Postsecondary Institution Authorization

All postsecondary educational providers in Alaska, and the programs they offer, must be authorized in accordance with law as set forth in AS 14.48, or be formally determined by ACPE to be exempt from authorization.  ACPE's authorization process is designed to ensure postsecondary education providers and programs meet minimum standards set out in law, relative to:

  • institutional financial soundness
  • ethical business practices
  • educational program
  • administrative capacity


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Institutional Authorization Process

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What is Authorization?

Authorization is the process of determining if a postsecondary educational institution meets the minimum standards required for institutional compliance established in AS 14.48.060 and further articulated in regulation 20 AAC 17.  An entity offering postsecondary programs, courses, vocational training, or an educational credential including distance education must be authorized or determined by ACPE to be exempt from authorization. 

An institution or organization operating or advertising to begin operation without acquiring the necessary approval from the Commission is in violation of Alaska law and may be subject to civil and/or criminal penalties.

To become authorized, an institution must:

  • submit an application
  • pay appropriate fees
  • provide required surety
  • meet minimum standards regarding quality of education, ethical business practices, and fiscal responsibility as described in law
  • complete a on-site facility visit
  • receive final approval by the Commission

Read more about the authorization process.

Institutional authorization does not constitute approval to participate in Alaska Education financial aid programs.

For more information, contact the Institutional Authorization unit at EED.ACPE-IA@alaska.gov, or 907-465-6741.


What is Accreditation?


The Alaska Commission on Postsecondary Education (ACPE) is not an accrediting agency.  ACPE is the authorizing agency in Alaska which assures minimum standards for postsecondary institutions set out in Alaska law are met.  

Accreditation is a private, voluntary, non-governmental, peer-review process through which institutions are evaluated and recognized as having met the accrediting agency's standards of educational quality.  Most accrediting agencies require compliance with state law prior to granting accreditation. There are two types of accrediting associations:

  1. Institutional accreditation is granted by regional associations that establish standards for the entire school specialized accreditation is granted by national organizations that establish standards for professional schools and individual educational programs
  2. To offer degree programs in Alaska, an institution must be accredited by an accrediting association approved by the U.S. Secretary of Education.


Exemption from Authorization


Certain educational providers may be exempt from some or all authorization regulations. Exemptions are not automatic and are determined based on the documentation provided. Exemptions may be available to education providers offering programs:

  • offered solely by and for a professional organization's members
  • do not offer educational credentials and are proceeded at cost
  • regulated by another state agency using appropriate standards
  • no more than 120 hours and 15 days in duration
  • offered by an accredited institution that is based and authorized in another state
  • non-degree programs offered by and for the membership of a bona fide religious organization
  • a flight-training course that maintains current certification under 14 C.F.R. Part 141 or Part 142; or
  • an on-line or distance delivered program that does not have a physical presence within the state

Educational providers must submit an application to ACPE, pay a $100 application fee and include specimen copes of each certificate or diploma issued. Find out how to apply for an Exemption from the Institutional Authorization process.

Read more about Exemption from Authorization and Distance Education.


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