Studies show a strong correlation between success and the attainment of higher education, and it’s true across many industries that jobs in today’s market require the completion of at least an undergraduate degree to be competitive with other applicants.
But how does this apply to entrepreneurs, who started their own enterprise and are in complete control of their own destiny?
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Many entrepreneurs find it worthwhile to go back to college to increase their general business knowledge. They do this with the hope that new business knowledge will lead to higher revenues, profits, and growth in their organization.
Other entrepreneurs, who once made an impact in their field but want to go back into the corporate world, might pursue a college or business degree to build their resume and gain skills necessary to succeed at a new position.
Here are four steps every entrepreneur should consider when determining if your degree program will get you where you need to go, whether that means enhancing your knowledge, building your resume, building credibility, or a combination of the three.
1. Choose the Right Business Degree Major
There are a variety of business degree majors and niches to select from, including:
- Business Information Systems
- General Business Management/Administration
- Human Resources
- Information Technology
- Organizational Leadership
- Project Management
- Supply Chain Management
2. Consider Online Courses
Gone are the days where the only credible form of education delivery was an in-person class. Thanks to the internet, just about every major institution offers some form of online education. (Check out this resource for 6 MBA-level classes you can take for free online.)
Some colleges offer online competency-based courses, which allow you to leverage your previous experience within a subject matter to accelerate to final testing. Check out Western Governors University (WGU) for a great competency-based program.
3. Check to See Your School is Regionally Accredited
The college that you select for your business degree, whether it’s online or in-person, must have full regional accreditation in order for employers, colleagues, recruiters, and the US Department of Education to recognize the institution as a legitimate form of education. The major regional accreditation bodies include the following:
- Higher Learning Commission: Covers colleges located in AR, AZ, CO, IA, IL, IN, KS, MI, MN, MO, ND, NE, NM, OH, OK, SD, WI, WV, and WY. If your college is located in one of these states, check out the Higher Learning Commission website to see if it’s regionally accredited.
- New England Association of Schools and Colleges: Covers colleges located in CT, ME, MA, NH, RI, and VT. If your college is located in one of these states, check out the New England Association of Schools and Colleges website to see if it’s regionally accredited.
- Middle States Commission On Higher Education: Covers colleges located in DC, DE, NY, NJ, PA, MD, along with Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. Here’s its website to see if your college is accredited.
- Northwest Accreditation Commission: Covers colleges in AK, ID, MT, NV, OR, UT, and WA. If your college is located in one of these states, you can check out the website of the Northwest Accreditation Commission to see if it’s regionally accredited.
- Southern Association of Colleges and Schools: Covers colleges in AL, FL, GA, KY, LA, MS, NC, SC, TN, TX, and VA. If your college is located in one of these states, you can check the SACS website to see if it’s regionally accredited.
- Western Association of Schools and Colleges: Covers colleges in CA and HI. If your college is located in one of these states, you can check out the website of the Western Association to see if it’s regionally accredited.
4. Check to See if Your Program Has Other Accreditations
In addition to regional accreditation, you could seek out colleges that also have additional accreditation applied specifically to their business school department. Note that the main accreditation that matters in determining the quality of a college program is that of regional accreditation. Here are three business-specific accreditations that are worth considering:
- AACSB: The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business is the most widely regarded level of accreditation for business schools. AACSB is mainly focused on research-based institutions and larger colleges, many of which receive research grants and publish research findings. You can confirm your college’s standing here.
- ACBSP: The Accreditation Council for Collegiate Business Schools and Programs is second to AACSB in terms of wide-scale recognition. ACBSP focuses mainly on smaller colleges that put an emphasis on teaching quality. Check your college’s standing here.
- IACBE: The International Assembly for Collegiate Business Education is considered to be third in line in terms of wide-scale recognition. IACBE focuses mainly on the concerns of business. professionals that want a business accreditation body that is focused more on outcome quality and application of knowledge, rather than the various research or teaching-based qualities established by AACSB and ACBSP. If your college promotes being IACBE Accredited, check their standing here.
Note that just because AACSB has the most wide-scale recognition, this does not mean that their accreditation is a higher quality accreditation body than the ACBSP or IACBE. Each accreditation body focuses on different standards and different institution sizes.