Discover Accredited Business Schools

Welcome to the Discover Business School guide. Below you will find information on accredited business schools in the US. Tips on how to choose a business schools that fits your needs. Breakdown of popular business school rankings, and how to best use that information. And lastly, you will find more in-depth business school information by state. You can use our site with confidence because we only feature accredited business programs from not-for-profit or public schools.

Business Schools by State

Looking for a business school in your state? Here’s a comprehensive list of searchable business schools by state. Whether you’re looking for an MBA, master’s in business administration, or another type of graduate business program, this guide will help you find the best school for you. With so many programs to choose from, it’s important to do your research and find the one that fits your needs and interests. So get started today and find the perfect fit for you!

10 Factors to Consider When Choosing a Business School

Let’s say you graduated from college five or even ten years ago and are working full time at an acceptable job; or maybe you didn’t finish college or always wanted to go and never got the chance due to circumstances that just happened. You are sitting at your desk at work, and there is a new opportunity, but it requires that business degree. Maybe, you are sitting at your desk doing the same unchallenging task each day, but you are receiving correspondence from another department, and the work there seems so much more interesting. You think that you have finally found your calling. The scenarios are endless but what is certain is that you are unfulfilled in your current job or career. Before you choose which school and program may suit your purposes, consider as many facts as you can gather.

1. Will You Consider Part-Time or Full-Time Programs?

If you are in a situation where you could not possibly leave your current position as you pursue your education, you will have no choice but to choose a part-time program. This is not an easy path, even if it is a practical one. Working full time while studying and possibly having other family responsibilities is challenging. You will need the support of your family as well as your employer. Check with your employer to see if it offers an educational assistance program. If so, you may be able to exclude $5250 off certain educational costs from your income.

2. Will You Attend In-Person or Online?

If you have a school nearby and decide on a part-time option, you may decide to attend in-person. Advantages include feeling more a part of a community, better opportunities to ask questions of professors, more on-campus amenities (gym, counseling center, tutoring center), greater separation between school, work, and home. The negatives include the extra commuting time, the stress of taking a course at one time only, and possibly being too tired to take that course at the given time. Be careful when you apply to a school as even some online schools have one or two weeks of residency required. You may need to use your vacation time from work unless your employer agrees to grant you paid leave. Due to the Coronavirus, it is very confusing right now to distinguish between schools that are online all the time and those that have gone online due to the virus. Be careful if you are choosing an online program that it will remain online – even when things are back to normal.

3. Will You Stay Close to Home?

If you decide on a full-time option, will you stay close to home? This obviously depends on your current living situation. Do you have a partner who is working or going to school in your area? Do you take care of a sibling or elderly parent or grandparent in your location? Due to a large number of online schools, it is not necessary to move to an on-campus environment unless you want the benefit of that experience. There are business schools that offer unusual technology centers and other perks that are meant to be utilized in-person. For example, at The University of Chicago Booth School of Business, the Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation teachers practical entrepreneurial skills with real-life oriented courses and labs. It is just one of many schools offering international options in worldwide cities – something more to consider when choosing a school. Take the case of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. Would you want to miss out on a Research Park that brings students together with business, entrepreneurs, start-ups, and of course, university researchers?

4. What Is the Cost and How Will You Manage It?

Check with your employer to see if it offers an educational assistance program. If so, you may be able to exclude $5250 off certain educational costs from your income. If you have college credit in any subject or completed an undergraduate degree, you may be able to transfer a good number of credits to an undergraduate degree in business. In fact, if you have been working in a business-related field of any kind, you may be able to transfer your real-life experience into college credits towards your new undergraduate business degree. You may receive credit for courses you took at work or present a type of portfolio to show knowledge in a course for a prior learning assessment. It is more difficult to transfer credits to an MBA program except from an earlier graduate business program of some kind. When pursuing an undergraduate business degree, there could be large differences between being an in-state or out-of-state student. You should see what your in-state options are if you want to cut down on costs. However, some of the MBA programs offer the same cost whether you are an in-state or out-of-state student.

5. Will You Have to Take the ACT or SAT or GRE or the GMAT?

Due to the current Coronavirus crisis, many schools are currently waiving the ACT or SAT, and some schools are trying 3-year pilot programs waiving these requirements and considering eliminating them permanently. Other schools have already decided to eliminate the testing requirement as not representative of whether students will succeed. As for the GRE and GMAT, most MBA programs do require one or the other, but always make sure if the GRE is accepted. Further, if you have been working for several years, many schools will consider a request for a waiver of the GRE or GMAT as you are more of a known quantity

6. How Many Credits Will You Need to Get Your Degree?

This is important. The number of credits varies dramatically between programs. Most undergraduate business degrees require a minimum of 120 credits, but some require more. They are split between your core classes and your area of concentration which we will get to later. MBA degrees vary more dramatically. For example, you will need just 35 credits for your Ohio University MBA, but Syracuse University will require 54 credits. In fact, some schools offer a way to get both your undergraduate business degree and your MBA in an abbreviated fashion with fewer credits than if you pursued them separately.

7. How Long Will It Take to Get Your Degree?

This, of course, depends on whether you are going part-time or full-time. However, there are other aspects to consider. Even online, some Universities only allow you to take courses that match the on-campus schedule of resident students. This tends to give you fewer opportunities to earn credits. There may also be limits on how many courses you are permitted to take online at one time. The more periods of time to take courses, the more courses you generally should be able to take. Of course, keep in mind that with a more intensive six or eight-week “semester,” the courses will be concentrated and require extreme amounts of study and work.

8. What Is Your Goal?

This is one of the harder questions. Now that you have been working, is there an area you are eyeing to study? Do you plan to remain with your current employer and move to a different department when a job opens? Have you been working in the health care industry, and now want to move into health care administration with an MBA in that concentration? Do you realize that you will get no further salary-wise without completing your undergraduate degree? Do you want a more “concrete” profession such as accounting or are you striving to become a Certified Financial Planner? The areas of concentration are endless; some schools have over 20 with most schools having under 10. Some of the most common concentrations are finance, marketing, accounting, operations, entrepreneurship, but no matter what your choice, there is a school for that choice!

9. When Do You Apply?

Since you probably have been out of school awhile, it would be good to send away for copies of your transcripts from all your college education – just don’t open them. Applications may have to mimic resident students – even if you are online. In many cases, rolling admissions exist, and you apply either at many different times during the year or any time during the year. Then, in many cases, your application is considered as soon as it is received. Many schools have waived the application cost in recent years.

10. What Else Can Help Me Decide What to Do?

There are many ranking services available. If you are only considering U.S. schools, you can use U.S. News and World Report rankings and the Princeton Review for undergraduate schools as well as graduate schools. To consider world rankings for MBA programs, you can also consider the Financial Times or The Economist, or Bloomberg Businessweek rankings. If you wish to heavily focus on the return on investment, look at the Forbes MBA Rankings. Only one question is considered – is the MBA worth it?

Even if you go to through this exercise, you will still have to decide what is important to you. Will you plunge headlong into a full-time on-campus program, or will you try just one course online in your desired field and then decide? A lot of that decision will depend on your personal family and financial circumstances. However, with dedication and a spirited attitude, you can find a way to succeed at a career that you genuinely want and that will be worth the short-term sacrifices that you must undertake.

Understanding Business School Accreditation

Accreditation has a long history in American institutions of higher learning dating back to the onset of ensuring accountability on behalf of the general public. Originally broken into six regional accrediting organizations, the scope has expanded to include dozens of accrediting agencies moving beyond regional norms to include programmatic and international benchmarks.

What is Accreditation?

Accreditation is another word for quality assurance. It is a voluntary process undertaken by institutions of higher education, or programs within the academic unit, that involves an independent accrediting body appraising the educational goals, activities, and/or outcomes of a university or program. It is both a time-intensive and cost-intensive process as institutions pay accreditors, usually over the course of several weeks, to evaluate their academic standards. This meticulous evaluation process is extensive and typically includes the following:

  • Research support, library resources, and administrative scale
  • Student satisfaction and alumni outcomes
  • Graduation, enrollment, and retention rates
  • Faculty and staff qualifications, educational attainment, and expertise

A university must be approved by at least one federally recognized accreditation agency for students to be eligible for federal aid. It is also required before alumni can complete licensing exams such as a teaching certificate. Accreditation is an integral part of the higher learning experience and supports academic institutions and students alike.

Institutional v. Programmatic Accreditation

Accreditation is separated into two categories: institutional and programmatic. Institutional accreditation affirms the entire university or college adheres to the qualifications of its accrediting body. On the other hand, programmatic accreditation speaks to a much more in-depth analysis of a professional or specialized program within the institution.
Institutional accreditation is further divided into two subcategories, regional and national accreditors, each with unique standards based on common practices. Additionally, professional and post-secondary institutions that may otherwise be considered program-specific operate under the purview of institutional accrediting bodies since they function as free-standing units.

For business schools, institutional accreditation usually reigns supreme. Despite programmatic accreditation, some business programs see it as insufficient without coinciding institutional accreditation.
Key Business Accreditors

AACSB (Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business)

Founded in 1916, the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business is one of the oldest and most studied accreditation bodies for business schools both domestically and internationally. With a list of 15 business accreditation metrics—strategic management and innovation; students, faculty, and professional staff; academic and professional engagement; and learning and teaching—and a supplemental six accounting standards, the AACSB is a constantly evolving accrediting agency shaping its standards to meet modern expectations. Upon fulfilling the weeks-long process, institutions undergo a review procedure every five years to certify standards are properly maintained. Business schools that boast AACSB accreditation are, generally, sought after due to the rigor of the accreditation process and legacy of the accrediting agency. Only 25 percent of U.S. business schools meet AACSB standards for accreditation.

ACBSP (Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs)

The Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs was the first agency to offer accreditation at every educational level in the U.S. While relatively new, the ACBSP has over 1,200 member campuses across 11 geographic regions and helps programs keep up-to-date with industry standards as a learning-outcome focused agency. The ACBSP adheres to the public-private Baldrige Education Criteria for Performance Excellence, which offers additional organizational criteria by evaluating faculty credentials, academic support, strategic planning, and leadership for business schools seeking an ACBSP accreditation. Universities undergo a quality assurance review every two years, but accreditation is awarded on a 10-year basis.

IACBE (International Accreditation Council for Business Education)

The newest accrediting body, the International Accreditation Council for Business Education was founded in 1997 and is a relatively large accreditor with more than 2,000 business programs around the world. Created to prioritize the relationship between an institution’s mission and student success, the IACBE is a favorite among student-focused universities and programs. Offering more lenient criteria, most small business schools have an IACBE accreditation compared to the more coveted AACSB or even ACBSP. Specializing in alumni outcomes, the IACBE largely evaluates student performance as an outcomes-based programmatic accreditor.

AMBA (Association of MBAs)

As its name suggests, the Associate of MBAs focuses on graduate-level business programs: MBA, MBM, DBA, and international business. It is considered the global standard for high-quality post-graduate business programs and is one of the few programmatic business accreditors. Complete with a thorough review process, programs awarded with the distinction of an AMBA accreditation are often considered global leaders in their respective fields.

EQUIS (EFMD Quality Improvement System)

The EFMD Quality Improvement System is known as the European standard in international business schools as a subsidiary of the European Foundation for Management Development. This highly prestigious accreditor ensures international excellence with its 10-point criteria that comprehensively appraises programs and offers a global merit system for business institutions. Primarily focused on management development, EQUIS cements its status as a global juggernaut with main offices in Hong Kong, Switzerland, Belgium, and the U.S. Along with the AMBA and AACSB, the EQUIS is 1/3 of the coveted Triple Accreditation honor awarded to less than 1 percent of business schools. Each of these accrediting bodies guarantees a degree of excellence in different areas and denotes the business world’s crème of the crop.

Conclusion – Accreditation determines the acceptability of transfer credit based on the minimum standards of a university or program’s accrediting body. Most importantly, it relays to students and their families an institution’s level of commitment to providing a rigorous learning environment and its capacity to produce adept business leaders, entrepreneurs, and scholars ready to excel in their respective fields of study.

While accreditation is not a necessity for an institution or program, completing a degree from an accredited institution can open doors to graduate and doctoral programs or otherwise inaccessible job opportunities. Students are encouraged to seek out accredited business programs and contact institutions for information on their accreditation status.

Ranking Business School Programs

1. U.S. News and World Report Rankings of Best Business Schools

477 MBA programs accredited by the ASCSB s were surveyed in the Fall of 2019 and early 2020. Only 364 responded. Out of those 364, only 131 schools provided sufficient data to calculate rankings.

Factors making up the ratings are: Quality Assessment, Placement Success, Mean Starting Salary and Bonus, Student Selectivity, and Acceptance Rate.

Specialty rankings, including executive MBA programs, are only based on ratings by directors and business school deans of accredited MBA programs from the surveyed schools. They could nominate a maximum of 15 programs for excellence in each of the specialty areas. Business Schools are then ranked in descending order and included only if they have at least 7 or more nominations.

All 477 schools do appear in the directory with data provided by schools and school profile pages. All unranked schools receive an N.A. and are listed alphabetically. Only the top 3/4s of the ranked schools actually get numerically ranked.

Pros: Multiple types of MBA programs are ranked. If schools fail to provide data, the school still appears in the directory.

Cons: U.S. only programs; dependent on schools filling out surveys and less than one-third qualified for rankings; specialty programs based solely on ratings by directors and business school deans.

2. Financial Times MBA Rankings

The Financial Times ranks the world’s 100 top full-time MBA programs. For 2019 rankings, 150 schools participated. All schools must be accredited either by Equis or the AACSB.

Alumni are surveyed three years after completion; a minimum of 20% of alumni need respond to even enter the ranking calculations.

There are 20 different criteria with alumni contributing 8 of these which contribute 61% of the total weight. 29% comes from 11 other criteria calculated from school data. KPMG does an audit of a certain number of schools each year. The final 10% comes from the research rank.

Alumni criteria is actually based on data collected over three years with the latest year accounting for 50% and the two earlier years accounting for 25%. Two of the criteria are the alumni’s average income 3 years after graduation (20%) as well as salary increases compared with his/her pre-MBA salary (20%). Non-profit and public sector workers and full time students are not included.

A value for the money for each school is done by taking the average alumni salary from the above and dividing it by the total MBA cost. (3%)

Career services are weighted at 3%, Employment at 3 months at 2%, the percentage of female faculty at 2%, female students at 2% plus there are additional criteria.

Additional information is collected from the schools themselves including staff diversity and gender and nationality. Schools that have a 50-50 gender division receive the highest scores for that factor.

For the research rank, the number of articles by full-time faculty in 50 recognized publications is analyzed.

The newest category is Corporate Social Responsibility.

Pros: Looks at the world’s top 100 full time programs; 61% of ranking comes from alumni with 29% from school data and 10% from research. An audit is done. Excludes non-profit and public sector workers when looking at salaries of alumni.

Cons: Not clear how many world programs are surveyed; only 150 schools participated in the survey.

3. Academic Ranking of World Universities by the ShanghaiRanking Consultancy

Uses broader subject fields: Economics/Business.

This service uses rankings done by surveying professors from the top universities in the world. The participants’ names and institutions are published sans their answers.

There are two sets of questions. First, list the top tier journals in their main subject. Then, list the most “influential and credible” international awards in those subjects.

To qualify as a top journal, it must have more than 1 vote in one subject and have 50% or more votes in one subject. To qualify as a Top Award, an award must have more than 1 vote in one subject as well as 50% of more votes in one subject. A conference must have more than one vote to be a Top Conference.

454 professors only have participated in this survey by April of 2019.

To rank the universities, there are 6 objective factors such as the number of alumni and staff winning Nobel and Fields Medals, highly cited researched articles as selected by Clarivate Analytics, articles published in Nature and Science, articles indexed in the Science Citation Index and its expanded index as well as per capita performance of the school are considered. Over 1800 universities are ranked each year with the top 1000 published.

Pros: If a student is interested in research, this is the most research laden ranking. Over 1800 universities are actually ranked, and the top 1000 are published.

Cons: Only research related factors are considered; it is actually even narrower as it is based on winning top prestigious awards and published articles only in selected publications.

4. The Economist MBA Rankings

Data was collected in spring of 2019 by using two surveys: one to be completed by schools covering quantitative data such as graduates’ salaries, GMATS, and the number of registered alumni with 80% of the ranking weight and 20% from a qualitative survey completed by current MBA students and those who just graduated. They must rate the faculty, facilities, and career services and provide their salary details. There must be at least a 25% response rate or 50 students/alumni (the lower of) to even be included.

There was a verification check of data and auditing of questionnaires. There is a history built-in using weighted data from 2019 (50%), 2018 (30%) and 2017 (20%). Each business school receives a unique score. If differences between schools are slight, they are grouped together although the “tie” method is not used.

Factors considered are 35% for career opportunities; 35% for personal development/educational experience which is broken into faculty quality ranking at about 25% of that total, student quality at 25%, student diversity at 25% and educational experience at 25%.; 20% for increases in salary; and 10% for the potential to network.

Pros: World MBA programs are ranked; heavy quantitative data is used; data is audited.

Cons: Very little weight is given to qualitative data; only current MBA students and those who just graduated fill out surveys opposed to those from multiple years.

5. The Forbes MBA Rankings

This ranks the best business schools around the world. There is only one question is considered: Is the MBA worth it?

The only factor used is the median return on investment achieved by graduates back to 2014. Over 100 are analyzed with over 17,500 alumni surveyed looking at pre and post MBA comp, location, and career choice. There was a 25% response rate. If less than 15% of alumni responded, the school was eliminated. Also, if a school had a negative ROI after 5 years, it was eliminated.

A comparison of alumni salaries within 5 years out of MBA school with opportunity cost (two years without comp) is reviewed. The assumption is that comp would increase half as fast as post-MBA salary increases without the benefit of the MBA. For exchange rates, a 5-year average is used. Earnings gains are also discounted for the time value of money Discounted tuition for in-state rates and scholarships and non-loan financial aid is included.

Pros: If a student is laser-focused on whether an MBA is financially worthwhile, this may be the best choice.

Cons: There are so many other factors that usually go into deciding whether to get an MBA and where to go to get one that this system has limited use. It is relying on alumni data alone; if a school’s alumni don’t respond in sufficient numbers, the school will not even appear on the list.

6. Bloomberg Businessweek Rankings

Rankings are based on the premise that graduating students, recent alumni, and MBA recruiters are the key. Ratings are based on over 26,804 surveys of those three groups and employment data provided by the schools. There are four indices: “Compensation, Learning, Networking, and Entrepreneurship.”

Which factors matter the most are based on the survey takers’ opinions. Questions are mapped to one of the indices. Data was collected in 2019 for schools one might attend in 2020.

Each MBA program has a page highlighting school-specific data that was collected. An algorithm is used to find the most representative comments. Improvements this year include: the top 5 nationalities, movement of the school from the previous year, and whether a school certifies that it is following CSEA employment data standards and subject to CPA review. Instead of global rankings, there are regional pages for Europe, Asia, and Canada, and the U.S. Earnings receive 37.3% weight, Networking 25.7%, Learning 21.3%, and Entrepreneurship 15.7%.

On the surveys, there was a question to reveal the best thing about the MBA program. Using an algorithm, representative comments were found and published.

Pros: Uses mixed data from three different groups: graduating students, recent alumni, and recruiters; use of regional rankings which may make it less daunting if a future student is set on a region.

Cons: Not comparing all of the world schools against each other by using regions; not looking at further out alumni.

7. Princeton Review’s Best MBA Programs

There are two groups: Best on-campus MBA programs in 18 categories with the top 10 schools in each category as well as the top 25 online MBA programs. For on-campus, 17/18 of the lists either incorporate or are totally based on students’ opinions. The list “Toughest to Get Into” is based only on administration data. The 18 categories include such titles as “Best Classroom Experience”, “Best Career prospects”, “Best professors” and even “Best Green MBA” and “Greatest Resources for Women”. There are also divisions based on concentration fields such as finance and human resources. To qualify for the online MBA Ranking list, a school must offer the “majority of their program of study online.” It also looks at students surveys and institutional data. The students evaluate 30 unique fields and rate faculty, career pre, fellow students, and other areas.

The 2020 list is based on surveys from 26,700 students at 358 school as well as the administrators. The data surveyed covered the 2016-17, 2017-18, and 2018-2019 academic years. There were more than 60 data points with the areas divided between “academics, selectivity, faculty, technical platforms, and career outcomes.” Only those schools who participated were considered.

Pros: On-line MBA programs are ranked which is unusual. Schools are ranked in 18 different categories which can help potential students pinpoint their passion. Extensive student data is used. “Also, divisions based on concentration fields.
Cons: 17/18 of the on-campus program categories come solely from students’ opinions. This could lead to a skewed result.

8. Top Universities in the World

For these rankings, world programs are considered. In 2020, 240 programs were ranked and many more were analyzed. Data collected in early 2019 used three different surveys: employer, academic, and those completed by business schools. If a school doesn’t provide all the data, data from the other surveys as well as publicly available data is used to make an accurate estimate.

The school survey includes data such as salaries and class profiles. Alumni were not surveyed. Schools provided career progression info on their alumni. In most cases, both the 2018 graduation class and the incoming 2018 class were considered. The programs had to be mainly on-campus and full time to be counted with at least 10 students in a class. A majority of the indicators must be included on the survey response.

Employability ranked at 40%, Entrepreneurship and Alumni Outcomes at 15%, ROI at 20%, Thought Leadership at 15%, and Class & Faculty Diversity at 10%.

Employability is based on employers stating which schools they hire from. Employers across all sectors and industries participate. Also looked at are the employment rate and what happens at three months post-graduation.

Entrepreneurship & Alumni Outcome is determined by looking at over 60,000 CEO’s, execs, and board members at the largest world companies. This is then combined with the percentage of students from each program who have set up their own business.

Salary Increases are considered using a 10 year ROI approach.

Thought Leadership: Universities and business schools nominate (95,000 academics) which institutions are strongest in the subject area. Also considered are the research impact based on citations per paper (not citations per faculty member) and the percentage of faculty with a doctorate.

Diversity: The percentage of female students and faculty members and international faculty and international mix of MBA students are evaluated.

If a school doesn’t provide all the data, data is used from the other surveys as well as publicly available data to make an accurate estimate.

Pros: If incomplete data, estimates are used so those schools are not totally eliminated like other surveys. By analyzing 60,000 CEO’s, execs, and board members at largest companies, there is additional objective data that is not found in other surveys. Employer data is also used.

Cons: If information is missing, only estimates are used; alumni are not surveyed. Looking at three months post-graduation may be too early and inaccurate in imperfect economies.