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State Authorization Requirements & Complaints Resolution

Online and Distance Education

Online and distance education is an important part of McDaniel's Graduate and Professional Studies (GPS). While all twenty-four degree and certificate programs offer some online classes, we have six programs that can be taken completely online: Educational Leadership, Gerontology, Learning Technologies Specialist, School Librarianship, TESOL (Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages), and Writing for Children and Young Adults.

On October 29, 2010, the U.S. Department of Education (USDOE) released "program integrity" regulations that established the need for institutions offering distance education programs to acquire authorization from states in which they have students residing. Since GPS has students residing in several different states, we are required to obtain authorization from those states.

State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement (SARA)

The National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement (SARA) 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. The State of Maryland is a member of SARA. McDaniel College is an approved SARA institution in Maryland, and thereby has permission to operate in all SARA states. In remaining “non-SARA” states, GPS is currently exempt from requirements to obtain authorization, as long as no on-site (in State) internships are involved. Those states include California and Massachusetts.

Consumer Complaint Policy

As a part of the SARA regulations, institutions must provide current and prospective students with contact information for filing complaints with its accrediting body and the appropriate state agency for handling complaints in a student's state.

A complaint may include allegations that the institution engaged in:

  • Dishonest or fraudulent behavior, including giving false or misleading information to a student. Examples may include, but are not limited to:
    • Veracity of recruitment and marketing materials
    • Accuracy of job placement data
    • Accuracy of information about tuition, fees and financial aid
    • Complete and correct admission requirements for courses and programs
    • Accuracy of information about whether course work meets professional licensing requirements.
  • Operating a course or program contrary to standard practices set forth in the Interregional Guidelines for the Evaluation of Distance Education Programs (Online Learning) in such a way that harms a student.

Graduate and Professional Studies makes every effort to resolve student complaints internally. If you have a complaint about any of the above, please contact Steve Kerby at 410-386-4686 or for information on next steps.

If your complaint is not resolved, you may file a complaint with the Maryland Commission on Higher Education, Maryland’s SARA “portal agency.” Information about how to file such a complaint can be found on MHEC’s website.

For those states that are not members of SARA, you can find information here about filing consumer complaints in those states.

Please note: this policy does not apply to complaints related to course grades, academic sanctions, or discipline/conduct matters. Those matters should be handled by McDaniel's Student Grievance Procedure as outlined in the handbook.

McDaniel College Accreditation

McDaniel College is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education. The Commission has authorized McDaniel College to offer baccalaureate and master’s degrees, and post baccalaureate and professional graduate certificates. For information about filing a complaint with Middle States, click here.