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Accreditation can be seen as a sort of educational insurance. For students earning a degree, accreditation is a way of knowing the education they're getting has met standards set by both the government and experts in the field of post-secondary education.
Accreditation happens when an outside, non-profit organization studies the curriculum and programs offered at a college or university and, after finding the school meets stringent educational standards, grants the school a quality education stamp of approval. There are many accrediting agencies in the United States, but only a select few are accepted by the major governing bodies of the accrediting process.
All of these agencies work to promote, strengthen, and assure the operation of quality educational at the post-secondary level. In the United States, schools are not required to be accredited, even though it is to their advantage because students are always advised to get their education through accredited universities only.