Business School Accreditation - An Overview of Accreditation in the U.S.

An Overview of Accreditation in the U.S.

What Is Accreditation?

Higher education accreditation is a process that institutions and programs undergo to prove that they meet acceptable levels of quality. This process is voluntary. However, most schools choose to apply for accredited status as a way to regulate themselves and demonstrate that they meet minimum quality standards. 

Why Is Accreditation Important?

Accreditation is important because it ensures the quality of your education.

In the U.S., you must attend an accredited program to be eligible for federal financial aid, most state aid, and even some scholarships. Although loan requirements can vary by financial institution, you may even need to attend an accredited school to qualify for a private student loan.

Attending an accredited school or program will also make it easier to get a job after graduation. Some employers will not hire people who don't have a degree from a recognizable, accredited institution. Accreditation is also important if you want to continue your education. If you earn your undergraduate degree from an institution that is not accredited, you may have a hard time getting accepted into a graduate program. Your ability to transfer credits may also be limited. 

Who Accredits Business Schools?

In the United States, business schools are accredited by non-governmental, non-profit organizations. There are three types of accrediting bodies: regional, specialized, and national.

 

Regional accreditation agencies accredit schools in all six of the regions (geographic areas) within the United States. Specialized accrediting organizations accredit specific programs within an school, such as those in accounting or architecture. Like regional accrediting organizations, national accrediting organizations accredit whole schools.

 

Every accrediting organization sets their own standards. To become accredited, schools must first meet the criteria established by each individual organizations. Some schools and their programs are accredited by multiple bodies. 

There are many different agencies that accredit business schools. In the U.S., the majority of MBA programs are accredited by a regional accrediting organization. Some of the main organizations include:

  • Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools (MSA)
  • New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC-CIHE)
  • North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (NCA-HLC)
  • Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS)
  • Western Association of Schools and Colleges

Finding Accredited Business Schools

The U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Postsecondary Education does not accredit business schools, but the Department does offer information about accreditation through their website. They also provide a searchable database of schools and programs that have been accredited by reliable and recognized accrediting agencies.

Accreditation Resources

  • U.S. Department of Education Accreditation Overview: You can use this Database of Accredited Postsecondary Institutions and Programs to learn more about accreditation, see a list of nationally recognized accrediting agencies, and learn more about the accrediation status for a particular school.