The Importance of Enrolling in an Accredited Associate Degree Program
Wednesday, November 14, 2012
Posted by: Giles Rafol
Tuesday November 6, 2012 by Valerie Jones--
Among the many things business students consider before enrolling in college — cost, career opportunities after graduation, school’s reputation — accreditation status is beginning to play a larger role in the decision-making process.
"Today more students are looking for accreditation than they were in the past,” said Steve Parscale, Director of Accreditation for the Accreditation Council for Business Schools & Programs (ACBSP). "We get calls every week from students asking about accreditation and what it means.”
Parscale explained that the ACBSP accredits business programs, 90% of the time accrediting all programs within a business school. If colleges or universities have business programs in different departments, the ACBSP could accredit business programs in more than one department.
Betsy Davis, chair of the ACBSP Associate Degree Board of Commissioners, works with commissioners to perform several tasks—including recommending changes in accreditation standards, review and approval of accreditation criteria, receipt and processing accreditation applications for evaluation, and approving and removing accreditation status of associate degree programs.
"Accreditation is a way for schools to validate to their stakeholders – students, business community, boards, educational institutions to which associate degree students may transfer, etc. — that they are offering quality business programs,” Davis said. "This means quality programs and quality faculty. The ACBSP is the only organization that accredits associate degree programs.”
So how does an associate business degree program qualify for ACBSP accreditation?
Parscale said the ACBSP uses six standards to evaluate programs:
- Strategic Planning
- Student, Stakeholder, and Market Focus
- Measurement, Analysis, and Knowledge Management
- Faculty and Staff Focus
- Process Management
"Schools will start working on these six standards and improve the processes for them,” Parscale said. "When they improve education processes to the point that they’re meeting those six standards, then they’re providing a quality education to their business students.”
Parscale said there are several benefits for students pursuing an accredited business program, one of them being a competitive advantage in the hiring process.
"We tell all of our students to put in in their resumes that they graduated from an ACBSP-accredited business program and in the interview with a potential employer as well,” he said. "The employer might ask what that means. The student’s response should be ‘I graduated from a business program that was evaluated by professionals in the field against a set of standards and was determined to provide a high quality business education.”
Parscale offered this example: if an employer interviews 10 people for a position and only one out of the 10 tells the employer that he or she graduated from an accredited business program, then that one person has the advantage.
"Students today need to have three or four extra things in their pockets that set themselves apart from others to employers,” he said. "I think this is one of those things.”
Another benefit, Parscale said, is exposure to Kappa Beta Delta Honor Society.
"If a school has an ACBSP-accredited program, then it can offer this honor society, which is only available to schools with accredited associate degree programs,” he said. "The top 20% of its business students are inducted into the honor society for life—something else that should go on a resume.”