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Substantive Change

According to SACSCOC a substantive change is defined as any significant modification or expansion of the nature and scope of an accredited institution. Substantive change includes high-impact changes and change that can impact the quality of educational programs and services.

SACSCOC is responsible for reviewing all substantive changes that occur between an institution's decennial (ten year) reviews. These reviews are used to assist with determining whether the changes have affected the quality of the total institution and assuring the public that all aspects of the institution continue to meet defined standards.

An institution is required to inform SACSCOC of all substantive changes as specified in the following pages outlining the three procedures for reporting. Failure of an institution to gain approval for substantive changes could result in the institution jeopardizing its funding.


Examples of what may constitute a substantive change

  • Substantially changing in the established mission or objectives of the institution or its programs
  • Change in legal status, form of control, or ownership of the institution
  • Changing the governance of an institution
  • Merging/Consolidating two or more institutions or entities
  • Acquiring another institution or any program or location of another institution
  • Relocating an institution or an off-campus instructional site of an institution (including a branch campus)
  • Offering courses or program at a higher or lower degree level than currently authorized
  • Adding graduate programs at an institution previously offering only undergraduate programs
  • Changing the way an institution measures students progress, whether in clock hours or credit-hours; semesters, trimesters, or quarters; or time-bases or non-time based methods or measures
  • Adding a program that is a significant departure from the existing programs, or method of deliver, from those offered when the institution was last evaluated
  • Initiating programs by distance education or correspondence courses
  • Adding an additional method of delivery to a currently offered program
  • Entering into a cooperative academic agreement
  • Entering into a written agreement with entity that is not certified to participate in Title IV Higher Education Act
  • Substantially increasing or decreasing the number of clock or credit hours awarded or competencies demonstrated, or an increase in the level of credential awarded for successful completion of one or more programs
  • Adding competency-based education programs
  • Adding each competency-based education program by direct assessment
  • Adding program with completion pathways that  recognize and accommodate a student's prior or existing knowledge or competency
  • Awarding dual or joint academic awards
  • Re-opening a previously closed program or off-campus instructional site
  • Adding a new off-campus instructional site/additional location including a branch campus
  • Adding a permanent location at a site at which an institution is conducting a teach-out program for students of another institution that has ceased operating before all students have completed their program of study
  • Closing an institution, a program, a method of delivery, an off-campus instructional site or a program at an off-campus instructional site

*This list is not an exhaustive list of substantive changes. Other items may be deemed substantive and should the University have concerns should seek guidance from the SACSCOC liaison.

 **Information Source: SACSCOC Substantive Change Policy and Procedures