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Frequently Asked Questions

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Frequently Asked Questions about State Authorization, Supervised Field Experiences and Licensure and Certification

Q: To which programs does state authorization apply?

A:  State authorization is required for all programs and/or courses (including components of courses) that take place outside of the state in which the institution is located ("host state"), which in our case is Mississippi.  Therefore, state authorization is required for an institution to offer courses online (distance education) as well as to conduct supervised field experiences such as practica, clinical rotations, internships, and student teaching outside of the host state. 

Q:  Who grants USM the authority to offer distance education?

A:  As of 2015, USM began participating in NC-SARA (The State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement).  As a participant in SARA, USM is authorized to offer distance education for all the states and US protectorates (U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico) that participate in SARA (which are currently 49 [not including California] as well as any US protectorates).   NC-SARA only applies to authorization for providing distance education and does not address whether programs lead to licensure or certification by state boards or national entities.

Q:  Why must higher education institutions become authorized to provide distance education?

A: To comply with the regulations in place on a state and federal level (as well as rules and regulations implemented by licensing or certification boards) including regulations that determine if an institution is eligible for Title IV federal financial aid programs, higher education institutions must be authorized in each and every state where any student is located.  Through authorization,  certain standards are implemented as a means of providing protection to students (i.e., consumer protection).

Q: What is a field experience? 

A: A field experience is defined as an educational experience that allows students to put into place the skills or theories that they have learned while a supervisor or mentor observes their progress.  

Q: What are the limitations to engaging in out-of-state field experiences?

A: In some fields like nursing or teaching, your program may need to obtain approval from the professional licensure board.  Additionally, NC-SARA only rules only allow 10 students per distinct program per timeframe to be placed out of state.  Hence, if there are 11 students in interior design needing an out of state placement at the same location for the same shift (i.e, 7-3), you will need to contact us at complianceFREEMississippi so that we can obtain permission from the professional licensing board to exceed the 10 person cap.  Since USM is required to monitor the number of individuals completing out of state field experiences, it is crucial that you keep your program informed as to the exact location where you intend to complete your out of state field experience.

Q: Once I complete my USM program in a field leading to licensure, can I move to another state and obtain a professional license? 

A: The laws for obtaining professional licenses vary on a state-by-state basis. What is required in one state may not be sufficient to obtain a professional licensure or certification in another state.  Professional licensing boards and national certifying agencies can provide you with guidance as to what the licensure or certification requirement are.  Therefore, we suggest that you contact them beginning when you are prospective student and keep in communication with them throughout your enrollment in the program.  sure or certification in Montana may not meet educational requirements for licensure in another state.  You can also communicate with the contact for your program.  For a list of program contacts, find your program on the following web page- Professional Licensure by College