Non-Degree Granting School Licensing Process
Education Law Sections 5001 and Section 126 of the Commissioner's Regulations provide the State Education Department with the authority to license/register non-degree licensed private career schools (LPCS) and English as a second language (ESL) schools in New York State and to determine the forms and criteria necessary to issue those licenses.
If you are inquiring whether you are required to be certified or licensed by BPSS, please review the [Education Law] Sections 5001(1) and 5001(2).
Schools seeking initial licensure, licensure of an additional location of an existing school, or transfer of ownership of more than 25% will follow this application process.
The application will require satisfaction of six criteria, of which will be the basis for approval of the license. Each criterion will have its own evaluation standards and documentation requirements. The criteria for demonstrating the capacity to operate include, but are not limited to:
- Approvable Curricula
- Educational Policies and Operations
- School Personnel
- Financial Viability
Applicants should note that submission of an application for licensure does not in itself guarantee that a license will be granted.
Any expenses related to an application for licensure, including but not limited to quarters expenses, will be incurred by the applicant at the risk of not obtaining licensure.
BPSS provides templates, step-by-step instructions for uploading necessary documents and feedback during the application review process to assist applicants. However, BPSS does not provide technical support. Applicants must demonstrate the capacity to independently apply and interpret the education law and commissioner’s regulations in the design of the school’s educational and operational policies.
Per NYS Education Law, all fees listed below are non-refundable.
- New school application fee $5,000 (LPCS and ESL)
- 2nd School location application fee $2,500 (schools applying under the same ownership that have a valid certification or licensure only.)
- Director application $100.00
- Agent application $200.00
- LPCS only:
- Teacher application $100.00
- Curriculum application $100 – $250 (Note: Addition fees may be required for external evaluations)
Application Process and Timeframes
Schools file applications and remit payment using the BPSS system. Applications are not considered filed until payment is rendered. Applicants access the BPSS system by setting up an account at My.NY.gov. Please refer to the following step-by-step instructions.
All application fees are non-refundable.
The review of applications will have two phases. The first phase is Application Requirements and the second is the Evaluation.
Schools that fail to meet the standards of either or both application phases within the prescribed timeframes will be denied.
Phase 1: Application Requirements
Using the date of application, schools are provided 180-days to supply all documentation requested and obtain preliminary approval for its proposed curricula.
BPSS will review applications for completeness and provide deficiency notices to those applications that are incomplete.
If at 180-days from application the school has not supplied all documents to satisfy the application requirements and/or has not obtained preliminary approval for all its proposed curricula, the application will be denied based on failure to complete the application requirements.
Extensions will be limited during the Application Requirements phase. Applicants failing to complete Phase 1 by the deadline will be required to reapply, unless good cause is shown for circumstances outside of the applicant’s control.
Phase 2: Evaluation
BPSS will evaluate the application to determine if the minimum criteria for licensure have been met, as follows:
Criteria 1: Ownership
Criteria 2: Educational Policies and Operations
Criteria 3: School Personnel
Criteria 4: Financial Viability
Criteria 5: Quarters
Applicants will be entitled to three evaluations of their application materials, according to the following cycle:
Evaluation 1 – Upon satisfaction of Phase 1 application requirements
Evaluation 2 – 60 days from Evaluation 1
Evaluation 3 – 60 days from Evaluation 2
If after the third evaluation the school is unable to meet the five criteria, the application will be denied based on failure to meet the minimum criteria for licensure.
All applications will be denied or approved following the third evaluation, unless good cause for an extension is present. See Criteria 5 Quarters for more information on Quarters extensions.
LPCS– Curriculum Requirements
Every licensed private career school is required to have a least one approved course or curriculum that meets a vocational objective and prepares the student for entry-level employment.
Section 5002(4)(b) of the Education Law states: In approving curriculum, the commissioner shall take into consideration the following:
- That the entrance requirements demonstrate that students possess the skills, competencies and prerequisite knowledge needed to progress in the curriculum.
- That the content will enable the student to develop those skills and competencies required for employment in the occupational area for which the curriculum was developed.
- That the school will utilize appropriate instructional methods; and
- That the instructional equipment used within the curriculum is comparable to the equipment currently used by business or industry in the occupational area for which the curriculum was developed.
Categories of Curriculum
LPCS curriculum applications will be categorized as follows:
Mandated Curricula - Curriculum that requires another agency approval prior to submission to BPSS, or for the school to follow specific coursework that was developed by another state agency. Application through the standard BPSS process is still required.
- Allied Health Programs – NYS Department of Health
- Appearance Enhancement Programs – NYS Department of State
Nationally Recognized Vendors – Curriculum that is prepared by a nationally recognized vendor and is accepted by BPSS. Application through the standard BPSS process is still required.
School Defined Curricula – Curriculum that is prepared by the school personnel and meets the standards of approval under NYCRR §126.4.
Schools must apply for approval of their curricula immediately following submission of an application for a private career school license.
The Education Law provides up to 120-days for BPSS to perform an initial review of any curriculum application. Schools must respond to any deficiency notices sent by curriculum evaluators and supply the requested information or changes by the deadline listed on the notice.
Curriculum Delivered Online
Please read the following policy guideline if you intend to apply to teach your curriculum online. Be advised that all BPSS licensed schools must obtain approval prior to offering their curricula using distance education modalities.
ESL– Curriculum Requirements
Every applicant for an English as a Second Language school is required to register their programs on forms prescribed by the commissioner. ESL applicants do not use the LPCS process described above.
A program application is required to be submitted and registered for each program being taught at an ESL school. Please follow the steps as described:
Step 1: Complete a program application for each curriculum the school intends to register. [Program Application for ESL Schools]
Step 2: Log into the BPSS system and upload each application separately. Toggle to Manage Documents and upload under the area “Curriculum” with the description “Coursework Details.”
Step 3: Email BPSScurriculum@nysed.gov that your application is ready for review. Ensure to include your school’s name in the subject line of the email.
Criteria 1: Ownership
Applicants must demonstrate proper authority to operate in New York State and consent for their educational purpose and/or school name.
Applicants will be evaluated for the following, using the ownership documentation submitted:
- Authority to do business in New York State
- Consent to operate a private career or ESL school
- Consent for the school’s name
- Track-record of the organization and/or individual owners
Owners of previous or existing private career or ESL schools will be evaluated for their track-record with BPSS. This record will be used in consideration if the owner meets the requirements of operating a school.
Please note that BPSS will not provide technical assistance with the formation of organizations or obtaining consents to operate. Those are separate requirements through NYSED’s Office of Counsel and the NYS Department of State.
Criteria 2: Educational Policies and Operations
The New York State Education Law and the Regulations of the Commissioner of Education mandate the use of various forms to guide the administrative and educational operation of the school.
Applicants demonstrate their capacity for interpreting and applying the education law and commissioner’s regulations through the creation of their administrative documents.
BPSS reviewers cannot provide technical assistance with the development of a school’s proposed policies, documents, or provide advice and/or counseling regarding an applicant’s implementation or operationalization of regulatory requirements.
Applicants will be evaluated for the following, using the administrative forms, enrollment agreement, and school catalog submitted with the application:
- Documents are organized and presented in a coherent and legible manner
- Documents are free from mathematical and/or typographical errors
- Documents conform to all regulatory requirements
- Documents comport with approved curricula
- Documents demonstrate congruence in information with one another
- Documents are written in English, unless otherwise approved
- Documents provide accurate description of the school’s proposed quarters
Criteria 3: Personnel
All BPSS schools are required to have a licensed director, an agent, and at least one teacher.
It is highly recommended the school owner review personnel requirements for each license type (agent, director, teacher) to ensure all staff seeking licensure meet the minimum qualifications of education and experience and have documentation to supply BPSS in support of their applications.
In addition, owners should review the department’s expectations for those serving in the director role. [Director Responsibilities Policy Guideline]
The fee associated with each personnel application is for a review of the application, not the license. If personnel applications are denied for failure to supply documentation, re-application and another fee will be required.
Director applicants must submit an application and pay the $100 application fee.
The school will employ a licensed director that has the education, experience, and capacity to operate a private career school.
BPSS staff will determine capacity through the following ways, in addition to the application requirements:
- Demonstrated ability to write and respond professionally to BPSS staff
- Demonstrated ability to use the BPSS system and communicate using technology
- Timeliness of responses to BPSS staff
- Creation of authentic documents that conform to regulatory requirements
- Prior track-record with BPSS (if applicable)
Agent applicants must submit an application and pay the $200 application fee.
The school will employ at least one agent that can be certified. Agents must agree to a background check and complete the required [Reference Form] and provide photo identification.
Teacher applicants must submit an application and pay the $100 application fee.
Schools must employ at least one teacher who is licensed to teach the subject matter of the school’s approved curriculum.
If the school has multiple approved curricula, teachers must be licensed for each subject area.
Important: teachers must initially apply for a PERMIT unless they have significant college-level credits in education.
Teachers will be required to complete educational coursework in order to advance beyond the first year of their license. Schools should be mindful of these requirements when selecting teachers and understand the costs associated with teacher training coursework.
Criteria 4: Financial Viability
All schools shall meet and maintain the standards of financial viability and reporting as a requirement and condition of licensure or certification.
Applicants will be evaluated for the following, using the financial documentation submitted:
- Bank account(s) are held by owners and funds are readily accessible for use by the school.
- 24-month Projected operating budget sets a reasonable target for enrollments, based on the school’s proposed quarters and approved programs, and reflects actual costs to lease the facility and operate the approved programs.
- 24-month Projected operating budget includes enough cash reserves to meet operational expenses. Tuition can be used in the operating budget once it is considered fully earned.
- Balance sheet demonstrates the organization possesses enough equity reserves to meet its liabilities and discharge its refund obligations to students.
- Audited financial statements demonstrate a financially healthy federal composite score of not less than 1.5*
- The school has the capacity to remit payment for its assessments and application fees using a credit card.
- (Second locations only).All other licensed locations have a healthy composite score and are not in a zone alternative or probationary status. All assessments of licensed locations are paid.
- (Transfer applicants only) All assessments, including special assessments, must be paid prior to transfer. Any outstanding liabilities owed to the department must be satisfied prior to the application expiration date.
*Please note: the commissioner may require applicants for initial licensure or certification that are newly formed and that have not completed any fiscal years from which to determine a composite score to establish a performance bond, trust account, or other means acceptable to the commissioner as an alternative to the requirement. Bond amounts cannot be predetermined until a full evaluation of the school’s finances is performed.
Criteria 5: Quarters
Applicants should note that submission of an application for licensure does not in itself guarantee that a license will be granted. Any expenses related to an application for licensure, including but not limited to quarters expenses, will be incurred by the applicant at the risk of not obtaining licensure. An applicant must secure (as evidenced through an executed lease or mortgage note) its quarters within 180 days of its application date. Applicants will not be provided extensions to secure quarters.
Applicants approved to offer all curricula online, with no face-to-face component, must license a physical location for the administration of its programs.
A school’s quarters will be evaluated for the following:
- Permissible Use
All school facilities must receive approval from the local buildings department for occupancy use as a private career or ESL school. It is highly recommended the school consult the local zoning code or department of buildings prior to securing a facility. BPSS cannot assist you in this process.
- Fire Safety
All school facilities must receive approval from the local fire municipality, after construction is complete. The facility must have a full fire safety inspection. Sprinkler, elevator, alarm systems or fire extinguisher inspections cannot supplant the requirement for a full fire safety inspection. Reports issued by third-party inspectors will not be accepted.
In the five boroughs of New York City, BPSS will request a fire inspection once the buildout is complete and the certificate of occupancy or TCO is issued. All other municipalities must be contacted by the applicant.
- Health Department Clearance (if applicable)
Some programs require local health department approval. These are typically culinary arts or allied health programs. Applicants must consult their local health department to determine if health department clearance is required.
- BPSS Approval
BPSS will inspect all facilities and *equipment for educational appropriateness, capacity, and general safety to determine if the facility can be licensed as a private career or ESL school.
BPSS does not offer “pre-inspections” or technical assistance in the procurement or design of a school’s facility.
Schools are highly advised to review the policy guidelines on quarters and curriculum student to teacher ratios when procuring or designing their facility.
*Schools offering programs requiring a skills lab or clinic must have hot and cold running water in the skills lab through a stationary sink - not in a lavatory. BPSS does not permit portable sinks.
If all other application criteria are met, and circumstances beyond the *control of the applicant are well-documented, BPSS will consider a one-time extension of no more than 180 days of which the school must finalize their quarters approvals.
*Failure of the applicant to make timely applications for building permits, apply for Letters of No Objection, procure contractors, hire licensed architects, order and install equipment, resolving building code violations, or being unavailable for inspection are not examples of circumstances beyond the control of the applicant.