Substantive Change

Agnes Scott College is committed to maintaining compliance with the substantive change policy and procedures of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools as delineated in Substantive Change for Accredited Institutions of the Commission of Colleges. Agnes Scott recognizes the responsibility of the Commission on Colleges to review substantive changes that occur between decennial reviews. The college will notify the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges of significant modification or expansion of the nature and scope of the college and, when required, seek approval prior to the initiation of changes. If unclear as to whether a change is substantive in nature, the college will consult with Commission staff.

Substantive changes as defined by the Commission on Colleges include but are not limited to:

Any change in the established mission or objectives of the institution

Any change in legal status, form of control, or ownership of the institution

The addition of courses or programs that represent a significant departure, either in content or method of delivery, from those that were offered when the institution was last evaluated

The addition of courses or programs of study at a degree or credential level different from that which is included in the institution's current accreditation or reaffirmation.

A substantial increase in the number of credit hours awarded for successful completion of a program

The establishment of an additional location geographically apart from the main campus at which the institution offers at least 50 percent of an educational program

The establishment of a branch campus

Closing a program, off-campus site, branch campus or institution

Entering into a collaborative academic arrangement such as a dual-degree program or a joint-degree program with another institution

Acquiring another institution or a program or location of another institution

Adding a permanent location at a site where the institution is conducting a teach-out program for a closed institution

Entering into a contract by which an entity not eligible for Title IV funding offers 25 percent or more of one or more of the accredited institution's programs.

Additional information is available on the SACSCOC website at

The requirements for substantive changes vary according to the type of change.

Some changes simply require that the Commission be notified in advance of the

implementation of the change. The letter of notification should include the name of the actual change, implementation date, street address if it involves a new site, and the credential being offered.

Larger scale changes, such as adding significantly different programs to the academic curriculum or offering a majority of the coursework needed to complete a degree or certificate online, require written notification at least six months in advance and approval of a prospectus, which must be submitted at least three months prior to the anticipated implementation date.

Institutions seeking to offer coursework at a more advanced level than that for which they are currently approved must notify the Commission of their intent at least 12 months in advance, and submit an application for level change by April 15 for review at the June meeting of the SACSCOC Board of Trustees or by October 1 for review at the December meeting.

If an institution decides to close an educational program, approved instructional site, branch campus or the entire institution, it must choose one of the following options: it must teach out currently enrolled students or enter into a contract for another institution or organization to teach out the educational programs or program. Teachout plans and teach-out agreements must be approved in advance of implementation by SACSCOC.

Certain types of substantive changes, such as adding branch campuses, level changes, mergers/consolidations and changes in governance require a visit by a substantive change committee to determine continued compliance with the Principles of Accreditation: Foundations for Quality Enhancement. When a committee visit has been authorized by the President of the Commission, the institution will be asked to provide documentation of the impact of the change on selected requirements in the Principles of Accreditation. This review may be combined with an institution's decennial reaffirmation review or may accelerate the institution's reaffirmation schedule.

The initiation or revision of programs not offered for academic credit and that are not eligible for federal financial aid does not require reporting; however, such programs are subject to review at the time of reaffirmation of accreditation.

Fees are assessed by the Commission to review an application or prospectus for substantive change.

Responsibilities and Procedures

All tenured and tenure-track faculty members and all director-level staff members in the Office of the President and the Academic Affairs division of the college are required to familiarize themselves with this policy, which may be found in the Faculty Handbook. In order to ensure our compliance with SACSCOC requirements, all proposers of new programs, degrees and other major initiatives must review the SACSCOC policy on substantive change.

The Office of the President is responsible for monitoring any proposed changes in the legal status, form of control, or ownership of the institution or the established mission or objectives of the institution.

The Office of the Vice President for Academic Affairs is responsible for monitoring curricular revisions and changes in academic program offerings, including method of delivery and location, under consideration to identify changes that may be substantive in nature and may require reporting to or prior approval by SACSCOC. The vice president for academic affairs must notify the accreditation liaison and the president of the college of the potential substantive change in a timely manner.

In the event of a substantive change, the president of the college will send written notification to the president of the Commission on Colleges in accordance with the requirements of the type of substantive change. The accreditation liaison will work with all involved parties to prepare the letter. Should a prospectus, application for level change or teach-out plan or agreement be required, vice president for academic affairs will oversee the process for preparing the required document(s).

Failure to Comply

If an institution fails to follow SACSCOC substantive change policy and procedures, it may lose its Title IV funding or be required by the U.S. Department of Education to reimburse it for money received by the institution for programs related to the unreported substantive change. In addition, the institution's case may be referred to SACSCOC Board of Trustees for the imposition of a sanction or for removal from membership.

Policy No.  899  Issued  3/1/2012