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What accreditations are important for a master’s degree?

Simply put, a school's accreditation is proof that the school has achieved, and continues to maintain, a high level of standards set by a reputable accrediting agency. Typically, accrediting agencies work with different types of schools looking for specific characteristics in programs which will assure the integrity of a student's experience while pursuing a degree there. Some might think that the U.S. government oversees a university's accreditation. This, however, is untrue. "The U.S. Department of Education does not accredit educational institutions and/or programs. However, the Department provides oversight over the postsecondary accreditation system through its review of all federally-recognized accrediting agencies. The Department holds accrediting agencies accountable by ensuring that they enforce their accreditation standards effectively."

Since accrediting agencies, designed to ensure that a school's programming is of a high level of quality, are private associations, students should be aware of a school's accreditation. At times, accrediting bodies have been found to offer very low accountability, which have created disastrous effects to a student's education. Just as a student in the U.S should research a school's accreditation through the U.S. Department of Education's list of verified accreditation associations, those studying outside the country should reference the Council for Higher Education Accreditation for a list of reputable agencies in its database. The six regional higher accrediting agencies recognized by the U.S. Department of Education are the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, the Higher Learning Commission, the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, and the Western Association of Schools and Colleges.

In addition to regional accreditation, students pursuing business degrees must also consider additional business accreditations. Just as the regional accreditation attests to a school's quality, a business accreditation provides additional proof of quality and prestige. On the flip side, a professional with a degree from a business school with questionable accreditation could create an element of doubt for the employer's trust that a new hire has pursued a degree with the highest standards. The top business accrediting agencies in the U.S. include AACSB International, ACBSP, and IACBE. Students look to find a top business degree, must look for an accreditation from one of these three institutions.

One of the most prestigious business accrediting agency in the world is the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business, AACSB International, which was established in 1916. Featuring a rigorous application and evaluation process, less than 5% of business schools have achieved this high level of business accreditation. In order to retain this high level of accreditation, "all AACSB-accredited institutions must enter the Continuous Improvement Review process every five years." The AACSB values large land-grant institutions and schools known for extensive research programs. One of the nation's best AACSB-International accredited MBA programs is featured at the Isenberg School of Management at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst. Recently recognized by U.S News & World Report as the 11th best online MBA in the nation, this 45-credit hour program features multiple specializations, including Healthcare Management. Courses within this program include Strategic Information Management, Business Data Analysis & Statistical Methods, Leadership & Organizational Behavior, and Business Law.

Another highly respected accrediting body is the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs. Founded in 1992, the ACBSP "focuses on recognizing teaching excellence, determining student learning outcomes, and a continuous improvement model. ACBSP's student-centered teaching and learning approach, which is measured and analyzed for quality, ensures that students gain the right skills from their educational investment." Featuring headquarters in both the United States and Europe, the ACBSP focuses on business schools across the globe. Indiana Wesleyan University's DeVoe School of Business features an online Master's of Business Administration with a concentration in Healthcare Administration. Receiving its business accreditation through the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs, this 42-credit hour program features an accessible tuition rate of $24,024.

Whether prospective students are looking for top bachelor's or top master's degrees in healthcare management, engineering management, project management, marketing management, or public administration, accreditation is one of the most important factors to take into consideration when choosing future programs.