What are the differences between the Business Accreditation agencies: AACSB, ACBSP, and IACBE?

business accreditation

Choosing a business school is a HUGE decision and is not a choice to be taken lightly. It’s very important to know the differences/comparisons to the accreditations given to the business schools you may consider BEFORE making that choice.

First, we’ll describe each accreditation program per their own websites’ descriptions, then…what all of it means for YOU!

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AACSB – Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business

differences between the business accreditations
aacsb The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business

According to their website, AACSB-accredited colleges and universities include the best of everything. From the highest merited faculty, pertinent, reliable, and demanding business curriculums, and must have outstanding, unrivaled career opportunities that stand out in the crowd and are not found at other business schools.

Their accreditation is unsurpassed as they represent only THE highest standards of achievements regarding business schools around the world, with less than FIVE percent of the world’s 13,000 plus business programs available to you acquiring an AACSB accreditation.

In addition, graduates from these business programs are supremely credentialed and, as a result, most desirable to employers as compared to non-accredited institutions.

Internationally recognized, an AACSB member offers degrees for business and accounting programs at the bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral levels and must undergo a rigorous process of self-evaluation and peer reviews that begins with submission and then approval of the application.

Once approved, the AACSB’s Accreditation Standards are evaluated within the school, and if all requirements are met, then accreditation will occur.

A Continuous Improvement Review processed every five years keeps the school on its toes and ensures that its standards are kept at the utmost levels of improvement year after year.

Finally, their website concludes that “AACSB Accreditation is known, worldwide, as the longest standing, most recognized form of specialized/professional accreditation an institution and its business programs can earn.”

ACBSP – The Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs

differences between the business accreditations

Recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA), the mission of the ACBSP is to promote “continuous improvement and recognize excellence in the accreditation of business education programs around the world.” Their vision is to find “every quality business program worldwide is accredited.”

The ACBSP accredits associate, baccalaureate, master, and doctoral degree levels worldwide regarding business-related programs. They rewarded teaching excellence and were the first to offer specialized business accreditation to all degree levels.

The purpose of the council is to instill the need for continuous research in colleges and universities as they feel this is of utmost importance in the business world in order to enhance the quality of the curriculums in which they teach.

IACBE – The International Accreditation Council for Business Education

differences between the business accreditations

The IACBE‘s website describes itself as the “leading outcomes-based professional accrediting organization for business programs in student-centered colleges and universities around the world.” Its existence is to promote academic quality and excellence in business education, involving all aspects of the institution as a complete unit.

THE IACBE was founded in 1997 “in response to the expressed needs of presidents, chief executive officers, chief academic officers, and business deans, chairs, directors, and HODs who wanted an accreditation process that was not driven by prescriptive standards relating to inputs and resources, but was mission-driven and outcomes-based.”

In January 2011, the Council for Higher Education Association (CHEA) granted recognition to the IACBE. Those colleges and universities not recognized by the other business education accrediting bodies were now eligible for accreditation consideration.

The International Accreditation Council for Business Education does accredit colleges and universities that offer associate degrees in business.

differences between the business accreditations

Why is a business school accreditation so important?

A business school accreditation is important because it indicates that the school meets specific standards and has been evaluated by an outside agency as having quality programs, faculty, and resources.

Accreditation is essential for prospective students because it ensures that the business school they choose meets the standards of quality established by the accrediting agency.

It also helps employers determine whether school graduates have received a quality education, which can prove beneficial when hiring new employees.

Lastly, business school accreditation often leads to greater access to financial aid, scholarships, and grants.

Do employers care about accreditation?

Yes, many employers care about accreditation, as it can be a way to verify that an employee is qualified to do a particular job.

Accreditation also indicates the quality of an individual’s education, which can be necessary for specific roles. Employers may also use accreditation to determine whether an individual is eligible for certain certifications or licensing.

Deciphering this Information

  • The AACSB is the most widely recognized and tends to accredit more well-known “top” business schools. They appear to be the “gold standard” for business schools’ accreditation.
  • One of the differences between the AACSB and the other two accrediting bodies is that the AACSB is focused on the research and teaching performed by the school and the school’s continuing need to obtain a high level of analysis to assure high-quality educational platforms.
  • The target market for the ACBSP is not so much research but the quality of faculty and such who are teaching the business courses. Rating with different parameters does not make one accreditation body “better” than the other, as it compares apples to oranges.
  • For students who are qualified, attending a good AACSB school, if at all possible, is recommended, as this is especially important for those seeking careers with employers who are seeking out AACSB-accredited attending graduates.
  • Many colleges and universities will not hire faculty who did not get their business degrees from an AACSB-accredited business school.
  • According to, “the IACBE claims to be targeting the needs of over 600 smaller, private liberal arts colleges and mid-size public and private colleges that have business degree programs.” therefore, the most expensive colleges aren’t just the only ones receiving business accreditation.
differences between the business accreditations

Final Thoughts

  • In a nutshell, one accreditation body was born, then one thought the other was too rigorous, and yet then another one was born, and then again.
  • Having said this, it is best to choose a school with at least ONE of these accreditation statuses as a means to whittle away the schools that you need to avoid.
  • It is highly recommended that you perform your own research based on the information I have provided to get you started.

Additional Resources:

Rowan Jones
Chief Editor