A new agreement will allow students across the country to access Central Michigan University’s online classes more easily.
CMU has been approved by the State of Michigan as the state’s first institution in the State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement. SARA is a landmark, voluntary agreement among states, districts and territories that establishes national standards for postsecondary distance education courses and programs.
“Being a part of SARA will make it easier for students across the nation to access online courses offered by Central Michigan University,” said Pete Ross, vice president for CMU’s Global Campus. “This is a major advancement in delivering high-quality education to all students.”
SARA was designed to make authorization of online providers more uniform, to address
quality and integrity issues that have arisen in some online/distance education provider’s offerings, and to reduce the costs that were inherent in state-by-state approval.
States must apply to be authorized by the National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements. Once approved, they can enroll institutions. Michigan became one of more than 30 NC-SARA members on Aug. 29; it endorsed CMU on Sept. 3 as its first qualified university.
“Without this agreement, CMU must seek authorization in each state. All of them have had their own, often complex regulations, protocols and licensing fees,” said Shellie Haut, director of licensure, regulatory services and human capital for CMU’s Global Campus. “Now, if a student’s state is SARA-authorized, they won’t have long delays to begin CMU online classes while authorization is obtained.”
CMU is one of only a few universities authorized to offer distance education in the United States. CMU currently is authorized in 49 states, the District of Columbia, and U.S. territories including Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
CMU’s approval through NC-SARA means it no longer will have to negotiate with those individual states that are SARA members, nor pay individual fees to them. Instead, it will work with Michigan and pay fees through SARA.
CMU has been a leader for more than 40 years in delivering classes and degrees to off-campus students. Its stellar reputation is the reason President George E. Ross was selected to serve on the committee that led to the SARA agreement. He is one of four university presidents on the 20-member national council board.
“Central Michigan University has long been a leader in meeting the needs of students unable to be on campus for two, four or more years,” Ross said. “That is significant in today’s global, mobile economy, where students often have to work multiple jobs to afford college. This is about CMU, a major, national university, giving students access to high-quality education.”
CMU's Global Campus, which oversees the university's online programs, has nearly 40 locations in the U.S. and Canada, including 20 military bases. CMU has been a pioneer in distance learning since 1971, when it introduced educational opportunities for students and adults at satellite campuses in areas where they live and work.
U.S. News & World Report ranked CMU as No. 5 in best online graduate education programs for teachers and administrators, No. 13 in best online bachelor’s programs, and No. 25 in best online graduate MBA programs. Three of CMU’s online education programs for veterans also ranked among the best 25 in the nation. Additionally, CMU has been named to Military Advanced Education’s list of “Military-Friendly Colleges and Universities” for the past seven years.