An institution which is not accredited by a Board-recognized
accreditor and which does not meet the definition of institution of
higher education contained in Texas Education Code, §61.003,
must follow either the Certificate of Authority process or Alternative
Certificate of Authority process in paragraphs (1) - (14) of this
section in order to offer degrees or courses leading to degrees in
the state of Texas. Institutions are encouraged to contact the Board
staff before filing a formal application.
(1) Certificate of Authority.
(A) Eligibility--The Board will accept applications
for a Certificate of Authority only from those institutions:
(i) proposing to offer a degree or credit courses alleged
to be applicable to a degree; and
(ii) which meet one of the following conditions:
(I) has been legally operating, enrolling students,
and conducting classes in Texas and has complied with state law as
a non-degree-granting institution for a minimum of two (2) years;
(II) has been legally operating, enrolling students,
and conducting classes in Texas and has complied with state law as
a degree-granting institution and wishes to open a new campus;
(III) has been legally operating as a degree-granting
institution in another state for a minimum of four (4) years and can
verify compliance with all applicable laws and rules in that state;
(IV) held an Alternative Certificate of Authority for
(V) The Board may not issue a Certificate of Authority
for a private postsecondary institution to grant a professional degree,
as defined in §7.3(35) of this title (relating to Definitions)
or to represent that credits earned in this state are applicable toward
a degree if the institution is chartered in a foreign country or has
its principal office or primary educational program in a foreign country.
(B) To be considered by the Board as operating, means
to have assembled a governing board, developed policies, materials,
and resources sufficient to satisfy the requirements for a Certificate
of Authority, and either have enrolled students and conducted classes
or accumulated sufficient financing to do so for at least one year
upon certification based on reasonable estimates of projected enrollment
and costs. Sufficient financing may be demonstrated by proof of an
adequate surety bond, assignment of account, certificate of deposit,
irrevocable letter of credit, or a properly executed participation
contract with a private association, partnership, corporation, or
other entity whose membership is comprised of postsecondary institutions,
(i) In a form acceptable to the Board; and
(ii) Conditioned to provide indemnification to any
student or enrollee of the school or his/her parent or guardian determined
by the Board to have suffered loss of prepaid tuition or any fees
as a result of violation of any minimum standard or as a result of
a holder of a Certificate of Authority ceasing operation, and provides
evidence satisfactory to the Board of its financial ability to provide
such indemnification and lists the amount of surety liability the
guaranteeing entity will assume.
(2) Application for Certificate of Authority.
(A) Applications must be submitted with an original
and four (4) copies and accompanied by the fee described in paragraph
(9) of this section.
(B) The application form for the Certificate of Authority
may be found on the Board's website.
(C) Documentary evidence of compliance with paragraph
(1)(A)(ii) of this section must be filed with the application.
(D) Information regarding each degree or course leading
to a degree which the institution proposes to offer.
(E) Name and contact information of the designated
Single Point of Contact as defined in §7.3 of this chapter (relating
(3) Authorization Process.
(A) An institution must submit an application to the
Board to be considered for a Certificate of Authority to offer specific
degree(s), and courses which may be applicable toward a degree, in
(B) Each institution must have either a Letter of Exemption
or Certificate of Approval from the Texas Workforce Commission pursuant
to Texas Education Code, Chapter 132.
(C) An institution must submit detailed information
describing the manner in which the institution complies with each
of the Standards of Operations of Institutions contained in §7.4
of this chapter (relating to Standards for Operations of Institutions).
(D) Institutions accredited by entities which are not
recognized by the Board must submit all accrediting agency reports
and any findings and institutional responses to such reports and findings.
(E) Each institution must provide the required fee
set by the Commissioner on a biennial basis which is necessary to
cover the costs of the application review, site review team, and travel,
meals, lodging and consulting fees for the review.
(F) Based upon the information contained in the application,
the Commissioner or his/her designee shall determine whether a site
review team is necessary.
(G) If a site review team is required, the Commissioner
or his/her designee shall identify a site review team of no less than
three individuals, all of whom have experience and knowledge in postsecondary
(H) An institution must be fully operational as of
the date of the on-site evaluation; i.e., it must have in-hand or
under contract all the human, physical, administrative, and financial
resources necessary to demonstrate its capability to meet the standards
for nonexempt institutions. The conditions found at the institution
as of the date of the on-site evaluation visit will provide the basis
for the visiting team's evaluation and report, the Certification Advisory
Council's recommendation, the Commissioner's recommendation, and the
Board's determination of the institution's qualifications for a Certificate
(I) The site review team shall conduct an on-site review
of the institution and prepare a report regarding the institution's
ability to meet the Standards of Operation.
(J) The institution shall have thirty (30) days in
which to respond to the report.
(K) The Certification Advisory Council shall review
the report and the institution's response and make a recommendation
regarding disposition to the Commissioner.
(L) Upon receipt of the Council's recommendation, the
Commissioner shall make his/her recommendation regarding the application
to the Board.
(M) After review of the Commissioner's and Council's
recommendations, if the Board approves the application, the Commissioner
shall immediately have prepared a Certificate of Authority containing
the issue date, a list of the approved degree(s) or courses leading
to degrees, and the period for which the Certificate is valid.
(N) After review of the Commissioner's and Council's
recommendations, if the Board does not approve the application, the
Commissioner shall immediately notify the institution of the denial
and the reasons for the denial.
(O) Upon denial, the institution may not reapply for
a period of one hundred eighty (180) days.
(4) Terms and Limitations of a Certificate of Authority.
(A) The Certificate of Authority to grant degrees is
valid for a period of two (2) years from the date of issuance.
(B) Certification by the State of Texas is not accreditation,
but merely a protection of the public interest while the institution
pursues accreditation from a recognized agency, within the time limitations
expressed in subparagraph (C) of this paragraph. Therefore, the institution
awarded a Certificate of Authority shall not use terms to interpret
the significance of the certificate which specify, imply, or connote
greater approval than simple permission to operate and grant certain
specified degrees in Texas. Terms which may not be used include, but
are not limited to, "accredited," "supervised," "endorsed," and "recommended"
by the State of Texas or agency thereof. Specific language prescribed
by the Commissioner which explains the significance of the Certificate
of Authority shall be included in all publications, advertisements,
and other documents where certification and the accreditation status
of the institution are mentioned.
(C) An institution may be granted consecutive Certificates
of Authority for no longer than eight (8) years. Absent sufficient
cause, at the end of the eight (8) years, the institution must be
accredited by a Board-recognized accrediting agency.
(5) Institutions holding a Certificate of Authority
will be required to:
(A) furnish a list of their agents to the Board;
(B) maintain records of students enrolled, credits
awarded, and degrees awarded, in a manner specified by the Board;
(C) report any substantive change.
(6) Grounds for Revocation of Certificate of Authority.
(A) The Institution no longer holds a Certificate of
Approval or Letter of Exemption issued by the Texas Workforce Commission.
(B) Institution fails to comply with substantive change
notification and data reporting requirements as outlined in §7.11
of this chapter (relating to Changes of Ownership and Other Substantive
Changes) and §7.13 of this chapter (relating to Data Reporting),
(C) Institution offers degrees for which it does not
have Board approval.
(D) Institution fails to maintain the Standards of
Operation as defined in §7.4 of this chapter.
(E) Failure to comply with paragraph (3)(D) of this
(7) Revocation of Certificate of Authority to Offer
Degrees in Texas.
(A) Board notifies institution of grounds for revocation
as outlined in paragraph (6) of this section.
(B) Within ten (10) days of its receipt of the Commissioner's
notice, the institution must respond and offer proof of its continued
qualification for the exemption, and/or submit data as required by §7.13
of this chapter.
(C) After reviewing the evidence, the Commissioner
will issue a notice of determination, which in the case of an adverse
determination, shall contain information regarding the reasons for
the denial, and the institution's right to a hearing.
(D) If a determination under this section is adverse
to an institution, it shall become final and binding unless, within
forty-five (45) days of its receipt of the adverse determination,
the institution invokes the administrative remedies contained in Chapter
1, Subchapter B of this title (relating to Dispute Resolution).
(E) Until the Certificate of Authority is reinstated,
the institution may not grant degrees, offer courses leading to degrees,
or receive payments from students for courses which may be applicable
toward a degree.
(8) Reapplication After Revocation of Certificate of
(A) The institution will not be eligible to reapply
for a period of one hundred eighty (180) days.
(B) The subsequent application must show, in addition
to all other requirements described herein, correction of the deficiencies
which led to the denial.
(C) The period of time during which the institution
does not hold a Certificate of Authority shall not be counted against
the eight (8) year period within which the institution must achieve
accreditation from a recognized accrediting agency absent sufficient
cause, as described in paragraph (4)(C) of this section; the time
period begins to run again upon reinstatement.
(9) Fees Related to Certificates of Authority.
(A) Certificates of Authority. Each biennium the Commissioner
shall set the fee for initial and renewal applications for Certificates
of Authority, which shall be equal to the average cost of evaluating
the applications. The fee shall include the costs of travel, meals,
and lodging of the visiting team and the Commissioner, or the Commissioner's
designated representatives, and consulting fees for the visiting team
members, if an on-site review is conducted.
(B) Each biennium, the Commissioner shall also set
the fees for amendments to Certificates of Authority.
(C) The Commissioner shall report changes in the fees
to the Board at a quarterly meeting.
(10) Renewal of Certificate of Authority.
(A) At least one hundred eighty (180) days, but no
more than two hundred ten (210) days, prior to the expiration of the
current Certificate of Authority, an institution, if it desires renewal,
shall make application to the Board on forms provided upon request.
Reports not previously submitted to the Board, related to the application
for or renewal of accreditation by national or regional accrediting
agencies shall be included. The renewal application shall be accompanied
by the fee described in paragraph (9) of this section.
(B) The application for renewal of the Certificate
of Authority will be evaluated in the same manner as that prescribed
for evaluation of an initial application, except that the evaluation
will include the institution's record of improvement and progress