Accreditation, and with it recognition and usability of degrees, is a very important concept in higher education today. And accreditation is a rather new phenomenon, due in part to the explosion of distance learning institutions in the 1990s and 2000s. Accreditation is also most an American phenomenon, for four major reasons: (1) the appearance of substandard private universities was a problem first identified in the United States; (2) the United States itself has rather unique system of university chartering and recognition because there is no Ministry of Education in the US system; (3) the struggle against non-accredited universities was centered on US-based individuals and agencies; (4) the United States is the world’s largest economy and the recognized leader in higher education, with internationally famous institutions such as Princeton and UCLA.
To make a long story short, legitimate accreditation is not longer optional and voluntary but rather a requirement. In the past, unaccredited institutions were not immediately equated with sub-standard institutions, but since the mid to late 2000s, the US-based campaign against unaccredited institutions has had the effect to make accreditation indispensable to avoid blacklisting.
Accreditation is not identical with degree-granting authority. An institution may be authorized to confer degrees in the legal jurisdiction where it is based, but it may lack accreditation in the sense of having a recognized and authorized third-party