The MDHE's Proprietary School Certification Program is responsible for the oversight of a wide variety of schools, not just traditional for-profit trade and technical schools. In practice, the scope of the certification program is defined by the exemption categories contained in the statute. Any school or training facility that is not specifically exempted from the law must be certified to operate to offer instruction, grant certificates or degrees, or recruit students in the state of Missouri.
Exemption indicates that the school is not subject to the requirements of these statutes. Such schools are free to operate without the involvement of the MDHE as long as they remain within the boundaries of the exemption criteria and maintain compliance with other laws of the state. Exemption does not constitute a review of the institution or its programs and should not be considered approval, recognition, or recommendation of the school.
The following is a list of the types of institutions and training programs that may be eligible for exemption from the requirements of the Proprietary School Certification Program. For details regarding exemption criteria, please see Section 173.616, RSMo:
- Missouri public institutions
- Missouri not-for-profit independent institutions accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting commission
- Not-for-profit religious institutions accredited by the American Association of Bible Colleges, the Association of Theological Schools in the United States and Canada, or a regional accrediting association, such as the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association, which is recognized by the Council on Postsecondary Accreditation and the United States Department of Education
- Not-for-profit religious institutions offering only religiously designated degrees and programs
- Charitable institutions that provide instruction without financial charge
- Schools offering only non-vocational or recreational courses or programs
- Employer sponsored instruction or training available only to employees
- Training by restricted membership trade or professional associations for members only
- Schools or training programs regulated and approved by other state agencies
- Elementary and/or secondary schools (i.e., schools enrolling students primarily under the age of 16)
In order to be determined exempt from the requirements of the Missouri Proprietary School Certification Requirements, a school or training provider must submit a complete application and a $50 application fee, via check or money order payable to the Missouri Department of Higher Education-Proprietary, indicating which specific exemption category is applicable to its organization or operation. Application must be on forms provided by the MDHE. You may submit your application request via telephone or by submitting an application request form.
For most exemption categories, the application requires the submission of supporting documentation. The documentation required for each category is very specific and is critical to the MDHE reaching a decision on that application. If incomplete supporting documentation is submitted with an application, it will not be approved pending the submission of the remainder of the materials.
Once a school has been determined eligible for exemption, a notification letter will be provided that verifies MDHE action to exempt the school. The school is considered exempt as long as it continues to operate within the boundaries of the exemption criteria. Exempt status is subject to periodic verification by the MDHE.