Accreditation indicates that a school or program meets the standards set by the accreditation body. Colleges and universities have regional or national accreditation, a designation that extends to on-campus and online offerings. Within institutions, individual departments and degrees can have additional programmatic accreditations.

For online business schools, programmatic accreditation is carried out by one of three professional associations. Each accreditation body certifies the academic quality of business studies according to its own quality and excellence criteria.

Find out more about online business school accreditation, what it means and why it’s important below.

What is accreditation

Accreditation is a voluntary process through which colleges, universities and study programs prove the quality of their offers. The accreditation status influences the possibilities of financial support, the transfer possibilities and the general seriousness.

There are two types of institutional accreditation: regional and national. Regional accreditation indicates that an institution offers academically challenging degrees, while national accreditation often applies to professional, job-oriented and technical courses.

Programmatic accreditation is an additional type of certification by a specialized body of subject matter experts and experts.

How important is accreditation for economics?

By choosing an accredited online business school, you ensure that the program is worth your time, energy and money. The rigor with which business programs are assessed by accreditation bodies means that graduates of an accredited degree program have received first-class business education.

Employers prefer accredited business degrees. Earning a degree from an accredited business school shows colleagues and potential employers the quality of your credentials.

Accreditation for online business schools

There are three widely recognized programmatic accreditation bodies for business school programs. Each accreditation body evaluates business schools using various criteria developed and approved by business experts and experts.

The accreditation bodies differ in scope and focus, so learners should familiarize themselves with all three.

Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP)

ACBSP was founded in 1988 and focuses on teaching and learning in business programs. ACBSP accredits associate, bachelor, and graduate degrees in business with member locations in 60 countries worldwide. ACBSP typically accredits business programs offered by smaller private and public institutions.

ACBSP’s three-year accreditation process includes questionnaires, action plans and mentoring support as the company programs prepare for self-paced study in the second year. During the third year on-site visit, an evaluation team assesses the quality of the program and plans further improvements.

Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB International)

AACSB, the oldest and most prestigious business program accreditation body, accredits bachelor and master programs at major colleges and universities around the world. More than 900 business schools and nearly 200 accounting schools are accredited by AACSB.

AACSB examines the engagement, innovation and impact of a program. The initial multi-stage accreditation process can take up to seven years. Recognized schools are reassessed every five years.

International Accreditation Council for Business Education (IACBE)

Founded in 1997, IACBE focuses on supportive, results-driven business and accounting programs. IACBE is similar to ACBSP in its focus on teaching, while AACSB looks at research and teaching alike.

Business degrees at smaller private schools and colleges are often accredited by the IACBE. IACBE accredits around 2,000 programs around the world, all of which have participated in self-study and on-site visits. It takes up to four years to acquire accreditation, with renewal every seven years.

Which accreditation body is the best?

AACSB is considered the gold standard in business school accreditation. Colleges and universities often require business teachers to hold an AACSB degree in economics, and many employers are looking for AACSB graduates.

However, acquiring a business degree from an IACBE or ACBSP accredited school is not without its merits. These programs emphasize teaching and learning as they advance discipline and they might be well suited for some people.

How to spot fake accreditations

Not all accreditation bodies are created equal and students should review the legality of their school’s accreditation status. Some schools can falsely boast of being accredited by a recognized accreditation body. Compare your claims with the list of accredited schools and programs on the accreditation body’s website.

Other programs can claim accreditation from an illegitimate accreditation body – some are run by universities themselves. Students should check the list of recognized accreditation bodies of the Council for Higher Education Accreditation to see whether an accreditation body actually exists.

Do online schools need to be accredited?

Online colleges and universities must be accredited by a regional or national accreditation body. Individual schools and programs can retain additional programmatic accreditation.

Is IACBE Accreditation Good?

IACBE accreditation indicates that a program meets the goals, standards and mission of the organization. IACBE accreditation is good for students who want to enroll in a results-oriented business degree.

Is AACSB better than IACBE?

AACSB accreditation is the gold standard for business school accreditation. AACSB accreditation is better if a person wants a degree that appeals to top employers around the world, with an emphasis on teaching and research.


Online business school accreditation is one of the many factors to consider when choosing a business program. With three business degree accreditation bodies, students can select programs that meet criteria that match their priorities.

By enrolling in the right accredited online business degree, individuals optimize their return on investment time and money. Choosing the best accredited online business program also affects future employment and potential income in the long term.

This article was written by Krystal Covington, MBA. checked

Krystal Covington, MBA, is a business growth strategist with 15 years of marketing and public relations experience. Your company, Go Lead Consulting, offers its customers basic tools for building new customer and customer relationships.

Covington founded Women of Denver, one of the largest privately held membership organizations in Denver, Colorado. Her program helps women increase their business acumen, hone leadership skills, and connect with other high-performing women. Covington received her MBA from Western Governors University in 2012.

Krystal Covington is a paid member of Red Ventures Education’s freelance evaluation network.