State Authorization

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 recently published regulations regarding distance education. On December 19, 2016, the U.S. Department of Education published regulations, with an effective date of July 1, 2018, clarifying the state authorization requirements an institution must follow and added sections on required institutional disclosures for distance education and correspondence courses. The 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".

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 participate in SARA (as an accredited public institution, MSU is exempt from approval by the California Bureau of Private Postsecondary Education). 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 practica, student teaching or internships.

Colleges and Departments

Information | Required Notifications | Suggested text for websites, brochures, and student handbooks.

Domestic Residency & Change In Physical Presense

Course and program availability varies 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.

International Students

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.

MSU State Authorization Status – State-By-State Summary

Professional Licensure, Certification & Exams – Consumer Information

Professional Licensure Boards – By State

Refund Policy

Student Complaint Information

The Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs' Corporations, Security & Commercial Licensing Bureau 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 the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs, Corporations, Securities & Commercial Licensing Bureau, P.O. Box 30018, Lansing, MI 48909 through the process described at

Student Complaint Information – Online Distance Education Programs – By State

U.S. Department of Education (USDOE) Program Integrity Rules – MSU’s Institutional Status