AACSB accreditation is a type of specialized, higher education accreditation awarded to business and accounting schools by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB). The AACSB is based in the United States but accredits schools all over the world. Business and accounting schools that hold AACSB accreditation often hold higher prestige than schools without the accreditation, and some businesses and organizations may develop hiring policies that favor graduates of AACSB-accredited programs.
Higher education accreditation utilizes the services of a third-party accrediting service, sometimes known as an accreditor or accrediting agency, to review its educational program. If a school meets the accreditor's standards, the school can be accredited by that agency. This vetting system provides protection to both students and the public by ensuring that schools provide quality education and are effectively managed. While accreditation is not always legally required, unaccredited schools and programs are typically at a disadvantage when compared to other schools, and their students may be denied certain benefits, such as government sponsored financial aid.
Colleges and universities that offer graduate and undergraduate programs in business and accounting may seek AACSB accreditation in order to increase their prestige, attract top faculty and students, and provide their graduates with the widest range of career opportunities. The process of accreditation begins with the school joining the AACSB as a member and then submitting notice of its intention to become accredited. The process includes working with a volunteer mentor as well as an AACSB staff member to review the school's resources and determine whether the school meets or can meet the standards necessary for AACSB accreditation. These standards are applied to every aspect of a school's operations, including its administration, faculty, and ability to attract and retain good students.
It is quite possible for a school or college to hold accreditation through more than one accreditation body. There are schools that may be institutionally accredited by a national or regional accredited but do not hold AACSB accreditation. These schools may be accredited by another accrediting body or may not have any type of specialized accreditation at all. While degrees issued by these schools are both legitimate and accredited, students may find that their degree is not accepted or as highly regarded by employers as would be a degree from an AACSB-accredited school. In addition, students who transfer from these programs to other schools may also have difficulty moving their credits from one program to another.