAAB), which drafts and constantly monitors the accreditation criteria, is drawn from senior academics at top educational institutions around the world. The accreditation process involves assessing the characteristics of the business school and its MBA programme(s) against these criteria. The Association's criteria are regarded as the international standard for MBA provision. The Association currently accredits MBA programmes at 168 institutions in over 70 different countries.
- Providing, as it does, a service to all groups in the MBA community, the accreditation of MBA programmes offered worldwide lies at the heart of the Association's commitment to managerial education and development. For students, often bewildered by the variety of programmes on offer, it provides a reliable list of programmes of tested quality. For the institutions offering accredited programmes it gives an overview of their position against norms which have gained widespread acceptance on an international basis. For the graduate it is the measure of reassurance that the standing of his or her qualification will retain its position of eminence at a time when the MBA market risks saturation. For the employer, the Association's list of accredited MBA programmes provides a touchstone of quality for those seeking to recruit high-calibre staff.
The salient features of the criteria are:
- The institution shall have a clear sense of mission, a well identified target population and a developed sense of the market for its products, including a means of regular access to employer opinion. The institution should have its own discrete identity.
- The faculty should be of a size that can fully resource the activities of the school, and should be credible in terms of their academic qualifications, their ability to teach business at postgraduate level, the quality of their research and the extent of their business contacts and consultancy activities.
- Evidence will be required to show rigour in standards for admission, which must include work experience as well as academic criteria. The student body must be large and varied enough to form an intellectually critical mass and emphasis is placed on the value of peer group exposure.
- The curriculum should be generalist in nature and must cover the core business skills. The total number of contact hours is expected to be not fewer than 500. The MBA shall be of at least one year's duration where taken full-time and two years where taken part-time.
- It is expected that all elements of a course will be formally assessed, by whatever means are appropriate to the subject involved. Examinations must be the principal (though not necessarily the sole) method of assessment and a dissertation will also be sought as evidence of an ability to integrate the individual core items of the curriculum.
- In addition, accreditation is based on such factors as the availability of language teaching, library and computer facilities and international contacts. The extent to which students' reactions are taken into account in the continuing process of course design and improvement is also important.
- The Association's accreditation process has been developed in light of the experience gained over the years. After an initial discussion, if a reasonable consistency of outlook has been established, the school will be asked to complete a self-audit document. This is considered by an accreditation panel - comprised of senior representatives from the best business schools worldwide - prior to an on-site visit. The composition of the panel is crucial to the public standing of the whole process - it must be well-informed both in academic and in commercial matters, fully independent, and have no financial or other interest in the outcome of the accreditation under discussion.
- Following a full day's visit, a report is subsequently prepared for the IAAB (International Accreditation Advisory Board), which will decide on accreditation, non-accreditation, or accreditation subject to qualification. Re-accreditation takes place on a five-year basis or within a shorter time period when accreditation has been granted subject to an earlier review date. In cases where accreditation has not been awarded, the business school usually finds the process valuable and worthwhile with regard to its strategy for future development.
- The demand for the Association's accreditation service is truly international, as the need for an unbiased arbiter is recognised both by students and employers worldwide. In management education, as in management itself, quality is the key to long-term success.
Dr Robert Owen, Director
Accreditation and Business School Services
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