Based in London, AMBA is one of the three main global accreditation bodies in business education and styles itself as the world’s impartial authority on postgraduate management education. It differs from AACSB in the US and EQUIS in Brussels as it accredits a school’s portfolio of postgraduate management programmes but does not accredit undergraduate programmes.
Business schools can become associated with AMBA in two ways: by applying for accreditation, or by applying for membership of the AMBA Development Network (ADN), which confers institutional membership similar to EFMD or AACSB membership. Schools that cannot meet all of the AMBA accreditation criteria usually join the ADN, which gives them time to prepare for accreditation with support from AMBA and mentoring from an AMBA-accredited school.
All MBA students and alumni of the 257 accredited member schools join AMBA as individual members free of charge. AMBA also accredits generalist MBM programmes and DBA programmes, and admits as members students and graduates thereof.
The Association of MBAs accredits MBA, MBM and DBA degree programmes. When a school applies for accreditation for its MBA programmes, AMBA requires that the entire portfolio of MBA programmes be put up for consideration and will award accreditation only if all programmes meet its criteria (though the school pays the same fee regardless of the number of programmes being reviewed).
The Association’s process of accrediting a school’s MBA programmes portfolio includes reviewing compliance AMBA’s criteria, most of them qualitative rather than quantitative. The criteria fall into seven dimensions: history and development of the institution; facilities and libraries; teaching faculty, teaching standards and research track record; programme administration, career and alumni services; student admission standards, diversity and cohort size; curriculum content, programme mode and duration; and learning outcomes.
Some of the key AMBA criteria for the accreditation of an MBA programme include:
all admitted students should have at least three years of full-time post-graduation work experience upon the start of the MBA course (a criterion which the vast majority of the top US business schools cannot meet as US MBA programmes sometimes admit applicants with only a bachelor’s degree and no work experience);
a new school applying for accreditation should have a track record of at least three years of graduating MBA students before it can be accredited;
an MBA programme should have a cohort size of at least 20 students;
at least 50% of the faculty of an MBA programme (including visiting faculty as part of the total) are expected to have PhD degrees; and
a full-time MBA curriculum should contain no less than 500 contact (scheduled faculty-mediated) hours and a distance-learning MBA programme should have no less than 120 synchronous contact hours.
AMBA holds three annual conferences for business school deans and directors: a Global Conference, an Asia Pacific Conference, and a Latin America Conference. Participation is open to both accredited and non-accredited schools. AMBA also hosts an annual Gala Dinner in London, which is open only to accredited schools.
AMBA organises two annual global forums with the purpose of development and training for specific functions within AMBA-accredited business schools such as accreditation managers; programme managers; marketing, admissions, alumni and development staff.
AMBA also organises webinars, lectures and networking events on a regular basis catering to MBA alumni, current MBA students, prospective MBA students and business school admissions departments. These on-campus events are held at accredited business schools and often feature distinguished speakers and practitioners in fields such as leadership, entrepreneurship and innovation.