Evaluation of the State Authorization Processes for Distance Education

March 17, 2013

In this article, the process of obtaining state authorizations for distance education at George Mason University is presented.  The purpose of the paper is to provide guidance to those four-year public universities that deliver distance education programs.  In order to attract students from multiple states, the U.S. Department of Education (USDOE)’s “program integrity issues” announced in Fall 2010 has created some confusion as to how best to maintain compliance. Although changes in the program integrity processes that were required by the USDOE have been placed on hold, state regulations regarding the operation of higher education institutions are still in place. Therefore, George Mason University continues to seek approval from all states in which we have noted online student enrollment. In this study, we present the process of obtaining state authorizations over the last year, including challenges, variability of state authorizations, a status report on Mason compliance processes, and, future plans regarding the state authorization processes. The article is meant to help guide university leaders who must allocate resources wisely in an arena with multiple fixed constraints.

Online Journal of Distance Learning Administration

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