Specialized AA Degree Accreditation Adds Career Opportunity

IACBE accreditation lifts program value with enhanced stature and authenticity.

Posted Apr 03, 2019

                 Specialized Accreditation Authenticates Business Programs 

                                                 Luskin Learning Psychology Series No. 45

PracticeVelocity/with permission
Source: PracticeVelocity/with permission

In examining the importance of Specialized Accreditation, I interviewed International Accreditation Council for Business Education President Phyllis Okrepkie. This article shares her views as well as additional insights about specialized program accreditation with community college leaders and others because of the value of specialized accreditation for business programs. Dr. Okrepkie noted that, “Recently it seems as if we learn about another institution of higher education ceasing operations due to financial difficulties on a monthly basis.” Inside Higher Ed published an article by Moody’s Investors Service reporting that private colleges are closing at a rate of 11 per year and the shutdown rate is expected to increase.  (Seltzer 2019). A primary reason is attributed to challenges in covering costs. According to Moody’s, “The gap between revenue and expenses is becoming unsustainably high.” A Washington Post article headline in March read, “Argosy University closes its doors; students scramble to transfer.” Why? The U.S. Department of Education cut off federal funds because Argosy had used money due to students to cover payroll and other expenses, ostensibly because of lack of funds. (Washington Post, 2019)

IACBE, with permission
Best Bargain in Higher Ed
Source: IACBE, with permission

The Best Bargain in Higher Ed 

President Okrepkie pointed out that those who understand community colleges recognize that the community college is the best economic and programmatic bargain in higher education. The A.A. and A.S. degree programs in business offered in community colleges comprise the largest occupational/workforce career education initiative in the nation. Many of these programs now offer courses and programs online, allowing fully employed members of the workforce increased flexibility and access to earn their degrees. “The opportunity for students and for our country is significant,” she told me. “The economic benefit is clearly important in light of the issues being raised about access, cost, value, and opportunity.”

Okrepkie noted that almost every one of the nation’s 1,200 U.S. community colleges, and the more than 2,000 similar institutions worldwide, offer business programs for which accreditation by a special program accreditor, such as IACBE, is important. Accreditation is the standard for brand authentication, and it is an important feature in consumer protection. In addition, given the negative press highlighted earlier, graduates who complete a program that is specifically accredited, such as an A.A. degree in business, speaks volumes in attesting to the quality and value of the graduate to an employer.

Defining Specialized Accreditation 

LuskinInternational/with permissioin
Speicalized Accreditation
Source: LuskinInternational/with permissioin

Accreditation is the quality assurance process in which a community college or other higher education institution voluntarily participates in an external independent appraisal of its activities and programs. Specialized business program accreditation by the International Accreditation Council for Business Education (IACBE) is a process by which the quality and reliability of business programs in degree-granting colleges and universities worldwide can be authenticated. IACBE accredits associate, bachelors, masters, and doctoral-level programs. Program accreditation ensures the rigor, stature, and integrity of a college business program and, because there are so many competitive business programs to choose from, specialized accreditation by a CHEA (Council for Higher Education Accreditation) recognized accreditor is a strategic differentiator.

A team member during a recent accreditation visit by the WASC Senior College and University Commission said it well: "Because of the structure of almost everything at IACBE ... outcomes assessment plans, the disclosure of student learning, self-studies, etc., the business program leadership was super-prepared with information in a form that was understandable and meaningful to the WSCUC site visit team.  When they reviewed our materials among those of the many other programs/disciplines the team said, "This is what we've been looking to see!"

Accreditation is an accepted, voluntary process of peer review that evaluates and affirms the merit of one’s program. IACBE is a worldwide business program accreditor. An accredited American degree has significant meaning domestically and internationally and is considered the gold-standard for upward career mobility.

Specialized AA Degrees              

IACBE is now providing associate degree level business program accreditation recognition for qualified community colleges. This helps in confirming program quality to students, employers, and the general public. A college offering an IACBE accredited business program elevates that program by enhanced stature, authenticity, and acceptance in the eyes of the business community. 

Community colleges reach diverse populations, offer the best value in today’s higher education sector and provide important career opportunities for graduates. Community colleges are a major force in providing the educated employees and skilled workforce essential to fulfilling our nation’s goals to improve our economy, keep the American worker competitive in world markets and offer a rewarding career pathway for each graduate of an accredited institution.

Dr. Richard Winn, President, AACJC (Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges, Western Association of Schools and Colleges), WASC, told me that he believes that specialized accreditation that validates programs, and Regional Accreditation that validates institutions, is the best combination of review to assure graduates and employers of the quality and stature of a program. “Specialized program accreditation, such as offered by IACBE, is important to those who want to be sure that the program they choose offers quality education and greater opportunity,” said Winn.


Community colleges are adapting to the increased demands of employers and students. Supporting the workforce is central to the primary objectives of our nation. Greater acceptability of A.A. degrees in business by the international community is important. International acceptance is enhanced by recognized accreditation.  Today, technology is a factor affecting most of the demographic, economic and academic challenges that students face. It is essential that our colleges work with students to upgrade their skills or seek advanced training. Entrants into the labor force have a growing need to add to their skills through post-secondary education. An American degree, including an A.A. degree in business, is an important factor in upward domestic and international career mobility. IACBE provides a forum for colleges and universities to interact together, authenticate college quality and provide important information for both students and those employing graduates. The World Federation of Colleges and Polytechnics (WFCP.org) includes a global network of community and polytechnic colleges where there is great international opportunity.

IACBE/with permission
Source: IACBE/with permission

“We look forward to working with community and technical colleges interested in joining their four-year, graduate and international colleagues in working together and sharing information about quality and opportunity,” said Okrepkie. Public understanding of accreditation fosters an appreciation of the economic importance through increased employment opportunities offered in business programs.


Business programs are energizers for the professional goals of alumni and their employers.

As a long-time community college and higher education administrator, having served as Chair of the Board of Directors, American Association of Community Colleges, president of three community colleges and Chancellor of the Ventura County Community College District, my experience is that specialized accreditation is increasingly important to assure employers, students and the general public regarding the quality of programs having accreditation.

For additional information, please contact Dr. Okrepkie via iacbe.org

You may also email:   pokrepkie@iacbe.org, or BernieLuskin@gmail.com.

Special Thanks: Dr. Toni Luskin for editorial and publishing assistance.



 ADDIN EN.REFLIST Seltzer, R. (2018) Private-College Closures At 11 Per Year. Inside Higher Ed 

Argosy University, March 9, 2019, Washington Post

CHEA - Council for Higher Education Accreditation, CHEA.org