Policy 1307 – Policy and Procedure for Substantive Change

Revision Date: 7/8/2021
Last Review: 7/8/2021
Original Effective Date: 3/8/2019
Responsible Office: Office of the President, Provost
Reference: Council for Academic Deans


  1. Member institutions are required to notify the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) of changes in accordance with the SACSCOC substantive change policy and, when required, seek approval prior to the initiation of changes.
  2. Member institutions are required to have a written substantive change policy and procedure to ensure that all substantive changes are reported to the Commission in a timely fashion (i.e., Policy 1307-Policy and Procedure for Substantive Change).
  3. Member institutions are responsible for implementing and enforcing this written substantive change policy and procedure (i.e., Policy 1307-Policy and Procedure for Substantive Change).
  4. Member institutions are required to maintain compliance with SACSCOC Standard 14.2 (Substantive change) and related SACSCOC policies.


As defined by SACSCOC, a substantive change is a significant modification or expansion of the nature and scope of an accredited institution. Substantive change includes high-impact, high-risk changes and changes that can impact the quality of educational programs and services.

Substantive changes include:

  • Substantially changing the established mission or objectives of an institution or its programs.
  • Changing the legal status, form of control, or ownership of an 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 programs at a higher or lower degree level than currently authorized.
  • Adding graduate programs at an institution previously offering only undergraduate programs (including degrees, diplomas, certificates, and other for-credit credential).
  • Changing the way an institution measures student progress, whether in clock hours or credit-hours; semesters, trimesters, or quarters; or time-based or non–time-based methods or measures.
  • Adding a program that is a significant departure from the existing programs, or method of delivery, 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 arrangement.
  • Entering into a written arrangement under 34 C.F.R. § 668.5 under which an institution or organization not certified to participate in the title IV Higher Education Act (HEA) programs offers less than 25% (notification) or 25-50% (approval) of one or more of the accredited institution’s educational programs. An agreement offering more than 50% of one or more of an institution’s programs is prohibited by federal regulation.
  • Substantially increase or decreasing the number of clock hours 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 programs 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.

 (From Substantive Change for SACSCOC Accredited Institutions)


Standard University Policies and Procedures are to be followed during the process of implementation of new programs, curriculum, etc. and are to be done so PRIOR to submission of documentation to the SACSCOC main office. That is, all programmatic changes initiated at the Departmental or University level must continue to follow University Policies and Procedures for approvals at the College, University (Instructional Policy Committee, Graduate Council, Council of Academic Deans, Administrative and Planning Council) and Presidential levels as in each case is appropriate (i.e., see Policy 2301: Policies and Procedures of the Instructional Policies Committee, Policy 2311 Policies and Procedures of the Graduate Council).

Approval from the University of Louisiana System and/or Louisiana Board of Regents, as in each case is appropriate, will be sought at the earliest scheduled meeting of the Board(s) after University approvals are obtained.

Once the intent to propose a substantive change is identified by the Provost, the SACSCOC Accreditation Liaison will be notified.  The SACSCOC Accreditation Liaison will inform the stakeholders about the timeline and items needed for notification to SACSCOC (see SACSCOC Substantive Change Policy and Procedures).

For a substantive change requiring approval by the full SACSCOC Board of Trustees (which meets biannually), to be implemented after the date of the Board meeting, the submission deadlines are

  • March 15 for review at the Board’s biannual meeting in June of the same calendar year, and
  • September 1 for review at the Board’s biannual meeting in December of the same calendar year.


For a substantive change requiring approval by the SACSCOC Executive Council of the Board of Trustees (which meets year-round), the submission deadlines are

  • January 1 for changes to be implemented July 1 through December 31 of the same calendar year, and
  • July 1 for changes to be implemented January 1 through June 30 of the subsequent calendar year.


For a substantive change requiring notification only, it can be submitted any time before implementation. Once the institution has submitted notification, it may implement before receiving a response from SACSCOC.

For a substantive change to close a program, site, program at a site, or method of delivery, a teach-out plan should be submitted as soon as possible after the decision is made to close (i.e., stop admitting students).

It is the responsibility of the head of the department in which an academic program resides to ensure that SACSCOC requirements of notification and approval have been met prior to implementing any substantive change concerning an academic program in his/her department. Programs are not permitted to advertise, admit, or initiate a new program until this final step has been completed: submission to and approved by SACSCOC.

The SACSCOC Accreditation Liaison shall be the custodian of all Substantive Change submissions to SACSCOC and approvals by SACSCOC.

University Responsibilities:

It is the responsibility of the President of Louisiana Tech University to notify SACSCOC of substantive changes described above. It is the obligation of the University faculty and staff to assist the President in recognizing and reporting substantive changes. Failure to report these changes and any planned substantive changes can result in loss of the University’s accreditation for certificate and degree programs; monitoring, sanction, or removal from membership; and/or jeopardize title IV federal funding for the institution. Henceforth, the following policies and procedures have been established for recognizing and reporting substantive changes.

President, Provost, Vice-Presidents, Deans, Chairs, Directors, and Administrators: It is the duties of these individuals to ensure the University SACSCOC Accreditation Liaison is notified of any proposed program changes that involve new degree programs, expanded degree programs, online programs, off-site programs, consortia, or any significant changes listed above.

To review the updated SACSCOC Substantive Change Policy and Procedures, click the link below: