The Real Scoop on Accreditation, or “Why Should I Care?”
All of the degree and graduate certificate programs at the University of Missouri - St. Louis College of Business Administration carry the prestigious accreditation of The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB, www.aacsb.edu ). Because we frequently receive questions about accreditation, I have prepared the following for your consideration.
The AACSB has been in existence for nearly 100 years, and their accreditation is awarded only to the top business schools in the country. In St. Louis, only three institutions carry AACSB accreditation: Washington University, St. Louis University, and the University of Missouri - St. Louis. And, the College of Business Administration at the University of Missouri - St. Louis is the only one of the three to carry separate AACSB accreditations for its Business and Accounting programs at the undergraduate and graduate levels. This puts The University of Missouri - St. Louis College of Business Administration in company with the top ten percent of business schools in the country!
Don't be fooled! Other (and often, lesser-quality) institutions that have been unwilling or unable to attain AACSB accreditation frequently promote themselves as "fully-accredited" or as "AACSB members." Unfortunately, they are doing so in an attempt to mislead prospective students. When pressed, they will admit that the term "fully accredited" means that the institution as a whole (not the business school) holds accreditation from a regional accrediting body. There is nothing wrong with that, except that every institution of higher education in Missouri holds a similar accreditation. That is not exactly the sign of distinction they would have you believe it is!
"AACSB membership," on the other hand, is just that - membership, NOT accreditation. In other words, that institution has written a check to the AACSB, and receives mail from them. Period. This is not the same thing as being an "AACSB-accredited" institution, which entails regular and comprehensive reviews of curriculum, faculty, facilities, technology, and resources.
Why should I care? So why should you, the prospective or current student, be concerned with all this? It's very simple: those institutions which hold AACSB accreditation have met rigorous requirements:
(1) The qualifications of the faculty have been scrutinized and meet AACSB standards, which ensures that you will be learning from individuals who are engaged in cutting-edge research and are up-to-date with the most recent developments in their fields.
(2) Degree programs have been designed to provide you with the knowledge, tools, and skills you need to be successful in your career, and to prepare you for a lifetime of learning (and earning!).
(3) The College has defined its mission and vision, has a plan in place to accomplish it, and seeks to continuously improve itself via annual reevaluations, assessment, and strategic planning.
Potential employers will recognize the value of your degree - the fact that you attended an AACSB-accredited institution is a signal that you received a good education from a solid institution. (Did you know that some employers won't reimburse employees for the educational expenses incurred at non-AACSB programs? And some won't even consider hiring applicants from non-AACSB programs!)
In short, by attending an AACSB-accredited Business program, you have joined a program that meets the "Gold Standard" of quality. And employers across the world know that your degree has real value.
If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to contact me.
Thomas H. Eyssell, Ph.D., firstname.lastname@example.org
Associate Dean and Director of Graduate Studies
Professor of Finance
University of Missouri - St. Louis College of Business Administration