What Does AACSB Accreditation Mean?


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If you have researched potential colleges, the chances are that you have heard of the word accreditation. There are hundreds of schools with the words accredited plastered across their website, but what does that really mean? There are regional, national, and program-specific accreditations. University-level recognition is certainly a sign of high-quality offerings, but those entering into business school should also be concerned with business school accreditations, like AACSB accreditation. These business school and program-specific recognitions are offered through three leading accrediting agencies, the AACSB, IACBE, and ACBSP. All three agencies provide a level of quality assurance to business students. Still, accreditation from the Association To Advance Collegiate Schools of Business, or AACSB, represents an elite tier of business schools and programs. 

Why is AACSB Accreditation Important for Online MBA Students?

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The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business is the premier accreditation agency for business schools and programs. Only the top 5% of business schools worldwide receive recognition from the AACSB. In fact, only 800 of the most elite business schools worldwide meet the agency’s high standards for business education. Because this endorsement is so selective, it stands to reason that recruiters who are looking to fill top positions would approach graduates from accredited schools before moving on to other options. 

Large and well-known companies looking to hire the best talent may also prioritize those who have received an education from the most rigorous and well-respected programs in the business field. Schools without AACSB recognition aren’t necessarily substandard. But partnering with an accredited business program offers an assurance of quality that students and potential employers can both appreciate. 

Are Online MBA Programs Eligible For AACSB Accreditation? 

Yes! Business schools are certified through the AACSB based on many criteria, but the delivery method is entirely up to the institution. Both on-campus and distance learning programs are fully eligible for accreditation as long as they meet the standards laid out by the agency. One concern for online students is whether or not their degree will be viewed as highly as on-campus options. In most cases, diplomas do not show the delivery method chosen. However, top business employers are aware of the prestige and quality that comes with an AACSB accredited education. So, as long as your distance degree is accredited, you are in good hands. 

What Does A Business School Have To Do To Become Accredited?

To qualify for AACSB accreditation, business schools must submit to an intensive review of their operations. Schools go through an initial assessment to earn accreditation and then a renewal process every five years. There are three pillars of AACSB accreditation-impact, innovation, and engagement. These three areas are used to measure the quality of every AACSB accredited school and program. Students can expect to see evidence of the three pillars in their curriculum, assignments, and overall experience. 

There are also a set of 15 standards that drive the educational experience of AACSB-recognized programs. These standards focus on topics ranging from strategic management, student and employee support, mission, and more. Schools can earn accreditation in the areas of business, accounting, and diversity & inclusion. AACSB represents the highest standard for business education. Students can feel confident that their degree is well-rounded and meets the most current business education standards when they see the AACSB emblem. 

How Do I Find An AACSB Accredited Online MBA?

There are several options when it comes to finding Online MBAs that are accredited. One option is the AACSB database. There are more than 800 schools listed, so you may want to use the program and location filters. Although, not being able to search for specific online programs is the only downside to this method. If you only have a handful of schools to look at, the database could be a great option but exploring each individual program could be pretty time-consuming. 

Our website provides another option that can streamline the process. All of the programs that we recommend are either fully online or hybrid. Not every program is AACSB accredited, but many do meet these criteria. Another thing to remember is that business programs with AACSB accreditation are typically quite proud of their accomplishment and will have the AACSB banner posted in easily visible locations throughout their website. 

Are AACSB Accredited Schools Harder To Get Into?


The answer depends on the school. Overall, AACSB accredited programs represent an elite bracket of business schools. At first, that can seem really intimidating. But the goal of this accreditation is to set a high standard for business education that is accessible to many. In general, most AACSB accredited MBA programs require GMAT/GRE, and it is not unusual for them to have a slightly higher GPA requirement than other programs. Don’t let that discourage you, though. It is no secret that most Ivy League MBAs have elite status and hefty price tags, but many affordable and approachable Online MBA programs have met the high standards set by the AACSB. 

Action Plans

Looking into accreditation is just one part of the decision-making process regarding an online Master’s of Business Administration. For more tips on selecting an Online MBA, you can click here for easy and actionable steps to choosing a distance business degree that is right for you. As discussed in this article, AACSB accredited Online MBA programs typically have higher standards for their applicants. If you desire to strengthen your OMBA application, this article is a great starting point! 

To get ready to apply to your top Online MBA programs, you will need to:

Many programs have several layers to their application process. If you do not meet all criteria, it is still wise to apply and speak to an admissions counselor or admissions consultant for recommendations on ways to improve your odds of acceptance. AACSB accredited schools were created to provide students with the tools needed for success in the business world. While the admissions process and curriculum may require more work than other accredited or non-accredited programs, this accreditation definitely offers many benefits.

Related Resources:

Top Online MBA Programs
Top MBA Admissions Consultants
Reasons to Get an Online MBA

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