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State Authorization for Distance Education

West Virginia Northern Community College has been approved by the State of West Virginia to participate in the National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements. NC-SARA is a voluntary, regional approach to state oversight of postsecondary distance education. Use the information on the NC-SARA webpage to determine if your state is included.

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.

What are the benefits of SARA to students?

  • Expands access to educational offerings.
  • Should lead to better resolution of complaints from students in SARA states.
  • Reduces a rapidly growing institutional cost that is in one way or another passed along to students.
  • Should enhance overall quality of distance education

For more information regarding NC-SARA, go to:

What SARA does not do:

SARA does not address reciprocity for programs leading to state professional licensure.  Students considering an online program that leads to professional licensure or certification will need to contact the appropriate licensing agency in the state where they reside and plan to take instruction before beginning their academic program.

NC-SARA Compliance:

WVNCC is approved to offer programs that may lead to licensure or certification in West Virginia. However, licensing requirements vary from state to state. WVNCC has not made a determination that our programs meet the specific requirements for licensure or certification in any other state.

If you are planning to seek licensure or certification outside of West Virginia, it is highly recommended you contact the appropriate licensing board where you plan to be licensed prior to starting the academic program. Please access the Common Professional Licensure Board Links provided by the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education’s (WICHE) Cooperative for Educational Technologies which contains links to professional licensure agencies and contact information for each state.

NC-Sara has developed a Professional Licensure Directory for the five most common programs leading to licensure. This directory does not house regulations or requirements. It is general contact information only.

These programs include:

  • Nursing
  • Counseling
  • Psychology
  • Social Work
  • Teacher Education

Additional professional licensure information for students can be found under the Student tab at:


Students relocating to another state after being admitted to WVNCC should inquire with WVNCC as to whether or not it is authorized through SARA, exemption, or non-regulation to offer degree programs to students in that state. Failure to do so may result in the student being dismissed from the college if the college is not authorized to offer degrees in the student’s new state of residence, as may be required by law.

Complaint Resolution:

In compliance with the new regulations, an institution offering distance education must provide enrolled and prospective students with contact information for filing complaints with its accrediting agency, the West Virginia State SARA portal entity, and with the appropriate state agency for handling complaints in the student's state. For information on complaint processes, go to