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What is the AACSB?

Top business schools usually hold accreditation from one of several prestigious organizations, including The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business or AACSB International. According to its website, AACSB International seeks to promote successful management programs via “accreditation, thought leadership, and value-added services.” The organization celebrates its 100th year in 2016, and over the past century, the AACSB has been helping future business leaders obtain quality education from highly ranked schools around the country and across the globe.

Mission and Purpose

The AACSB is more than an accrediting body for collegiate business programs. In addition to ensuring that schools adhere to rigorous academic standards when offering undergraduate, graduate and professional business programs, the AACSB also provides assistance in the form of services and products to help schools, communities, local industries and private individuals develop effective leadership strategies. Opportunities provided by the AACSB include: conferences, webinars, networking events and other similar meetings to promote professional development; insightful, business-centric publications on the challenges facing business education programs; the ability to access data and reports on current business schools; and business development through sponsorships and exhibitions.

Accreditation Requirements

Business schools can join The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business without gaining accreditation, but accreditation sets schools apart, especially in competitive environments like accounting and business. To become accredited by the AACSB, a school must demonstrate its “ability to provide the highest quality programs” via a “voluntary, non-governmental process that includes a rigorous external review.” The AACSB conducts an in-depth review of each school that requests accreditation. Reviews cover the school’s mission statement, curriculum and faculty qualifications, among other factors. Schools that request accreditation also need to conduct self-evaluations and several reviews to determine their eligibility.

Accreditation is an evolving concept, and schools need to undergo additional reviews after a certain number of years to remain accredited. A school can be regionally accredited without holding any program accreditations, so if students want to attend an accredited business school, they should verify that the AACSB or another organization has given the school its stamp of approval. The AACSB does not accredit vocational colleges or technical schools.

Specialty Programs

The AACSB has a long history of providing additional educational opportunities to people with diverse backgrounds or those who may not have otherwise gained admission to a traditional school. Initiatives to promote diversity include the PhD Project, which helps faculty members of racially diverse backgrounds earn their PhDs in order to inspire future generations; the Visioning Initiative, which encourages international business schools to connect with the larger global business community; and a wide range of affinity groups, such as the Women Administrators in Management Education. Affinity groups help business professionals who share common interests connect with each other via networking opportunities. To date, there are 16 affinity groups offered through the AACSB.

When researching business schools, it’s important to find a school that offers appropriate courses, a strong faculty and excellent internship opportunities, but it’s equally crucial to choose a school that holds accreditation from a recognized accrediting board. In a competitive field like business, standing out from a crowd of applicants can be as simple as holding a degree from an AACSB-accredited program. The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business ensures that your business program will cover the topics that you need to know to advance your career.

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