The key to finding a credible online MBA program is knowing if your school is accredited … and by whom. Credible schools are accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB), or have regional accreditation (as opposed to national) by a government-approved organization. In other words, the organization has to be federally recognized. It is not enough to see that a program is accredited, since diploma mills and fake programs often advertise that they are. To make sure the school you’re thinking about has the right accreditation, use one (or more) of the options below:
1) Check the Department of Education. This is the best and most reliable way to verify a business school’s accreditation, as they provide a list of government-approved accrediting organizations. Your school should provide some kind of information on their accrediting body on their own Web site, and once you know what organization they’re accredited by, look for it on the list. Its presence there indicates that your school’s accrediting body is legitimate.
2) Look into the school’s resources, such as career services and library database access. Good programs will offer more than just job placement, but also interview training and other career preparation. Additionally, it is important to have access to plenty of online research materials, since assignments are going to be completed from home. Quality programs have extensive access available for online students. Often, you have to dig deeper than the school’s Web site to find this information out. One way is to read reviews and engage in online forums where current students may be willing to discuss what they think.
3) Check the accrediting body’s list of schools. There are 6 regional accrediting bodies in the United States — those are the ones that accredit most standard, brick-and-mortar universities. (They are not to be confused with national accrediting agencies, which also accredit career colleges, religious universities and other specialty schools. Those have different standards, and you may face some difficulty transferring any credits you earn from a nationally accredited school to a regionally accredited one.) The names of the six regional agencies are:
Middle States Association of Schools and Colleges (MSA)
New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC)
North Central Association Commission on Accreditation and School Improvement(NCA)
Northwest Association of Schools and Colleges (NWCCU)
Southern Association of Schools and Colleges (SACS)
Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC)
If your school is accredited by one of these (and their accreditation is current), the school will be listed on the appropriate organization’s Web site. Go to the site of the organization your school lists as their accreditor, and make sure your school is listed. For more information, see How to Check an Online School’s Accreditation.
Once you know your school is properly accredited, you can be sure you’re receiving a degree employers will accept and respect — which will allow you to concentrate on your studying instead of working to find another school.