Legal Basis for Degree-Granting Authority in the United States

This paper discusses the three methods (federal, state, and tribal) through which an institution can obtain degree-granting authority in the United States. Given the frequency and dominance of state actions in this area, the paper focuses primarily on degree authority granted by states by charter or other state action and discusses legal cases that have arisen from disputes over the acquisition of degree-granting authority.

It also discusses the relationship between states, accreditors, and the federal government with regard to degree-granting authority. The degree mill problem is discussed briefly, with reference to more detailed studies. The problem of religious exemptions is discussed, as are the unique degree-authority issues facing California and that state's response.

Recommendations for good practices in states are included.

Publication Date: 
Thursday, October 1, 2009
Alan L. Contreras