Accredited Vs Non Accredited MBAs


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Comparing MBAs from UK universities is not easy with many factors differentiating programmes. This article aims to help you consider the pros and cons of taking an unaccredited vs. an accredited MBA. While our site is focused on online courses, the information below is just as relevant to on-campus MBAs.

Recognised Master’s Degree Programmes

First of all, for international students, it’s important to understand that the terminology in the UK education system differs from that in the USA.

In the US, the terms college and university are not legally protected or licenced, meaning they can be used by any institution. To classify genuine universities and courses, the US Education Department works with a number of accreditation agencies to validate and, in effect, licence degrees. Once approved, the term accredited is used to signify a genuine degree or university. 

In America an accredited degree or university means that it it a genuine recognised intuition and qualification. Conversely an unaccredited american degree is not recognised by other educational institutions.

However, in the UK, degrees can only be awarded by institutions with a royal charter or by an act of parliament and are known as recognised bodies or degree awarding bodies.

The Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (QAA) and the Office for Students assess and monitor degree-awarding bodies to ensure the rigour and quality of the teaching and learning involved. All Degrees awarded by UK recognised bodies are valid and internationally recognised.

The term accredited in the UK refers to an  additional accreditation by a third party and is not related to the validity and recognition of the qualification.

What an Accredited MBA Means in the UK

All MBAs taught by UK universities and organisations with degree awarding powers are valid and internationally recognised. When a UK MBA is accredited, it means that an external third party has worked with the institution to review and assess any or all of the following: the course content and learning outcomes, the teaching and teaching staff and admissions process.

Accreditation is an addition and is not related to the validity of the qualification, unlike in the US system.

Gaining external accreditation can be a costly and lengthy process, and there are many valid reasons for a university not to pursue it or employ external accreditation bodies.

MBA Accreditation Bodies

Accreditation bodies are generally not-for-profit organisations that are dedicated to promoting good practice and excellence in their field. Accreditation bodies fall into two main categories: university and education-specific bodies and professional bodies.

University/Education Focused Examples

  • AMBA

Professional Body Examples

  • CMI
  • CIM
  • ACCA

Advantages of an Accredited MBA

The advantages of taking an accredited MBA can be divided into two areas: quality assurance and professional recognition, depending on the type of accreditation the MBA has.

Quality Assurance

Accreditation means the course or business school has undergone scrutiny by a third party and is deemed to meet set standards and best practice in learning and teaching excellence.

Professional Recognition 

When accredited by a professional body, it signifies that the course is relevant and in line with current industry best practices. Depending on the accreditation awarded, it may offer additional benefits, such as additional certification awarded by the body or a recognised pathway to chartered membership of the organisation.

Disadvantages of Non-accredited MBA

For UK MBAs, there isn’t any disadvantage to taking a non-accredited MBA. When researching this article, we couldn’t find any reports or data on graduates from accredited MBAs earning more or being promoted quicker than non-accredited MBA graduates. Additionally, employers are highly unlikely to ask you if your MBA is accredited.

It comes down to personal choice. If you are looking to become a chartered member of an organisation, an accredited MBA may help you achieve that. For others, the additional reassurance that joining an accredited MBA that has met a set level of quality for your investment could be a deciding factor. 

Being aware of what is involved in the accreditation process, your future goals and your perceptions about taking an accredited MBA is an individual choice. We wouldn’t strongly recommend taking an accredited or non-accredited MBA as a deciding factor.

University Reputation Vs Accreditation

For many, the reputation of the university or the specific MBA can hold more weight than accreditations the programme has or doesn’t have.

The perceived value of an MAB on a CV depends on the person reading it and there are any number of factors that can influence that—where they graduated from , the strength of reputation in the industry, university brand, and position in Rankings.

Having an Accredited MBA can help with the perceived value when being judged and may hold more weight if the person reviewing the CV is not familiar with the university. 

Remember, the value of any education is specific to the individual and their learning experience and growth.


All MBAs from UK universities are valid and internationally recognised. Accreditation is a voluntary, sometimes costly, process in which an external body assesses the quality of an MBA or business school. 

While accreditation can offer additional assurance of quality and professional recognition, choosing between an accredited and non-accredited MBA largely depends on individual goals and preferences. The university’s reputation and the specific MBA programme content should also play a key role in this decision, potentially outweighing the accreditation status.

When comparing MBAs, we recommend using a matrix weighted to what is important to you, such as learning outcomes and syllabus, reputation, accreditation, costs and flexibility. We have a number of guides on these areas to help you assess and decide on which course is right for you.

Useful Guides

UK Regulated Qualifications

How Important Are University Rankings?

MBAs Explained

Comparing MBAs

MBA Accreditation Guide

Student Finance for an MBA

Is an Online Degree Right for You

Search Online MBA programmes from UK universities. 

University Rankings