How important is an international accreditation when you choose your DBA?

Published: 11 August 2021 | by Thomas Graf

Abour 400 DBA programs worldwide but which one is the best for you? Choosing an institution with an international accreditation may be an effective criterion to narrow down the number of potential programs.

What is an international accreditation?

Accreditations are seals of quality, granted from private companies that assess an institution and its programs according to pre-set criteria or standards. Particularly in the area of teaching business or management, accreditation agencies play an important role. By evaluating the teaching quality, diversity, or research impact of business schools, for instance, they provide an indicator for students of their potential learning outcomes at the school under review.

Internationally, however, only three organizations are recognized: the US-American AACSB, the European EQUIS and the UK-based AMBA. Regional accreditation agencies exist and may provide value too but only AACSB, EQUIS and AMBA evaluate business schools according to international management education standards.

What are international management education standards?

Let's take the AACSB as an example. This organization collects data along dimensions such as ethics and integrity, diversity and inclusion, collegiality, peer review, societal impact, continuous improvement, and the adherence to the AACSB standards. With standards, the agency refers to the areas of strategic planning, resources, the faculty, the curriculum, the assurance of learning, etc. Does the specific school ensure academic progression throught the program and how? is just one out of hundreds criteria underlying the standards. EQUIS and AMBA apply similar criteria for granting their accreditation seal.

What does it mean if business school holds an AACSB, EQUIS, or AMBA accreditation?

It means that the school teaches according to international management education standards. Does this mean that it is the best school for you? Certainly not. The school can be the worst school for you if it is too expensive for your pockets, if the doctoral degree is not accepted in your home country (and if this is important to you) or for many other reasons. It just tells you that this school provides a minimum and internationally comparable quality - and as such serves as a differentiator from other institutions without such a visible quality. Moreover, internationally accredited business schools likely experience more reputation among employers than non-accredited institutions - for instance, because they provide career services. Does it mean that a school without an international accreditation is wrong for you? Certainly not. But you should watch out for other quality criteria, for example by talking to staff, professors and students.

What does this mean for choosing an DBA?

An international accreditation may not be the primary criterion for choosing an executive doctorate in management. Criteria such as the acceptance of the doctoral degree in your home country or the total costs may be more important. AACSB, EQUIS, and AMBA may help you narrow down the total number of potential programs, however, and as such help you make a (good) decision.

By Thomas Graf
DBA Compas