MBA accreditation from a reputable organization is one good way to check the quality of a business school. Accreditation organizations evaluate the quality standards of a business school’s teaching, faculty, services, and students, among other things.
For anyone who is going to spend a large sum of money on an MBA course, a quality stamp from a third party will feel reassuring. The business education industry is assessed by multiple accreditation bodies, which evaluate the quality standards of the institution’s teaching, faculty, services and students, among other metrics.
The fact that there are different forms of MBA accreditation with different standards can make it difficult for prospective students to choose the best accreditation for their choice of school. It can help to understand who the main accreditation organizations are, and what they are assessing.
The three most prestigious awarding bodies are the European Foundation for Management Development (EFMD, based in Brussels); the Association of MBAs (AMBA, in London); and the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB based in the US).
While some business schools are accredited by other institutions, such as professional bodies in areas such as finance and accounting, the aim for many is the so-called triple crown of AACSB, AMBA and EQUIS (offered by EFMD) accreditation. This can help a school to stand out. In 2022, there were at least 100 business schools worldwide that were accredited by all three of the main international organizations, which represents less than one percent of the total.
For a school, it can take considerable effort and expense to achieve MBA accreditation, and some of the world’s most revered institutions have only one quality stamp. The advantage in seeking all three is that schools have different assessments of how to improve their offering. Each body can focus on different elements of a business school’s work.
And in a global market, the fact that they each set the same standards for all schools can help prospective students compare and contrast their strengths and weaknesses. Yet while accreditations can help schools to attract students, they are far from the only consideration for would-be MBA candidates. The choice of school will ultimately come down to other factors, including the salary increased achieved by those who have already graduated.
MBA accreditations are the table stakes. The methodologies and regional focuses for the top three accreditation bodies are listed below.
The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) was founded in 1916 in the US and also has a base in Singapore. It accredits whole business schools that offer both undergraduate and graduate programs such as MBAs. In addition, the institution has a separate accreditation system for accounting programs launched in 1980.
An AACSB accreditation in business represents a positive evaluation of a school’s mission, operations, faculty qualifications and contributions, as well as its programs, and other critical areas. Schools are re-evaluated every five years.
As of 2022, more than 880 institutions held an AACSB accreditation in business, of which about 75 percent were located in the US. Other countries with high numbers of AACSB-accredited business schools include Britain, France, and Canada. The organization accredits schools in more than 51 countries overall.
List of AACSB-accredited business schools offering MBA programs
List of AACSB-accredited Online MBA programs
The London-based Association of MBAs (AMBA) accredits MBA programs in around 70 countries. As of 2022, about 50 percent of all AMBA-accredited MBAs and other business programs were in Europe and the United Kingdom. Together, Latin America and Asia contained 33 percent of AMBA-accredited schools, with only two percent located in North America.
AMBA has been accrediting programs since the early 1980s. Because AMBA focuses on MBAs, the flagship courses at most business schools, and specialist master’s degree programs, it tends to attract prestigious institutions.
Along with MBAs and specialist master’s courses, it also accredits Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) and Master of Business and Management (MBM) programs. It judges the quality of a business school’s strategy, mission, faculty, students, curriculum, and assessment. By AMBA standards, for example, students admitted onto an AMBA-accredited program must have at least three years of work experience. And three quarters of a business school’s faculty must have a Masters or Doctoral degree in a relevant discipline.
List of AMBA-accredited business schools
The European Quality Improvement System (EQUIS) is run by EFMD. The European Foundation for Management Development offers a number of accreditations, but EQUIS focuses on institutions that offer undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral business programs, including the MBA.
EQUIS evaluates a business school’s governance, strategy, programs, students, faculty, research and development, executive education, contribution to the community, resources and administration, internationalization, and corporate connections.
EQUIS has endorsed far fewer business schools than its rivals, which it views as evidence that it has the most rigorous assessment in the market. Over half of the more than 190 EQUIS-accredited business schools are located in Europe and the UK. As of 2022, only four US-based business schools had EQUIS accreditation. The countries with the most EQUIS-accredited business schools include the UK (31), China (26), and France (23).
List of EQUIS-accredited business schools offering MBA programs