When it comes to institutions of higher education, accreditation status is of upmost importance. This is true especially in the world of online education as "diploma mills," schools which issue degrees with little to no academic value, are quite common. This is why it is important that students research a school's accreditation status before enrolling in a degree program. Not only is accreditation one way that schools are kept accountable, it is also a way to protect students and ensure that they receive a legitimate and recognized education.

To become accredited an institution must undergo a thorough evaluation in order to verify that specified academic standards are met and that degree programs are adequate. This is done by a third party, known as an accrediting association, which verifies the overall academic quality of educational institutions. A school can receive accreditation from either a national or regional association depending on the nature of the programs that are offered. Both types of associations put schools through a lengthy process which usually involves an intuitional examination, peer review, accrediting council visits, and program critiques. Degree program critiques generally include a thorough examination of the curriculum, training, instruction, and assessment methods.

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