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NDUS Home  |  North Dakota University System  |  State Authorization & SARA

North Dakota State Authorization & Exemption for Degree-Granting Post-Secondary Institutions

The North Dakota State Board of Higher Education governs the State Authorization of degree-granting, post-secondary institutions. All degree-granting post-secondary institutions offering on-site or distance education courses in North Dakota must seek authorization or exemption under HB1103 guidelines.

Exemptions: Accredited institutions that wish to apply for exemption status under HB 1103 15-18.1-02 definitions must register, apply, and receive confirmation of exemption status. Applications can be completed here.

Accredited institutions that wish to apply for North Dakota State Authorization under definitions in HB 1103 15-19.1-01 or 15-18.1-03 must register, apply, and receive confirmation of authorization status. Applications can be completed here.

Questions regarding this process can be directed to:
Cheryl Thompson, M.S.Ed
Outreach Manager, Core Technology Services of the North Dakota University System


North Dakota has been accepted as part of the State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement (SARA) through the Midwestern Higher Education Compact (MHEC).

Institutions Approved for SARA in North Dakota:
Bismarck State College
Dakota College at Bottineau
Dickinson State University
Lake Region State College
Mayville State University
Minot State University
North Dakota State College of Science
North Dakota State University
University of Jamestown
University of Mary
University of North Dakota
Valley City State University
Williston State College
Trinity Bible College & Graduate School

What is SARA? The State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement is an agreement among member states, districts and territories that establishes comparable national standards for interstate offering of postsecondary distance education courses and programs. It is intended to make it easier for students to take online courses offered by postsecondary institutions based in another state. SARA is overseen by a National Council and administered by four regional education compacts.

How can my institution join SARA? Any degree-granting institution based in the United States, holding proper authorization from Congress, a U.S. state or a federally recognized Indian tribe and holding accreditation from an accrediting association recognized by the U.S. Secretary of Education is eligible to apply to its home state to participate in SARA if that state is a SARA member. For more information click here.

Complaints to the North Dakota University System (NDUS) office regarding North Dakota degree-granting post-secondary institutions authorized or exempted in NDCC and those participating in the National State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement (SARA)

The North Dakota State Board of Higher Education has delegated to NDUS college and university officials authority and responsibility to resolve student and other complaints. Absent applicable law or policy establishing another remedy, the first step in resolving student or other complaints or grievances is to attempt to resolve the matter directly with the administration of the involved institution under established institution complaint or grievance procedures. Every North Dakota institution (private, for-profit, and public) is required to establish, publish, and enforce policies related to redress of complaints and grievances. With limited exceptions, a student or other person who contacts the NDUS office regarding complaints regarding exempted or authorized North Dakota institutions or those participating in the SARA will be referred to college or university officials responsible for resolving those matters. In the event that institutional processes do not result in a successful resolution of a complaint, NDUS is responsible for final resolution of any such complaints originating at any authorized, exempted, or SARA participant institution, public or private. Conversely, if you are a North Dakota resident attending a distance education program at a SARA institution in another state, you will need to begin the complaint process at the institution you attend. In the event that institutional processes do not result in a successful resolution of your complaint, the SARA Portal Agency of that state is responsible for final resolution of the complaint.

With the exception of reporting fraud, waste or abuse as noted below, the NDUS does not review anonymous complaints or matters that are or have been in litigation. Further, matters concerning an individual's grades or examination results are the prerogative of the college/university faculty.

The NDUS does not conduct a judicial investigation or evidentiary hearing. The NDUS may conduct a paper review, discuss the matter with the parties and take other steps as may be appropriate in an attempt to resolve the complaint.

Absent specific statutory authority for not allowing access or disclosure, all documents relating to public business in possession of NDUS employees, including complaints or grievances, responses to complaints or grievances and related documents are open to the public upon request. However, according to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), student information and records that contain personally identifiable information regarding students, including student complaints or grievances and related documents, are confidential, subject to limited exceptions.

The following contact information has been provided to assist you with directing your complaint to the appropriate agency/office.

Cheryl Thompson, M.S.Ed.
Outreach Manager, Core Technology Services of the North Dakota University System
2000 44th St. SW, Suite 301
Fargo, ND 58103

Bismarck State CollegeDakota College at BottineauDickinson State UniversityLake Region State CollegeMayville State UniversityMinot State UniversityNorth Dakota State College of ScienceNorth Dakota State UniversityUniversity of North DakotaValley City State UniversityWilliston State College
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