As a future CPA, you will be spending a significant amount of time focused on your education, so picking a credible program is a very important decision. At face value, many academic programs have similarities; however, one key factor prospective students should consider is a program’s accreditation.
Accreditation is a review process for colleges and universities that evaluates and monitors the quality of an institution’s degree granting programs. At all levels, accreditation can make a difference in the quality of the degree received, as well as a graduate’s job prospects, future career advancement, and overall income potential.
In short, there are two types of accreditation: institutional and specialized. In the United States, institutional accreditation, better known as regional accreditation, ensures that the school meets and maintains a set of minimum academic standards. Once institutional accreditation is achieved, schools often apply for specialized accreditation for a specific degree program or area of study. For business schools, the world’s leading authority on quality business and accounting education programs is AACSB International—The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB).
Benefits of accreditation
To earn AACSB Accreditation, schools must demonstrate their program’s quality through a rigorous internal assessment and a recurring peer review process conducted by teams of education experts. Once confirmed, accreditation stands as an externally validated hallmark of excellence for five years, until the school undergoes the renewal process.
By choosing an AACSB-accredited school, students can be confident that their college or university offers a high-quality academic curriculum; that they are taught by outstanding faculty; that there is meaningful interaction between students and professors; and that graduates have achieved specified learning goals. In addition, the school will continue to go through an external continuous improvement and quality assurance review process, to ensure its curricula is effectively managed and is consistent with the business school’s overall stated mission.
AACSB Accreditation and CPA licensure
Future CPAs (like you) that submit their education qualifications for the CPA licensure find that completing a graduate degree in accounting, or with a concentration in accounting, from a business program that maintains AACSB Accreditation fulfills the highest tier of academic requirements for the CPA Exam in 17 states. The National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA) has encouraged all states to consider adopting this requirement, and includes AACSB Accreditation in their “model” legislation for state licensure boards to consider enacting.
Though academic requirements for the CPA are governed at the state level, both the NASBA and the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) recognize AACSB Accreditation as a premier accrediting agency for college/university programs in business administration and accounting, and an important qualifier for prospective candidates to consider as they prepare for their licensure.
There are a wide variety of choices out there. While it is up to the individual to carefully evaluate the best fit for their ‘preferred’ graduate business program, AACSB Accreditation is one factor that provides a stamp of quality assurance, and is a must for anyone considering pursuing the CPA.
For a list of accredited schools in the 50 United States, District of Columbia, and U.S. Territories visit the ThisWayToCPA College Search function. To learn more about AACSB Accreditation please visit: http://www.aacsb.edu/accreditation/accredited-members/global-listing.