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Weber State University WSU Division of Online &Continuing Education


What is State Authorization

State authorization is a legal term for a college’s compliance with individual statutes and regulations in each state in which it operates, has a physical presence, or engages in educational services and programs. In 2016, Utah joined the State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement (SARA) and WSU was approved as a SARA institution in 2016. We follow the established standards for offering post-secondary distance education among member states, and participation in SARA is intended to make it easier for students to take online courses offered by postsecondary institutions with a primary campus in another state.

What is SARA

Utah joined the State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement (SARA) in 2016, and WSU became a SARA approved institution in 2016. This means certain WSU activities are allowed in all listed SARA states. This agreement among member states establishes comparable national standards for interstate offerings of postsecondary distance education courses and programs. It is intended to make it easier for students to take courses offered by postsecondary institutions based in another state. SARA is overseen by a National Council and administered by four regional education compacts, and more information can be found at

Physical Presence (Location)

SARA defines the following as “physical presence” triggers within SARA states.

  • Establishes a physical location for students to receive synchronous or asynchronous instruction.
  • Requires students to physically meet in a location for instructional purposes more than twice per full term (quarter or semester) course for a total of more than six hours.
  • Establishes an administrative office.
  • Provides information to students for the purpose of enrolling students, or provides student support services, from a physical site operated by or on behalf of the institution in the state.
  • Offers a “short course” that requires more than 20 contact hours.
  • Provides office space to instructional or non-instructional staff.
  • Maintains a mailing address or phone exchange in a state.

The following activities do NOT trigger “physical presence” within SARA states.

  • Offering courses to individuals via distance education in ways that do not require students to gather physically in groups, excepting the special provisions in Section 6(1);
  • Advertising to students whether through print, billboard, direct mail, internet, radio, television or other medium
  • Offering distance education courses on a military base if enrollment in such courses is limited to federal employees and family members;
  • Maintaining a server, router or similar electronic service device housed in a facility that otherwise would not constitute physical presence (the presence of a server or similar pass-through switching device does not by itself constitute the offering of a course or program in that state).
  • Having faculty, adjunct faculty, mentors, tutors, or other academic personnel residing in a member state (the presence of instructional faculty in a state, when those faculty teach entirely via distance- education and never meet their students in person, does not establish physical presence for purposes of this agreement).
  • Holding proctored exams on behalf of the institution in the host state.
  • Having contractual arrangements in the home or host state.
  • Offering educational field experiences for students, including an educational field trip arranged for a group of students that are normally in residence at an institution in another state.
  • Operating limited supervised field experiences (or internship). For purposes of this agreement, interstate supervised field experiences originating from campus-based programs in a member state are considered to be distance education and not to establish physical presence if they place fewer than ten students from each program in a member state who are physically present simultaneously at a single facility or site in a host state, and do not involve any multi-year contract between a sending institution and a field site.

Currently, physical presence triggers in non-SARA states include:

State Advertising Trigger Internship Trigger
California No No
Florida, Massachusetts Yes, Systematic and targeted advertising may trigger the need for approval. No