Substantive Change Information

What is “substantive change”?


Substantive change is defined by SACS-COC as "a significant modification or expansion in the nature and scope of an accredited institution." 

What are “significant modifications or expansions” from existing programs?  Asking the following questions will help to determine whether a modification or expansion is significant.  Does the program require substantial amounts of:
  • new faculty?
  • new courses?
  • additional library or other learning resources?
  • new equipment or facilities?
  • new funding?

An answer of "yes" to one of these questions may indicate a substantive change issue that needs to be reported to the SACS-COC.

Other questions to ask include, Does the change:
  • initiate coursework or programs at a more advanced level than currently approved by SACS-COC?
  • initiate a branch campus?
  • initiate an off-site location?

Affirmative answers to any of these will likely require advance notification and possibly prior approval from the SACS-COC.

The most difficult type of issues to make the "substantive change" determination for are the expansion of program offerings at the current credential level.  These may be substantive change issues depending on what other related programs are currently offered.  In essence, the pre-existing, related context will be the major determining factors.  The more information you can provide, the more quickly and accurately we can work to ensure compliance.

The Associate Provost for Academic Operations will make the determination of whether or not your change is substantive and which reporting procedures HBU must follow.  If we determine that a change is substantive, we will also coordinate the input of your expertise for the required SACS-COC reporting.  The first step is for you to fill out the Academic Program Change Summary Form available under Resources and Links button and submit it to the OCA. 


Why Must a University Report Changes to SACS-COC?


We must report changes because SACS requires it.  According to SACS, "if an institution fails to follow the SACS-COC’s substantive change policy and its procedures, the accreditation of the institution may be placed in jeopardy, the institution’s case may be referred to the Commission for the imposition of a sanction, or the institution may lose its Title IV funding or be required by the U.S. Department of Education to reimburse it for money received by the institution for unreported substantive changes."