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SACSCOC Requirements for Substantive Changes

Substantive Change requirements by SACSCOC

Definition: Substantive change is a significant modification or expansion of the nature and scope of an accredited institution.

Please contact the WKU Provost office to discuss if a new or revised program meets the definition of a substantive change and requires separate reporting. WKU's policy on Substantive Change is located at https://www.wku.edu/policies/docs/index.php?policy=383.

The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges accredits an entire institution and its programs and services, wherever they are located or however they are delivered. It is responsible for reviewing all substantive changes that occur between an institution’s decennial reviews to determine whether or not the change has affected the quality of the total institution and to assure the public that all aspects of the institution continue to meet defined standards.

The Commission on Colleges is recognized by the U.S. Department of Education as an agency whose accreditation enables its member institutions to seek eligibility to participate in Title IV programs. To maintain its recognition with the U.S. Department of Education, the Commission on Colleges has incorporated federal requirements into its substantive change policy and procedures. Some of those requirements expect an institution to seek approval prior to the initiation of a substantive change so that the change can be included in the institution’s scope of accreditation.

Types of Substantive Change

There are different types of substantive change with specific procedures and respective approval/notification requirements to be used for each.

  • New Programs with at least 25% new content (not just new coursework)
  • Program Closures (see Program Changes and Closures)
  • Method of Program Delivery, both New and Closures
  • Location of Program Delivery, both New and Closures

Deadlines differ depending on the type of substantive change. Generally:

  • For changes that will take effect in Fall Semester, notifications/approval requests need to be in the Provost's Office by December 1 of the previous fall.
  • For changes that will take effect in Spring Semester, notifications/approval requrest need to be in the Provost's Office by May 1 of the previous spring.

Please contact Beth Laves as soon as you determine whether a substantive change process may be needed and to get more details about the timeline and process for that substantive change.

Beth Laves

Dr. Beth Laves

Assistant Provost / Director for Accreditation and Academic Programs

Phone:  (270) 745-8985


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 Last Modified 8/25/22