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EDUCATION

AACSB approves revised accounting school accreditation standards

 

By Chris Baysden
May 14, 2013

The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) will implement a revised set of accounting accreditation standards on July 1—the first major changes to the standards in nearly a decade.
 
The new standards, which cover everything from strategic management to learning and teaching, were approved at the AACSB’s annual business meeting in Chicago in April. The revisions reduced the number of accounting standards from 15 to 10 by eliminating duplicated and overlapping standards, according to Jerry Trapnell, special adviser to the president and CEO of the AACSB. Despite the reduction, Trapnell said the changes have made the accreditation process more vigorous.

Changes in the standards place new focus in three areas:

  • Innovation, such as creative curriculums and new program concepts;
  • Professional and academic engagement (including an emphasis on active learning); and
  • Documenting the impact of educational initiatives and research outcomes to help promote accountability.


A total of 672 institutions around the world hold AACSB business school accreditation, and 178 of those also have accounting accreditation from the AACSB. Accreditation is a voluntary process that schools undertake to show that they hold themselves to a high set of standards. “It is an indicator of quality,” Trapnell said.

The last round of major accounting standards changes was implemented in 2004. While there is an annual process of review, the latest major round of changes began in 2011 and wrapped up with approval this year. The AACSB also recently completed a revamp of its business school standards.

The AACSB Board of Directors assembled a blue-ribbon committee to examine the business school standards. An accounting standards working group worked on revisions to the accounting standards. The working group received input from a number of organizations, including the AICPA Pre-certification Education Executive Committee, according to Trapnell.

In explaining the reasons for the revisions, the preamble to the new standards cites recent changes in the global economy, emerging technologies, demographic shifts, and the impact those changes have had on both businesses and education.

“In this context of constant change, standards and processes for business and accounting accreditation must be designed not only to validate quality accounting and management education and impactful research, but also to provide leadership, encouragement, and support for change in business schools and accounting academic units,” the preamble states. “The standards should also provide a platform for business schools and accounting academic units to work together to advance quality management and accounting education worldwide through AACSB.”

Founded in 1916, the AACSB is a nonprofit corporation of business schools, accounting programs, corporations, and other organizations devoted to the promotion and improvement of higher education in business administration and accounting.

Chris Baysden (cbaysden@aicpa.org) is a JofA senior editor.

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