The gift of perpetual accreditation

08 September 2023

John Quelch, former Dean at Miami Herbert Business School, examines the benefits of an on-going accreditation cycle.


Let me ask you a question. How many triple crown business schools do you think there are in the US? Out of over 1,000.

Three. Just three. 986 have AACSB, accreditation, four currently have Equis, and three have AMBA.

The US is the home of business education – and yet only just over 2 percent have the three main global accreditations to their name.

Isn’t this strange given schools elsewhere in the world crow about being triple accredited? That those that have the triple crown see it as a distinction of ultimate quality?

When I became Dean of the Herbert Business School at the University of Miami I was determined that we would be a triple accredited school – we already had AACSB, so that meant going for the other two. But not because I thought the school needed the prestige, nor because I thought it would help us attract more and better students, faculty, and staff ...although both of these things would be beneficial.

The reason I wanted to go for it was because I wanted us to be in a cycle of PERPETUAL ACCREDITATION. That’s right – I wanted to go through the challenge of being in an almost constant accreditation cycle, and I wanted my staff to be challenged too. Now those who are familiar with the process of accreditation might ask why I’d want to do that. And it’s a fair question – its stressful, and time-consuming, with no guarantees of success.

But that is precisely the point.

Constantly being in an accreditation cycle drives continuous incremental improvement – and over a relatively short period this can result in significant transformation. It's the advantage of perpetual accreditation, which really keeps the organisation on its toes. It requires timely updating of data so that you are always working with current and accurate information.

In my experience, if you simply have the single AACSB accreditation every five years, there's a fire drill in year three. And people are scrambling to find, or worse, invent the data at that point. With all three coming one after the other, everything is relevant, available, and reliable. If each was simply duplicate exercise, of course, it wouldn't be worthwhile, but they are each vastly different - and so staff and faculty learn and grow hugely from going through the various processes.

Ultimately, the proof of the pudding is in the eating – and in the final year of my Deanship, we achieved AMBA accreditation and the Triple Crown. In that same period, rankings improved across all programmes. Other factors were clearly at play over that five-year period – but one thing was constant. We were working towards accreditation.

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