The North Carolina General Statutes Section (G.S.) 116-15 specifies that the Board of Governors of the University of North Carolina has regulatory authority to issue licensure to conduct post-secondary degree activity in North Carolina. Further, the Board is statutorily empowered to establish such policies and procedures as it considers necessary for carrying out its duties.
The licensing and exemption from licensure functions of the UNC Board of Governors constitutes an important consumer protection activity. The Board in effect assures the citizens of North Carolina that certain post-secondary educational institutions operating wholly or in part in North Carolina provide students an education of good quality.
The University of North Carolina General Administration maintains a staff to implement the licensure statute using the Rules and Standards for Licensure established by the Board of Governors. The staff manages the application process and facilitates the work of a Team of Examiners that conducts site visits to the campus of institutions applying for a license and then recommends approval or denial of the license application.
"Licensure" and "Accreditation"
The Board of Governors as agent of the State regulates certain post-secondary degree activity in North Carolina through a licensing process. Licensure is required by law. Accreditation, on the other hand, is not a requirement of law.
According to the U.S. Department of Education, the goal of accreditation is to ensure that education provided by institutions of higher education meets acceptable levels of quality. Accreditation in the United States involves non-governmental entities as well as governmental agencies. The Board of Governors cannot grant accreditation.
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Licensure Criteria and Application
In carrying out its licensing and exemption from licensure responsibilities, the Board of Governors has clear statutory directions. The licensure statute specifies that 15 minimum standards must be met by applying institutions. These 15 minimum standards are described in the Rules and Standards document.
There is no traditional application form. Applicants must submit a 3-ring binder with supporting documentation addressing the 15 standards outlined in the Rules and Standards document. The 3-ring binder is what we refer to as the application.
Licensure Process and Timeline
Institutions in North Carolina with Licensed Degree Programs
Resources for Licensure
- Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
- Rules and Standards
- Fee Structure
- Guidelines for the Rules and Standards for Licensure
- NC Community College System Office | Approval for Diplomas and Certificates
- Information Regarding Diploma Mills
- N.C. State Archives | Information on Closed Institutions
- U.S. Department of Education Database of Accredited Post-Secondary Institutions and Programs
- Application for Licensure Timeline
Resources for Exemption from Licensure
- Board of Governors Policy on Religious Exemption
- Application Information and Form for Religious Exemption
- Religious Exemption Annual Report Form
Information about Student Complaints
If you were unable to resolve a complaint through the institution's grievance procedures, please review the Student Complaint Policy (PDF), print out and complete the Student Complaint Form (PDF) and submit the complaint to:
North Carolina Post-Secondary Education Complaints
c/o Terrence R. Scarborough
University of North Carolina General Administration
910 Raleigh Road, Chapel Hill, NC 27515-2688
For more information, you may call (919) 962-4558 or send an email.
To file a complaint with the Consumer Protection Division of the North Carolina Department of Justice, please visit the State Attorney General’s web page at http://www.ncdoj.gov/complaint. North Carolina residents may call (877) 566-7226. If you live outside of North Carolina, please call (919) 716-6000.
If you choose to mail a complaint, please use the following address:
Attorney General's Office
Mail Service Center 9001
Raleigh, NC 27699-9001