Columbia Southern University (CSU) is a private for-profit institution located in Orange Beach, Alabama and licensed by the State of Alabama Community College System. CSU seeks authorization, as applicable, in U.S. states and territories in compliance with federal and state regulations that govern the offering of online programs. CSU is in a continuous process to monitor regulations in states and territories in which it offers programs and courses. Information about CSU’s status in each state is listed below. Prospective students should review regulatory information and professional licensing requirements in your state of residence.
Columbia Southern University has been approved by the Alabama Commission on Higher Education to participate in the National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements (NC-SARA). NC-SARA is a voluntary, regional approach to state oversight of postsecondary distance education.
As an approved SARA institution, CSU only needs home state authorization to offer distance education to students residing in any other SARA member state. SARA member states can be viewed on the NC-SARA map.
For specific information regarding state authorization contact:
CSU has been approved for authorization in the following states. Please note that some SARA member states are listed, and CSU plans to withdraw authorization in those states prior to the end of the current authorization period.
Columbia Southern University is licensed by the State of Alabama, Community College System pursuant to the Alabama Private School License Law, Code of Alabama, Title 16-46-1 through 10 (Certificate number 05-888-17).
State of Alabama License (pdf)
CSU is exempt from authorization under AS 14.48 as an online distance delivered program and does not have a physical presence in the state.
State of Alaska Authorization
CSU’s programs are not under the jurisdiction of the Arizona State Board for Private Postsecondary Education since the university has no physical presence in Arizona.
The Arkansas Higher Education Coordinating Board (AHECB) initially granted certification to Columbia Southern University to offer degree and certificate programs by distance technology on July 25, 2014. Arkansas confirmed on May 3, 2016 that as a SARA institution CSU no longer has to submit programs for certification unless the programs lead to licensure. CSU programs do not lead to professional licensure.
CSU is not required to be licensed by the California Bureau for Private Postsecondary Education since the institution has no physical presence in California.
CSU’s online programs and activities do not constitute physical presence within Colorado; therefore, Colorado approval is not required to continue offering online degree and certificate programs.
CSU is not required to be licensed by the Connecticut Department of Higher Education since the institution does not have a physical presence in Connecticut.
CSU is not incorporated in Delaware and does not have a physical presence. Therefore, Delaware Department of Education approval is not required.
CSU is not required to be licensed by the District of Columbia Education Licensure Commission.
CSU is not required to be licensed with the Florida Commission for Independent Education (Commission) since the institution is not physically located in Florida and instructors do not have face-to-face contact with students. However, CSU agents are approved by the Commission to recruit and solicit students in the State of Florida
CSU is authorized by the Nonpublic Postsecondary Education Commission to offer instruction (certificate number 7586).
State of Georgia Authorization
CSU does not have physical presence in the State of Hawaii; therefore, authorization is not required.
CSU is not required to register in Idaho, since it is an online-only school outside of Idaho.
CSU received approval from the Illinois Board of Higher Education to operate in Illinois.
State of Illinois Limited Physical Presence Letter
Columbia Southern University was initially granted authorization as an out-of-state institution with no physical presence in Indiana to enroll and offer online instruction or distance education to Indiana residents on January 17, 2014. Indiana confirmed on June 10, 2016 that no further renewals are to be submitted as long as CSU remains a SARA institutional partner.
CSU was initially approved by the Iowa College Student Aid Commission to operate as a distance education program provider in Iowa on March 15, 2013. Iowa confirmed on April 21, 2016 that CSU has no registration obligations to Iowa as a SARA institution.
CSU received a certificate of approval to operate in the State of Kansas (Certificate number 300051). CSU was initially approved to operate in the State of Kansas in November 2011.
State of Kansas Approval
CSU is licensed as an out-of-state institution by the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education to offer degree programs and certificates.
State of Kentucky Approval
CSU is not regulated by the Board of Regents, since it offers courses and programs fully online and does not maintain physical facilities in the State of Louisiana.
CSU is exempt from State of Maine approval or authorization requirements to offer online instructional programming to citizens of Maine.
State of Maine Authorization Letter The link will open a new page.
CSU was initially registered with the Maryland Higher Education Commission to enroll Maryland students in fully online distance education programs on November 8, 2012. Maryland confirmed on September 8, 2016 that as a SARA institution CSU is no longer required register with the state.
CSU is not required to seek licensure with the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education to enroll residents of Massachusetts into online courses and programs.
Approval not Required
Massachusetts Civil Service Disclosure
Students and prospective students who reside in a city or county that uses Massachusetts Civil Service for promotion should contact the Civil Service to determine eligibility to sit for promotional exams. Civil Service is a merit system under which state and municipal employees of police and fire departments may be hired and promoted.
CSU has no physical presence in the State of Michigan and is therefore not required to be licensed to provide online instruction to Michigan residents.
CSU was initially registered as a private institution with the Minnesota Office of Higher Education on December 25, 2013. Minnesota confirmed on April 5, 2016 that CSU has no registration obligations to Minnesota as a SARA institution.
CSU offers programs solely online and is not regulated by the Mississippi Commission on College Accreditation. CSU is registered with the Mississippi Commission on Proprietary School & College Registration (License number C 682).
State of Mississippi Approval
The Mississippi State Refund Policy applies to students who are residents of Mississippi and are enrolled in certificate programs.
Tuition Due Student:
Proportion of Total Course, Program, or Term Completed as of
Date of Withdrawal or Termination
Up to 10%
More than 10% up to and including 25%
More than 25% up to and including 50%
More than 50%
Proportion of Total Course, Program, or Term Completed as of
The Mississippi Commission on Proprietary School & College Registration requires institutions to fully disclose information regarding institutional effectiveness and school policies to prospective students. While most information is found in the university catalog, the following document contains student information specific to Mississippi residents.
Institution Disclosure of Information
CSU does not have a physical presence in the State of Missouri and, therefore, is not required to be licensed by the Missouri Department of Higher Education.
CSU is accredited by the accrediting commission of the Distance Education Accrediting Commission (DEAC) and maintains a Financial Responsibility Composite Score of 2.5. This satisfies the requirements of Montana Code Annotated § 20-25-107 and Board of Regents Policy §221. Therefore, CSU is authorized to offer post-secondary degree programs in the State of Montana.
State of Montana Authorization
CSU has no physical presence in Nebraska and is not required to seek authorization to offer online courses or programs.
CSU is not required to be licensed in Nevada by the Commission on Postsecondary Education due to lack of physical presence. However, CSU is approved by the Commission to recruit students in the State of Nevada. All agents who recruit in Nevada are required by CSU to have an agent permit.
CSU offers online education to New Hampshire residents which does not require authorization.
The New Jersey Secretary of Higher Education notified the Distance Education and Training Council on June 21, 2012 that N.J.S.A. 18A:3-15.3 regulation includes all out-of-state institutions that have received accreditation from bodies recognized by the Council of Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) or U.S. Department of Education as a duly authorized institution of higher education. CSU fully meets this requirement. The New Jersey Secretary of State confirmed in October 2013 that CSU is not required to seek licensure.
CSU is not required to register in the State of New Mexico since the institution offers online courses and programs and does not require an internship/externship.
CSU has no physical presence in New York and is not required to seek approval.
CSU's activities within North Carolina do not require licensure by the Board of Governors of the University of North Carolina.
Columbia Southern University was initially granted exemption on April 28, 2014. CSU notified North Dakota of its SARA status on May 6, 2016 after determining the institution would not need to submit a renewal application for the 2016-2017 approval period. North Dakota confirmed on May 11, 2016 that CSU has no obligations to North Dakota as a SARA institution.
CSU is exempt from the authorization of the Ohio Board of Regents. CSU is registered by the Ohio State Board of Career Colleges and Schools to offer programs. CSU was initially approved by the board in October 2012.
State of Ohio Approval
CSU delivers courses and programs exclusively through an online format and is therefore not required to be licensed by the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education.
CSU was approved to offer online courses, certificates, and degree programs to students in Oregon and to place students at appropriate sites in Oregon under the supervision and assessment of faculty and staff employed by this institution on September 23, 2013. CSU notified Oregon of its SARA status on May 6, 2016 and withdrew its renewal application for the 2015-2017 approval period. Oregon confirmed on April 13, 2016 that CSU has no state authorization requirements in Oregon as a SARA institution.
CSU is not required to seek approval with the Pennsylvania Department of Education since a physical presence has not been established. However, CSU has received confirmation to enroll residents of Pennsylvania through July 1, 2017.
CSU is not required to be authorized by the Rhode Island Office of Higher Education since physical presence in the State of Rhode Island is not established.
CSU is not required to seek licensure with the South Carolina Commission on Higher Education, since physical presence in the state is not established.
The Secretary of State of the State of South Dakota has issued a certificate of authorization to Columbia Southern University to provide postsecondary education.
South Dakota Authorization
CSU has sent a regulatory compliance inquiry to the Tennessee Higher Education Commission to confirm that the institution does not need to obtain authorization from the Commission.
CSU is exempt from oversight of the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board since there is no physical presence in the state. The Board recognizes the accrediting commission of the Distance Education Accrediting Commission (DEAC). CSU is excluded from the Texas Workforce Commission's licensing requirements for enrolling Texas residents. CSU is not regulated in Texas under Chapter 132 of the Texas Education Code. However, a CSU agent is approved by the Higher Education Coordinating Board to recruit and solicit students in the State of Texas.
CSU has met the requirements of Utah Code § 13-34a-204 to be a registered postsecondary school required under 34 C.F.R. 600.9 to be legally authorized by the State of Utah.
Letter of State Authorization
CSU is not required to be approved by the Vermont Department of Education or the State Board of Education since it only offers online programs with no physical presence in Vermont.
CSU can offer postsecondary instruction via distance learning to residents of the Commonwealth of Virginia. However, CSU does not meet Virginia's criterion of physical presence and is therefore ineligible for certification to operate in Virginia. As such, students who are residents of Virginia do not benefit from protections available to students attending institutions that are certified by SCHEV (http://www.schev.edu/highered/pope/Students.asp).
CSU is not currently required to be authorized by the Higher Education Coordinating Board. CSU has made inquiry into the state related to new regulatory language.
CSU does not meet the definition of physical presence as defined in Series 20, Authorization of Degree Granting Institution. Therefore, authorization to offer online programs to West Virginia residents is not required.
CSU is approved by the Educational Approval Board to offer programs, subject to the provisions of Wisconsin Statutes 38.50 and all administrative rules adopted pursuant to the statutes. CSU was initially approved to operate in the State of Wisconsin in November 2011
State of Wisconsin Approval
CSU is registered by the State of Wyoming, Department of Education pursuant to the Private Schools Licensing Act, Wyo. Stat. 21-2-401.
State of Wyoming License
The Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) has no regulations, policies, or laws that restrict US institutions providing distance education to citizens of FSM.
Federated States of Micronesia Letter
According to Section 9.4 of Regulation for Licensing of Higher Education Institutions in Puerto Rico, No. 8265 (2012), the Licensing and Accrediting Area of the Puerto Rico Council on Education certifies that Columbia Southern University (CSU) is exempt from licensure to operate as an institution of higher education in Puerto Rico since it offers distance education programs to students in the Island.
Puerto Rico Exemption Letter
There are no regulations or rules in the Republic of the Marshall Islands regarding the authorization of distance education programs.
Marshall Islands Letter
CSU has satisfied the requirements to provide post-secondary educational services to students in the United States Virgin Islands.
CSU sent a regulatory compliance inquiry to the following territories and is pending a response.