Accreditation Explained for Those Wanting to Study in Geneva: A Conversation With Mark Hatton

Going to an accredited university allows students to pursue their degree in a foreign country while still earning the same type of degree they would in their homeland. Webster Geneva Campus is institutionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC), the top accrediting agency in the northern and central United States. At Webster Geneva Campus, American students can study in Switzerland while continuing to work toward their American university degree.

Mark Hatton

In a recent conversation with Mark Hatton, the Director of Admissions and Recruitment at Webster Geneva Campus, we ask why accreditation is important for educational institutions to have. Here’s what he had to say.

Accreditation: What Exactly Does It Mean?

"Webster University’s accreditation with the HLC has been in place since 1925 with Webster Geneva Campus also benefiting from this prestigious status. In fact, it is the only private university in all of Geneva to have received institutional accreditation."

Mark has acquired a vast knowledge of the accreditation processes of schools thanks to having previously held high-level positions in management in the business school and university sector. He also spent six years across two terms on the International Accreditation Council for Business Education’s (IACBE) Board of Commissioners, gaining experience working for an agency that specializes in programmatic accreditation. 

Institutional Accreditation shows that an educational institution is internationally recognized

“Institutional accreditation provides reassurance that the degrees and credits from a Higher Education Institute are considered recognized and accepted internationally by other public/private institutes, official entities and in some cases, employers,” Mark says. He also suggests that those wondering about their school’s accreditation status ask admissions officers whether their bachelor’s degree would be recognized for graduate studies like a Masters’ or PhD at public universities and if a transfer to a public Swiss university would be possible after a year or two of studying at a private one.

Understanding Different Types of Accreditations

As important as it is for a university or business school to be institutionally accredited, Mark emphasizes that not every accreditation is the same. For one, the Swiss Accreditation Council accredits most public higher-level institutes in Switzerland. Those wanting to study at private universities in Switzerland should know that a very small number of private Swiss institutes have American Institutional accreditation throughout all of Switzerland, of which Webster Geneva Campus is one and the ONLY one in the Geneva region. There’s also Program Accreditation, which is something entirely different from an Institutional accreditation. This type of Program accreditation does not recognize degrees or credits (an Institutional Accreditation is necessary for this) and is instead designed to specifically measure a program’s quality. 

Although the EDUQUA label for Swiss companies of any kind is frequently seen for educational institutions, Mark says this is often confused with accreditations but not in the same category. “It is simply a quality certificate, which focuses primarily on the continuous training of its employees in an establishment and issued by the state,” he says.

Some institutions may also have triple accreditation for their business programs. This means that they will be accredited by three agencies in particular: AACSB (The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business), AMBA (The Association of MBAs), and EQUIS (EFMD Quality Improvement System). These agencies represent the United States, the United Kingdom, and the European Union respectively. Many unaccredited schools often claim that they are Triple-Accredited with other far lesser known agencies.

How Accreditation Affects Those Who Study Abroad in Geneva

Students looking to earn their degree at a private university in Geneva should remember that anyone hoping to transfer to a school in a foreign country must first be sure that they can transfer their credits without any issue if they switch institutions. “With most Swiss public universities and with universities that offer an official American or UK curriculum, it is often only possible to transfer credits to or from a school or institute that has Institutional accreditation,“ Mark says. 

When asked what he would recommend to prospective students prior to applying to study in Switzerland, he stresses the importance of doing thorough research, whether at a private or public institution. “Ask whether the university has Institutional Accreditation, and then inquire about the recognition of the degrees before applying,” he says. “You do not want to find out that you do not have all of the information you needed once you have landed in Switzerland and it is too late!”

Want to pursue studies at an accredited university in Geneva?

Mark can be reached for any further inquiries via: or contact Webster Geneva Campus today for more information.


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