Programs in North Carolina
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Graduate Education

Does the North Carolina Board of Nursing approve nursing graduate-level (masters and doctoral) out-of-state programs/online programs/correspondence courses?

The North Carolina Board of Nursing does not approve or disapprove graduate-level nursing programs, in-state, nor out-of-state, regardless of teaching methodologies used. Programs over which the North Carolina Board of Nursing does not have jurisdiction include: RN-BSN, masters, and doctoral programs. While some states do have jurisdiction over programs beyond those leading to initial licensure, the North Carolina Board of Nursing does not. The North Carolina Board of Nursing has jurisdiction only over pre-licensure nursing programs located in North Carolina that prepare graduates to take the initial Licensed Practical Nurse or Registered Nurse licensure examination.

If I attend a nursing education program in another state, am I able to complete my student clinical experiences in North Carolina?

a) Pre-licensure (Registered Nurse or Licensed Practical Nurse) students who are attending out-of-state programs and wish to complete clinical experiences in North Carolina must contact the North Carolina Board of Nursing Education Department using the Contact Us Form to obtain information regarding requirements. Reference 21 NCAC 36 .0233 for more detail.

b) Graduate (master's or doctoral) students who do not hold a North Carolina or multi-state nursing license must contact the North Carolina Board of Nursing Practice Department using the Contact Us Form to obtain information regarding requirements for the completion of clinical experiences in North Carolina.

What is the State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement (SARA) for Distance Education?

The State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement (SARA) is an agreement among member states, districts and territories that establishes comparable national standards for interstate offering of postsecondary distance education courses and programs. The primary objectives of SARA are to make it easier for institutions in North Carolina to provide online and distance education options to students in other states and to provide basic protections for those students. North Carolina became a SARA state in June 2016.

Please visit the North Carolina SARA website at for more information. To check out-of-state colleges and universities visit the SARA website at and click on the states tab to locate the college or university. This means you may be eligible to participate in field placement experiences (clinicals) in North Carolina, while taking didactic courses in a SARA approved college or university.

SARA pertains to approval of distance education courses and programs offered across state lines by postsecondary institutions that already have degree authorization in at least one state. SARA centralizes the authorization process for each institution in a single state called the institution’s “home state.” Colleges or universities in a SARA state therefore only need their home state authorization to offer distance education to students in any other SARA member state, subject to certain limitations.

Any degree-granting institution in the U.S. must be authorized by a governmental entity to issue degrees. The U.S. Department of Education requires proof of state authorization as a condition of eligibility to participate in Title IV student assistance programs. SARA policy is intended to be consistent with federal law and is therefore subject to change based on federal rulemaking.

In the event the institution is not a SARA-participating institution, it would need to obtain licensure approval from the Board of Governors of The University of North Carolina. All field placement experiences of non-SARA participating institutions, or participating SARA institutions that have more than 10 students per degree program per site location, that are required by the curriculum or carry college credit, trigger a physical presence. Consequently, the institution must obtain licensure approval from the Board of Governors of The University of North Carolina. If a non-SARA institution does not obtain licensure approval, then the institution will not be able to conduct post-secondary degree activity (i.e. offer degree programs, place students, etc.) in North Carolina.

Will my employer accept a graduate out-of-state program?

Determination of what programs to accept is the purview of each employer. When considering an out-of-state program, it is always best to talk with your employer to make sure the college/university under consideration is accepted by your employer. Federal ruling requires any educational institution requesting to provide education in another state, to first receive approval from the state being considered. This ruling includes all areas of education and is not limited to nursing education.

Last Changed 10-Aug-2020

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