Academic journal article Academy of Educational Leadership Journal

The Benefits of AACSB Accounting Accreditation: Perceptions of Administrators of Accounting Accredited Programs

Academic journal article Academy of Educational Leadership Journal

The Benefits of AACSB Accounting Accreditation: Perceptions of Administrators of Accounting Accredited Programs

Article excerpt


The American Assembly of Collegiate Schools of Business (now the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business International; hereafter, the "AACSB") approved the establishment of an accounting accreditation program in 1978. Accreditation standards were adopted in 1980 and accreditation of collegiate accounting programs began with the accreditation of eighteen accounting programs in 1982 (Gaharan et al., 2007).

The idea of accounting accreditation was well-received initially. In fact 84 percent of the accounting chairs responding to a survey expressed intent to seek accounting accreditation (Brown and Balke, 1983). As of April, 2011, however, only 175 institutions (29 percent of the 607 AACSB business accredited institutions) have attained and maintained accounting accreditation; one hundred sixty-six of these institutions are located in the United States. While the AACSB does not disclose the names or number of schools that earned accounting accreditation but have since chosen not to (or who have been unable to) maintain it, it appears that those numbers are quite small.1 Once an institution achieves accounting accreditation, it typically maintains that accreditation. Why? The objective of this paper is to identify the perceived institutional benefits of accounting accreditation through a survey of administrators at schools that are AACSB accounting accredited and to determine whether these perceived benefits differ across these institutions.


MacKenzie (1964) notes that accreditation in education serves two primary purposes: 1) to assist the public in identifying quality institutions by certifying institutions (or programs within institutions) that meet formal minimum standards; and 2) to raise the overall quality of education through the requirement of minimum standards for excellence. The AACSB adopted formal accounting accreditation standards in 1980 (Langenderfer, 1987) and eighteen accounting programs were initially accredited in 1982 (Gaharan et al., 2007).

In 1991, the AACSB substantially revised its business and accounting standards, perhaps in response to critics who believed the original standards were too prescriptive and thereby limited innovation and experimentation and discouraged the development of new programs (Bailey and Bentz, 1991). These revised standards, which are mission-based, acknowledge the diversity among existing business and accounting programs and allow institutions more flexibility in achieving their missions. Schools are now evaluated relative to their stated missions (Kren et al., 1993; McKenna et al., 1995). (3)

The institution's mission is to guide its decisions, including its allocation of resources. Each institution determines the relative emphasis to be placed on faculty teaching and intellectual contributions and the types of intellectual contributions (including publications) that are to be emphasized. Many academicians (including deans at both accredited and non-accredited schools) believed that the mission-based approach would lead to an increased number of accredited institutions, particularly schools that emphasize teaching over research (Yunker, 1998; Jantzen, 2000).

Relative to accounting, the AACSB followed in April, 2000, with a new, more flexible set of accounting accreditation standards that provided accounting units with further discretion to accomplish their missions and meet the needs of their markets (Sinning and Dykxhoorn, 2001). The standards have since been revised in 2004, 2005, 2007, 2008, 2009, and 2012. (4) Some of the more notable revisions include the use of formal strategic planning in the accounting unit, modification of the content requirements for accounting program mission statements, requirement of data on accounting student placement and the career success of program graduates, and mandating the establishment of accounting program learning goals and a direct assessment program, among others. …

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