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State Authorization & Distance Learning

As an institution that participates in federal financial aid programs under Title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965, Michigan State University is required to comply with regulations regarding distance education. These regulations require institutions of higher education to obtain approval from the states in which they provide postsecondary education programs. The regulations allow authorization to come directly from a state or through a "state authorization reciprocity agreement."

NC-SARA participating institution logo MSU participates in the State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement (SARA), which is an agreement among states that establishes national standards for the interstate offering of postsecondary distance-education courses and programs. Through SARA, MSU may provide distance education to residents of any other SARA member state without seeking authorization from each SARA member state. All states other than California (as an accredited public institution, MSU is exempt from approval by the California Bureau of Private Postsecondary Education) participate in SARA. Courses and programs incorporating a "supervised field experience" are considered distance education. Under SARA a "supervised field experience" means a student learning experience under the oversight of a supervisor, mentor, faculty member or other qualified professional, located in the host state, who has a direct or indirect reporting responsibility to the institution where the student is enrolled, whether or not credit is granted. Examples include practicums, student teaching or internships.

Course and program availability vary by state. Admission into a program is granted at the time of initial acceptance into the program and is dependent on program availability in the state where the student is physically located at the time of admission.

If a student moves to a different state after admission to the program, continuation within the program will depend on the availability of the program within the new state where the student is physically present. It is the student’s responsibility to notify the institution of a change in physical presence.

Whether military personnel stationed outside the state of Michigan may enroll or continue in a MSU distance education program is based on where military personnel are stationed.

Title IV Higher Education Act Notice | Change of State Residence – A student who changes their state of residence while enrolled in a program may become ineligible for Title IV Higher Education Act funding if the change in residency results in a student participating in a program in a state in which MSU does not meet licensure or certification requirements in the that new state of residence.

International Students are advised to understand and be apprised of the rules, regulations, and requirements related to online distance education programs in their country of residence, particularly:
  • If the country will recognize an online degree;
  • Whether the program meets licensure or certification requirements in the country; and
  • If the country charges any additional taxes, withholdings or fees associated with online distance education programs.

About State Authorization

State authorization refers to federal, state, and professional licensing board regulations that affect online and on-ground education programs offered across state lines. Authorization requirements vary by state and program and may impact where a MSU online distance education program can be offered to a student who resides in or moves to a particular state.

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State-by-State Summary

Federal regulations require MSU to publicly disclose, for each educational program designed to meet the educational requirements for a specific professional license or certification required for employment in an occupation (or advertised as meeting those requirements), information about whether program completion would meet those requirements in a state. These public disclosure requirements apply to all programs, regardless of their modality (i.e., on-ground, online, and hybrid programs).  MSU discloses the required information related to the educational requirements for professional licensure and certification in the table at this linkPaper copy of the table is available upon request at

All current and prospective students are encouraged to contact the applicable professional licensure/certification boards in their respective states for additional information regarding professional licensure/certification requirements, including, without limitation, information regarding any non-educational requirements (such as work experience, background clearance, or examination by outside entities, such as bar examinations).

The information in the table should not be construed as guaranteeing that any particular professional licensure/certification authority will approve a student’s application; nor should the information in the table be read to imply that other requirements for professional licensure/certification do not exist or that other requirements for professional licensure/certification have been determined to have been met by MSU’s program/course, or that any necessary approvals for clinical or other experiential learning placements are secured by virtue of a student’s enrollment at MSU.

State professional licensure/certification requirements are subject to change at any time.

Professional Licensure State Boards
Listed alphabetically by state and profession

  • An out-of-state student learning experience placement is applicable to an internship, externship, clerkship, practicum, rotation, clinical, student teaching, independent study, study away, and the like, taken by a student who is physically present at a facility, site or location that occurs in a U.S. state, district, or territory outside the state of Michigan (excluding foreign countries). This applies to any course (traditional, online, hybrid, and any non-credit course required for graduation) taught in whole or in part outside the state of Michigan that includes an out-of-state student learning experience placement. 
  • Examples of an out-of-state facility, site or location are and include educational institution, institute, teaching facility or academy; national or state park; research facility; research site; hospital, health care facility, sports training, or rehabilitation center; manufacturing or production facility; shipping or warehouse facility; business or corporation; government agency or facility; and the like. This is not intended to be a complete or all-inclusive list.
  • Reporting applies to any student participation (all levels) in an out-of-state student learning experience placement outside the state of Michigan, regardless of section number, course number or the method of delivery (traditional, online, hybrid), the experience must be reported by the instructor using the RO Out-of-State Learning Experience Form within 10 days following the semester grading due date (see instructions).
  • Group of 10 or More Students Participating Simultaneously in an Out-of-State Learning Experience Placement - Any course that is taught simultaneously in whole or in part to a group of 10 or more students who are physically present at the same out-of-state facility, site, or location, must have prior state, district, or territory approval if:
    • A Group of Ten (10) or More Students are enrolled in the same course, same section number and simultaneously receive group instruction, in whole or in part, at the same out-of-state facility, site or location at an out-of-state location; or
    • Any “Short Course” that takes place outside the state of Michigan and requires more than 20 contact hours. The 20-hour limit can be used only for a short course that runs, for example, four days and is completed. It applies only to short courses and cannot be used with a full-term course, to which separate provisions apply.

To apply for jurisdictional approval prior to conducting a course in a U.S. state, district, or territory outside the state of Michigan, please contact me directly at least 60 days in advance so approval may be secured.

The University encourages students and prospective students initially to address complaints relating to MSU institutional policies and consumer protection issues with personnel in the office, department or college that caused the alleged grievance. Senior University administrators will be involved, as needed, to resolve the complaints. To learn more about the conflict and grievance systems at MSU, visit this Office of the University Ombudsperson webpage.

The Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity Postsecondary Schools is the agency designated to review complaints against institutions of higher education providing distance education. Complaints concerning MSU’s distance education activities regulated by Michigan's Higher Education Authorization and Distance Education Reciprocal Exchange Act (2015 PA 45) may be directed to Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity Postsecondary Schools, P.O. Box 30726, Lansing, MI 48909 through the process described at

Complaints concerning consumer protection violations may be directed to the Office of the Attorney General of the State of Michigan, Consumer Protection Division, P.O. Box 30213, Lansing, MI 48909-7713 or

Michigan State University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC). The HLC is an institutional accrediting agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education. Students may submit a complaint about an HLC-accredited institution using the HLC complaint process for filing complaints that remain unresolved after engaging in the above-referenced process. Complaints concerning broad institutional academic practices, such as those that raise issues regarding the University's ability to meet accreditation standards, may be forwarded to the Higher Learning Commission, 230 South LaSalle Street, Suite 7-500, Chicago, Illinois 60604; 800-621-7440 / 312-263-0456;

A student living in a SARA reciprocity agreement state who is not satisfied with the outcome of the institutional conflict and grievance process and resolution was not found may file a student complaint using the NC-SARA Student Complaint Process on the NC-SARA website.