One way that students can determine whether prospective academic programs provide good value to them is to find out if those programs are accredited, and the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP) is one of the leading agencies that administer accreditation to business schools in the United States (U.S.).
Programmatic business school accreditation offers benefits to business schools, students and their future employers. The accreditation process of ACBSP and other agencies give business schools mechanisms to continuously evaluate their academic programs objectively and determine areas that need improvement. ACBSP accreditation also helps employers to gauge the type of education that job candidates received during their college or university years before they make hiring decisions.
Here are some of the unique benefits of ACBSP accreditation, its scope and the steps that schools take to become accredited through ACBSP.
Distinctive Focus of ACBSP Accreditation
While outcome based quality standards have become a staple among business school accreditation agencies, ACBSP is also known for its promotion of excellence in teaching. Many schools believe that their degree of success depends heavily on the quality of their teaching faculty. ACBSP measures excellence in teaching through outcome assessments that are evaluated by independent experts within academia and industry.
The evaluation criteria for effective teaching includes research projects, scholastic publications, continuing education, professional development and academic credentials. Schools that boast faculty members who are Nobel Prize winners, regularly publish white papers or work on research teams that publish ground breaking findings within the business discipline are likely to receive high marks in this outcomes assessment area.
Scope of ACBSP Accreditation
ACBSP accredits academic programs and not institutions. The organization has the authority to accredit business, accounting and other business related degree programs. This is especially important for universities that have degree programs that do not directly come under the common business administration category.
ACBSP accredits business programs at the associate, undergraduate, graduate and doctoral levels. The organization takes a holistic approach to evaluating the performance outcomes of the academic programs that undergo accreditation.
Besides student learning and faculty excellence, ACBSP accreditation considers operational effectiveness, stakeholder satisfaction and the quality of programs’ infrastructure and support services. An example of operational effectiveness for accounting programs is the pass rate for the certified public accounting exam by its graduates. Stakeholder satisfaction can be determined through surveys taken of the schools’ industry partners who regularly hire students and graduates as interns or full time employees. Also, an independent evaluation of business programs’ computer laboratories, libraries and career centers can help ACBSP determine whether candidate programs provide adequate support services for academic success.
ACBSP Accreditation Process
The ACBSP accreditation process begins with an application for candidacy and culminates in the submission and evaluation of programs’ self studies. It can take up to two and a half years for schools to achieve initial program accreditation through ACBSP, and pursuit of the credential costs schools about $12,000. Initial ACBSP program accreditation is valid for 10 years.
ACBSP was founded in the late 1980s as the Association of Collegiate Business Schools and Programs. As the organization’s mission, scope and practices evolved, so did its name. ACBSP now has over 1,260 member campuses worldwide. The Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs ACBSP was also one of the first business school accreditation organizations to be recognized by the Department of Labor and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation.