Accreditation is the formal recognition by an independent professional body that an organisation - in this case a university and/or business school - is competent to perform specific processes, services, activities or tasks in a reliable, credible and accurate manner. Organisations apply (and typically pay) for accreditations, submitting a detailed report of their performance against the specific standards and criteria. The initial accreditation process usually involves an assessment visit by inspectors likely to have worked in similar organisations. If successful, accreditation will be granted for a set duration of time.
Triple crown is an unofficial term. It is used for marketing purposes by business schools to indicate accreditation by the (widely accepted) three main business and management education accrediting bodies. These are: AACSB (Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business), AMBA (Association of MBAs) and EFMD (the European Federation of Management Development), which manages EQUIS (European Quality Improvement System).
While these awards share a common vision to raise the standards of business education, they are run by completely separate non-profit organisations, which differ greatly in focus, scope and the process required for accreditation and re-accreditation.
It's also worth remembering that there are many other relevant membership organisations, both international and country-based, including various industry and subject-specific accreditations from professional bodies and chartered institutes (see our UK list), as well as the following well-known:
There is no definitive answer to these questions because each of the accrediting bodies assesses business schools and programmes in different ways and via different processes. That said, some careers require certain professional qualifications on entry, for example, if you want to become a chartered accountant, solicitor or work in human resources.
You'll find a list of common industry-specific programme accreditations here. If you're still at school, it's best to speak to one of your careers advisors. There will also be trained guidance counsellors within universities and business schools who can give professional careers advice to prospective students - check their websites for contact details.
It makes sense to consider accreditation, league table rankings, student satisfaction and research performance as part of your information gathering, possibly to short-list business schools, but ultimately you need to choose a business schools and business programme on how best it fits you and meets your needs.
Everyone would agree that you should apply to the best business school for you, regardless of whether it has none, one, two, three or more accreditations. Each accreditation acts as a measure of quality in specific areas of business school education or management, so it's best to consider the different types of accreditation and perhaps research their websites (using the links above) to see which one most suits your expectations and needs. It's worth remembering that for business schools to initially apply and maintain each individual accreditation requires substantial financial and organisational resources, which is why some business schools choose to pursue a select few.
Choosing the right business school and course is going to depend on lots of different factors, including accreditations, league table rankings and graduate employability. You'll also want to consider programme content, learning outcomes, reputation of the particular subject and its faculty, entry requirements, location, career support, facilities and the broader aspects of the student life.
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