Academic Program Approval: Independent, New in Massachusetts, and Out-Of-State Institutions

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The Board of Higher Education serves a role of consumer protection and licensing for the approval of academic programs as independent institutions. The Board of Higher Education's authority and procedures apply to institutions of higher education chartered after 1943 and/or institutions that changed their charters after 1943.

Independent institutions of higher education are not licensed by the Board; rather they are granted the authority to award degrees in accordance with the Code of Massachusetts Regulations.

Streamlined Program Review Policy for Massachusetts Institutions

On May 6, 2014, the Board of Higher Education (BHE) voted to institute a new streamlined process for review and approval of new academic programs offered by Massachusetts independent institutions that meet certain criteria. The new policy significantly reduces the time and cost of program approval for eligible institutions, while still meeting the BHE’s legislative mandate to ensure minimal quality standards. The policy provides for two paths to approval:

New Institutions in Massachusetts

When a new institution is proposed and new authorization and approval are sought from the Massachusetts Board of Higher Education, the applicant is required to submit an application (link below) to the Program Review Team in the Academic Affairs Division of the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education. Before submitting an application, new institutions are strongly encouraged to review protocols, procedures and regulations on this page, and in CMR 610 (document above).

Out-of-State Online/Hybrid Program Approval

Thank you for your interest in Massachusetts degree granting authority specific to out-of-state institutions enrolling Massachusetts residents in online/hybrid programs and courses. The Massachusetts Board of Higher Education is undertaking the process of updating its regulations regarding the approval of such programs and courses at this time.

Please complete the Out-of-State Institution Inquiry and Department staff will contact you as more information becomes available.

For additional information, please contact: approvalquery@bhe.mass.edu