1st Apr, 2009 | Source : Newsweek Showcase Archives
When did choosing the right executive level business education program get to be so hard? In today's economic climate, and with the proliferation of business education providers, the challenge of seeking out the best programs for developing effective leaders is indeed daunting. Faced with so many options, how does a prospective student or corporation measure quality, reputation, and value to make an informed executive education choice?
For some, executive education is a corporate purchase, and others a personal expense. In either circumstance it is important for both the employer and employee to be critical consumers and look beyond the marketing appeal for strong indicators of quality.
Globally, there are unlimited choices in the management education marketplace offered by business schools, consulting firms, and stand alone training companies – and when it comes to Executive MBA (EMBA) programs, all business schools are not alike.
Why is AACSB Accreditation Important?
For business schools, the world’s leading authority for accrediting quality business management programs is AACSB International – the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business. Representing the highest standards in the world, AACSB International accreditation is an achievement earned by only business programs of the highest caliber. As of March 2009, AACSB has granted business accreditation to 559 schools in 32 countries – or less than five percent of the world’s business schools.
Choosing an AACSB-accredited business school helps executives sift through the noise and confusion in the EMBA marketplace. It provides executive level decision-makers with a strong indicator that the school has met internationally recognized thresholds for performance and continuous improvement. Accreditation provides a level of confidence in one’s program choice by helping narrow down the numerous options to a smaller set of schools that meet quality standards.
Working with an AACSB-accredited school assures both the prospective student, and the organization’s decision makers that faculty members involved in the executive education program are current in their field, up-to-date with the needs of modern business, and deliver top-flight instruction.
In addition, the curriculum for AACSB accredited institutions must meet rigorous standards of quality and relevance. In a rapidly changing business world, this means that the academic curriculum is routinely updated to include the latest knowledge of business trends and techniques. But most importantly, business schools accredited by AACSB must demonstrate their program quality through a rigorous internal assessment and reoccurring peer review process by teams of global management education experts.
What Else to Look For.
There are numerous additional factors to consider before making a choice. What are the academic areas in which the school has strengths? What is the intellectual caliber of those doing the teaching? What’s the background and quality of the students sitting around the table? (Often what differentiates EMBA programs from traditional MBA programs is the opportunity for students to learn from the knowledge and insights their classmates have acquired through many years of business experience.) Or, can you take what you learn in the classroom and apply it at the strategic level Monday morning?
Business schools around the world are meeting student demand by creating programs that are more creative and flexible. These include EMBA programs that meet back-to-back on Friday and Saturday, on alternative weekends, or even just one weekend per month. For most, it is easy to find a flexible executive MBA program which allows a prospective students to attend class when it is best fits their lifestyle. But, with the growth of these part-time, flexible programs comes an explosion of new EMBA offerings — some of which are motivated more by your money than by a focus on delivering quality management education.
Executive education is an investment, which is why it is critical to understand everything about a prospective EMBA program. Before you look at a particular school, do a needs-assessment to determine what you’re ultimately looking to derive from the educational experience. Do not to rely on rankings or flexibility of academic structure as the sole indicator of whether or not a program meets your needs. More important is whether the program has the specialization and expertise that fits your professional business needs at the executive level, and the level of accreditation that corporate executives worldwide trust most.
Dig deep—whether it’s through the AACSB Web site BestBizSchools.com or other sites that offer descriptions of programs and comparisons. It’s a big investment, so the choice should be made with as much advance information and insights as you can gather.