An abbreviated world of knowledge

Abbreviations are a pet peeve of most all academic institutions. Eclectic combos of capital letters seem to loom everywhere.

Joanna Sinclair, 14.12.2015

 If it’s important, it’s hardly ever spelled out.

Aalto University Executive Education’s Academic Director Dr Mikko Laukkanen admits that academics might benefit from more descriptive language.

“Most higher education providers communicate with an impressive array of abbreviations. Add on to this mix the academic world’s fondness of jargon and it is no small wonder people may feel somewhat intimidated.”

“There is certainly room for improvement, but changing age-old practices shared by institutions all over the globe may take some time. In the meanwhile, I highly suggest learning the lingo – once you do, you will be much better equipped to compare the level of education available,” Laukkanen advises.

Accreditations are the first thing to look at. With accreditations there is one simple rule of thumb: if a school has no accreditations, it is almost always because their teaching and research are not up to par.

Schools that have been accredited by one or more institutions have an established track record of providing good education and they have the abbreviations to prove it.

In management and business schools, EFMD’s EQUIS is a good sign. Put in plain English it stands for the European Foundation for Management Development’s Quality Improvement System.

Other important accreditations for business schools include the AACSB, aka the accreditation of the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business; and the AMBA – the Association of MBAs' accreditation granted to only the highest caliber MBA and DBA programs.

“When it comes to accreditations, more is more. They measure different quality aspects. Thus a school with one accreditation is good; a school with two is even better – and a school like Aalto with three is excellent,” Laukkanen smiles.

Choosing a degree

Once you get the knack of reading into accreditations, you are ready to choose school. If you are planning on participating in executive training, your work with abbreviations is done.

However, if you have a degree program in mind, you need to make an educated choice between a few more abbreviations: BSc, MSc, MBA, EMBA, DBA and PhD.

“The foundation upon which all the other degrees are built is the Bachelor’s degree (BSc). This three-year program gives you the tools to launch a successful career in business,” Laukkanen explains. “After finishing their BSc many students continue their studies to enhance their competence and obtain a Master’s degree: the MSc.”

Often graduates elect to go straight into the working world once they have their BSc and return to further their education at a later date. For them the MBA – Master of Business Administration – is a great choice. It is also popular among professionals with a Master’s degree from another field who wish to add significant business understanding to their skills.

Have you already earned your spurs in business and work in an executive position? If that is the case, an Executive Master of Business Administration – EMBA – is a sensible decision. “A minimum of five years of executive experience is recommended before pursuing an EMBA,” Laukkanen says.

The difference between an EMBA, MBA and a Master of Science in Economics MSc (econ) is simple: focus.

“The MBA and EMBA are apt options for professionals who aim at honing wide-scope business skills and whose aspirations are in the field of general management or executive leadership. The MSc is a wise choice for those who wish to become specialists in a certain field, such as accounting, HR or marketing,” Laukkanen clarifies.

“The highest degrees one can pursue are a PhD and a DBA. The PhD gives you the necessary skills to conduct research and pursue an academic career. Certain students would benefit most from the less familiar DBA degree, which is short for Doctor of Business Administration,” Laukkanen remarks. 

DBAs are highly tailored degrees for world class professionals, such as C-Suites of global companies. DBAs are the best degree choice for individuals with considerable executive experience who wish to make an important contribution to the enhancement of professional practice in their field of business.

Do you know your EQUIS, AACSB, AMBA, BSc, MSc, MBA, EMBA, DBA and PhD? Excellent. We are happy to provide top candidates with high quality education at Aalto University, Aalto EE, Aalto PRO and Aalto ENT – and don’t worry about the nuances behind these last abbreviations, we are all part of Aalto University Executive Education Ltd.

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