Substantive Change Policy

Substantive Change Policy

What is Substantive Change?

The College’s accreditation with the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACS) requires that we report substantive changes consistent with federal policy.  Substantive change is defined by SACS as “a significant modification or expansion in the nature and scope of an accredited institution.”  These modifications may include, but are not limited to the following:

  • Initiating distance education constituting 25% or more of a degree program
  • Initiating programs or courses offered through contractual agreement or consortium
  • Initiating off-campus sites
  • The establishment of a branch campus
  • The establishment of an additional location geographically apart from the main campus at which the institution offers at least 50% of an educational program
  • Initiating joint or dual degree programs with another institution
  • Initiating a certificate program at a new off-campus site or that is a significant departure from previously approved programs
  • Altering the length of a program significantly
  • Changing from clock hours to credit hours
  • Initiating degree completion programs

Questions about whether a proposed change/academic action represents substantive change may be directed to the SACS Liaison (Academic Dean) or the Provost.  Or for further information about what constitutes substantive change, please see the SACS Substantive Change Policy.

Procedures and Responsibilities

A department or unit that is considering any possible substantive change or program modifications, including significant on-line program delivery or new degree programs, must discuss the required notification with the Provost and the SACS Liaison.  Depending on the specific change, notification to SACS must be made between 3 and 6 months before the change is made. Most substantive changes require the preparation of a comprehensive prospectus, and the majority require approval from SACS before implementation

The SACS Liaison is responsible for ensuring that all such proposed changes comply with SACS regulations regarding substantive change, for reviewing proposed changes in a timely fashion, for assisting departments and other units in identifying the best way in which to meet the regulations, and for ensuring that chairs and other administrators (directors, vice-chancellors) meet their responsibilities with regard to substantive change. The SACS Liaison is responsible for notifying the Provost, chairs and other administrators about any changes in the SACS policy on substantive change.

Procedures are as follows:

  • When discussing any changes such as those listed above, chairs, program directors and other administrators will inform the SACS Liaison and Provost.
  • The SACS Liaison and Provost will determine if the proposed change is one that falls under the definition of Substantive Change.
  • With the assistance of the Office of Academic Affairs, the department or unit proposing the change will complete the prospectus required by SACS.
  • The prospectus will be reviewed by the SACS Liaison and Provost before being transmitted to SACS.  Read ‘The Content of the Substantive Change Prospectus’.
  • The Chancellor will send the prospectus and other required materials to SACS.


Approved by Chancellor and Senior Staff 3/11/13