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State Authorization and Complaints


Out-of-State students: Information about programs related to professional licensure/certification.

Some restrictions may apply to programs related to professional licensure (e.g., nursing, education). For details, visit the program's website.

State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement (SARA): The University of Massachusetts Amherst operates distance education classes and programs for out-of-state students under the terms and provisions of SARA. Please see for a list of participating states and territories.

California Students: The state of California allows all public institutions to offer distance education to its residents.


UMass Amherst aims to resolve all student complaints in a fair and expedient manner. Students wishing to file a complaint about an online course are encouraged to first contact the department chair or dean of the school or college offering the online program.


Students should follow the formal grievance procedure located in the UMass Amherst Academic Regulations document under Academic Grievance Procedure (see also the Graduate School Academic Grievance Procedure). Begin the formal grievance procedure by completing the Official Hearing Request Form. Students can also receive assistance from the Ombuds Office.


If the nature of a student's complaint is non-academic related (i.e. refund request, poor quality class content, lack of communication), please submit the complaint to the University Without Walls using the Non-Academic Complaint form.


For Massachusetts Residents and Online Students in Non-SARA Member States and Territories 

If you have a complaint or concern that has not been resolved by the University of Massachusetts Amherst, you may file a consumer complaint with the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education (DHE) by following the complaint process. The DHE consumer complaint form should be used by students who are located in: 

  • Massachusetts
  • Non-SARA Member States or Territories (e.g., California, Guam, etc.)

For Online Students Located in SARA Member States and Territories

After you have exhausted the complaint procedures made available by the University of Massachusetts Amherst, located in the UMass Amherst Academic Regulations document under Academic Grievance Procedure, if your complaint has not been resolved, you may file a complaint with the DHE by using the SARA complaint form. Please note: For SARA complaints, students are explicitly required to exhaust the institution’s available complaint procedures before filing a SARA complaint.

The DHE SARA complaint form should be used by students who are located in SARA member states and territories. This includes all students who are located in SARA member states and territories for the purposes of completing out-of-state learning placements, such as internships, practica, clinical experiences, etc. in SARA member states and territories outside Massachusetts.

Additional information from the DHE's SARA complaint website is below:

The SARA complaint process is as follows:

  1. Students must first attempt to resolve their complaint using internal administrative procedures offered by the SARA institution.
  2. After all administrative remedies have been exhausted with the MA-SARA institution, the student may submit a SARA Complaint via the URL below.
  3. The Department shall send a copy of the complaint to the institution that is the subject of the complaint;
  4. Within 30 days of the date that the Department sends a copy of the complaint to the institution, the institution must provide a written response to the student and the Department.

Find out more information about the DHE’s complaint process.