Compliance and Ethics
Compliance and Ethics
NC-SARA stands for the National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements
USM is authorized to offer distance education in all states listed as NC-SARA states (see the Mississippi NC-SARA page).
All states are participants in the NC-SARA reciprocity agreement except California. Two US Protectorates are also participants in NC-SARA:
U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.
The other inhabited US Protectorates (i.e. American Samoa, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands) are not members of NC-SARA.
Both Palau and the Republic of the Marshall Islands are sovereign states in free association with the United States and are not members of NC-SARA.
In California, public institutions do not have a regulatory agency. Private institutions are regulated by the Bureau for Private Postsecondary Education, which only regulates for-profit institutions. Although California does not have a regulating agency, they have assigned the receipt of complaints to the California Department of Consumer Affairs; and the form for filing a complaint is posted on the California Department of Consumer Affairs website.
To provide education to students residing in other states, which constitutes operating in another, higher education institutions must comply with the laws and regulation of each of the states in which students are located while completing distance education. Distance education includes online as well as supervised field experiences including clinicals, internships, externships, and practicums. Per Section 1 (30) of the National Council of State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements (NC-SARA), operating means any and all activities conducted by an Institution in support of offering Distance Education degree or non-degree courses or programs in a State, including but not limited to instruction, marketing, recruiting, tutoring, Supervised Field Experiences, experiential learning placements, Out-of-State Learning Placements and other student support services.
In addition to being authorized directly or operating pursuant to a reciprocity agreement, an institution must also check with the state professional licensing boards to see if any program that they are offering that involves distance education requires preapproval before a supervised field experience is conduct and leads to licensure in the state the students is located or where they complete their supervised field experience.
Whether or not a higher education institution engages in an action that triggers “physical presence” varies based on the laws of each specific state. Among the activities considered in determining if physical presence is triggered are:
If physical presence is triggered, the institution must become authorized in that state.
*State physical presence triggers apply if an institution that is an NC-SARA member exceeds their permitted physical presence in a state based on the NC-SARA guidelines (see NC-SARA paragraph below).
Although the University will make reasonable efforts to place admitted students in field experiences and internships, it will be up to the host facility to determine whether a student will be allowed to work at that facility. Students should further be aware that a criminal record may jeopardize licensure by the state certification body. Students may consult the certification body corresponding to their intended occupation for more details. Successful completion of a program of study at the University of Southern Mississippi does not guarantee licensure, certification or employment in the relevant occupation.
The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges accredits
The University of Southern Mississippi ("USM") thereby enabling USM to award baccalaureate,
masters, specialist, and doctorate degrees. Please note NC-SARA does not provide reciprocity
for state professional licensing requirements. Contact the Commission on Colleges
for questions about the accreditation of the University of Southern Mississippi:By
Mail- 1866 Southern Lane, Decatur, Georgia 30033-4097 or
If you have a complaint or want to review the options for filing a complaint, please see the following web page:
We highly recommend that students contact the applicable licensure board(s) in their state of residence or in the state where they intend to obtain a license before beginning an academic program that results in licensure.
For information and guidance on out-of-state professional licensure, please visit the Professional Licensure Disclosures page.
For questions regarding State Authorization, email stateauthorizationsFREEMississippi
For questions regarding Professional Licensure, email professionallicensureFREEMississippi
For more information about NC-SARA click the logo below.