Substantive Change at VSU

Institutional Obligation

"Member institutions are required to notify the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) of changes in accordance with the substantive change policy and, when required, seek approval prior to the initiation of changes."


It is the policy of Valdosta State University to timely report all substantive changes to the Commission on Colleges by using its policy on Substantive Change for Accredited Institutions for guidance.

Examples of Substantive Changes

According to SACSCOC, “substantive change is a significant modification or expansion in the nature and scope of an accredited institution.” VSU’s Academic Committee, Academic Deans, and Provost/VPAA are the principal initiators or approvers of items which may be considered a substantive change. To discuss whether or not actions under consideration in your area may be a substantive change, contact Dr. Michael Black, Director of Institutional Effectiveness and SACSCOC Accreditation Liaison, Office of Academic Affairs, West Hall Suite 1004, 229-333-5950.

Examples include:

  • 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 change from clock hours to credit hours
  • A substantial increase in the number of clock or 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 (terminating) 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% or more of one or more of the accredited institution’s programs

Procedures to Ensure Timely Reporting

For Curricular Changes:

  • Stage 1: The Faculty, Department Head, Dean, and College Executive Committee prepares and approves curriculum revisions according to VSU's Guidelines for New or Changed Courses or Curriculum. Approved recommendations advance to Stage 2.
  • Stage 2: The Academic Committee of the Faculty Senate and Graduate Executive Committee meet monthly during the academic year to review and approve proposed curriculum changes and ensure changes comply with established VSU procedures and policies, including VSU's Determination of Credit Hours for Courses Policy. The Academic Committee is the main source for new program approvals, significant departures of existing programs, and program terminations. Academic Committee agendas, packets, and minutes are posted on the committee’s website.
  • Stage 3: After approval by the Academic Committee, VSU's SACSCOC Accreditation Liaison will (1) examine all curriculum changes appearing in the committee’s minutes, (2) apply the SACSCOC Substantive Change Policy to determine what communication is needed to the Commission on Colleges, (3) work programs/units to prepare a concise notification letter or a substantive change prospectus, (4) mail that required documentation, (5) update the log of substantive changes submitted to the Commission.

For Other Substantive Changes:

  • The Provost, Associate Provosts, Deans, and Department Heads have the fundamental responsibility to be generally aware of the substantive change policy, inform the University’s SACSCOC Accreditation Liaison at the earliest point possible of proposals that may be considered a substantive change for the University and provide the SACSCOC Accreditation Liaison with any data, information, or prospectus necessary to comply with SACSCOC policy when requested. These leaders are the primary sources for planning changes relating to new instructional sites, collaborative academic arrangements, etc.
  • Once informed of these changes, VSU's SACSCOC Accreditation Liaison will (1) apply the SACSCOC Substantive Change Policy to determine what communication is needed to the Commission on Colleges, (2) work with the unit head to prepare a concise notification letter or a substantive change prospectus, (3) mail the required documentation, (4) update the institutional log of substantive changes submitted to the Commission.

If it is discovered that a program or unit may have implemented a substantive change without notifying the SACSCOC Accreditation Liaison, the Provost, Associate Provost, Dean, or Department Head must notify the SACSCOC Accreditation Liaison immediately. It is then the responsibility of the SACSCOC Accreditation Liaison to notify SACSCOC.

Communication between VSU and the Commission about substantive change shall be from VSU’s President and/or VSU’s Accreditation Liaison. Other VSU faculty, staff, or administrators should not communicate directly with SACSCOC about substantive change reporting. If you require a copy of prior VSU-to-SACSCOC correspondence, contact the Office of Institutional Effectiveness.

Policy and procedures approved by the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs: 01/13/2013.

Procedures revised: 09/19/2019.