Many students attend colleges and universities to become a doctor, nurse, teacher, psychologist, engineer or one of the many other occupations regulated by state and/or other government entities.
States and other government entities have established standards of practice for the occupations or professions they have chosen to regulate, and they provide legal permission to practice those professions only to individuals who meet those standards.
Those standards, for most occupations, include education requirements, often met through graduation from an institution whose programs have been determined by the state to meet the state’s requirements. In the current higher education environment, where an institution may enroll online students from many, many states, all seeking to obtain licensure in his or her state, ensuring that the institution’s programs meet the varying educational requirements of all those states, in a wide range of disciplines, is extraordinarily challenging.
SARA does not cover professional licensing board approval for programs leading to state licensing in fields such as nursing, teacher education, psychology, etc. We acknowledge the seriousness, pervasiveness and complexity of that issue. SARA does, however, require that proper notification be given to students as to whether courses and programs will meet the professional licensure requirements in states where students are located.
Here’s what should matter to students: before enrolling in an online/distance education program intended to satisfy a particular state’s educational requirements for the practice of a particular occupation, the student should be assured by the institution that the program actually does meet the requirements of the state in which he or she intends to practice. SARA institutions are required to provide that information; institutions that participate in federal student financial aid programs must meet similar federal requirements.