What is State Authorization?

State authorization refers to the processes institutions must follow to ensure all legislative requirements are met in all states where George Mason University students are located. On October 17, 2014, the Southern Regional Education Board (SREB) approved Virginia as a member state to participate in National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements (NC-SARA), and on September 8, 2016, George Mason University became an institutional participant in the NC-SARA initiative. With this membership, George Mason University programs are automatically available to students who reside in the 48 participating states. At present, only California and Massachusetts have not yet joined the NC-SARA initiative.
At Mason, we have a team dedicated to researching state regulations, seeking and maintaining program approvals, and communicating program approvals.


National Council of State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements (NC-SARA) Information

NC-SARA website


Student Complaint Policy

For information regarding resolving student concerns for Mason Online courses or programs, please see the Mason Online Student Complaint Policy page.


Disclosures

Accreditation

George Mason University is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools to award bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees. Contact the Commission on Colleges at 1866 Southern Lane, Decatur, Georgia 30033-4097 or call 404-679-4500 for questions about the accreditation of George Mason University.

Authorization

George Mason University is authorized to deliver out-of-state educational activities in all 50 states. Please see the authorization map below for additional information.

SARA Authorization

George Mason University is an institutional participant in the State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement (SARA) initiative. With this membership, George Mason University programs are automatically available to students who reside in the 48 participating states.

Non-SARA Authorization

George Mason University may also offer courses or programs to students located in states that have not joined SARA.

California

The California Bureau of Private Postsecondary Education does not regulate out-of-state public institutions. Therefore, Bureau approval for George Mason to offer educational activities in California is not required.

Massachusetts

Because George Mason does not have a physical presence in Massachusetts, George Mason is not required by the Massachusetts Board of Higher Education to obtain approval to offer its programs to residents of Massachusetts. Therefore, George Mason is in compliance with Massachusetts regulations concerning postsecondary distance education.

Adverse Actions Initiated by a State Agency

George Mason University distance education programs have no previous, current, or pending adverse actions initiated by any state agencies within the past five calendar years.

Adverse Actions Initiated by an Accrediting Agency

George Mason University distance education programs have no previous, current, or pending adverse actions initiated by any accrediting agencies within the past five calendar years.

Refund Policies

George Mason University follows the refund policy stated in the financial aid handbook.

Students who matriculate online from their state of residence may be governed by refund policies mandated by the particular state in question. If the George Mason University refund policy is more beneficial to students, the institution shall follow its refund policy and provide for refunds of tuition to out-of-state students as provided in that policy.

Professional Licensure/Certifications

Some Mason online programs currently lead to the recommendation of licensure and/or advanced practice certification/endorsement. For students outside of VA interested in academic programs that lead to professional licensure or certifications, it is imperative you understand the regulations for your state PRIOR to enrolling in any academic program. You are strongly advised to check with your state’s professional licensing board to confirm whether the program will meet your state’s requirements. A program leading to professional licensure in Virginia might not lead to licensure elsewhere because requirements are different from state to state.

George Mason University’s online programs that prepare students for professional licensure or certification meet current licensure requirements in the State of Virginia and are approved by the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV). Mason has not determined whether a program meets the requirements for professional licensure outside of Virginia. You may also search for your career in the state you live or to plan to live at by browsing the License Finder provided by the U.S. Department of Labor. If you experience difficulty finding the licensure requirements for a specific state, please contact the program’s advisor for help. You are strongly advised to contact your state’s professional licensing board regarding its requirements before you enroll in any program. The State Authorization Team is working on comprehensive licensure disclosures that will be completed in late spring, 2018. Look below for a list of professions commonly requiring a license.

Commonly Licensed Professions

ProfessionNational Body
AccountingNational Association of State Boards of Accountancy
Athletic TrainingNational Athletic Trainer’s Association
Behavioral AnalystBehavior Analyst Certification Board
CounselingAmerican Counseling Association
Education/TeachingU.S. Department of Education
EngineeringNational Society of Professional Engineers
LawAmerican Bar Association
Jurisdiction Information
MedicineAmerican Medical Association
NursingNational Council of State Boards of Nursing
NutritionCommission on Dietetic Registration
Occupational TherapyNational Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy
Physical TherapyAmerican Physical Therapy Association
PsychologyAmerican Board of Professional Psychology
Public HealthNational Board of Public Health Examiners
School PsychologyNational Association of School Psychologists
Social WorkAssociation of Social Work Boards

International Students

Prior to enrolling in any George Mason University PLC program, prospective students living and/or working outside of the United States should confirm with the appropriate certifying agency whether successful completion of a George Mason University degree program will meet their credentialing requirements.


Frequently Asked Questions

For Students

Q: Can I complete field experience in a state other than Virginia? 

Yes, George Mason is authorized to place students in field experiences in all 50 states. There are limitations on the number of students that can be placed at a placement facility at one time in SARA states, and there are additional requirements in Colorado (see below).

Additionally, George Mason University is required to report on our out-of-state field placements. Your college will need to be informed of the state and zip code where you are completing a field experience.

Q: Can I complete a field experience in Colorado? 

Yes, but prior to beginning a field experience at a Colorado placement facility, you should work with your internship coordinator to ensure that worker’s compensation insurance requirements are met.

The Colorado Workers’ Compensation Act requires student interns to be covered by workers’ compensation insurance. George Mason is not able to add students to its institutional workers’ compensation policy.

Q: After completing a program that leads to licensure in Virginia, can I seek professional licensure in another state?

Professional licensure laws and regulations vary from state to state. If you are planning to seek a professional license or certificate in a state other than Virginia, it is highly recommended that you contact the appropriate state licensing agency to seek guidance regarding licensure or certification requirements.

A George Mason University program that leads to licensure or certification in Virginia may not meet licensure requirements in another state.

Q: I live outside the United States. Can I enroll in a George Mason University online program? 

George Mason University works to provide global access to its online programs. While the State Authorization Team carefully tracks issues related to international authorization, we advise students to understand regulations and requirements related to online programs in their country of residence. This includes whether the country will recognize an online degree, if there are additional withholding taxes (in addition to tuition) in your country, and whether the program meets any license or certification requirements in your country.

Visit Mason Online for more information about George Mason University’s online programs, and contact a program to verify eligibility.

Q: I am an international student enrolled in a traditional program in Virginia. Can I enroll in online courses, or switch to a 100% online program while living in Virginia? 

There are restrictions on the number of online credit hours that an international student may count toward a full course of study each semester. The Office of International Programs and Services can answer specific questions related to international students who are completing courses while living in the United States.

For Faculty and Staff

Q: Doesn’t state authorization only apply to online programs?

State authorization applies to all for-credit, out-of-state educational activities, including online courses or programs, and out-of-state field experiences such as internships, clinicals, and practicums.

Q: Why does it matter?

In order to offer educational opportunities to students outside Virginia, George Mason University must comply with state and federal authorization laws. In 2018, a federal rule will require an institution to be authorized in every state where a student resides in order for the institution to participate in Title IV federal financial aid programs.

Requiring authorization of distance education programs also protects students as consumers. Authorization laws help to ensure a student is not investing in a program that is not legitimate, or a program that does not lead to the license or credential the student was expecting.

Q: Does SARA cover professional licensing board authorizations in other states? 

SARA does not cover professional licensing board approvals. If your program leads to licensure, authorization may be required from the licensing board in another state before you participate in a field experience in that state.

Q: What kind of information does the State Authorization Team need from my department?

We will need to gain a better understanding of program recruitment and marketing practices out-of-state, as well as instructional activities and student demographics out-of-state. The Research Analyst may then follow up with individual departments to gain additional information regarding any activities that may trigger the need for reporting or authorization. We are working with various other divisions to gather data related to student residency and online enrollment. Together with information from academic departments, we will create an inventory of our institution’s out-of-state activities.

Q: What other considerations should we keep in mind?

Programs of study that typically require additional licensure or certification to practice in the field may require us to gain programmatic authorization within a state before we are authorized to serve residents. Additionally, these programs may need to review their curriculum to determine if it aligns with licensure requirements in other states. If your department’s program does not fit licensure requirements in another state, you should refrain from enrolling students in that state. The most common fields listed by states as requiring programmatic approval/licensure are: nursing, social work, psychology, and education. Some states list engineering and allied health programs, as well. As George Mason University continues to develop and launch new online programs and course offerings, collaborations between departments and coordinators will help us identify potential authorization triggers while maintaining our good faith compliance efforts and growing our programs.


Authorization by State

Alabama

As an approved SARA institution, George Mason University is in compliance with Alabama regulations to offer programs to residents of the state.

Student Consumer Protection

Alabama Commission on Higher Education

Alaska

As an approved SARA institution, George Mason University is in compliance with Alaska regulations to offer programs to residents of the state.

Student Consumer Protection

Alaska Commission on Postsecondary Education

American Samoa

As an approved SARA institution, George Mason University is in compliance with American Samoa regulations to offer programs to residents of the state.

Arizona

As an approved SARA institution, George Mason University is in compliance with Arizona regulations to offer programs to residents of the state.

Student Consumer Protection

Arizona State Board for Private Postsecondary Education

Arkansas

As an approved SARA institution, George Mason University is in compliance with Arkansas regulations to offer programs to residents of the state.

Student Consumer Protection

Arkansas Department of Higher Education

California*

As an out-of-state public institution, George Mason University is not under the purview of the California Bureau of Private Postsecondary Education. Therefore, GMU is in compliance with California regulations to offer online/distance learning programs to California residents.

Student Consumer Protection

Bureau for Private Postsecondary Education

Connecticut

As an approved SARA institution, George Mason University is in compliance with Connecticut regulations to offer programs to residents of the state.

Student Consumer Protection

The Office of Financial and Academic Affairs for Higher Education

Delaware

As an approved SARA institution, George Mason University is in compliance with Delaware regulations to offer programs to residents of the state.

Student Consumer Protection

The Delaware Department of Education

Teacher and Administrator Quality

John W. Collette Resource Center

35 Commerce Way

Dover, DE 19904

302-857-3388

District of Columbia

As an approved SARA institution, George Mason University is in compliance with District of Columbia regulations to offer programs to residents of the state.

Student Consumer Protection

Education Licensure Commission

Florida

As an approved SARA institution, George Mason University is in compliance with Florida regulations to offer programs to residents of the state.

Student Consumer Protection

Commission for Independent Education – Department of Education

Georgia

As an approved SARA institution, George Mason University is in compliance with Georgia regulations to offer programs to residents of the state.

Student Consumer Protection

Nonpublic Postsecondary Education Commission

Guam

George Mason University does not have physical presence as defined by the regulations in the U.S. territories. Therefore, GMU is in compliance to offer online/distance learning programs to residents of the U.S. territories.

Hawaii

As an approved SARA institution, George Mason University is in compliance with Hawaii regulations to offer programs to residents of the state.

Student Consumer Protection

Hawaii Postsecondary Education Authorization Program

Idaho

As an approved SARA institution, George Mason University is in compliance with Idaho regulations to offer programs to residents of the state.

Illinois

As an approved SARA institution, George Mason University is in compliance with Illinois regulations to offer programs to residents of the state.

Student Consumer Protection

Illinois Board of Higher Education

Indiana

As an approved SARA institution, George Mason University is in compliance with Indiana regulations to offer programs to residents of the state.

Student Consumer Protection

Indiana Department of Workforce Development

Iowa

As an approved SARA institution, George Mason University is in compliance with Iowa regulations to offer programs to residents of the state.

Student Consumer Protection

Iowa College Student Aid Commission

Kansas

As an approved SARA institution, George Mason University is in compliance with Kansas regulations to offer programs to residents of the state.

Student Consumer Protection

Kansas Board of Regents

Kentucky

As an approved SARA institution, George Mason University is in compliance with Kentucky regulations to offer programs to residents of the state.

Student Consumer Protection

Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education

Louisiana

As an approved SARA institution, George Mason University is in compliance with Louisiana regulations to offer programs to residents of the state.

Student Consumer Protection

Louisiana Board of Regents

Maine

As an approved SARA institution, George Mason University is in compliance with Maine regulations to offer programs to residents of the state.

Student Consumer Protection

Maine Department of Education, Office of Higher Education Services

Maryland

As an approved SARA institution, George Mason University is in compliance with Maryland regulations to offer programs to residents of the state.

Student Consumer Protection

Maryland Higher Education Commission

Massachusetts*

George Mason University does not have physical presence in the state as defined by the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education. Therefore, GMU is in compliance with Massachusetts regulations to offer online/distance learning programs to Massachusetts residents.

Student Consumer Protection

Massachusetts Department of Higher Education

Michigan

As an approved SARA institution, George Mason University is in compliance with Michigan regulations to offer programs to residents of the state.

Student Consumer Protection

Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs

Minnesota

As an approved SARA institution, George Mason University is in compliance with Minnesota regulations to offer programs to residents of the state.

Student Consumer Protection

Minnesota Office of Higher Education

Mississippi

As an approved SARA institution, George Mason University is in compliance with Mississippi regulations to offer programs to residents of the state.

Student Consumer Protection

Mississippi Commission on College Accreditation

Missouri

As an approved SARA institution, George Mason University is in compliance with Missouri regulations to offer programs to residents of the state.

Student Consumer Protection

Missouri Department of Higher Education

Montana

As an approved SARA institution, George Mason University is in compliance with Montana regulations to offer programs to residents of the state.

Student Consumer Protection

Montana University System, Montana Board of Regents

Nebraska

As an approved SARA institution, George Mason University is in compliance with Nebraska regulations to offer programs to residents of the state.

Student Consumer Protection

Nebraska Coordinating Commission for Postsecondary Education

Nevada

As an approved SARA institution, George Mason University is in compliance with Nevada regulations to offer programs to residents of the state.

Student Consumer Protection

Nevada Commission on Postsecondary Education

New Hampshire

As an approved SARA institution, George Mason University is in compliance with New Hampshire regulations to offer programs to residents of the state.

Student Consumer Protection

Department of Education, Division of Higher Education, Higher Education Commission

New Jersey

As an approved SARA institution, George Mason University is in compliance with New Jersey regulations to offer programs to residents of the state.

Student Consumer Protection

New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development, Center for Occupational Employment Information

New Mexico

As an approved SARA institution, George Mason University is in compliance with New Mexico regulations to offer programs to residents of the state.

Student Consumer Protection

New Mexico Higher Education Department

New York

As an approved SARA institution, George Mason University is in compliance with New York regulations to offer programs to residents of the state.

Student Consumer Protection

Bureau of Proprietary School Supervision, New York State Education Department

North Carolina

As an approved SARA institution, George Mason University is in compliance with North Carolina regulations to offer programs to residents of the state.

Student Consumer Protection

The University of North Carolina Board of Governors

North Dakota

As an approved SARA institution, George Mason University is in compliance with North Dakota regulations to offer programs to residents of the state.

Student Consumer Protection

North Dakota University System

Northern Mariana Islands*

George Mason University does not have physical presence as defined by the regulations in the U.S. territories. Therefore, GMU is in compliance to offer online/distance learning programs to residents of the U.S. territories.

Ohio

As an approved SARA institution, George Mason University is in compliance with Ohio regulations to offer programs to residents of the state.

Student Consumer Protection

The Ohio Board of Regents

Oklahoma

As an approved SARA institution, George Mason University is in compliance with Oklahoma regulations to offer programs to residents of the state.

Student Consumer Protection

Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education

Oregon

As an approved SARA institution, George Mason University is in compliance with Oregon regulations to offer programs to residents of the state.

Student Consumer Protection

Office of Degree Authorization

Pennsylvania

As an approved SARA institution, George Mason University is in compliance with Pennsylvania regulations to offer programs to residents of the state.

Student Consumer Protection

Department of Education

Puerto Rico*

George Mason University does not have physical presence as defined by the regulations in the U.S. territories. Therefore, GMU is in compliance to offer online/distance learning programs to residents of the U.S. territories.

Rhode Island

As an approved SARA institution, George Mason University is in compliance with Rhode Island regulations to offer programs to residents of the state.

Student Consumer Protection

Rhode Island Board of Governors for Higher Education

South Carolina

As an approved SARA institution, George Mason University is in compliance with South Carolina regulations to offer programs to residents of the state.

Student Consumer Protection

South Carolina Commission on Higher Education

South Dakota

As an approved SARA institution, George Mason University is in compliance with South Dakota regulations to offer programs to residents of the state.

Student Consumer Protection

Secretary of State (South Dakota Attorney General)

Tennessee

As an approved SARA institution, George Mason University is in compliance with Tennessee regulations to offer programs to residents of the state.

Student Consumer Protection

Tennessee Higher Education Commission

U.S. Virgin Islands

George Mason University does not have physical presence as defined by the regulations in the U.S. territories. Therefore, GMU is in compliance to offer online/distance learning programs to residents of the U.S. territories.

Utah

As an approved SARA institution, George Mason University is in compliance with Utah regulations to offer programs to residents of the state.

Student Consumer Protection

Utah Division of Consumer Protection

Vermont

As an approved SARA institution, George Mason University is in compliance with Vermont regulations to offer programs to residents of the state.

Student Consumer Protection

Vermont State Board of Education

Virginia

George Mason University is in compliance with the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia to offer online/distance learning programs to Virginia residents.

Student Consumer Protection

Private & Out-of-State Postsecondary Education, State Council of Higher Education for Virginia

Washington

As an approved SARA institution, George Mason University is in compliance with Washington regulations to offer programs to residents of the state.

Student Consumer Protection

Washington Workforce Training and Education Coordinating Board

West Virginia

As an approved SARA institution, George Mason University is in compliance with West Virginia regulations to offer programs to residents of the state.

Student Consumer Protection

West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission

Wisconsin

As an approved SARA institution, George Mason University is in compliance with Wisconsin regulations to offer programs to residents of the state.

Student Consumer Protection

Wisconsin Educational Approval Board

Wyoming

As an approved SARA institution, George Mason University is in compliance with Wyoming regulations to offer programs to residents of the state.

Student Consumer Protection

Wyoming Department of Education

*Not a SARA institution

Interactive map of authorized Mason Online programs coming soon.


Contact Us

Please email the State Authorization Team at stauth@gmu.edu with any questions related to authorization for courses/programs that take place outside Virginia.

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