Answer: Non-MBA business programs receive institutional accreditation from one of the seven regional accrediting bodies recognized by the US Department of Education. In addition, non-MBA business programs offered through business schools typically receive programmatic accreditation from the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB International); the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP); or the International Accreditation Council for Business Education (IACBE).
At the master’s degree level, there are numerous business degree programs that fall outside the umbrella of Master’s in Business Administration degree programs. These non-MBA business programs provide targeted training in areas like accounting, communications, finance, human resources management, marketing, organizational leadership, and other specializations like taxation, forensic accounting, and sports management. Many of these non-MBA business programs are offered through schools of business and/or management and are accredited accordingly by one of three independent accreditation organizations: the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB International); the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP); or the International Accreditation Council for Business Education (IACBE). The AACSB International also provides specific programmatic accreditation to master’s in accounting/accountancy programs.
There are seven regional accreditation bodies that are approved by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) and formerly recognized by the US Department of Education. These bodies assess and accredit colleges and universities based on criteria designed to assure that participating schools meet certain institutional and educational standards. Depending on the region and the types of degrees they offer, colleges and universities receive institutional accreditation from the following bodies:
Programmatic accreditation is separate and distinct from institutional accreditation. Schools and departments within larger, regionally accredited colleges and universities may have the option to apply for and receive additional accreditations from independent organizations that provide assessment and accreditation in specific areas of study. Business is one of those areas of study. The AACSB International, the ACBSP, and the IACBE are the three bodies that accredit MBA programs and other degree programs that are offered through schools of business.
Institutional accreditation carries with it assurances that a college or university has met or exceeded accepted standards for institutions of higher learning in the US. Specifically, it means that a school’s faculty, facilities, and other educational resources are up to par, and that students who attend the school will receive an acceptable level of instruction and academic support. Regional accreditation is also the mechanism by which credits may be transferred by students from one school to another, and most federal student-assistance and financial aid programs require students to attend a regionally accredited school.
Programmatic accreditation is important for different reasons. For non-MBA business programs, it indicates that the business school offering the program has submitted to and passed an independent assessment that takes into account faculty qualifications, curricular goals, and other relevant aspects of its overall educational mission. However, it is important to note that the AACSB International, ACBSP, and IACBE accreditations are designed for schools of business and management. Business programs in areas like communication, financial analytics, and forensic accounting may be offered by schools of professional studies, schools of communication, and departments that are not affiliated with a business school. These non-MBA business programs are typically not eligible to apply for AACSB International, ACBSP, and IACBE accreditation, which does not necessarily reflect negatively on the quality of the program.
Prospective students should examine the accreditation status of different programs, taking into account institutional as well as programmatic accreditations. It may also be helpful to explore any curricular guidelines and/or programmatic endorsements provided by professional organizations in the particular field of study. The table below includes some of the more prominent professional organizations that are relevant in various business specializations.
|Non-MBA Master’s Specialization||Professional Organization|
|Accounting||American Institute of Certified Public Accountants|
|Finance||Association for Financial Professionals|
|Forensic Accounting||Association of Certified Fraud Examiners|
|Human Resources Management||Society for Human Resource Management|
|Marketing||American Marketing Association|
|Sports Management||North American Society for Sports Management|
|Taxation||National Association of Tax Professionals|