Substantive Change Policy (SACSCOC)

Substantive Change Policy (SACSCOC)
Type of Policy
abruneau3 Mon, 08/18/2014 - 12:09
Effective Date
Last Revised
Review Date
Policy Owner
Office of the Provost
Contact Name
Loraine Phillips
Contact Title
Assc Provost-Academic Effectiveness
Contact Email
Reason for Policy

A “Substantive Change” is a significant modification or expansion of the nature and scope of an accredited institution. The federal government requires accrediting agencies to have a Substantive Change policy and to monitor the compliance of its member colleges and universities with the Substantive Change policy. Georgia Tech’s accrediting agency, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) requires as a condition of accreditation that member institutions notify SACSCOC of Substantive Changes and, in some cases, seek SACSCOC approval prior to implementation of such changes.

Policy Statement

The purpose of this policy is to establish Georgia Tech’s responsibilities and required procedures for timely notification of substantive changes to SACSCOC.  The policy complies with the SACSCOC Principles of Accreditation: Foundation for Quality Enhancement and the SACSCOC Substantive Change for SACSCOC Accredited Institutions Policy in adherence with the United States Department of Education Regulation 34 CFR 602.22 Substantive Change and the Georgia Tech Faculty Handbook


This policy applies to any responsible Institute employee who can initiate, review, or approve changes that are considered substantive according to the current version of the SACSCOC Substantive Change Policy and Procedures. In academic affairs, this includes faculty, assistant and associate deans, deans, vice provosts, and the provost. Other Institute officials in Procurement and Business Services, the Office of Legal Affairs, or at Georgia Tech international locations may be asked to review or approve a Substantive Change initiative. These individuals are responsible for timely notification of Substantive Changes to the SACSCOC Liaison, who is responsible for notifying or seeking approval from SACSCOC as appropriate for the Substantive Change.

Policy Terms

Substantive Change

A Substantive Change is a significant modification or expansion of the nature and scope of an accredited institution. Substantive Changes, including those required by federal regulations, 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 relocating 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 credentials).
  • 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 offcampus 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.

5.1 Internal Reporting to Georgia Tech's SACSCOC Accreditation Liaison

Reporting Proposed Changes to SACSCOC
Upon becoming aware of a proposed change that may be substantive, responsible parties should notify the SACSCOC Accreditation Liaison as early as possible so that the information required by SACSOC is prepared appropriately by the Institute and submitted by the SACSCOC Accreditation Liaison to SACSCOC according to the SACSCOC specified timeline with the appropriate internal review and approvals.

5.2 External Reporting to SACSCOC

An institution is required to notify or secure SACSCOC approval prior to implementing a Substantive Change. A Substantive Change may be submitted by the institution’s chief executive office or accreditation liaison only.

Consequences of noncompliance are articulated in the SACSCOC Substantive Change Policy and Procedures, at


Georgia Tech SACSCOC Accreditation Liaison
Every SACSCOC member institution has an Accreditation Liaison whose charge it is to ensure that compliance with SACSCOC accreditation requirements is incorporated into the planning and evaluation process of the institution. The SACSCOC Liaison is responsible for ensuring the Institute policy complies with the current version of the SACSCOC policy. The SACSCOC Liaison is also responsible for communicating policy updates to Institute stakeholders.

The SACSCOC Accreditation Liaison for Georgia Tech is:
Associate Provost for Academic Effectiveness
Office of Academic Effectiveness
(404) 385 – 1419

Responsible Party
Each individual, position, or entity designated as within the scope of this policy is required to be familiar with and comply with this policy.


Consequences of noncompliance are articulated in the SACSCOC Substantive Change Policy and Procedures at

Policy History
Revision Date Author Description
06-2023 Office of Academic Effectiveness Update made to conform with changes made by SACSCOC.
09-2019 Office of Academic Effectiveness Policy Updates
08-2014 Library Learning Excellence New Policy