State Authorization for Distance Education

USM is a member of NC SARA, the National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements. NC SARA oversees reciprocity agreements which facilitate USM student participation in distance education, and in on-site experiences outside the state of Maine, such as clinical placements, internships, etc. Students should visit for information on reciprocity agreements with the state in which they plan to complete a placement.

Professional Licensure Disclosure Statement for distance education and other programs

The University of Southern Maine cannot confirm that its courses or degree programs meet the requirements for professional licensure outside of the State of Maine. The University of Southern Maine strongly encourages prospective and current students to contact the appropriate or applicable licensing board(s) in states in which they may wish to pursue licensure, prior to beginning any program of study.

Consistent with new federal requirements, USM is participating in a University of Maine System mechanism for disclosing to students whether our professional licensure-related courses and degree programs meet the requirements for professional licensure outside of Maine, in the states where students reside. Please visit for information on licensure in different states.

Authorization for internships/externships/clinical/field experiences in California

State laws require permission for out-of-state students to participate in on-site educational experiences.  With the exception of California, all states are covered under the State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement. Students seeking to complete an internship/externship/practicum/field/clinical experience in California must first obtain state authorization. Such authorization is managed through the University of Maine System.  

USM must petition California’s state Department of Education to request a waiver for each student participating in an out-of-state internship/externship/practicum/field experience/etc. in California. Please email to obtain the required form for forwarding to the UMS state authorization staff person. NOTE: prior authorization can take 8-12 weeks. Plan ahead.

Student Complaints Concerning Distance Education

Students with complaints about a distance education experience should first follow USM’s Student Complaints Process. Distance education-related complaints regarding academic matters (e.g., grades) should follow the Academic Appeals Policy. Distance education-related complaints regarding administrative matters (e.g., accuracy of information regarding licensure) should follow the Administrative Appeals Policy. 

After following USM’s student complaint process, students may seek further action through the following Maine Department of Education process:

State of Maine Complaint Form. This form should be used by any current student or former student enrolled in an online degree program who seeks to file a complaint against a degree-granting institution approved to operate under the State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement (SARA).

  1. Students should exhaust the formal complaint process of the host institution.
  2. Students should file a complaint using the State of Maine Complaint Form at the link above, and include documentation that the student has exhausted the formal complaint process at host post-secondary institution.
  3. The Maine DOE reviews the complaint and supporting documents. The Maine DOE may request further documentation from the participating SARA institution mentioned in the complaint.
  4. Maine DOE determines if the resolution of the host institution is acceptable. If so, complaint process is concluded and previous resolution is sustained. If the previous resolution is found not acceptable by the Maine DOE, then the complaint will be further investigated until resolved.
  5. Student receives final disposition letter from the Maine DOE.

For general information on NC-SARA complaints processes, visit