SHEEO State Authorization Surveys

Revision of Massachusetts Department of Higher Education from Fri, 04/18/2014 - 15:06

1A1. Agency Name: 
Massachusetts Department of Higher Education (DHE) (the agency supporting the Massachusetts Board of Higher Education {“Board”})
1A2. Agency Description - Please review the description below and revise as appropriate (e.g., state executive agency, agency with appointed board, department or division within agency, etc.): 

The Massachusetts
Board of Higher Education (MBHE) coordinates the review and approval for all
out-of-state institutions of higher education.  
The MBHE’s general policy is to require an institution to be approved by
the MBHE if an education institution chartered, incorporated, or organized in
another state, conducts within the Commonwealth any courses available to
residents of the Commonwealth leading to the award of a degree.

 

The
Degree Granting Regulations for the Board of Higher Education, 610 CMR 2.00 are
promulgated to establish procedures and criteria for decisions by the Board
affecting the authority of independent educational institutions subject to the
jurisdiction of the Board to grant degrees, to conduct credit bearing courses
within the Commonwealth, and to use the terms, “junior college”, “college”, or
“university” as part of their names.

1A3. Agency Contact - Please review and correct as necessary the contact information below: 

Academic Policy Staff

Massachusetts Department of Higher Education

One Ashburton Place, Room 1401

Boston, MA 02108

Phone:  (617) 994-6922

Email:
approvalquery@bhe.mass.edu

7A. Application Fee - Is there an application fee to initiate the authorization process? If so, what is the fee or fee schedule? Please provide a web link if available: 

An institution shall pay the following fees:

 

For the initial licensure of a Massachusetts-based or
Out-of-state institution: $10,000 plus $2,000 for each degree requested at the
same time if more than one.

 

Annual fee each year for the first five years following
initial licensure
for institutions new to Massachusetts:
$4,000.

 

(Please note that the institution is not required to submit
this annual fee after the fifth year of operation in Massachusetts.)

 

For each additional degree at Massachusetts licensed
institutions: $4,500 plus $2,000 for each additional degree requested at the
same time if more than one.

 

Periodic inspection or review (if a separate review from
Board’s participation in New England Association of Schools and Colleges review
is required): $4,000.

 

Other requests requiring public hearings (e.g., award
honorary degree(s), change the name of an institution, or retitle an existing,
authorized degree): $500.

 

Institutional closure: $500. All records must be transmitted
by the institution in electronic form.

8A. Do your state regulations explicitly allow or prohibit interstate reciprocal agreements about authorization? If so, please describe: 

In accordance with the 610
CMR 2.00 there is no waiver or exemption process.

7B. Other Costs - Are there any other costs associated with the state authorization process (e.g. site visits, hiring a reviewer, surety bond, tuition recovery fund, agent licensing, etc.): 

Yes. There are costs associated with the site visit related
to travel and other accommodations for the reviewers
and DHE staff.

7C. Renewal Costs - What are the costs, if any, to renew authorization: 

Renewal is not required;
hence, there is no fee. 

 

However, institutions new
to Massachusetts must pay an annual $4,000 fee for the first five years of its
initial authorization to offer degrees. 
Please see above.

8B. What is the process, if any, to obtain a reciprocal agreement with your state: 

N/A

8C. Are there any reciprocal agreements currently in place or under consideration? If so, please list those agreements: 

No

6A. Description – Please provide a short description of the application process to obtain state authorization. If available, please provide web links to the specific references to all applicable state laws, regulations, manuals, forms, or other pertinent documents: 

Independent institutions must submit an application to the Board of
Higher Education. In addition, the Articles of Amendment/Organization or
Foreign Corporation Certificate must also be filed be with the
Secretary of the
Commonwealth
, which are then referred to the Board of Higher Education
for investigation of the institution, its faculty, equipment, courses of study,
financial organization, leadership, and other relevant facts.

7D. Exemption Costs - What costs are associated with receiving a waiver or exemption to authorization: 

In accordance with the 610
CMR 2.00 there is no waiver or exemption process.

6B. Processing Time – Generally, how long does it take to approve applications (assuming that the agency has received all required information from the institution)? Please provide a typical range if appropriate: 
The typical application process can take from 9 month to a year or more.
4A1. Does your agency require purely (100%) distance education programs, including online or correspondence study programs that enroll residents of your state, to be authorized without regard to physical presence: 
No
8D. If interstate reciprocal agreements are not addressed in your regulations, would your agency consider establishing such agreements? Please elaborate: 

The DHE is open to dialogue.

1A4. Who should institutions contact if they have questions about your agency’s authority, policies, or application process: 

Same
as above.

6C. Duration – What is the authorization duration: 

There is no time
limitation. An authorization is valid as long an institution remains in
compliance with regulations or ceases to operate.

4B1. If not, does your agency determine whether an institution must be authorized based on a physical presence (“operating”) standard: 
Yes
6D. Maintenance – What does an institution need to do to maintain authorization: 

Remain in compliance with
Degree-Granting Regulations for Independent Institutions of Higher Education,
610 CMR 2.00, et seq.

1C1. Other Agencies - According to our records, the following agencies also have responsibility for authorization in the state. Please correct, add to, or clarify this list of authorizing authorities as necessary. These agencies will also be requested to complete this survey: 
None.
6E. Reporting – What kinds of information or data must an institution report to your agency as a condition for continued authorization? How frequently is this reported or updated? Is this information published or shared publicly: 

Any institution under the purview of the Board must respond
to inquiries on an as needed basis. With limited exception, all documents made
or received by the DHE are p
ublic records and subject to disclosure upon request.

 

For profit institutions must submit an annual report to the
DHE. 


For profit institutions may be subject to review of
standards outlined in the 610 CMR 2.00 every five years.  

 

Nonprofit institutions may be subject to periodic inspection
12 years after the Board’s approval of the certificate of organization or the
articles of amendment.  The Board may
consider its participation in and/review of New England Association of Schools
and College accreditation visits or reports to continue periodic inspection of
an institution.

6F. Loss of Status – Can an institution lose its authorized status? If so, how?: 

Yes. An investigation of an institution will be carried out
when facts are brought to the attention of the Board suggesting a reasonable
probability of non-compliance with 610 CMR 2.00; or suggesting a reasonable
probability that a degree or degrees are being or will be awarded within the
Commonwealth without proper authority; or that a course or courses available to
residents of the Commonwealth leading to the award of a degree or degrees are
being or will be conducted within the Commonwealth without proper authority.
When an investigation is undertaken to inquire into probable noncompliance with
standards, the Board will require the institution to provide specific
information pertinent to the specific concern. The Board may require the
institution to provide some or all of the information described in 610 CMR 2.07
and/or 610 CMR 2.08, if applicable.

 

Upon institutional closure, the Board will formally revoke
the institution’s authority.

9A1. Does your agency have a process for handling complaints about postsecondary institutions or programs:: 
Yes
6Ga. Multi-Institutional Systems – Can a multi-institutional system or college corporation apply to your agency for authorization on behalf of all of its component institutions? If so, please describe the process: 

No. Only institutions can be awarded authority.

9A2. If yes, please describe the process or provide a web link to the material that describes the complaint process: 
6Gb. Would multi-institution public systems be treated the same as multi-location for-profit institutions: 

Not applicable.

3A1. General Exemptions - Are certain institutions or programs exempt by law or policy from your state authorization requirements: 
No
9A3a. If yes, does this complaint process extend to institutions not authorized by the agency that may enroll residents of the state (such as explicitly distance education programs with no physical presence or exempt institutions): 
Yes
6H. Distinctive Features – What distinctive features in your authorization process would be useful for applicants to know (e.g., certain times during the year that you process applications for authorization, sharing of applications or information about proposed programs with institutions or other stakeholders in your state for comment): 

Prior to submitting an application, an institution is
strongly encouraged to consult with DHE staff.

2A1. Institution Types Authorized - Indicate the types of institutions that your agency authorizes. Feel free to provide a short explanation of any ambiguity: 
Public, in‐state degree granting institutions
Public, out‐of‐state degree granting institutions
Private, in‐state, not‐for‐profit degree granting institutions
Private, out‐of‐state, not‐for‐profit degree granting institutions
Private, in‐state, for‐profit degree granting institutions
Private, out‐of‐state, for‐profit degree granting institutions
6I1. Amendments – Is your agency currently planning to amend its application process by the end of 2013: 
No
9B. Who is the contact person for receiving complaints? Please include name, title, address, phone, and email if available: 

Angela
Williams, Senior Administrative Assistant/Paralegal

(617)
994-6963;
awilliams@bhe.mass.edu

2B1. Multiple Agencies - Is an institution required to obtain approval from more than one agency to be authorized in your state (excluding purely programmatic approvals): 
Yes
9C. If your agency has no formal process for handling complaints related to postsecondary institutions, what state agency would handle a complaint: 

N/A

3B. Other Requirements - If an institution or program is exempt from state authorization, are there any other state requirements that an institution would need to fulfill in order to operate in your state (e.g., providing contact information, list of programs, etc.): 

N/A

2C1. Accreditation - Is accreditation required for an institution to be authorized in your state: 
Yes
3C1. Religious Institutions - Does your state constitution or do your state laws provide any exemptions for religious institutions: 
No
2C2. If yes, please explain: 

Out-of-state institutions seeking approval in Massachusetts
must be accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges
(NEASC), or a regional and/or a national accreditation agency recognized by the
United States Department of Education. 

2C3. If yes, what type of accreditation is required? Please check all that apply: 
Regional
National
Programmatic/specialized, if applicable
10A. If your agency finds that an institution or program is operating in your state without authorization, what is the resulting warning or enforcement action: 

Actions by the Board
implementing the requirement of M.G.L. c. 69, s. 31A that no educational
institution chartered, located, offering courses, or otherwise doing business
within the Commonwealth may award degrees within the Commonwealth unless
authorized to do so by the Commonwealth; nor shall any educational institution
chartered, incorporated, or organized in another state conduct within the
Commonwealth any courses available to residents of the Commonwealth leading to
the award of a degree unless the educational institution has received the
approval of the Commonwealth for such courses.

 

Massachusetts General Laws,
chapter 266, s. 89 states in relevant part that “whoever, without having lawful
authority to confer degrees, offers or confers degrees as a school, college, or
as a private individual, alone or associated with others, shall be punished by
a fine of not more than one thousand dollars or by imprisonment for not more
than one year, or both.”

 

An investigation of an
institution will be carried out when facts are brought to the attention of the
board suggesting a reasonable probability of non-compliance with 610 CMR 2.00;
or suggesting a reasonable probability that a degree or degrees are being or
will be awarded within the Commonwealth without proper authority; or that a
course or courses available to residents of the Commonwealth leading to the
award of a degree or degrees are being offered or will be conducted within the
Commonwealth without proper authority.

 

An out-of-state institution operating unlawfully in the
Commonwealth may not be under MBHE purview. Consequently, information about
such matters may be shared with the Consumer Protection Division and/or the
Public Charities Division of the Attorney General's Office for appropriate
action.

 

An institution which finds that it has mistakenly enrolled
students in online programs requiring MBHE approval should contact Department
staff immediately in order to facilitate the approval process and avoid a
potential investigative action against the institution.

2D1. Does your agency authorize specific academic programs offered by institutions, only institutions themselves, or both: 
Both Institutions and Programs
10B. Can an institution or program appeal a warning or enforcement action? If yes, please describe the process or provide web links to the regulations/policies: 

In accordance with the provisions of M.G.L. c. 69, § 30A, if
the Board has reason to believe that an institution does not comply with its
regulations it shall conduct a preliminary inquiry of the matter. If this
inquiry indicates a reason to believe that the institution does not comply with
610 CMR 2.00, the Commissioner of Higher Education may, if appropriate, review
the alleged violations with the institution and approve a corrective course of
action by the institution.

2E1a. Education: 
Yes
2E1b. Name and Contact information, Education: 

Not given.

2E2a. Nursing: 
Yes
2E2b. Name and Contact Information: 

Not Given.

11A1. Amendments - Is your agency or state legislature currently planning to amend its regulations or alter its physical presence policy: 
No
11B1. Federal Regulations - Is your agency or state legislature making changes in your state regulations or statutes so that institutions with locations in your state would be considered legally authorized in accordance with the federal institutional eligibility regulations: 
No
11C1. Other Changes - Is your agency or state legislature making any other changes in your state regulations or statutes with regard to state authorization: 
No
INSTRUCTIONAL ACTIVITIES
5B1a. Hosting short term, face‐to‐face, seminars or conferences in the state where students meet in person: 
Yes
5B1b. Clarifying Comments: 

Yes.   See the answer
to question 4a. (It was...)



Purely
(100%) distance education programs delivered wholly on line by out-of-state
institutions (without the incorporation of the on-the-ground activities
described above as part of the curriculum) are not subject to MBHE approval.

 

However,
out-of-state institutions seeking to enroll Massachusetts residents in online
programs may fall under the purview of the Board if they require the following
activities in Massachusetts as part of the curriculum: internships,
externships, clinical residencies, mentorships, shadowing experience, student
teaching experiences, etc.

 

Institutions
should contact the Department for more information about this provision.   Any answers on the need to be approved are
specific to the actual situation and will be formulated after a staff review of
the actual in place constellation of facts at the time of such review.  

 

Please
note that any institution headquartered in Massachusetts regardless of its
intent to enroll Massachusetts residents or method of course delivery is
subject to approval.

5B2a. Permitting a student to complete an internship, externship, field experience, or clinical practicum organized by the institution: 
Yes
5B2b. Clarifying Comments: 

Yes. See the answer to questions 4a.(5b1)

5B2c. Does this apply only to distance education students or more generally: 
More Generally
5B2d. Clarifying Comments: 
This applies both to online
and traditional brick and mortar programs offered by out-of-state institutions.
5B3a. Permitting a student to complete an internship, externship, field experience, or clinical practicum found by the student acting independently: 
Yes
5B3b. Clarifying Comments: 

Yes. See the answer to questions 4a.(5b1)

5B3d. Clarifying Comments: 
This applies both to online
and traditional brick and mortar programs offered by out-of-state institutions.
5B3c. Does this apply only to distance education students or more generally: 
More Generally
PROPERTY IN THE STATE
5B6a. Housing ONLY computer servers or other equipment at a physical location in the state: 
No
RECRUITING ACTIVITIES
5B8a. Organized, consistent, on ‐ the ‐ ground recruiting of students in the state by employees or agents of the institution: 
No
5B8c. What if the agent is only recruiting students in the state on an occasional basis (i.e. at job fairs): 
No
THIRD PARTY AGREEMENTS/CONTRACTS
5B9a. Having a contract/agreement between the institution and in‐state institutions or in‐state entities to provide services for students (i.e. library, gym, computer centers, etc.): 
Yes
5B9b. Clarifying Comments: 

It would depend on the nature of the services and to the
extent the institution is conducting business in the Commonwealth.   Please see the answer to 4a. (5b1)

5B10a. Requiring a student to take a proctored exam at a location or with an entity in the state prescribed by the institution: 
No
5B11a. Requiring a student to take a proctored exam with an entity in the state chosen by the student but approved by the institution: 
No
ADVERTISING
5B12a. Advertising in local media sources that are largely viewed by residents of the state : 
Yes
5B12b. Clarifying Comments: 

Systematic and targeted advertising may trigger the need for
approval.  The determination in regards
to advertising and the need for approval depends to a great deal on how
Massachusetts consumers are affected e.g., would the institution target
Massachusetts residents in a systematic and continuous way as part of an
overall effort to serve the education market in Massachusetts?  Is the institution trying to reach into
another jurisdiction?  What is the
specific degree of interactivity? 
Institutions should contact Department staff for more information. Any
answers on the need to be approved would be specific to the actual situation
and would be formulated after a staff review of the actual in place
constellation of facts at the time of such review.

 

Please note that institutions must not advertise programs
(subject to Board approval) prior to receiving Board approval.  This would be considered false advertising
and subject to criminal charges and fines.

5B13a. Advertising in national media sources that can be accessed by residents of the state: 
Yes
5B13b. Clarifying Comments: 

Please see the response above.

EMPLOYMENT IN THE STATE
5B14a. Employing full‐time faculty in the state to provide instruction via distance education programs to students in the state: 
No
5B14c. What about adjunct faculty: 
No
5B15a. Employing full‐time faculty in the state to provide instruction via distance education programs solely to students outside of the state: 
No
5B15c. What about adjunct faculty: 
No
5B16a. Employing mentors, tutors, or preceptors in the state to aid students, who are residents of the state, on an individual basis: 
Yes
5B16b. Clarifying Comments: 

Employing mentors, tutors or preceptors in the state to aid
students may likely indicate that the institution is operating courses or
degree requirements within the state. 
Please see 4a (5b1) for more information.

OTHER
5C1. Combinations - Of the activities or conditions listed above that alone would not constitute a physical presence, are there any that, if combined, would create a physical presence: 
No
12A. Is there anything else about the authorization process in your state that we and others ought to know about: 

The DHE strongly recommends that institutions contact DHE
staff for further information, guidance and clarification if they have any
questions or are unsure about the process.