When it comes to choosing an MBA program, there are many factors to consider. One factor, though, can be an especially helpful determinant—whether or not the program in question is an MBA with an AACSB accreditation.
This is helpful to explore for several reasons, including the fact that only five percent of business schools worldwide hold an AACSB accreditation. This achievement is a significant stamp of approval that recognizes business schools and MBA programs as offering the highest quality of learning in the world. Suffolk University’s Sawyer Business School is proud to be among them.
If you know that you want to earn an MBA degree that will broaden your skill set, increase your knowledge, and accelerate your career path, an AACSB accredited program is the ideal path for you.
What is AACSB accreditation?
AACSB stands for the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business. It is an international nonprofit association that has represented the highest standards of academic and business excellence for over 100 years. In order to understand AACSB accreditation, it is helpful to start with understanding some of the history and purpose of AACSB. With a clear idea of what AACSB is, the association’s rigorous approach to accreditation will make more sense, and the significance of an AACSB accredited program will become clearer.
The History and Mission of AACSB
AACSB International was founded in 1916 to provide quality assurance, business intelligence, and learning and development services to member organizations and business schools. The association is focused on improving high-quality business education in the global marketplace.
AACSB accredited schools align with the mission, vision, and values of the association in their approach to equipping business leaders:
- Mission: To foster engagement, accelerate innovation, and amplify impact in business education.
- Vision: To transform business education globally for a positive societal impact.
- Values: Quality, Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging • Global Mindset • Ethics • Social Responsibility • Community
To put it succinctly, AACSB recognizes and approves the best business schools in the world, ensuring high-quality education and giving both prospective students and employers a standard to refer to when assessing business schools and professionals.
The Significance of AACSB Accreditation
There are several aspects of AACSB accreditation that represent how significant it is for a business school to earn.
First, accreditation is a voluntary process that business schools engage in of their own volition. They are not compelled by government standards or other governing bodies to achieve AACSB accreditation. The voluntary nature of the process represents how dedicated schools that earn AACSB accreditation are to providing excellent business education.
Second, AACSB confers specialized accreditation via standards developed specifically for assessing bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral level business and accounting programs. Their tailored approach ensures that specific, unique standards are met that pertain to business, rather than a generalized approach with generic standards.
Third, AACSB accreditation takes a comprehensive approach, which means that every part of a business school and its programs are scrutinized and assessed, including:
- Faculty qualifications
- Ability to provide the highest-quality processes
Finally, AACSB has clearly defined implications for what its accreditation means, all under the header of it only being awarded to the best business schools—those that provide the highest quality of learning—in the world:
- Commitment to upholding and advancing the highest quality programs
- Connection to businesses to develop the talent they are looking to hire today and in the future
- Relevance of curriculum and learning material to students' field of study and today's workforce
- Societal impact by focusing on global prosperity and creating impactful leaders
- Quality is seen in the highest-caliber faculty, leading-edge courses, and innovative programs
- Continuous Improvement as a framework for the constant measurement of success
From curriculum development and research to teaching and learner success, AACSB business accreditation ensures excellence in business education.
What requirements did Suffolk have to meet to receive the AACSB seal of approval?
The nine standards for business accreditation are organized into three categories:
- Strategic management and innovation
- Learner success
- Thought leadership, engagement, and social impact
A closer look at each of these categories and the standards within them will illuminate the requirements Suffolk had to meet in order to achieve AACSB accreditation. All of the information in the accreditation standards section to follow is found and expanded upon in the AACSB 2020 Guiding Principles and Standards for Business Accreditation.
Strategic Management and Innovation
In order to make the list of AACSB accredited MBA schools, Suffolk University had to excel in:
- Strategic planning
- Physical, virtual, and financial resource management
- Faculty and professional staff resource management
AACSB accredited online MBA programs must have a strategic plan to be examined by the AACSB peer review team. In accordance with the AACSB guidelines, Suffolk University’s strategic plan was created with input from key stakeholders and identifies our school’s:
- Strategic initiatives
- Metrics for success
The strategic planning standard also includes regularly monitored progress and a commitment to innovation as well as positive societal impact.
Physical, virtual, and financial resources
An MBA program with AACSB accreditation meets rigorous standards for physical, virtual, and financial resources that include:
- High-quality maintenance of physical infrastructures like buildings, labs, furniture, and libraries
- Sufficient technology infrastructure that supports instructional delivery, research, and scholarship
- Adequate funding for the school to function with high quality and achieve its goals
Faculty and professional staff resources
This standard ensures that AACSB accredited programs are led by sufficient faculty and staff members. This is measured by assessing the way the school:
- Maintains and deploys faculty members
- Requires faculty members to be trained
- Ensures that enough professional staff are available to support faculty and learners
- Documents their faculty management, development, and support processes
This category is composed of four standards:
- Assurance of learning
- Learner progression
- Teaching effectiveness and impact
By meeting these four standards, AACSB accredited MBA schools strive to ensure that their students achieve high, positive outcomes
The curriculum standards that must be met to qualify for AACSB accreditation include:
- Delivering content that is current, globally oriented, and agile
- Managing curriculum through assessment and systematic review processes
- Promoting educational opportunities that foster innovation and experiential learning
- Facilitating meaningful learner-to-learner and learner-to-faculty engagement
Assurance of learning
The assurance of learning (AoL) standard refers to a business school’s processes and plans for demonstrating that its learners are achieving the necessary competencies. Components of this standard include:
- Documenting AoL processes that include both direct and indirect measures for degree program quality assurance
- Structuring and designing programs that result in the same degree credential with high-quality outcomes across the board
- Including processes to ensure high-quality microlearning credentials
- Ensuring high quality in non-degree executive education that generates greater than five percent of a school’s total annual resources
This standard ensures that students in all AACSB programs — whether an AACSB accredited MBA in Boston or an AACSB accredited online MBA completed by a student on the other side of the world are empowered to succeed. Meeting this standard is assessed according to two general principles, both of which must be fulfilled in accordance with a school’s mission, strategies, and expected outcomes:
- The school has clear, effective, and consistent policies and procedures for processes like admissions, transfer credits, degree completion, and career development
- Post-graduation success is publicly disclosed and consistently occurs
Teaching effectiveness and impact
AACSB accreditation ensures that learners are taught in ways that are effective and impactful in their lives by requiring the school to have:
- A rigorous assessment process for ensuring high-quality teaching
- Development activities that enhance teaching and empower faculty members to deliver excellent curriculum
- Faculty members who stay current in their methods, incorporate a diverse perspective, and demonstrate a mindset of lifelong learning
- Demonstrable teaching impact through learner success and satisfaction
Thought leadership, engagement, and societal impact
This final standards category for AACSB accreditation covers the ways that business schools must demonstrate that they are making a significant difference and impact on theory, practice, and/or teaching of business, as well as society. They measure this according to:
- Impact of scholarship
- Engagement and societal impact
Impact of Scholarship
AACSB accredited MBA schools must demonstrate the impact of scholarship through:
- Faculty production of high-quality, impactful intellectual contributions that eventually create areas of thought leadership
- Collaborating with external stakeholders to create and transfer knowledge
- A portfolio of intellectual research contributions that have had a positive impact on society
Engagement and societal impact
AACSB measures this standard by looking for the ways that a school makes a positive impact on society through both internal and external initiatives that align with the school’s mission. This includes:
- Developing relationships with key external stakeholders
- Expressly defining and measuring efforts to improve society
- Having a clear reason and plan for engaging with business and broader society
AACSB Accreditation Summary
This brief overview of AACSB accreditation standards shows how rigorous a standard of quality of learning Suffolk University has risen to in order to achieve AACSB’s seal of approval. Not only has our school achieved this accreditation at a past point in time but, as the standards show, maintains excellence through continuous improvement and measurement processes.
Suffolk University’s Online MBA Stands Out Among AACSB Accredited Degree Programs
While Suffolk University’s 100% online MBA program already rises above most MBA programs through AACSB accreditation, its exceptionality does not stop there.
For example, Suffolk University requires that staff remain active in the workforce while teaching, ensuring that they remain up-to-date on trends in business. 83 percent of Suffolk University staff members hold a doctoral degree, and 45 percent are international.
The Suffolk MBA Online enrolls an equal balance of men and women into its degree program each admissions cycle. Students are welcomed into a network that spans the globe and includes mentors who are scholars, venture capitalists, executives, and brand managers.
Our MBA Online students are quick to share the reasons they are glad they chose Suffolk University. Here are just a few of many examples:
“The support I received from the student support advisor was excellent! She was so supportive, encouraging, and always willing to listen throughout my time in the program.” - Jeanlee Bazile, MBA, 2021
“Suffolk University provided students like me with the flexibility, resources, and real-life lessons that will most certainly advance your career… You will never feel like you’re alone if you decide to attend Suffolk.” - Sherley Jules, MBA, 2021
“I relish the connections I made throughout the MBA program, where I worked closely with fellow students on client projects…. I couldn’t imagine a better program where I had the ability to do an MBA with enough flexibility, while simultaneously feeling like I’m actually in the classroom.”
The Suffolk Online MBA can be completed in as few as 16 months and empowers you to implement what you learn immediately in your workplace. Learn more about Suffolk University’s MBA Online by downloading the program guide.