AACSB MBA Accreditation

A guide to AACSB International’s accreditation process

The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) promotes quality management education worldwide through accreditation, thought leadership, and value-added services. It is a global, non-profit membership organisation of educational institutions, businesses, and other entities devoted to the advancement of management education.

  • Established in 1916 in the USA, AACSB provides its members with a variety of products and services to assist them with the continuous improvement of their business programmes and schools. In addition AACSB strives to identify challenges and trends facing the business education industry through research and various initiatives. The association also educates students, parents, employers and counsellors about accreditation and how to choose a quality business degree programme that will fit their needs. There are 607 AACSB-accredited institutions in 38 countries. 20 UK Business Schools have AACSB Accreditation.
  • AACSB supports and upholds the Code of Good Practice for Accrediting Bodies of the Association of Specialised and Professional Accreditors (ASPA), and is recognised by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA).

Eligibility procedures for AACSB accreditation

  • A collegiate institution offering degrees in business administration or accounting initially applies for a decision on its eligibility for accreditation and membership of AACSB. Certain organisation characteristics determine institutional eligibility for accreditation; these characteristics bear on the quality of the programmes offered and on the educational value created for students. The eligibility criteria are:
  1. A collegiate institution seeking AACSB accreditation must be a member of AACSB International.
  2. An institution seeking accreditation by AACSB must offer degree-granting programmes in business or management. When available, the institution should have appropriate governmental authorisation to grant degrees. Alternatively, documentation should be provided demonstrating authenticity of the degrees granted in business. AACSB International does not accredit institutions that solely award two-year post-secondary degrees (e.g. associate or foundation degrees).
  3. Degree programmes in business must be supported by continuing resources. A degree programme in business without sufficient continuing resources does not meet this requirement. AACSB Accreditation does not require any particular administrative structure or practices; however, the structure must be judged appropriate to sustain excellence and continuous improvement in management education within the context of a collegiate institution.
  4. All degree programmes in business offered by the institution at all locations will be reviewed simultaneously.
  5. Consistent with its mission and its cultural context, the institution must demonstrate diversity in its business programmes. As a condition of eligibility to pursue business and accounting accreditation (and for maintenance of accreditation) the school must first define and support the concept of diversity appropriate to its culture, historical traditions, and legal and regulatory environment.
  6. The institution or the business programmes of the institution must establish expectations for ethical behaviour by administrators, faculty and students. AACSB International believes that ethical behaviour is paramount to the delivery of quality business education. Schools are encouraged to develop codes of conduct to indicate the importance of proper behaviour for administrators, faculty and students in their professional and personal actions.
  7. At the time of initial accreditation, a majority of business graduates shall be from programmes that have produced graduates during at least two years. While the institution may offer some recently introduced degree programmes, sufficient programmes must have been in operation so that a majority of the graduates in the review year are from programmes that have been producing graduates during at least two consecutive years.
  • On meeting the initial accreditation standards and taking membership of AACSB, the institution may apply for AACSB accreditation. The institution’s accreditation is carefully reviewed and the institution works with mentors, committees and AACSB staff to develop a Standards Alignment Plan. Once a school follows through with its alignment plan and meets the AACSB standards, review committees and the AACSB Board of Directors decide whether or not a school should be accredited. The AACSB accreditation process is rigorous and requires a significant amount of work to achieve.
  • Institutions that earn AACSB Accreditation must maintain their accreditations every five years, meaning that they undergo a thorough strategic review focussed on the delivery of high-quality education, continuous improvement, market relevance and currency.

Scope of accreditation

The process of accreditation covers the following criteria:

  • Strategic management standards. A higher education institution articulates its mission and action items as a guide to its view of the future, planned evolution, infrastructure and use of resources. Strategic management standards verify that an institution focuses its resources and efforts towards a defined mission as embodied in a mission statement.
  • Participants’ standards. A direct link exists between a school’s mission, the characteristics of students served by the educational programmes, the composition and qualifications of the faculty members providing the programmes, and the overall quality of the school. These standards focus on maintaining a mix of both student and faculty participants that achieve high quality in the activities that support the school’s mission.
  • Assurance of learning standards. Student learning is the central activity of higher education. Definition of learning expectations and assurance that graduates achieve learning expectations are key features of any academic programme. The learning expectations derive from a balance of internal and external contributions to the definition of educational goals. Members of the business community, students and faculty members each contribute valuable perspectives on the needs of graduates. Learning goals should be set and revised at a level that encourages continuous improvement in educational programmes.