Background: Business schools can opt to pursue two types of accreditation for their course, that is, international accreditation and professional accreditation. While professional accreditation of some business disciplines (e.g., Accounting) is expected, professional accreditation in other fields (e.g., human resource management, finance, marketing, management) is discretionary as is international accreditation. Arguments for accreditation include providing an important signal of quality (Alajoutsijärvi et al., 2018), increasing enrolments, assuring learning and leading to continuous improvement (Bryant, 2013; Myers et al., 2016), and enhancing student employment prospects (Gomillion, 2016). Criticisms of the accreditation process include the resultant uniformity of courses (Woodside, 2020) that can stifle creativity and innovation and limit quality improvements in learning and teaching (Wood et al., 2019).

Outline of initiative: Given the considerable human capital and financial investment expended in the accreditation process, universities need to assess the value and benefit of discretionary professional accreditation to both students and professionals. Hence, this study sought to understand perceptions toward accreditation of university business programs and what benefits or value are associated with professional and/or international accreditation.

Method: An online survey was developed using the Qualtrics platform. The survey was pilot tested through peers across different areas within the business discipline and the research team. Any issues relating to terminology and survey flow, or technicality were addressed. The online questionnaire gathered both quantitative and qualitative data. The survey weblinks were distributed through two channels, the team’s network, and panel data from Qualtrics. Participants were provided with relevant research study information and their consent was given by submitting the survey. Participation was fully voluntary, anonymous, and the survey could be stopped at any time before the submission. The study examines 124 questionnaires.

Findings: Awareness of professional accreditation bodies was much higher amongst survey respondents compared to awareness of international accreditation bodies. Participants responded very favourably toward both professional and international accredited degrees with many indicating that it provided a signal of quality or credibility. Interestingly, significantly more respondents viewed accreditation as beneficial for their future job or career prospects. When asked about expected differences between accredited and non-accredited courses, content was most frequently cited with expectations around more practical or professionally aligned curricula and heightened employment outcomes. Ongoing membership of professional bodies was mainly viewed as beneficial for networking and professional connections as well as continued professional development.
The findings reveal that participants align professional and international accreditation of courses strongly with future career prospects and see professional membership as beneficial for forging important industry connections, maintaining their professional development, and enabling them to keep up to date with industry trends.
In conclusion, opportunities exist for business schools to raise awareness of their accredited programs and to connect students more closely with professional accredited bodies at an early stage in their study journey to assist them in realising the career benefits and opportunities.

Alajoutsijärvi, K., Kettunen, K., & Sohlo, S. (2018). Shaking the Status Quo: Business Accreditation and Positional Competition [Article]. Academy of Management Learning & Education, 17(2), 203-225.
Bryant, M. (2013). International accreditations as drivers of business school quality improvement. Journal of Teaching in International Business, 24(3-4), 155-167.
Gomillion, D. L. (2016). The Role of Industry Certifications in an AACSB-Accredited Institution. Proceedings of the EDSIG Conference ISSN,
Myers, M. D., Kooti, A. J., & Kooti, J. G. (2016). Does a Separate Accounting Accreditation Matter? [Article]. Academy of Business Journal, 1, 96-104.
Wood, D. M., Auhl, G., & McCarthy, S. (2019). Accreditation and quality in higher education curriculum design: does the tail wag the dog? Fifth International Conference on Higher Education Advances.
Woodside, J. M. (2020). A meta-analysis of AACSB program learning goals. Journal of Education for Business, 95(7), 425-431.

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