Accreditation, though it has its flaws, is an important indicator of a business school or MBA program’s quality. Three accreditation systems are recognized internationally:
Equis, the European Quality Improvement System, is administered by the Brussels-based European Foundation for Management Development (EFMD), a non-profit organization.
Equis stands out for its global outlook. Applicants must demonstrate a well-defined “internationalization” policy. Importantly, Equis accredits institutions and not specific MBA programs.
Equis criteria are set by a committee of EFMD officials and representatives from accredited institutions, like CEIBS and the University of Cambridge. Ninety-seven institutions from 29 countries have been accredited.
The British Association of MBAs (AMBA) accredits individual MBA programs rather than whole institutions, like Equis and AACSB. Its narrower scope means prospective students get a better sense of a program, although by the same token, AMBA accreditations don’t tell students much about the institution providing the program.
AMBA emphasizes a curriculum that covers soft skills, ethics and international business. A program’s student body should average five years of work experience and programs should last at least a year. A total of 115 schools worldwide run AMBA accredited MBA programs.
America’s Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business, founded in 1916, is the oldest of the three main accreditation bodies. Like Equis, it accredits schools instead of programs.
The accreditation process pivots on peer review. Deans of accredited schools volunteer to serve on peer review teams and accreditation committees which visit applicant institutions to double-check self-evaluations. However, AACSB accreditation tends to be granted to American institutions; it has been criticized for excluding non-American schools with different organizational structures.