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. There can be significant consequences to institutions that are not in compliance with state authorization regulations, so Wilkes University takes this requirement very seriously.
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 here. 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 continually 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. In many cases, Wilkes' programs meet these requirements; however, we cannot guarantee that all programs that meet the Pennsylvania's licensure requirements will also satisfy the licensure requirements of other states and territories. Some fields, such as teacher education, vary dramatically between states. Because these requirements can change frequently and often without notice, students from outside Pennsylvania interested in pursuing a program that may lead to professional licensure or certification are strongly encouraged to contact the admissions office or appropriate program director for further information. in addition, we encourage students to contact the licensing board directly. Contact information for various professional licensure boards can be found here. Information pertaining to distance education programs available to each state can be found on the State Authorization page.
Please note: Because distance education and professional licensure requirements vary
by state, distance education students who change their residency 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.