The AACSB is perhaps the one accrediting agency that every business student already knows, or should know. The acronym stands for the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business International, and it refers to the leading accreditation agency for business schools around the world. To gain an understanding of just how prestigious this particular accrediting agency is, consider some of the schools who participated in its creation back in 1918: Yale, Dartmouth, New York University, Harvard, Tulane University, and the University of Pennsylvania, among others. From those early, prestigious beginnings, the accrediting agency grew to become the largest and most sought-after seal of approval of undergraduate and graduate schools of business nationwide and eventually around the world.

What Does This Agency Certify with its Accreditation?

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Most students should already know about the importance and implications of regional accreditation. This accreditation allows students to transfer credits among regionally accredited schools, graduate with a recognized diploma, apply to graduate school, and finance their education with state and federal financial aid programs. The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business is a somewhat different type of accreditation. It’s still an indicator of overall quality, but it doesn’t affect a school’s standing with state and federal officials. Instead, it is a programmatic accreditation designed to indicate the overall quality of a business degree program and to certify that the program meets certain goals in terms of professor qualifications, course subject matter, scholarly research, and more.

In fact, the accreditation is focused most centrally on two leading considerations: Whether the majority of faculty are full-time, tenure-track professors, and whether they spend a great deal of time conducting research and writing for peer-reviewed academic publications. These are considered by the accrediting agency to be not only an indicator of professor quality, but also an indicator of a school’s overall academic quality and its contributions to the improvement of business as an academic discipline at all levels.

Not a Required Certification for Business Students in Most Cases

Though this accreditation is the gold standard of American business schools, its seal of approval is not necessarily a requirement for all business programs. At the undergraduate level, many programs lack this accreditation because they have a more singular focus on the quality of instruction and the development of new curriculum, while often performing less intensive research and publishing throughout the year. In other schools, the accreditation is not earned because too many professors are practitioners or part-time adjuncts. This does not affect the quality of the program, however, and undergraduate students from these programs can still go on to do great things in business and in academia.

The accreditation comes into play when students pursue a graduate degree or begin to consider a career in the college classroom. Graduate business students, who are often enrolled in an MBA program, should view the agency’s accreditation as a near requirement. Its testament to program quality is viewed favorably by the employers who hire MBA graduates, and it could open new doors for students that a non-accredited program would not. If students plan to become professors, they often will only be able to teach at a school accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of business if their graduate program also had the same accreditation.

A Strong Seal of Approval for Business Programs

With founding universities in the Ivy League and the upper echelons of American private and public higher education, the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business International is clearly one of the top credentials a modern business school can offers its students. Though not required, the AACSB seal of approval is key for graduate programs and for pursuing a career in business academia.