1.2.3 Substantive Change Policy SACSCOC


Middle Georgia State University Substantive Change Policy (Sub-C)

Institutional Obligations: 1. 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. 2. Member institutions are required to have a policy and procedure to ensure that all substantive changes are reported to the Commission in a timely fashion.   

Policy Statement: Middle Georgia State University (MGA) reports all changes to the Commission on Colleges in accordance with the guidelines provided in Substantive Change for SACSCOC Accredited Institutions: https://sacscoc.org/accrediting-standards/substantive-changes/ 

Examples of Substantive Change (Sub-C): According to SACSCOC, “substantive change is a significant modification or expansion in the nature and scope of an accredited institution.” Substantive changes can be academic in nature or reflect broader institutional changes.  MGA’s academic deans, the Academic Affairs Committee, and the Provost/VPAA are the typical initiators and, therefore, bear the responsibility of internal consultation as to which changes may constitute a substantive change. Other unit leads, members of Cabinet, financial officers, and administrators outside of Academic Affairs may also contemplate and propose institutional changes that may be substantive in nature; such individuals should also consult with each other and the Institutional Accreditation Liaison (IAL) as to notification or prior approval requirements. 

Prior to review and potential approval by the President: the Provost, other vice presidents, deans, chairs, directors, faculty leads, or any other member of the staff or corps of instruction must consult with Dr. Kevin Cantwell, Special Assistant to the President and IAL, who can be reached at kevin.cantwell@mga.edu. If the IAL is not available for an extended period, the Provost or designee would be the point of contact for substantive change determination. 

Examples Include but Are Not Limited To:  

  • 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 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. 
  • Substantially increasing 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 off-campus 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. 

General Processes at Middle Georgia State University  

  1. Middle Georgia State University follows the updated June 2021 Substantive Change Policy posted on the SACSCOC site. 
  2. The MGA Substantive Change Policy will be posted on the Office of the Provost site and catalogued in the MGA Policy Manual 1.2.3. 
  3. The MGA Substantive Change Policy will undergo periodic review by academic and administrative principals.
  4. The SACSCOC Institutional Accreditation Liaison (Liaison) will provide periodic orientation on substantive change requirements to representatives of shared governance. 
  5. The Liaison shall be the initiator of any Sub-C processes and documentation at MGA. 
  6. Periodically, but normally once a year, the Liaison sends an email to academic and administrative principals to remind and inform leadership of this policy, copying the President, the Cabinet, the Provost, the Chair of the Academic Affairs Committee (AAC), and the Chair of the Faculty Senate. 
  7. When necessary, the Liaison consults with respective principals as to whether a proposed institutional change constitutes a “significant departure.” 
  8. MGA personnel should know that even if cooperative arrangements or other programs or initiatives are encouraged by the University System of Georgia, it is the responsibility of the institution to address substantive change, although members of RACEA and the USG office can provide advice on substantive change. 
  9. If a substantive change is required according to SACSCOC guidelines, the Liaison determines whether 1) notification is to be made or 2) whether a prospectus needs to be prepared seeking prior approval. 
  10. If notification is needed, the Liaison composes a letter for the President’s signature and compiles any additional evidence for submission if necessary. 
  11. When seeking prior approval and when necessary, the Liaison coordinates composition, editing, budget preparation, signature gathering, and mailing of prospectus to SACSCOC. 
  12. The Liaison consults with marketing and others about program advertising guidelines prior to official approval of prospectus. 
  13. The Liaison communicates official SACSCOC responses to the President, the Cabinet, the Provost, and others as necessary. 
Modified December 2017 
Modified February 2018 
Reviewed by Cabinet February 2018 
Approved 30 day posting Policy Manual site March 2018 
Modified by Office of the Provost and General Counsel March 2021 
Reviewed by Cabinet March 2021 
Approved 30 day posting Policy Manual site March 2021 
Modified by IAL, General Counsel, and Office of the Provost December 2021 
Reviewed by Cabinet January 2022 

Approved 30 day posting Policy Manual site March 2022