Substantive Change Process

As a member institution of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC), Alabama State University is responsible for notifying and when necessary seeking approval for substantive changes from the Commission in accordance with the SACSCOC substantive change policy.

What is a substantive change?
A substantive change is defined by SACSCOC as a significant (modification or expansion) from the scope of an accredited institution. Alabama State University is required to notify SACSCOC, and in most cases seek approval, for substantive changes prior to their implementation.

What types of changes are considered substantive? 
According to SACSCOC, substantive changes include, but are not limited to the following:

  • Initiating coursework or programs at a different level than currently approved
  • Expanding at current degree level (significant departure from current programs)
  • Initiating a branch campus
  • Initiating certificate programs
  • Altering significantly the educational mission of the institution
  • Initiating joint or dual degrees with another institution
  • Initiating a certificate program at employer’s request and on short notice
  • Initiating off-campus sites
  • Expanding program offerings at previously approved off-campus sites
  • Altering significantly the length of a program
  • Changing from clock hours to credit hours
  • Initiating a direct assessment competency-based program
  • Initiating distance learning

What does substantive change mean for me?
All Alabama State University personnel should be familiar with the institution’s substantive change policy which constitutes what SACSCOC defines as a substantive change. Responsible parties in charge of reporting substantive changes should contact the institution’s Accreditation Liaison in a timely manner to ensure changes are reported to the SACSCOC to obtain approval prior to implementation.

What is the timeline for reporting substantive change?
SACSCOC has three procedures for addressing different types of substantive changes:

  • Procedure One: for review of substantive changes requiring notification and approval prior to implementation
  • Procedure Two: for the review of substantive changes requiring only notifications prior to implementation
  • Procedure Three: for closing a program, site, branch campus or institution

The appropriate procedure for reporting proposed substantive changes are outlined in the Reporting the Various Types of Substantive Changes SACSCOC document.

Why does substantive change matter?
There are major consequences that can occur should Alabama State University fail to notify or seek SACSCOC approval of its substantive change(s) prior to implementation. The consequences include the following:

  1. Loss of Title IV funding
  2. Repayment of funds received from the U.S. Department of Education for unreported substantive changes.
  3. Sanctions or removal from SACSCOC membership

Where can I find additional information?
The Office of Institutional Effectiveness located in Council Hall, Room 301 has information relating to substantive changes and provides ongoing training to assist the campus community in maintaining compliance.

If you have questions or require assistance determining if a change is considered a substantive change, please contact Alabama State University’s SACSCOC Accreditation Liaison:

Christine C. Thomas, Ph.D.
Associate Vice President for Institutional Effectiveness
Office of Institutional Effectiveness
Councill Hall, Room 301
(334) 229-4742
ccthomas@alasu.edu