When you invest your time, tuition dollars and hard work into earning a business degree, you want to know for sure that the education you’re getting is worthwhile. One way to accomplish this is to choose a program that’s accredited by the right agencies, but knowing what kinds of accreditation to look for can be a challenge. It’s not enough to make sure both the school as a whole and its undergraduate business program specifically are accredited – you must also pay attention to which organizations are awarding that accreditation.
The first kind of accreditation is called institutional accreditation. It typically applies to the college or university as a whole and indicates that overall, the school has met expected standards. Two types of institutional accreditation exist in the United States: regional and national.
When looking at institutional accreditation, it’s important to understand the difference between national and regional accreditation and which type of institutional accreditation applies to your school. Both types of institutional accreditation are intended to identify quality in education. The United States Department of Education even recognizes both national and regional accrediting organizations. However, regional accreditation has long been viewed as more reputable. Both academics and potential employers tend to see schools with national accreditation as “weaker” with regards to curricula and “more interested in getting warm bodies in and out,” according to The Florida Times-Union.
The consequences of choosing a school with the wrong kind of institutional accreditation can be serious. If your school has national instead of regional accreditation, you could have a harder time finding a job in your field after graduation.
Besides institutional accreditation, you want to look carefully at the specialized or programmatic accreditation awarded to your degree program. This type of accreditation means that a relevant accrediting body has evaluated the curriculum in your department, program or school.
Not all specialized accrediting bodies are considered equal. Along with the rise of diploma mills that provide a near worthless degree with little real education, there’s been a rise in accreditation mills that claim to evaluate and recognize these schools. Unlike legitimate accrediting bodies, these organizations aren’t recognized by the United States Department of Education or the Council for Higher Education Association (CHEA).
When choosing an undergraduate online business school program, make sure that the program has specialized accreditation from a legitimate organization. One of the best organizations to provide specialized accreditation for business schools is the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB International). Not only has the AACSB earned recognition from CHEA, but the agency accredits only the top 15 percent of business programs. When your business school has AACSB accreditation, you know it has a strong reputation.
Accreditation matters, especially when earning a degree online. Choose a regionally accredited school with an AACSB-accredited business program to be sure you’re getting the best online business education.