Accredited MBA: What It Is And How It Works Reference

mba accreditation

Introduction to MBA Accreditation

The United States of America is home to tens of thousands of higher learning institutions, from two-year colleges to four-year universities and grad schools. With many options, how can you tell which of them deserves a spot on your list? Accreditation! What about MBAs? MBA accreditation!

The accreditation process involves the evaluation of educational institutions to ensure they meet certain standards of quality and rigor. For MBA programs specifically, MBA accreditation is crucial as it signifies that the program has been thoroughly assessed and meets the standards set by accrediting bodies.

Steps Involved in Accreditation

Accreditation MBA programs aren’t just about paperwork; they involve a lot of processes that take multiple years. The assessment includes campus visits, stakeholder interviews, and evaluations of supporting materials. It’s a rigorous process that requires contributions from leaders across departments over several years. 

Featured Programs

So, here’s how accreditation works, according to The Department of Education:

  • Setting Standards. Accrediting agencies work with educational institutions to establish quality benchmarks.
  • Self-Evaluation. Institutions examine their performance closely and measure themselves against accreditation standards.
  • On-Site Review. A team of peers will visit the institution and assess its compliance with established standards.
  • Decision Time. If everything checks out, the accrediting agency gives the institution a pre-accreditation status. This includes an official publication with other accredited or pre-accredited institutions.
  • Keeping an Eye. The accrediting agency doesn’t stop there. They keep tabs on each accredited institution to make sure it’s still up to snuff.
  • Regular Check-ins. Periodically, the agency re-evaluates the institution to ensure that they’re up to date.

Accreditation is beneficial for both students and institutions.

For students, an accredited MBA guarantees that the program meets quality standards. For institutions, MBA program accreditation enhances reputation and credibility and facilitates continuous improvements. 

Ensuring Quality Education

Pursuing an accredited MBA degree program assures you that you’re receiving a quality education. It means other institutions will accept your credits, and employers will acknowledge your skills. 

Yet, the various types of accreditation agencies might confuse you. There are regional vs national accreditation agencies and specialized vs programmatic accreditation agencies. While all of these assess the quality of education institutions provide, they focus on different aspects and have varying levels of recognition. 

So, what accreditation should an MBA program have?

Regional vs. National Accreditation

Regional Accreditation and National Accreditation are the two primary types of accreditation.

Regional accreditation evaluates institutions comprehensively. It mainly focuses on factors like faculty qualifications and educational quality. It’s highly respected, with credits and degrees widely accepted. The seven regional accreditation agencies are:

  • Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
  • New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE)
  • Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE)
  • Southern Association of Colleges & Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)
  • Accrediting Commission for Community & Junior Colleges (ACCJC)
  • Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU)
  • WASC Senior College & University Commission (WSCUC)

National accreditation is often associated with online universities and specialized programs. It may not have the same recognition or prestige as regional accreditation.

Another crucial consideration for business schools is the specialized accrediting body. The top business accreditation agencies in the US are: 

Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB)

This is considered to be the best MBA accreditation. It is an elite honor bestowed upon at least 5% of business schools worldwide. AACSB ensures quality standards in learner success, strategic management, and thought leadership. 

Accreditation Council for Business Schools & Programs (ACBSP)

ACBSP accredits business schools for teaching quality and student outcomes. Although it’s also an international accrediting agency, it may not have the same level of recognition as AACSB. 

International Accreditation Council for Business Education (IACBE)

IACBE emphasizes teaching processes and educational outcomes over other accrediting standards. 

European Quality Improvement System (EQUIS)

EQUIS evaluates business schools’ governance, strategy, programs, students, faculty, and research. On top of these, they also assess the school’s contribution to the community, internationalization, and corporate connections.

So, what is the best MBA accreditation? It’s important to note that the best MBA accreditation types vary across employers, regions, and industries. However, the generally best accreditation for MBA degrees is a combination of regional and AACSB accreditation.

Impact on Career Prospects

Although they can be expensive, an accredited MBA degree significantly benefits one’s professional and personal growth. 

In terms of salary, MBAs earn significantly more than undergraduates. According to the US BLS, the median annual wage for bachelor’s degree graduates was over $70,000. On the other hand, the median annual wage for master’s degree occupations was over $100,000. 

But beyond monetary gains, the professional network cultivated during an MBA program often proves invaluable. Maintaining connections with industry leaders can open doors and accelerate career growth. 

In addition to programmatic accreditation, you should also evaluate the program yourself and see if it fits your needs. Consider these factors: 

  • Check MBA programs to see if their courses align with your goals.
  • Consider a school’s location for its strategic value to your career goals.
  • Consider class size and acceptance rate.
  • Explore MBA program specializations beyond basic curriculum research.
  • Weigh the cost of MBA programs against financial aid packages, your budget, and its potential ROI. 

Researching Accreditation Status

Finding the school/program’s accreditation should be easy. Accreditation information should be posted on the institution’s and program’s website. However, it’s also crucial to cross-check this information with the accrediting organization’s official website to ensure validity. 

Costs vary widely. However, accredited MBA programs tend to be expensive, especially regionally and AACSB-accredited ones. According to the Education Data Initiative, the average total cost of an MBA is $56,850. If you study at prestigious schools like Harvard and Yale, you can expect to spend at least $80,000. 

Fortunately, accredited MBA programs offer several resources to help reduce costs. But before anything else, students should complete the FAFSA, which is free. The most common financial aids include: 

Grants and Scholarships

These aids are basically free money. They are given to students based on academic merit or financial need. They don’t require repayment and can help cover tuition and supplies. 

Work-Study Programs 

This assistance allows students with financial needs to work part-time, often in their field of study, to cover school and living expenses. Teaching assistant positions can also help fund an MBA.

Student Loans

This should be at the bottom of your list. Loans need to be repaid. If you’re not careful, you might end up repaying them your whole life. Federal loans usually have lower interest rates and are a good option for financing education.

Scholarship opportunities for accredited programs

Beyond scholarships from the FAFSA, students in accredited MBA programs can apply for more scholarships. These scholarships can be merit-based or need-based. Some programs are awarded based on specific criteria such as academic achievement, leadership qualities, community service, or field of study. 

These are some scholarship opportunities for MBA students: 

  • Military MBA Merit Scholarship
  • Society for Human Resource Management or SHRM Foundation Graduate Scholarships
  • National Black MBA Association Partner Scholarships
  • Goldman Sachs MBA Fellowship
  • Morgan Stanley MBA Fellowship Program
  • AFWA Master’s Scholarships
  • Mary Elizabeth Lockwood Beneventi MBA Scholarship

To increase your chances of winning a scholarship, your application should stand out. Here are a few tips that might help you: 

  • Reflect on your goals, strengths, and past experiences. 
  • Consider how your MBA degree will help you change the world and what achievements demonstrate your capability. 
  • Write your thoughts as bullet points, focusing on content rather than grammar or spelling.

Conclusion: The Value of MBA Accreditation

MBA accreditation is a great tool for assessing the quality of a business school. They are a reliable choice for prospective students and employers alike. 

However, it shouldn’t be the only factor to consider when choosing an MBA degree. You should also consider other factors like curriculum relevance and alignment with your career goals.