Are My Online Programs Still AACSB Accredited?

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Monday, August 31, 2020
By Jane Lawler
Photo by iStock
Worried that the transition from in-person to all online, or a hybrid model, might cause a decrease in quality? AACSB-accredited schools offer the highest quality in business education—no matter the delivery.

In the blink of an eye, courses that were solely taught in a classroom setting are now being delivered online by faculty and attended by students who may have been unfamiliar with virtual learning. This swift shift is a testament to the agility and strategic mindset of AACSB-accredited schools.

Embracing Adaptability

By March 2020 an estimated 80 percent of AACSB-accredited schools began to restructure and implement their teaching delivery formats from in-person to online. As campuses closed for students, faculty, and staff, all facets of university engagement and student services moved to a virtual format. Instead of waiting for the calm after this storm to return to the classroom, it was important that students stay on track with their educational goals.

There is a great deal to learn from this adaptation to a new normal in higher education. Business students globally are experiencing and acquiring skill sets they can apply when they enter the ever-changing and disruptive world of business. As a specialized accreditor of business schools, AACSB must assure that quality is sustained no matter how students interact with faculty, professional staff, and fellow students. Whether a student attends courses in a virtual setting or in person at an AACSB-accredited school, they can rest assured that these business courses are of the highest quality.

Continuing Quality Improvement

While business schools were restructuring their teaching and support services, AACSB began working with its accredited member schools to transition to this new environment. The purpose of this piece is to assure you as a student and parents, or those who hold stake in a learners education, that despite the changes in the learning environment, AACSB continues to help schools sustain quality and remain relevant in an evolving business landscape.

Institutions that have earned AACSB accreditation demonstrate in many ways that they are committed to upholding and advancing the quality of their programs. For example, each AACSB-accredited institution undergoes periodic reviews by peers at other institutions of its ongoing quality, continuous improvement, and alignment with AACSB standards to maintain accreditation. Most important during this global health crisis was AACSB’s commitment to fulfilling its extensive agenda of planned peer-reviewed campus visits.

Beginning in March, AACSB worked with more than 40 schools around the world to move review visits later into fall 2020 or to retain planned visit dates virtually using technological tools. Working with institutions and their review teams, AACSB staff provided schools and their teams with guidelines to assure an effective, efficient, and robust visit experience.

Peer review team visit reports from these schools reveal that teams were able to capture the same level of information needed to make informed decisions and offer consultative advice. The rigor of the review was not compromised, ensuring that the schools’ business education programs continued to operate at the highest level possible.

Leveraging Data

Another quality component of the accreditation process is the required submission of critical data reports such as the Business School Questionnaire (BSQ), a comprehensive survey of business school data, as well as accreditation reports whereby schools address activities that highlight continuous improvement and innovation.

To ensure the most extensive data collection possible across schools, AACSB extended submission dates to accommodate the unexpected demands placed on schools. Schools with accreditation reports due in the coming months are also required to provide AACSB and peer review teams with a report describing the impact of COVID-19 on their school. The report is expected to include the actions taken by the school to assure that you as students and your professors and faculty are properly supported and to address how areas such as course delivery, learning outcomes, and enrollment have been impacted. This information will allow the review teams to provide advice to schools that will in turn help them solve challenges resulting from the pandemic and continue to provide the highest quality business education.

New Standards Confirm Quality

Finally, AACSB recently underwent an extensive process of revising its business accreditation standards, which were enthusiastically supported by accredited schools and approved in July. These new standards reflect current trends in business education and industry and further support quality business education. The new standards also include a clear focus on societal impact, asking schools to showcase how their institution is making a difference for the better. All AACSB-accredited schools will be transitioning to this new set of standards over the next three years.

As a current or prospective business student or a parent or guardian of a business student enrolled in an AACSB-accredited institution, you can be assured that AACSB continues the commitment to our accredited institutions to work with them as they maneuver through the pandemic while remaining focused on the evolving business landscape.

Want to know if your school holds AACSB accreditation or find an institution that does? Search for an AACSB-accredited school anywhere in the world using AACSB's school search

Jane Lawler
Senior Accreditation Manager, AACSB International
The views expressed by contributors to AACSB Insights do not represent an official position of AACSB, unless clearly stated.
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