Accreditation of Business Schools - Does it matter? |

Accreditation of Business Schools - Does it matter?

By QS Contributor

Updated September 29, 2014 Updated September 29, 2014 investigates business school accreditation and how important a factor it should be for MBA applicants.

Why is accreditation important to business schools and MBA applicants?

Simply put, business schools achieve a label to enhance the reputation of their programmes. This sends a signal of quality to candidates who are considering between programmes.

What are the main criteria for Equis accreditation?

The Equis accreditation is a lengthy a detailed process. Candidates can investigate the specific methodology on our website which focus on school resources, faculty, facilities, programme content, student quality and much more. However, there are two fundamental principles which guide our accreditation process. It is addressed to international schools only and evaluates whether schools have developed their programmes based on close contact and input from the corporate world.

Is Accreditation better than rankings? What does it mean if a school is not Equis accredited, but features prominently in other researched rankings?

Accreditation is not better or worse, but simply different. MBA Rankings provide useful information if you know how to interpre that information. Accreditation helps segment the market between higher quality providers and lower quality providers. However, I think that it is difficult for rankings to claim that a school which features 3rd or 4th in a table really is better than schools that feature 5th, 6th or 7th in that same table. It is probably more useful for candidates to compare rankings and identify schools which consistently feature, or look at some of the specific criteria which are important to the reader." It is possible for a very good school, which features well in some rankings not to be accredited by Equis. For example, if a school is very strong in its domestic market, but fails any of our internationality tests, then we cannot accredit it. There is another school which flies in faculty from other top business schools around the world. It is an excellent programme, but we insist on permanent faculty and so cannot accredit that school.

How does Equis differ from other accrediting agencies?

AMBA accredits only specific MBA programmes, whereas Equis accredits the whole school. We believe that this information is more useful to a candidate who may be considering a range of programmes at any given school. AACSB differs from Equis in several ways. AACSB accredits a group of degree programmes, rather than the whole school. Under Equis, the Executive programmes of a school are also accredited. AACSB places little emphasis on links to the corporate world. Because Equis is European in origin, it has specialised in accrediting diverse institutions reflected in the mix of schools in Europe. AACSB has grown up accrediting somewhat homogenous US programmes and therefore, in my opinion, is less able to deal with school diversity. For example, when evaluating research output, articles published in US journals may not be applicable for many European business schools. A more intimate knowledge of the European research scene is required to make evaluations. Finally, EQUIS accreditation is geared towards improving the schools which undertake the process. Hence we produce a series of recommendations for change, which can affect every level of the school and, in our experience, schools act on our recommendations.

Do employers consider accreditation to be of value?

Corporations are not very aware of accreditation. However, we very much take into account corporate needs and input during the process of accreditation.

With many new MBA programmes being launched, should candidates consider accreditation of a business school sufficient to trust the quality of the new programme?

When a candidate signs up for a new programme, there is always the danger that it will not be of the same quality as existing programmes, or may no survive. However, an accredited school is more likely to launch successful programmes because they have been certified to be well resourced and highly professional.

This article was originally published in November 2012 . It was last updated in September 2014

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