Question: Who Accredits non-MBA Business Programs?

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.

Institutional Accreditation vs. Programmatic Accreditation

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:

  • The Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges
  • The Higher Learning Commission
  • The Middle States Commission on Higher Education
  • The New England Association of Schools and Colleges
  • The Northwest Accreditation Commission
  • The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools
  • The Western Association of Schools and Colleges

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.

The Importance of Accreditation

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
AccountingAmerican Institute of Certified Public Accountants
FinanceAssociation for Financial Professionals
Forensic AccountingAssociation of Certified Fraud Examiners
Human Resources ManagementSociety for Human Resource Management
MarketingAmerican Marketing Association
Sports ManagementNorth American Society for Sports Management
TaxationNational Association of Tax Professionals

Business FAQ Pages:

FAQ: Are There Any Part-Time Online MBA Programs?
FAQ: Are There Master’s in Accounting Programs That Have 100% Online Instruction?
FAQ: Are There Master’s in Finance Programs That Have 100% Online Instruction?
FAQ: Are There Online Master’s in Accounting Programs That Do Not Require Applicants to Submit GMAT Scores or That Will Waive the GMAT Requirement?
FAQ: Are There Online Master’s in Finance Programs That Do Not Require GMAT Scores or That Offer a GMAT Waiver?
FAQ: Are There Online MBA Programs that Do Not Require GMAT Test Scores?
FAQ: Are There Part-Time Online Master’s in Accounting Degree Programs?
FAQ: Are There Part-Time Online Master’s in Finance Degree Programs?
FAQ: Does the SHRM Accredit Master’s in HRM Degree Programs?
FAQ: How Long Does it Take To Complete an MBA Program?
FAQ: How to Become a Certified Forensic Accountant
FAQ: How to Become a Certified Fraud Examiner
FAQ: What Are the Differences Between an MBA and an MSOL Degree Program?
FAQ: What Are the Differences Between Professional MBA Programs and Executive MBA Programs?
FAQ: What Are the Different Types of MBA Degree Programs?
FAQ: What Can You Do with a Sports Management Degree?
FAQ: What Is a Dual Degree MBA Program?
FAQ: What is a Dual Specialization MBA Program?
FAQ: What is a Flexible MBA Program?
FAQ: What Is a Human Resource Management Degree?
FAQ: What Is a One-Year MBA Program?
FAQ: What Is an MBA Degree?
FAQ: What Is an MSOL Degree Program?
FAQ: What Is the Difference Between a Dual Specialization and a Dual Degree MBA Program?
FAQ: What Is the Difference Between an MBA in Finance and a Master’s in Finance?
FAQ: What Is the Difference Between an MBA in Human Resource Management and a Master’s in Human Resource Management?
FAQ: What Is the Difference Between Finance and Accounting?
FAQ: What MBA Concentrations and Specializations Are Offered Online?
FAQ: Who Accredits MBA Programs?
FAQ: Who Accredits Online Master’s in Accounting Degree Programs?