SACSCOC Substantive Change

The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC), the university's regional accrediting body, is required by the federal government to monitor the compliance of its members colleges and universities for substantive changes and to grant permission for major changes to occur.


Member institutions are required to notify SACSCOC of changes in accordance with the substantive change policy and, when required, seek approval prior to initiation of changes.


SACSCOC defines substantive change as a significant modification or expansion in the nature and scope of an accredited institution. For the purposes of academic programs, some examples of substantive changes include, but are not limited to:


  • The addition of courses or programs that represent a significant departure, either in content method of delivery, from those that were offered when the institution was last evaluated;
  • The addition of courses or programs of study at a degree or credential level different from that which is included in the institution's current accreditation or reaffirmation;
  • A substantial increase in the number of clock or credit hours awarded for successful completion of a program;
  • The establishment of an additional location geographically apart from the main campus at which the institution offers at least 50% of an educational program;
  • Entering into a collaborative academic arrangement that includes only the initiation of a dual or joint academic program with another institution;
  • Offering coursework at an off-campus location;
  • The termination of an academic degree program;
  • The initiation of a program or courses offered through contractual agreement or consortium.


1. Significant departure-- a program that is not closely related to previously approved programs at the institution or site or for the mode of delivery in question. To determine whether a new program is a "significant departure" it is helpful to consider the following questions:

  • What previously approved programs does the institution offer that are closely related to the new program and how are they related?
  • Will significant additional equipment or facilities be needed?
  • Will significant additional financial resources be needed?
  • Will a significant number of new courses be required?
2. Geographically apart--an instructional site or branch campus that is located physically apart from the main campus of the institution.


3. Dual program--separate program completion credentials each of which bears only the name, seal, and signature of the institution awarding the degree to the student.


4. Joint program--a single program completion credential bearing the names, seals, and signatures of each of the two or more institutions awarding the degree to the student.


5. Contractual agreement--typically is one in which an institution enters into an agreement for receipt of courses/programs or portions of courses or programs (i.e., clinical training internships) delivered by another institution or service provider.


6. Consortium--A consortial relationship typically is one in which two or more institutions share in the responsibility of developing and delivering courses and programs that meet mutually agreed upon standards of academic quality.