State Authorization & Distance Education

Welcome to Boston University’s webpage on State Authorization and Distance Education Disclosures.
This webpage provides a variety of information regarding distance education programs, including:

What is Distance Education?

Distance Education refers to online degree or certificate education programs available to students physically located in other states and territories. It also includes certain educational activities that occur outside Massachusetts, such as field placements, clinical rotations, academic internships, student teaching and practica. 

What is State Authorization?

State Authorization refers to the requirement that institutions of higher education obtain authorization for their distance education offerings from individual states, in accordance with each state’s laws and regulations.

Why is State Authorization Information important?

As a Massachusetts institution, BU wants to provide students and prospective students who are located in other states the information they need to determine if BU’s distance education offerings are authorized in that State. Providing this information to students is also mandated by state and federal laws and regulations governing State Authorization.

State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement (SARA) and Boston University Approval

The State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement (SARA) is a voluntary agreement amongst member states, territories, and districts of the United States that establishes one set of national standards and rules for distance education offerings. States that wish to become members of SARA apply to their regional education compact for approval. Once a state has been approved, institutions within that state may apply to the designated state portal entity for approval to participate in SARA. Currently, 49 states (all but California), the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands have joined SARA.

Boston University has been approved under the terms and provisions of SARA to operate its distance education programs in SARA-approved locations.

Boston University’s distance education programs are offered to residents of California.

Boston University’s distance education programs are not subject to approval or exemption by the California Bureau for Private Postsecondary Education.

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Complaint Resolution

Boston University makes every attempt to resolve student complaints within its academic and administrative departments. Students should first attempt to resolve any concerns by utilizing existing University procedures.

The BU Compliance website and the Academic Bulletin provide information about ways that students and prospective students can report concerns and utilize University complaint procedures.

The Massachusetts Department of Higher Education, in its capacity as the SARA portal entity for Massachusetts, reviews and evaluates student complaints regarding distance education activities offered by Boston University in accordance with 610 CMR 12.07.

If an issue regarding distance education cannot be resolved internally, please see the process below.

For Online Students Located in SARA Member States and Territories

After you have exhausted the complaint procedures made available by Boston University, you may file a complaint with the DHE by using the SARA complaint form. The DHE SARA complaint form should be used by students who are located in SARA member states and territories. This includes all students who are located in SARA member states and territories for the purposes of completing out-of-state learning placements, such as internships, practica, clinical experiences, in SARA member states and territories outside Massachusetts.

Additional information from the DHE’s SARA complaint website is below:

The SARA complaint process is as follows:

  1. Students must first attempt to resolve their complaint using internal administrative procedures offered by the SARA institution.
  2. After all administrative remedies have been exhausted with the MA-SARA institution, the student may submit a SARA Complaint via the URL below.
  3. The Department shall send a copy of the complaint to the institution that is the subject of the complaint;
  4. Within 30 days of the date that the Department sends a copy of the complaint to the institution, the institution must provide a written response to the student and the Department.

More information about DHE’s complaint processes can be found here.

For Massachusetts Residents and Online Students in Non-SARA Member States and Territories

After you have exhausted the complaint procedures made available by Boston University, you may file a consumer complaint with the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office (AGO) by using the consumer complaint form. The AGO consumer complaint form should be used by students who are located in:

  • Massachusetts
  • Non-SARA Member States or Territories (e.g., California, Guam, etc.)

Students residing in California may file a complaint about distance education as follows:

California Department of Consumer Affairs
Consumer Information Center
1625 North Market Blvd., Suite N-112
Sacramento, California 95834
Telephone: 833- 942-1120

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Information regarding withdrawal dates and the University’s refund policy is available through the University Registrar’s Website.

Refund Policy for Online Education
This Policy provides important information about the University’s Refund Policy for online education and includes Withdrawal and Tuition Refund Schedules.

Refund Requests
Student Accounting Services Website

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Professional Licensure and Certification Requirements

Institutions providing distance education are required to identify the courses and programs that lead to licensure and to provide information about licensure requirements. Please select the program from the list below to view state specific information relating to licensure.

Doctor of Dental Medicine

Doctor of Law (Juris Doctor)

Doctor of Medicine

Doctor of Occupational Therapy

Doctor of Philosophy in Clinical Psychology

Doctor of Philosophy in Counseling Psychology and Applied Human Development

Doctor of Physical Therapy

Master of Art in Art Education

Master of Arts in Mental Health Counseling and Behavioral Medicine

Master of Education in Counseling

Master of Music in Music Education

Master of Science in Child Life

Master of Science in Genetic Counseling

Master of Science in Nutrition & Dietetic Internship

Master of Science in Speech-Language Pathology

Master of Social Work

Physician Assistant Program – MS

Wheelock College of Education & Human Development Educator Preparation Programs

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International Distance Education:

Degree Recognition

We advise prospective students interested in a Boston University degree to determine whether the degree will be recognized in the student’s country of residence and/or any country in which the student intends to work. Some countries may not formally recognize foreign online degrees, which may impact the ability to later enroll in other educational programs or to seek employment with a government employer or other employers requiring specific credentials. International students considering an academic program that leads to a professional license should first confirm with the appropriate professional licensing board in their country of residence and/or the country in which they intend to work whether a Boston University degree would be recognized when seeking licensure or certification.

Restrictions and Licensing Requirements

To comply with OFAC restrictions and licensing requirements, Boston University currently does not offer online programs to individuals physically located in Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Syria, and the the following regions of Ukraine: Crimea, the so-called Donetsk People’s Republic, and the so-called Luhansk People’s Republic. Please note that this limitation is location based, not citizenship based, and has to do with where one is accessing Boston University course content. Please email with any questions.

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Additional Information


For questions about State Authorization or any of the information on this site, please email

Program Information

Information about BU’s online programs is available at