Recognition of diploma
Accreditation is a guarantee of the validity and recognition of the diploma that you will acquire upon graduation. This is especially important if you plan to study in another country. You should check the accreditation status of universities and programmes that interest you in advance.
In some countries the diplomas of unaccredited universities and programmes are considered worthless. If you end up in such a situation, you risk some employers, and certainly government institutions, not accepting your qualifications. That is why it is recommended that you restrict your selection of business schools to accredited institutions.
Stamp of Quality
Accreditation adds a stamp of quality to your diploma. To gain and maintain their accreditation, educational institutions periodically undergo a formal evaluation of their quality standards.
“Accreditation represents the highest standard of achievement in postgraduate business education” defines the London-based Association of MBAs (AMBA).
The evaluation is conducted according to a thorough process implemented by independent accreditation bodies (agencies). The process usually includes the following steps (as described by the US Department of Education):
- Standards: The accreditor, in collaboration with educational institutions and/or programmes, establishes standards.
- Self-study: The institution or programme seeking accreditation prepares an in-depth self-evaluation report that measures its performance against the standards established by the accreditor.
- On-site evaluation: A team of peers selected by the accreditor reviews the institution or programme on-site to determine first-hand if the applicant meets the established standards.
- Decision and publication: Upon being satisfied that the applicant meets its standards, the accreditor grants accreditation or pre-accreditation status and lists the institution or programme in an official publication with other similarly accredited or pre-accredited institutions or programmes.
- Monitoring: The accreditor monitors each institution or programme throughout the period of accreditation to verify that it continues to meet the standards.
- Re-evaluation: The accreditor periodically re-evaluates each institution or programme to ascertain whether continuation of its accredited or pre-accredited status is warranted.
Some agencies even assign grades indicating to what extent universities or programmes meet quality standards. Another indicator of quality is the period for which Master’s and MBA accreditation is granted – the longer the period, the higher the trust in that university being able to manage quality. All accreditations have a maximum validity period, usually about five years.
Check out What is an MBA accreditation?
Where to find accreditation information
Most universities provide information about their accreditation(s) on all official materials, such as their website, brochures, academic catalogue, etc. However, you can also double-check or even start your search for recognised programmes on the websites of accreditation agencies.
A comprehensive source of information on accreditation in Europe is the website of ENIC/NARIC. The acronym stands for European Network of Information Centres in the European Region/ National Academic Recognition Information Centres in the European Union.
In the US, accreditation is conducted on a regional basis and on the national level. You can access the list of the US Regional and National Institutional Accrediting Agencies on the website of the US Department of Education. Then you should go to the website of the relevant agency and search for the accredited institutions.
In most countries, accreditation is conducted on the institutional (university) level and on the programme level. There are three major agencies evaluating the quality of MBA, business and management programmes internationally:
- The Association of MBAs (AMBA)
- European Quality Improvement System of The Management Development Network (EQUIS – EFMD)
- The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business
Beyond Master’s and MBA accreditation
So, checking accreditation is a must and if you do it you will discover that there is even more added value. Multiple accreditations are clearly an indicator of superb programme quality and global recognition. There about 60 institutions which are accredited by the three major agencies – AACSB, AMBA, EQUIS and they have the so-called “Triple Accreditation” or the “Triple Crown”. Contrary to the media rankings, the triple accreditation list is heavily dominated by European business schools, which have gained ground over their US rivals.
To sum up, when selecting a university or a business school for your post-graduate studies make sure you consider only accredited institutions. This guarantees that your diploma will be recognised and that the university cares about quality, just as you do.