What is State Authorization?
State authorization refers to federal, state and professional licensing board regulations that impact educational activities offered across state lines and programs that lead to professional licensure or certification. Compliance with these regulations ensures that a Montana State University degree will be recognized.
Authorization requirements vary by state and program and may impact university operations.
At MontanaState, we are dedicated to researching regulations, seeking and maintaining
compliance, and communicating changes in authorization status.
The State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement (SARA) is a national initiative that increases student access to distance education courses and programs while maintaining compliance with state regulations. Institutions participating in SARA can offer educational opportunities in all 49 SARA member states, the District of Columbia, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico without seeking individual approval in each state.
Montana State was approved as a SARA institution in 2015. Participation expands educational opportunities for Montana State students, decreases institutional risk, and reduces costs associated with offering Montana State programs nationally.
To learn more about SARA, visit nc-sara.org.
SARA State Complaint Process
Students enrolled in a course that takes place outside of Montana in a SARA member state must first follow Montana State's procedures for the resolution of complaints. If a student is not satisfied with the outcome of that process, a complaint involving allegations of dishonest or fraudulent activity, including the provision of false or misleading information, may be brought to the Montana SARA portal entity. The SARA portal entity in the state where the student is located will be notified that the complaint was received and may assist as needed. Resolution of the complaint by the Montana SARA portal entity is final.
Examples of types of student complaints that may be brought to a SARA portal entity include, but are not limited to, complaints regarding accuracy of job placement data, tuition or fee information, accreditation, whether a program meets professional licensing requirements, or course transfer information. Grade appeals and student conduct appeals should be addressed through the Montana State campus processes.
Non-SARA State Complaints
Students participating in a course that takes place in a non-SARA state may file a
complaint with the Montana Office of the Commissioner of Higher Education or may file a complaint in the state where the student is located.
If you are an international student interested in enrolling in an online program, please note:
A country may or may not regulate distance education provided to students in its jurisdiction and may or may not require foreign higher education institutions to comply with distance education regulations. At this time, Montana State University cannot guarantee that a program meets curriculum requirements or professional licensure requirements in your country.
International students interested in enrolling in a Montana State online degree or certificate program should contact the program to verify eligibility.
International students who are living in Montana should contact the Office of International Affairs* before enrolling in online courses or programs.
Determination of Student Location
For the purpose of Professional Licensure and Certification disclosures, a student’s location is the state listed in the student’s local address section in Banner when the student is accepted into a program that customarily leads to licensure/certification. If the program has a separate application process, the student’s location is the state listed in the student’s local address section in Banner at the time the student is formally accepted into the program. For those programs without a separate application process, the student’s location is the state listed in the local address section in Banner at the time the student declares a major in a program listed on the Professional Licensure and Certification page found here (insert link). If no local address is listed, the student’s location will be the state listed in the permanent address section in Banner. Location designations shall remain in effect unless and until a student notifies the Registrar in writing of a change in location to a different state.
Professional Licensure & Certification Disclosures for On-campus and Online Programs
The curriculum for programs customarily leading to licensure at Montana State University have been designed to meet the licensure/certification requirements in Montana as well as preparing students to apply for licensure exams in Montana. The licensure boards in each state are responsible for establishing the requirements for licensure/certification for their state. Completion of a Montana State University program may not meet education requirements for a license or certification in another state.
Students who intend to return or move to any state other than Montana need to review the professional licensure disclosures pertaining to their program and consult with the state professional licensing board. The state professional licensing boards make the ultimate decision as to whether or not an individual will be eligible to sit for licensure based on the rules and regulations in place at the time the individual submits their application for licensure.
If your program leads to a professional license or certification, authorization may be required from the state professional licensing board prior to beginning a clinical or field experience in that state. Check with your program's internship or clinical coordinator with questions about state professional licensing board requirements prior to beginning an internship or field experience in another state.
Montana State makes every effort to ensure information about educational requirements for licensure or certification information is current; however, state requirements may change. Separate from educational requirements, state licensure boards may require applicants to complete professional examinations, background checks, years of professional experience, jurisprudence exams, etc. If you are planning to pursue professional licensure or certification in a state other than Montana, it is strongly recommended that you contact the appropriate licensing entity in that state to seek information and guidance regarding licensure or certification requirements before beginning an academic program.
Click through the links to review whether a Montana State University licensure or certification program meets educational requirements for licensure or certification in each state.
Programs/Certificates leading to Licensure or certification.
College of Agriculture
|Ag Economics & Economics||Economics 5-12 - Minor|
|Agriculture & Technology Education||Agriculture 5-12 - Major & Minor|
|Agriculture & Technology Education||Technology Education 5-12 - Major & Minor|
|Plant Sciences & Plant Pathology||Landscape Architecture*|
|Microbiology & Immunology||Medical Laboratory Science|
*This is in the process of being externally accredited by the American Society for Landscape Architecture.
Arts & Architecture
|Arts||Art Education (K-12) - Major and Minor|
|Music||Music K-12 Major|
|Business||Master of Professional Accountancy|
Education, Health & Human Development
|Engineering - UG with licensure*||BS Biological Engineering|
|Engineering - UG with licensure*||BS Chemical Engineering|
|Engineering - UG with licensure*||BS Civil Engineering|
|Engineering - UG with licensure*||BS Computer Engineering|
|Engineering - UG with licensure*||BS Electrical Engineering|
|Engineering - UG with licensure*||BS Environmental Engineering|
|Engineering - UG with licensure*||BS Industrial and Management Systems Engineering|
|Engineering - UG with licensure*||BS Mechanical Engineering|
|Engineering - UG with licensure in Montana**||BS Construction Engineering Technology|
|Engineering - UG with licensure in Montana**||BS Mechanical Engineering Technology|
|Engineering - UG w/o licensure***||BS Bioengineering (Dual Degree Program with Turkish University)|
|Engineering - UG w/o licensure***||BS Financial Engineering|
|Engineering||Minor in 5-12 Computer Science Teaching|
*ABET accredited engineering programs meet the educational requirements for licensure as a professional engineer in all 50 states (ECE students take the Fundamentals of Engineering exam (FE exam) which is the precursor to the licensing Professional Engineer (PE license). Not all employers require it, but those who work in the area of power distribution usually require it.)
**ABET accredited engineering technology programs meet the educational requirements for licensure as a professional engineer in Montana
***Engineering programs are not ABET accredited and do not meet the educational requirements for licensure as a professional engineer any state
|Workforce Training||Health Information Coding|
|Workforce Training||Medical Assistant|
Letters & Science
|Mathematics||Mathematics (Teaching Options) & Minor|
|Modern Languages & Literatures||Spanish (Teaching Option) & Minor|
|Modern Languages & Literatures||French (Teaching Option) & Minor|
|Modern Languages & Literatures||German (Teaching Option) & Minor|
|Chemistry||Chemistry 5-12 Major & Minor|
|Earth Sciences||Earth Science 5-12 Minor|
|Ecology||Biology 5-12 Major & Minor|
|English||English 5-12 Major|
|Physics||Physics 5-12 Major & Minor|
|Political Science||Government 5-12 Minor|
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Doesn't state authorization only apply to online programs?
A: State authorization regulations apply to all for-credit out-of-state educational activities. That includes online courses and out-of-state field experiences, such as internships and clinicals.
Licensure program disclosures are required for all licensure programs, regardless
of whether the program is offered on-campus or online.
Q: Why does it matter?
A: In order to offer educational opportunities to students outside Montana, Montana State must comply with state, federal, and professional licensing board regulations. Federal regulations require an institution to be authorized in every state where a student is located in order to participate in Title IV federal financial aid programs.
Requiring authorization of distance education programs also protects students as consumers. Authorization ensures that a student is not investing in a program that is not legitimate or a program that does not lead to the license or certification the student was expecting.
Q: What is SARA?
A: The State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement, also known as SARA, established a uniform standard for distance education for all participating states and institutions. An institution participating in SARA must be authorized only in its home state in order to offer educational activities in all 49 SARA member states.
Montana State joined SARA in 2015, which means Montana State can offer many educational
activities in 49 SARA member states, the District of Columbia, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto
Q: Does SARA cover professional licensing board authorizations in other states?
A: SARA does not cover professional licensing board authorizations. If your program leads to licensure or is offered post-license, authorization may be required from the state professional licensing board before you begin online coursework or a field experience, such as a clinical or internship, in that state.
Out-of-State Field Experiences
Q: What is a field experience?
A: A field experience is a learning experience in which a student applies previously learned theories or skills under the oversight of a supervisor or mentor. Examples include practica, student teaching, clinical placements, or internships.
Q: Can I complete an on-ground field experience in a state other than Montana?
A: Yes, Montana State is authorized to place students in field experiences in all 50 states if your program is not in a licensed field. If your program is in a licensed field, like nursing or teaching, approval may be required from the professional licensure board in the state where the field experience takes place.
There are some limitations on the number of students that can be placed at a placement facility in SARA states,
Your college will need to be informed of the state where you are completing a field experience.
Out-of-State Professional Licensure
Q: After completing a program that leads to licensure in Montana, can I seek professional
licensure in another state?
A: Professional licensure laws and regulations vary from state to state. If you are planning to seek professional licensure or certification in a state other than Montana, it is highly recommended that you contact the appropriate state licensing agency to seek guidance regarding licensure or certification requirements.
A Montana State program that leads to licensure or certification in Montana may not meet educational requirements for licensure in another state.