- Oregon State Office of Degree Authorization
The Oregon State Office of Degree Authorization (ODA) is a unit of the Oregon Student Assistance Commission with responsibilities related to maintaining high standards in private higher education institutions in Oregon. ODA administers laws and provides oversight of private colleges and universities offering degree programs in the state, validates individual claims of degrees, enforces the closure of substandard or fraudulent higher education programs in the state, and enforces policy for publicly funded postsecondary programs and locations.
ODA has three main functions under statute:
- 1 - Authorization of institutions offering academic degrees in Oregon or to Oregon students from outside the state.
Any school that is not a part of the public postsecondary system of Oregon must be approved or determined "exempt" by ODA before offering courses leading to a degree in Oregon. ODA evaluates college degree programs, authorizes each degree program for a fixed term, and provides oversight of the programs duringt the authorization period.
- 2 - Validation of degrees (for individuals, employers, and licensing boards) and investigation of fraudulent higher education programs
ODA collaborates with higher education agencies in other states and countries to determine equivalency of degrees, to enforce closure of illegal diploma mills and degree mills in Oregon, and to share information and assist with enforcement around the world.
- 3 - Mediation of adverse impact cases when public funds have been used to compete with existing private college programs
ODA acts as a facilitator in the mediation process, working with community colleges, the Oregon University system, and private and independent colleges and universities to resolve adverse impact cases, when the interested parties have not been able to resolve the case on through their own processes.
ODA collaborates with the Oregon University System, Department of Community Colleges and Workforce Development, Oregon Independent Colleges Association, and the Private Career Schools office of the Oregon Department of Education. ODA is responsible for 26 private colleges and universities offering Associate's, Bachelor's, Master's and PhD degree programs, as well as for more than 100 institutions outside of Oregon that offer full or partial degree programs to Oregon residents via online or distance learning. ODA also determines exemption of colleges and universities that meet specific criteria, and currently has approved five colleges under a special religious exemption to offer limited-title degrees in theology and religious occupations for use only within their religious organization.
ODA maintains a website on which it provides current information about our approval and authorization processes, educational accreditation, suspected diploma mills, and unaccredited schools approved to offer degrees in Oregon.
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