Degree Authorization Act
The details on this web page are excerpted from the CCHE Policy regarding the Degree Authorization Act, for complete details and explanations, View Entire Policy
About the Degree Authorization Act
The Colorado Commission on Higher Education has statutory responsibility for administration of Title 23, Article 2 of the Colorado Revised Statutes, which authorizes certain types of institutions to offer degrees and/or degree credits. These are: (1) Colorado publicly-supported colleges and universities; (2) properly accredited private colleges and universities; (3) postsecondary seminaries and bible colleges; and (4)private occupational schools authorized by the Private Occupational School Division to offer associate degrees.
The Commission shall administer the statute by seeking information from any entity offering degrees and/or degree credits to determine its authority. In order to determine the institutional type and to identify those institutions which are subject to the specific accreditation requirements of the statute, criteria have been established for each institutional type authorized to offer degrees or credits leading toward a degree.
Granting of Authorization
Authorization shall be granted upon presentation of adequate information by the
postsecondary institution seeking authorization to the Colorado Commission on Higher
Education. As the first step toward authorization, representatives of a seminary or bible
college or a private college or university shall consult with the designated
administrator of the Degree Authorization Act (Ms. Heather DeLange) prior to submission of required documentation.
For full details of criteria, view policy.
Private College or University
- Accredited on the basis of an on-site review in Colorado by one of the six
regional accrediting associations; or
- Accredited by an acceptable alternative accrediting agency determined by the
Colorado Commission on Higher Education to be appropriate to its educational
purposes and programs; or
- Making reasonable and timely progress toward such accreditation, as
determined by or in accordance with standards determined by the Commission.
Seminary or Bible College
- Be a nonprofit institution owned, controlled, and operated and
maintained by a bone fide church or religious denomination, lawfully
operating as a non-profit religious corporation pursuant to Title 7 of
the Colorado Revised Statutes.
- Limit the educational program to the principles of that church or
denomination, and the diploma or degree is limited to evidence of
completion of that education. Institutions operating under this degree
authorization shall not award degrees in any area of physical science
- Only grant degrees or diplomas in areas of study that contain on their
face, in the written description of the title of the degree or diploma
being conferred, a reference to the theological or religious aspect of
the degree's subject area. (See Section 3.01.04, below.)
- Not market, offer, or grant degrees or diplomas which are represented
as being linked to a church or denomination, but which, in reality, are
degrees in secular areas of study.
- Have obtained exemption from property taxation under state law and
shall have submitted a copy of the certificate of this exemption to the
Commission. (See Section 3.01.02, below.)
Private Occupational School
- To qualify for the private occupational school exemption, the statute requires that the
school be authorized to confer associate degrees by the Private Occupational School
Division under the provisions of Article 59, Title 12, C.R.S. The statutory exemption
extends to the offering of associate degrees only. The evidence required to enable the
Commission to determine that an institution so qualifies is documentation that the
institution has been authorized by the Private Occupational School Division to confer
associate degrees under the provision of the statute.
Definition of Institutional Status
- Full Authorization An institution which is fully accredited by an appropriate accrediting association with an on-site review of its Colorado location.
- Religious Authorization A bona fide religious postsecondary educational institution which is exempt from property taxation under the laws of this state and whose degrees or diplomas have no state recognition.
- Probationary Authorization Institutions evaluated by the Department and authorized by the Commission to enroll students, offer instruction, graduate students and award degrees under the condition that the institution is continuously seeking and is making satisfactory progress toward full accreditation. Institutions given probationary authorization may not enroll students until the accreditation process has begun and been verified to the Department