MBA Accreditation and Rankings
Rankings are a comparison of business schools that is organized by journalists. Accreditation is a process of quality assessment that is conducted by peers under the supervision of professional associations. Rankings will only tell you which business schools a magazine or newspaper thinks is number 1, number 2, number 3, etc., but accreditation will tell you that a business school meets specific international standards. In terms of measures of quality, accreditation is much more important than rankings.
The MBA Tour encourages you to look at BOTH rankings and accreditation when you choose an MBA program. We have asked our colleagues to provide information to help you better understand both processes.
Accreditation is a very important measure of a business school that is not understood by many people who apply to an MBA program.
Accreditation provides an independent validation of MBA courses. Several accreditation agencies conduct the evaluation process that leads to accreditation. There are three agencies that are recognized worldwide—AACSB, EQUIS, and AMBA.
To ensure that course content, facilities and teaching quality meet certain standards, a team of assessors visits each school and decides whether the school should be accredited. The associations endorse various elements of an institution that enhance or guarantee that it delivers a quality program that serves the needs of the market.
Most reputable schools will have been accredited by at least one association. A small, select group of international business schools are accredited by all three of the associations mentioned. Lists of accredited schools can be found on the associations’ websites.
AACSB International (Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business) is the primary accreditation body in the USA. Historically, AACSB occupies a dominant position in the United States although it has a global outreach.
EQUIS is the accreditation body in Europe. EQUIS stresses the international character of a school.
AMBA is The Association of MBAs is the accreditation body in the UK. AMBA has historically focused its reviews on the MBA program itself rather thank on the broad characteristics of the larger university.
Choosing an accredited school provides students with a guarantee that they will have a quality educational experience, but accreditation is only one characteristic of a business school to consider. Also important are the relative niches and emphasis of the different schools that an applicant might be searching for; these are not found through looking at accreditations alone.
Of course, you’ve heard it before, “Don’t use the rankings to choose an MBA program.” But nearly everyone looks at the rankings. The MBA Tour would like to suggest a strategy for how to use the rankings intelligently when you are deciding where to apply.
• If you are going to consider rankings, look at all of them. Different rankings use different measures so comparing all the results will give you a broader perspective.
• Learn what criteria each of the rankings uses to better understand why one school is ranked higher than another. Each ranking has a unique bias.
MBA Aspirants are always keen to know where schools are ranked. In recent years there has been an explosion in the number of rankings of business schools and MBA programs. These rankings need to be interpreted with care as they tend to reflect the preconceptions of the compilers and are based on the premise that all MBAs should be the same.
The MBA Tour asked b-school representatives to explain the differences between the several accreditation associations and rankings.
“The accreditation that we receive as a business school speaks to the quality of our academic programs, faculty, and curricular resources, among other factors. Our rankings speak to student satisfaction, recruiter satisfaction, and global program recognition. The results of both our accreditation and our rankings are well published. As a global school this participation has been important in raising awareness of the Schulich offerings; we are able to display that we are not only a highly accredited school from Canada, we are also global in our outreach, innovative in our programming and diverse in our complexities.”
Student Services & International Relations
Schulich School of Business,