Salus University has been approved to participate in the National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements.
What is NC-SARA?
The National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements (NC-SARA) is an agreement among member states, territories, and districts of the United States, which establishes comparable national standards for interstate offering of postsecondary distance education courses and programs. It is intended to simplify the process of taking online courses for credit offered by postsecondary institutions based in another state.
NC-SARA provides a voluntary, regional approach to state authorization of postsecondary distance education. NC-SARA is overseen by a National Council and administered by four regional education compacts. For Pennsylvania the education compact is Southern Regional Education Board (SREB).
Who Belongs to NC-SARA?
The members of NC-SARA are states, not institutions or students. As of 2021, there are over 2,200 institutions in 49 member states, District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. NC-SARA member states (Commonwealth of Pennsylvania) assume the principal responsibility of ensuring that NC-SARA policies are followed by institutions. The State Portal Entity is the Pennsylvania Department of Education, Division of Higher Education, Access and Equity.
Definition of Distance Education
Salus University’s definition of Distance Education is aligned with the National Center for Education Statistics’ Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) webpage, whereby distance education (DE) is education that uses one or more types of technology to deliver instruction to students who are separated from the instructor and to support regular and substantive interaction between the students and the instructor synchronously or asynchronously. The following types of technology may be used for distance instruction:
- Satellite or wireless communication; and
- Audio and video conferencing
A distance education student is “…in a program for which all the required coursework for program completion can be completed entirely via DE courses.” Consistent with IPEDS, a DE course/program is defined in two-parts:
- where all instructional content can be completed remotely, and
- any in-person requirements are non-instructional.
Salus University uses this two-part definition to report Distance Education Students.
Who Does NC-SARA Affect?
At Salus University, distance education programs include:
- Programs where all instructional content can be completed fully online
- Completely online programs with field experiences, externships, internships or practica
- Field experiences taking place outside of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania
- Programs leading to professional licensure in another state
Any student who falls into the above category is receiving benefits by attending an institution that belongs to NC-SARA.
What are the Benefits of NC-SARA?
NC-SARA helps support states, institutions, and students by:
- Improving distance education program quality nationwide
- Making it easier for students to access distance education programs across state lines
- Reducing costs and bureaucracy for institutions
- Improving coordination between states on higher education opportunities
- Supporting valuable student consuming protection oversight of stance education provided by states
Salus University is required to comply with state and federal laws regarding the delivery of distance education. On October 27, 2016, the Southern Regional Education Board (SREB) approved the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to join SARA. Since January 2017, Salus University has been approved by Pennsylvania Department of Education to participate in the National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements. Yearly, the university renews its commitment to state authorization and is currently renewed through February 2022. As a result of being part of NC-SARA, Salus University can offer distance education courses and programs to residents of other NC-SARA member states without pursuing state-by-state compliance.
Note: some academic programs lead to occupations (e.g., optometrist, audiologist, teacher education, etc.) that require licensure or certification by state. This varies by state, requiring separate approval with the appropriate state licensing and certification entities. NC-SARA does not address professional licensing board approval for programs leading to state licensing in such fields. For academic programs where this applies, more specific information (PDF) is provided about licensure/certification.
What Should I Do if I Have a Complaint?
Students should first seek resolutions for complaints by speaking with the program director or department chair of their academic program. Many times, this can be resolved if a student makes an appointment with the program director or department chair and communicates their concerns. If an issue cannot be resolved at this level, students can complete the following Salus University distance education complaint procedure (PDF). If your complaint is not satisfactorily addressed by your program or department, you may fill out the Pennsylvania Department of Education’s Higher Education Complaint Form (PDF).