Out-of-State Degree Granting-Institutions

Information for Institutions Of Higher Education Interested In Applying To Operate In The State Of Maryland As An Out-of-State Institution

An out-of-state institution is a degree-granting institution whose primary campus exists outside Maryland, and whose authority to grant degrees is conferred by another state. Out-of-state institutions operating in Maryland must hold a Certificate of Approval.

An out-of-state institution that has ten or fewer students in a single program, placed simultaneously at one site in the State in a supervised internship, practicum, or field experience as a required part of a degree or certificate program is not operating in Maryland but shall:

(1) Submit to the Secretary, by June 30 of each year, an annual report​ detailing the number of students placed at an internship, practicum, or field experience location; and

(2) Register any online programs in accordance with Education Article, §11-202.2, Annotated Code of Maryland.

The Code of Maryland Regulations 13B.02.01 outlines the requirements for out-of-state institutions of higher education operating or seeking to operate in Maryland. 

Out-of-state degree-granting institutions wishing to operate in Maryland must:

  1. be fully accredited by an organization recognized as an accrediting agency by the U.S. Department of Education;
  2. make an application to the Secretary of Higher Education at the Maryland Higher Education Commission for approval to operate;
  3. submit a non-refundable application fee;
  4. offer programs in Maryland that are offered at their main or primary campus;
  5. demonstrate that the proposed program meets a critical and compelling regional or statewide need; and
  6. comply with state regulations governing out-of-state institutions found in the COMAR 13B.02.01.

Activities constituting ‘Operate in Maryland’

Pursuant to COMAR 13B.02.01.03B(12)(a)(i), ‘Operate in Maryland’ means

(a) Establish or provide a location in the State for students to receive synchronous or asynchronous instruction for credit leading to a degree or certificate;

(b) Require students to physically meet in a location in the State for instructional purposes more than twice during a full-term (quarter or semester) course for a total of more than 6 hours; or

(c) Have more than ten students, in a single program, placed simultaneously at one site in the State in a supervised internship, practicum, or field experience as a required part of a degree or certificate program, unless the internship, practicum, or field experience:

i.  Is arranged and administered by a national placement center;

ii.  Occurs at the National Institutes of Health, The U.S. Food and Drug Administration, or other federal agency that, in the determination of the Secretary, recruits students nationwide from eligible academic programs, regardless of the student's specific institution of higher education; or

iii. In the determination of the Secretary, has de minimus contacts with Maryland and is subject to the sufficient oversight of another regulatory body or government agency.

Activities that do not constitute ‘Operate in Maryland’

Pursuant to COMAR 13B.02.01.03B(12)(c) the offering of distance instruction that originates outside Maryland that involves no physical presence in the state does not require approval by the Maryland Higher Education Commission. However, please note that Maryland law requires the registration of all out-of-state fully online programs that enroll Maryland students.

MHEC has determined that student placement in an internship, practicum, or residency site in Maryland through National Matching Services, Inc. (NMS) placements do not activate physical presence (‘operate in Maryland’). While out-of-state institutions might be required to register or seek approval for other reasons (e.g., enrolling Maryland residents in fully online programs or administering practicum sites in Maryland), out-of-state institutions are not required to seek approval for current students or recent graduates matched to a site in Maryland through NMS. Additional guidance is available here (PDF)​.

The application process

  1. Initial applicants will use the Initial Application Form available as either a (word document) OOSINITIALAPP  or (pdf) OOSINITIALAPP.
  2. Institutions that hold a Certificate of Approval and who are applying to renew their certificate will apply using the Renewal Application Form. If adding programs or locations to their certificate they should also use the ‘Renewal’ form. This form is available as either a ( word document) OOSRENEWAL  or (pdf)  OOSRENEWAL.
  3. Applicants must submit a non-refundable application fee of $7,500 for up to two degree programs and an additional $850 for each additional degree program. These fees apply to both initial and renewal applicants.
  4. A complete application must be submitted at least five months before the institution proposes to begin operations. The Commission should receive applications to renew a Certificate of Approval at least five months before the expiration of approval. The Commission will only consider a complete application with the necessary supporting documents.
  5. Once a completed application is received the Commission will distribute it to all Maryland institutions of higher education. Maryland institutions have thirty days during which they can submit comments or objections to the Commission. The Secretary shall consider all comments and objections before deciding on an application. The Secretary may ask the applicant for additional information in response to the comments and/or objections. 
    The thirty day comment period does not apply to a ‘closed site’ proposal. A ‘closed site’ proposal is one that confines instruction at a business, organization, educational entity, or government site, in which the courses/programs are available only to employees and not open the general public.
  6. Approval to operate is site specific. If the institution proposes operating in more than one location a separate application form must be completed for each location. While separate applications are required, the necessary supporting documentation needs to be included only once for all applications.
  7. Pursuant to COMAR 13B.02.01.07D(5) an institution can apply to offer courses only if the courses comprise not more than three courses (or 9 credits) of a degree or certificate program.
Electronic applications are preferred for initial and renewal applications. You can send your application to oosauthorization.mhec@maryland.gov

​All payments should be mailed to:
Maryland Higher Education Commission
Director of Academic Affairs
6 N. Liberty St., 10 Floor
Baltimore, Maryland 21201

Extended Operation

Approval to operate is renewed annually. During or after the fifth year of operation, and during any subsequent renewal cycle, an out-of-State institution may apply for Extended Operation for up to five years. However, changes to the institution’s Certificate of Approval, including the addition of new programs or sites, require the Commission’s approval. COMAR 13B.02.01.08I  'Further requests by institution' governs these proposals.​


Under COMAR 13B.02.01.04, the requirements for a Certificate of Approval do not apply to an out-of-state institution offering a course or a program on a military installation if:

(1) The recruitment and enrollment of students is limited to active duty military personnel, dependents of active duty military personnel, or civilians employed at the installation; 

(2) The institution waives its right to claim veterans’ benefits for enrollees; and 

(3) The institution applies for and is granted an exemption for this regulation.

This application for exemption should be submitted using the required application form (DOC) and (PDF)​.

Electronic applications are preferred for exemption applications. You can send your application to:

Department of Academic Affairs
Maryland Higher Education Commission
6 N. Liberty Street, 10th Floor
Baltimore, MD 21201

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