Substantive Change

Substantive Program Changes

According to the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) a substantive change is defined as any significant modification or expansion of the nature and scope of an accredited institution. The Institution Accreditation Liaison is responsible for ensuring the timely reporting of substantive changes to SACSCOC.  Refer to the guidelines and general process below for reporting substantive changes in accordance with institutional and SACSCOC policies.


The following guidelines should be followed when developing and delivering  credit-bearing courses off-site, electronically, or for a new program and program level:

Substantive changes requiring  notification only prior to implementation include, but are not limited to:

  • offering 25%-49% of a program at an off-campus site (including dual enrollment sites)
  • offering programs or courses through contractual agreement or consortium
  • initiating joint programs with another SACSCOC-accredited institution
  • initiating dual academic award

Substantive changes requiring approval  include, but are not limited to:

  • adding significantly different programs to the academic curriculum at TSU
  • initiating off-campus sites (including dual enrollment sites) where students can obtain 50% or more of the credits toward a program
  • closing  a program
  • initiating joint or dual degrees with another institution not accredited by SACSCOC

General Process

The University's first step is the determination of the type of substantive change and reporting requirements. Initial information will be requested from the department or unit initiating the change. The next step is a determination through the internal vetting process if the change is a significant departure.  The next step is a determination of Approval or Notification to SACSCOC signed by the University President with information regarding the change.  If it is determined there is a significant departure and requires a substantive change, the Accreditation Liaison and Provost's Office will provide the unit/department desiring to institute the change a template to use for either the approval, notification, or prospectus and the Accreditation Liaison will assist in preparing the prospectus for submission to SACSCOC. The time frame for submitting the prospectus information to the Provost's Office must accommodate an adequate review timeline by SACSCOC Substantive Change office, which is generally twelve (12) to eighteen (18)  months in advance of the possible change.

All questions about whether a change is substantive should be directed to the Institutional Accreditation Liaison for guidance.

All correspondence with SACSCOC will be submitted by the University President or designee. Given their significance to the continued accreditation status of TSU, all finalized substantive change requests that require SACSCOC approval will be reported to the University President.

TSU Substantive Change Policy TSU Policy #02.01

SACSCOC Substantive Change Policy

6-Question Questionnaire

Course Similarities Worksheet

Substantive Change Evaluation Rubric

Substantive Change Proposal Request Form



TSU Substantive Change Flow Chart