MBA Accreditation in UK Business Schools


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When researching MBAs, you will find some business schools talk loudly about being triple accredited. Some may have accreditation from professional bodies, while others have no accreditation—the Harvard MBA is an example.

This guide is to help you understand the leading accreditation bodies and the benefits of an accredited MBA.

What MBA Accreditation Means

MBA accreditation generally refers to the business school or the MBA having one of three internationally recognised accreditations. Business schools often call all three accreditations the “Triple Crown” in their marketing material.

Three Main MBA Accreditations Bodies.

Association of MBAs (AMBA)

Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business International (AACSB)

EQUIS (EFMD Quality Improvement System)

To gain accreditation, a business school must apply and pay the external agency to review the business school in detail, from teaching facility qualifications to research and teaching methods and industry relevancy.

In addition to the three main accreditation bodies, there are also a wide range of MBAs that have accreditation from specific professional bodies, like the Chartered Management Institute (CMI)

Accreditation is voluntary

In the UK, the government monitors the quality of universities via the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) and the Research Excellence Framework, which monitors the quality of teaching and research conducted by UK universities.

How Does MBA Accreditation Benefit Prospective Students and Graduates?

Accreditation is a sign of quality that the teaching and learning experience meets standards set by impartial third parties.

Quality Assurance: The business school and Programme have been assessed by third parties and have met quality benchmarks.

Industry Relevant Curriculum: When a professional body accredits an MBA, it means that the syllabus and learning outcomes meet industry best practices and, in some cases, involve being awarded an additional qualification.

Internationally Recognised: If you plan to work outside the UK, the person looking at your CV may have heard of the accrediting body more than the university. While Oxford and Cambridge are global names, many other UK universities are not big brand names.

Business School Benefits of Accreditation

Universities join accreditation bodies for two main reasons: marketing and benchmarking. Benchmarking refers to their engagement in the accreditation process, collaborating with accreditation bodies to map out their organisation, research and teaching and map it against best practices in management education.

Accreditation is a detailed and lengthy process that, once awarded, sends an important message to prospective students about the quality of the school.

Does an MBA need to be accredited?

The short answer is no. Business school and MBA accreditation is a voluntary process that takes significant amounts of time and financial commitments. There are top-ranked business schools that do not have accreditation, and there are many valid reasons why a business school would not seek and participate in accreditation.

Triple Crown Accreditation

There are three main accreditation organisations for business schools and management qualifications. Triple crown is often used when an MBA has all three accreditations. Only a small number of business schools globally hold all three accreditations.

AACSB Accreditation

Who are AACSB?

AACSB is a US not-for-profit organisation that aims to increase the impact business schools have on society. Established in 1961, the AACSB offers quality assurance, learning development services, and education intelligence.

What do they look for?

AACSB reviews business schools’ teaching staff’s qualifications, syllabi, and ability to provide a high-quality education experience.

EQUIS Accreditation

Who are EQUIS?

EQUIS (EFMD Quality Improvement System) is based in Brussels and is a not-for-profit membership body dedicated to management development.

What do they look for?

EQUIS assesses the overall quality of the business school and evaluates its internationalisation, which the other two main bodies do not take into account.

  • Graduate cohorts on aggregate of 30 students for at least two years prior to accreditation application.
  • Minimum cohort size of 20 students for each mode of delivery.
  • Business school has a minimum of 25 FTE-qualified academics.
  • Programmes, research and student selection quality
  • International partnerships for research and corporate connections


AMBA Accreditation

Who are AMBA?

AMBA is the largest impartial authority on postgraduate business education. Established in 1967 and based in London, there are 277 AMBA-accredited business schools. Unlike the other two triple crown bodies, AMBA accredits the actual MBA and not just the business school.

What do they look for?

AMBA has set criteria that MBA programmes must meet to gain accreditation. For online MBAs, they must:

  • Have at least 120 hours of synchronous learning
  • All MBA students must have three or more years of work experience
  • The MBA must have been running for three years
  • 50% of teaching staff must hold a PhD
  • Each Cohort must have a minimum of 20 students


When a student takes an AMBA-accredited MBA, they gain lifetime membership to AMBA. Membership provides access to events, a book club, a thought leadership content hub, and a career support hub.

MBA & Business School Accreditation Summary

MBA accreditations are internationally recognised quality assurance markers for Business schools. Only a few UK universities have all three main accreditations, AMBA, AACSB, and EQUIS, collectively known as the ‘Triple Crown’.

Accreditation shows that the business school is dedicated and committed to maintaining rigorous teaching and learning standards and relevance to industry and business trends and perspectives.

However, accreditation is voluntary, and many high-quality MBAs and prestigious business schools do not seek external validation of their programmes and teaching. It is important to be mindful that there are many valid reasons for a business school not to seek accreditation.

For prospective students, understanding the accreditation status and what it entails can help them make informed decisions about their MBA journey. Deciding how much weight to put on an MBA’s specific accreditations is a personal choice, but it should be balanced with the strengths of the course and business school as a whole.

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