Jul 14, 2024  
2020-2021 Policy and Procedures 
2020-2021 Policy and Procedures

Substantive Change


This policy outlines the internal review and approval process for assuring institutional compliance with the Substantive Change Policy of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) and is intended to (1) provide guidance relative to the internal reporting of proposed substantive changes prior to the implementation  of such changes, (2) ensure academic and administrative  awareness and multi-level review and approval of proposed substantive changes and (3) promote enhanced understanding of the SACSCOC’s Substantive Change Policy.

The Shaw University Substantive Change policy is intended to provide clear guidance of the criteria under which proposed substantive changes will be reviewed and approved at multiple levels within the university. This policy will promote institution-wide awareness of the internal timeframe required for the review, approval and reporting of proposed substantive changes, so as to assure that the regional accrediting body for Shaw University, the  Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges ((SACSCOC), receives timely notification of proposed substantive changes, before such changes are implemented at Shaw University.


Accreditation Liaison: Provide institutional awareness of the SACSCOC Substantive Change Policy and the process for reporting proposed internal changes and for reporting proposed substantive changes to the Commission on Colleges, in collaboration with the President.

Accreditation Liaison:  The person responsible for communicating directly with the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools regarding substantive changes, other than the President of the university.

  • The governing body which has final institutional authority for preliminary approval or non-approval of proposed substantive changes.  Final authority for full approval resides with the Commission on Colleges.

President: The President of Shaw University is charged that institutional policies are implemented and enforced.

Principles of Accreditation: The official manual of accreditation standards for the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

  • Provides leadership among program faculty and initiates the review and approval process for program level curricular changes.

Substantive Change Prospectus:  A formal document submitted to the Commission on Colleges that provides a detailed description of the intended substantive change and its impact on existing programs and services at Shaw University.

Substantive Change: A significant modification or expansion of the nature and scope of an accredited institution. The following types of changes are considered substantive in nature by the Commission on Colleges. Please note that this listing is not exhaustive.

Unit:  Any institutional entity responsible for planning and assessment.


This policy will allow a more efficient and effective internal process for the notification, review and preliminary approval of proposed substantive changes, intended to communicate expectations to academic and administrative units regarding the timeframe for the internal review, approval and reporting of a substantive change to the SACSCOC Accreditation Liaison, so as to allow ample time for notification to the Commission on Colleges.  

The Principles of Accreditation of the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools requires that an institution comply with Standard 14.2 which states that “the institution has a policy and procedure to ensure all substantive changes are reported in accordance with SACSCOC policy.”

A member institution is responsible for following the substantive change policy by informing SACSCOC of changes in accord wit the stated procedures and when required, seeking approval prior to initiating the change.

If an institution fails to follow the notification and approval procedures delineated in the Substantive Change Policy, sanctions (warning, probation, loss of accreditation) may be imposed, therefore, placing the accreditation of the institution at severe risk.  In addition, implementation of an unreported substantive change could also place Title IV funding at Shaw University in jeopardy.  The U.S. Department of Education could also further penalize an institution for implementing an unauthorized substantive change, by requiring that the institution reimburse the agency of all monies received relative to the substantive change.

Policy Statement

A Substantive change is a significant modification or expansion of the nature and scope of an accredited  institution. The reporting and review of substantive change ensure that the scope of program offered by the institution, as well as the structure of the organization of the institution, have undergone appropriate review by SACSCOC.

Internal Review and Approval for Substantive Changes Requiring Approval Prior to Implementation:

  1. Submission- The Originator, often is the Program Coordinator, but can be a Director.
  2. 1st Level Programmatic Review and Approval

If the Originator is a faculty member/Program Coordinator, the proposal must follow the approval process below:

Program Coordinator to Program Faculty to Department Head to Dean (if no Department Head to Dean) for review and approval.

  1. Committee Review

Depending on where the proposal originates, various committees are involved. Proposals related to undergraduate programs are next submitted to the Curriculum Committee. Proposals related to graduate program are next submitted to the Graduate Council. Admissions related proposals are next approved by the Admissions Committee. All proposals, including policy proposals are submitted to Academic Council for review and approval. The Committee Chair that has oversight to submit proposals for review and vote by committee members. The committee reviews the information to determine alignment with program learning outcomes, existing programs and curricula, program/departmental mission, library and learning resource needs and financial resource allocations and current policies. The Chair of the Committee signs on behalf of the members to approve the proposal.

Proposals considered Substantive Change submitted through the committee process for approval are:


SACSCOC Procedure


Digital Teaching & Learning

Curriculum (undergrad) Graduate Council (grad)

Academic Council

Establish (New) Program






Eliminate (Suspend) Program






Revising Program

(offering another degree level)






Establish Off-Campus Site






Establish Distance Learning Program






Establish Certification Program w New Courses






Initiating coursework, certificates, or programs of study at a different level than those previously approved by SACSCOC






Initiating degree completion programs. 






Expanding at the institution’s current degree level (significant departure from current programs






Changing significantly the length of a program, substantially increasing or decreasing the number of clock or credit hours awarded for successful completion of a program






  1. Academic Administrative Review - After proposals have been approved through the appropriate committees, the Vice President will review for approval. The Vice President will alert the SACSCOC Liaison of proposals requiring a prospectus for submission of substantive changes to SACSCOC. Approved proposals are submitted to the President for approval for the Board of Trustees review.
  2. BOT Approval - The President will notify the Vice President of approved proposals requiring Board of Trustee approval. The Vice President will submit proposals approved by the President to the Chair of the BOT of Trustees Academic Affairs (AA) Sub-Committee. Proposals approved by the Board of Trustees AA Committee will be submitted to the full Board of Trustees for recommendation of final approval. If there is no assigned sub-committee, the President will submit approved proposals to the Chair of the full Board of Trustees for review and vote of approval. The President will notify the Vice President of proposals approved by the Board of Trustees. In turn, the Vice President will notify the SACSCOC Liaison of approved proposals that represent a substantive change and submit the fully approved proposal for submission of the SACSCOC prospectus.

The SACSCOC Liaison is responsible for ensuring any SACSCOC  prospectus is complete with input from the Vice President of Academic Affairs and the Originator.

The university will await a response from the Commission on Colleges prior to implementing a substantive change. SACSCOC will officially notify the President and SASCOC Liaison of approval or denial through response letter concerning implementation of the substantive change. The SACSCOC Liaison will notify the Vice President and the proposal Originator of the decision. Only fully approved proposals can be published and implemented.

Internal Review and Approval for substantive changes needing only Notification Prior to Implementation: 

  • If it is determined to need notification only, the SACSCOC Accreditation Liaison will instruct the School Dean to submit necessary documents.
  • The SACSCOC Accreditation Liaison will submit notification to SACSCOC of the change.
  • The Vice President will receive notification when SACSCOC has been notified and changes can begin.

Due Dates for Substantive Change Prospectus’

Time should be planned accordingly to ensure you have enough time to move the documents through the University’s internal approval chain

  • January 1st for Summer/Fall implementation July 1- December 31st
  • July 1st for Spring implementation January 1- June 30th


Fees associated with changes for the review of an application or prospectus

  • $500 Level Change
  • $500 Per member institution for merger/acquisition, change in governance/ownership, or collaborative program
  • $7,500 Per non-member institution for merger/acquisition, change in governance/ownership, or collaborative program

Fees related to Substantive Change Committee Visits: The actual cost of the committee (includes travel, lodging, food, incidental fee for each reviewer, and related expenses)

  • $2,000 Administrative Fee

Standard Operating Procedure

Subtantive Change Procedure

Substantive Change Deadline/ SASCOC Due Dates: 

  • January 1 for July 1 through December 31 implementation
  • July 1 for January 1 through June 30 implementation

Assessment & Review

Responsible Office: Office of Strategic Planning and Institutional Research/Academic Affairs

Approval Date: October 12, 2020

Effective: Fall 2020

Review Period: 10 Years

Strategic Planning Institutional Research and Effectiveness