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Substantive Changes

Substantive Change News and Announcements

Upcoming prospectus and application due dates

  • January 1, 2018: Substantive changes reviewed by staff and approved by the Executive Council of the SACSCOC Board of Trustees (most approvals involving sites and programs) for implementation between July 1, 2018, and December 31, 2018.
    (Note: The Commission office is closed and does not receive mail or deliveries December 4-7, 2017 (all staff at the Annual Meeting) and December 21, 2017 - January 1, 2018 (winter holiday). Plan accordingly.
  • March 15, 2018: Substantive changes reviewed by the SACSCOC Board of Trustees in June 2018 (mergers, change in governance, level changes, institutions on sanction, etc.).

The new focused-topic webinar series is designed for liaisons and others with substantive change responsibilities.  Webinars are one hour including interactive Q+A.  Each webinar address a single topic that often presents challenges in managing an institution’s substantive change obligations.  Registration is required for each webinar.

Managing Off-campus Instructional Sites – Thursday, August 24, 2017 at 9:00 a.m. ET

Determining Significant Departure – Friday, October 6, 2017 at 1:00 p.m. ET (Revised date)

How to Write a Prospectus – Monday, October 16, 2017 at 11:00 a.m. ET

What Not to Report – Tuesday, November 14, 2017 at 3:00 p.m. ET


  • Registration confirmation will be emailed and will include a link to join the webinar.
  • Registration requires your name, email address, and institution.  This information is not shared, but your name may be visible to others during the webinar.
  • Adobe Connect is the webinar platform and requires a browser Add-in and Flash Player.  Ensure the Add-in is installed on your device BEFORE the webinar.
  • If you’ve used Adobe Connect before, a new Add-in version is required as of September 9, 2017.  Ensure yours is up-to-date.  Additional documentation is available.
  • The Commission cannot provide technical support.  Kindly enlist your I.T. department in advance, as needed.
  • You may log-in to the webinar up to 30 minutes prior to the scheduled start

Spring 2018 Schedule

Registration for spring 2018 webinars will open in early December 2017.

  • Determining Significant Departure – January 17, 2018
  • Managing Off-campus Instructional Sites – February 8, 2018
  • Dual Enrollment and Instructional Sites – March 6, 2018
  • How to Write a Prospectus – April 2, 2018

Are there other topics you’d like in focused, one-hour webinars?  Please let us know.

What is a substantive change and how should it be handled?

Substantive change is a significant modification or expansion in the nature and scope of an accredited institution.  The types of substantive change and the procedures for addressing them appropriately may be found in Substantive Change for SACSCOC Accredited Institutions.

  • Some changes, such as offering courses on-line that amount to less than 25% of the coursework needed to complete a degree, certificate or diploma, do not need to be reported to the Commission.
  • Others, such as offering (for the first time) 25% to 49% of the coursework required for a program on-line, simply require that the Commission be notified in advance of the implementation of the change.  The letter of notification should include the name of the actual change, implementation date, street address if it involves a new site, and the credential being offered.
  • Larger scale changes, such as adding significantly different programs to the academic curriculum or offering a majority of the coursework needed to complete a degree, certificate or diploma on-line, may require written notification as well as advance approval of aprospectus; see the Substantive Change policy for details on due dates and on the content of the prospectus.
  • Institutions seeking to offer coursework at a more advanced level than that for which they are currently approved must submit an application for level change. See the Substantive Change policy for due dates.

Please complete and attach this cover sheet to each prospectus or Application for Level Change submitted.

Prospectuses and applications for level change should include a Faculty Roster (Faculty Roster Instructions),  presenting the qualifications of each faculty member in the program to teach the courses they are assigned.

It is expected that the CEO or a designated representative of an institution will notify the Commission President of substantive changes at that institution.  Every institution has an Accreditation Liaison whose charge is to ensure compliance with accreditation requirements.  The Accreditation Liaison should take the time to become familiar with the Commissions policies and procedures, ensure that substantive changes are recognized and reported in a timely fashion, and consult with the institution’s SACSCOC staff member about any questions.

Certain types of substantive changes, such as adding branch campuses, level changes, mergers/consolidations, and changes in governance require a visit by a substantive change committee to determine continued compliance with the Principles of Accreditation: Foundations for Quality Enhancement.   When a committee visit has been authorized by the President of the Commission, the institution will be asked to provide documentation of the impact of the change on selected requirements in the Principles of Accreditation. 

If a substantive change committee has been authorized to visit your institution, please click here for the appropriate documents.

Frequently asked questions about substantive change.

Click here for additional information that may be useful when reporting substantive changes.

Substantive Change Workshop Presentation

Substantive Change Workshop




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