State authorization is the legal mandate that requires higher education institutions to be in compliance with the laws and regulations of each state where it conducts business. Each state has the authority to regulate educational activities that are delivered within and across its borders, including distance/online education. Additionally, states have the right to determine the process by which out-of-state colleges and universities can obtain approval. The need for higher education institutions to seek such approval depends on the requirements of each state's regulations and the types of activities an institution is conducting in the state.
Wilkes University takes this requirement very seriously. There can be significant consequences to institutions that are not in compliance with state authorization regulations.
The National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements (NC-SARA) provides a regional approach to oversight of distance education and streamlines the process for institutions to become compliant in other states for distance education. Membership in NC-SARA is voluntary. NC-SARA ensures students are afforded various consumer protection benefits as well as access to quality programs by establishing a set of guidelines to which member institutions must adhere. You can read more about NC-SARA online. On April 7, 2017 Wilkes University was granted membership into NC-SARA. Membership in NC-SARA allows Wilkes to meet the basic state authorization requirements in other member states and provides some basic benefits to students including:
- increased access to educational offerings,
- improved resolution process for student complaints,
- improved overall quality of distance education,
- reduces the likelihood that institutions will pass on increased costs to students for having to obtain approvals in every state.
However, even with NC-SARA membership, institutions still must be compliant with professional licensing board requirements in other states if they want to enroll students in professional licensure programs.
Wilkes University regularly evaluates our programs against the licensure requirements of other states, so that we can best serve our students. As part of that process, we periodically contact the professional licensure boards or agencies and review their websites to obtain approval requirements and determine program alignment. Wilkes programs are first and foremost desgined to meet educational requirements for professional licensure in our home state of Pennsylvania. Some programs also meet requirements of other states, however, we cannot guarantee that programs will also satisfy the licensure requirements of other states and territories. Some fields, such as teacher education, vary dramatically between states and can be difficult to determine alignment. Details on professional licensure for various programs and information pertaining to distance education programs available to each state can be found on the Professional Licensure Disclosures page.
Student Location Changes
Because distance education and professional licensure requirements vary by state, distance education students who change their physical location to a state in which Wilkes University is not approved to operate may be unable to remain enrolled at Wilkes University or may have their academic progression delayed until proper approvals may be obtained. As such, students are required to contact their program director with any anticipated address changes as soon as possible.