State Authorization for Distance Education

Last updated: March 23, 2023

State Authorization

State authorization is a regulation of the Department of Education that requires institutions offering online or distance learning programs to be authorized by each state in which the institution enrolls students (if such authorization is required by the state).  

The Graduate Theological Union is in a continuous process to comply with regulations pursuant to state authorization, including applying for and maintaining approval or exemption status for our online offerings in other states. While the GTU would like to make our online programs available to all students across the country, some states have enacted regulations that make it prohibitive for us to do so. 

California’s Relationship to SARA

The State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements (SARA) were established in 2013 by higher education stakeholders including state regulators and education leaders, accreditors, the U.S. Department of Education, and institutions. SARA is intended to streamline regulations around distance education programs.  

However, California is not a member of SARA, which means that California-based institutions are not eligible to participate in the reciprocity agreements and instead must comply with individual applicable state laws in which they would like to enroll students. 

States in Which the GTU is in Compliance

Below is the list of states from which the GTU may enroll online students: 

  • Arizona 
  • California
  • Colorado 
  • Florida 
  • Hawaii 
  • Idaho 
  • Illinois 
  • Kansas
  • Louisiana 
  • Mississippi 
  • Missouri 
  • Montana 
  • Nebraska 
  • New Jersey 
  • Ohio 
  • Pennsylvania 
  • South Carolina 
  • Texas 
  • Tennessee 
  • Utah 
  • Washington 
  • West Virginia 

The GTU cannot enroll online or distance students in states that are not listed above.  

Below is the list of states in which the GTU cannot enroll online or distance students:

  • Alabama
  • Alaska
  • Arkansas
  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • Georgia
  • Indiana
  • Iowa
  • Kentucky
  • Maine
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • Michigan
  • Minnesota
  • Nevada
  • New Hampshire
  • New Mexico
  • New York
  • North Carolina
  • North Dakota
  • Oklahoma
  • Oregon
  • Rhode Island
  • South Dakota
  • Vermont
  • Virginia
  • Washington, D.C.
  • Wisconsin
  • Wyoming

Similarly, the GTU cannot offer federal financial for online programs to students who reside in unauthorized states. 

If you are from a state that is not authorized, please contact a recruitment advisor at so that we can provide information about whether we might pursue compliance with your state. 

Notice to Students Who Relocate

If, while enrolled in an online program with the Graduate Theological Union, you relocate to a state in which we are not in compliance, you may lose eligibility to remain enrolled in your course of study.  

Please speak with your program coordinator if you anticipate relocating while you are completing your degree. Prospective students who have not yet enrolled should consider this regulation prior to applying, especially if there is a possibility of relocating to a restricted state prior to program completion. 

State of California Complaint Procedure

If you believe the GTU’s administrative processes or educational programs are compromised and not up to the required minimum standards, you may notify the State of California, Department of Consumer Affairs, Bureau for Private Postsecondary Education. An individual may contact the Bureau to file or review a complaint. 

The Bureau may be contacted at: 
Bureau of Private Postsecondary Education 
Suite 400 
2535 Capitol Oaks Drive 
Sacramento, CA 95833 
Telephone: (916) 431-6924 
Fax: (916) 263-1897