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When it comes to choosing a business school and MBA program, one of the most important factors to consider is whether the school is accredited. Accreditation is given to business schools that demonstrate high-quality teaching, research, curricula, and student learning outcomes.

Two of the most recognized organizations that grant accreditation to business schools are the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) and the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP). Both are highly regarded and committed to ensuring that business students receive the best education and experiences possible. Let’s explore each one, highlight the benefits they can provide, and take a deep dive into their standards and requirements for business schools.

The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB)

Established in 1916, the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB)1  is a globally recognized, nonprofit organization that serves as an accrediting body for business schools and accounting programs. It sets extremely high standards of excellence for business education and ensures that schools continuously meet these standards.

AACSB accreditation is considered one of the most prestigious endorsements that a business school or accounting program can receive. AACSB also provides various resources and services to its member institutions including professional development opportunities for faculty and administrators, networking opportunities, research grants, and access to industry insights and best practices.

The Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP)

Established in 1988, the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP)2 is a leading, specialized accreditation association for business education. ACBSP's mission is to recognize and ensure excellence in business education programs around the world and promote their continuous improvement and accountability within the business education community.

ACBSP evaluates business programs at all degree levels based on rigorous standards of quality in areas such as leadership, strategic planning, faculty qualifications, curriculum, student learning outcomes, and educational support services.

The Accreditation Process

Accreditation for both AACSB3 and ACBSP4 is a thorough and rigorous process involving several steps which are outlined below. Many of the steps are similar but differences are noted where applicable.

STEP ONE – Preparing for Application

Before applying for AACSB or ACBSP accreditation, a business school conducts a comprehensive self-evaluation. ACBSP refers to this step as self-study preparation. The school assesses its mission, strategic priorities, resources, faculty qualifications, curriculum, and student learning outcomes against the accreditation body’s standards.

STEP TWO – Formal Application Submission

The business school submits a formal application that includes detailed documentation and evidence demonstrating how the school meets either AACSB's or ACBSP’s accreditation standards.

STEP THREE – Evaluation

AACSB Accreditation: AACSB conducts an initial evaluation of the business school to assess if its programs, and processes for achieving accreditation, align with AACSB's standards. AACSB also provides feedback and guidance if they identify any deficiencies or areas for improvement.

ACBSP Accreditation: ACBSP appoints a peer review team to evaluate the business school's accreditation application before visiting the school. The peer review team typically consists of experienced faculty and administrators from other ACBSP-accredited institutions.

STEP FOUR – Peer Review Visit and Report

AACSB Accreditation: AACSB appoints a peer review team consisting of experienced faculty and administrators from other AACSB-accredited institutions to conduct a thorough on-site visit to evaluate the business school. Following this visit, the team prepares and submits a detailed report summarizing its findings and recommendations to the AACSB Accreditation Committee for review along with the school's application and supporting documents.

ACBSP Accreditation: The peer review team conducts an on-site visit to gather additional information and assess the business school. The team meets with faculty, staff, students, administrators, and other stakeholders to discuss various aspects of the school's operations and programs. Following this visit, the team prepares and submits a detailed report summarizing its findings and recommendations to the ACBSP Accreditation Governance Board including the school’s strengths, areas for improvement, and overall alignment with ACBSP's accreditation standards.

The business school can review the report and respond to the peer review team’s findings and recommendations. The school may address any deficiencies identified during the review process and outline plans for continuous improvement.

STEP FIVE – Accreditation Decision

AACSB Accreditation: If the school meets AACSB's accreditation standards, it is granted initial accreditation. If deficiencies are identified, the school may be placed on probationary status or asked to address specific areas for improvement within a designated timeframe.

ACBSP Accreditation: The ACBSP Accreditation Governance Board reviews the peer review report, the school's response, and other relevant documentation to either grant initial accreditation, defer a decision pending further review, or deny accreditation to the business school.

STEP SIX – Continuous Improvement

Accredited business schools are required to engage in continuous improvement efforts to maintain their accreditation status with either organization. This includes ongoing assessment and evaluation of programs, faculty development, curriculum updates, and responsiveness to changing industry needs and educational trends.

Benefits of AACSB and ACBSP Accreditation

Earning an MBA from an accredited business school offers numerous benefits for the schools, faculty, students, and other stakeholders.5

  • Enhanced Prestige, Recognition, and Credibility: Accreditation from these organizations is widely recognized as a hallmark of quality and excellence within the academic and business communities and among employers, prospective students, and faculty. Graduating from an accredited MBA program enhances the credibility and value of the degree, increasing the competitiveness of graduates in the domestic and global job markets.
  • Global Recognition: AACSB and ACBSP accreditations are recognized on an international scale, facilitating partnerships and collaborations with other accredited institutions, exchange programs, and organizations around the world. Accredited schools gain access to a global network of peers, faculty, and industry partners, enhancing their international visibility and reputation. Many multinational corporations and international organizations value accreditation when recruiting MBA graduates or collaborating with business schools.
  • Quality Assurance: AACSB and ACBSP accreditation signify that a business school has met or exceeded rigorous standards of quality and excellence in areas such as faculty qualifications, curriculum design, student learning outcomes, educational support services, and research productivity.
  • Access to Resources and Networking Opportunities: Accredited schools gain access to AACSB’s and ACBSP’s extensive network of member institutions, faculty, and business leaders. These networks provide opportunities for professional development, research collaboration, and knowledge sharing as well as mentorship, job placements, and professional connections.
  • Student Recruitment and Professional Preparation: AACSB and ACBSP accreditation can attract high-caliber students who value the quality and reputation of the institution. Potential students know that accredited programs emphasize practical skills, critical thinking, leadership abilities, and ethical decision-making, preparing graduates for success in today's dynamic and competitive business environment in a wide range of industries and roles.
  • Faculty Development and Engagement: Accreditation encourages faculty development and scholarship, and emphasizes the importance of faculty qualifications, research productivity, and engagement with the academic and business communities.
  • Career Advancement: Many employers and various industries and sectors prefer accredited business schools when recruiting talent or partnering on projects. Graduates of accredited programs may have better access to job opportunities, higher earning potential, and faster career advancement compared to graduates of non-accredited programs.
  • Continuous Improvement Culture: Accreditation fosters a culture of continuous improvement within business schools, promoting ongoing assessment, evaluation, and innovation in program design, delivery, and outcomes.

How Long Does Accreditation Last?

Neither AACSB nor ACBSP accreditation is permanent; it is granted for a specific period depending on the accreditation cycle. During this period, accredited business schools are expected to adhere to these organizations’ standards. After the initial accreditation period, the business school must undergo a reaffirmation process to maintain its accreditation status.

The reaffirmation process involves a comprehensive review that follows the same steps as the initial application. Accredited business schools are required to submit updated documentation, undergo peer review visits, and demonstrate continuous improvement efforts in various areas of their programs and operations since the previous accreditation review.

If a business school fails to meet AACSB’s or ACBSP’s accreditation standards or does not address any deficiencies identified during the reaffirmation process, it may be placed on probationary status or lose its accreditation status altogether.

Curriculum Requirements for Accredited MBA Programs

The specific curriculum requirements for an accredited MBA program may vary depending on the institution and its focus areas. However, both AACSB and ACBSP accreditation typically emphasize a rigorous, comprehensive curriculum that provides students with a solid foundation in core business disciplines while allowing for specialization and flexibility to meet individual career goals.

Core business courses cover fundamental business disciplines such as accounting, finance, marketing, operations management, organizational behavior, business strategy, economics, and quantitative methods/statistics. Core courses should also provide experiential learning opportunities where students can apply theoretical concepts and analytical skills to real-world business challenges. These may include case studies, consulting projects, simulations, internships, or capstone projects that integrate knowledge from various business disciplines.

Elective courses allow students to tailor their education to their interests, career goals, and industry preferences. These may cover topics such as entrepreneurship, innovation and technology management, healthcare management, sustainable business practices, supply chain management, data analytics and business intelligence, leadership and management development, ethical and social responsibility, and international perspectives.

AACSB vs. ACBSP Accreditation

While there are some differences between AACSB and ACBSP accreditation in terms of focus areas, standards, and processes, both accrediting bodies play important roles in advancing the quality and effectiveness of business education globally.

AACSB and ACBSP accreditation require a great deal of effort from the business school to achieve and maintain the highest standards of excellence. The benefits are worth it when you consider how accreditation elevates every aspect of a business school and helps students, faculty, and alumni achieve academic and professional success in a variety of areas. Whichever accreditation your future business school has, you can be confident that you’re receiving the best education and career opportunities possible.


  1. Published 2024. Accessed on February 25, 2024.
  2. Accessed on February 25, 2024. 
  3. Published 2024. Accessed on February 25, 2024. 
  4. Published April 4, 2023. Accessed on February 26, 2024. 
  5. Accessed on February 26, 2024. 

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