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SACSCOC Substantive Change

The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) requires member institutions to have policy and procedures outlining substantive changes. Georgia Southern University adheres to the SACSCOC Substantive Change Policy and Procedures via Policy 426 – Substantive Change Policy. Each substantive change may require SACSCOC notification, approval, or notification and approval.

What is Substantive Change?

SACSCOC defines substantive change as a significant modification or expansion of the nature and scope of an accredited institution. These can include institutional changes, program changes, or instructional location changes.

What are the most frequently submitted substantive changes?

  • Method of Delivery
  • New Program
  • Program Closure
  • Distance Education (above 50%)

To ensure successful substantive change submissions, refer to timelines below.

  • Institutions on Substantive Change Restriction are subject to different or additional requirements for certain types of substantive change.


ApprovalAn official action by the SACSCOC Board of Trustees enabling an institution to implement a proposed substantive change. All changes requiring approval are defined in Substantive Change Policy and Procedures. An institution secures approval by submitting a substantive change prospectus or application subject to satisfactory review by the Board of Trustees.
Branch CampusAn off-campus instruction site/additional location
• that is geographically apart from an institution’s main campus,
• where instruction is delivered, and
• is independent of the main campus of an institution.

An off-campus instructional site is independent of the main campus if it
1. is permanent;
2. offers courses in educational programs leading to a degree, diploma, certificate, or other for-credit credential;
3. has its own faculty and administrative or supervisory organization; and
4. has its own budgetary and hiring authority.
Competency-Based EducationA method of delivery in which competencies are learned through interaction with faculty and an academic credential is earned based on what students demonstrate they can do. A competency is a well defined statement of what a person can do as a result of learning. Progression and completion are measured by demonstrated attainment of competencies.
Credit HourFor the purpose of accreditation and in accord with federal regulations, a credit hour is an amount of work represented in intended learning outcomes and verified by evidence of student achievement that is an institutionally established equivalency that reasonably approximates (1) not less than one hour of classroom or direct faculty instruction and a minimum of two hours out of class student work each week for approximately fifteen weeks for one semester or trimester hour of credit, or ten to twelve weeks for one quarter hour of credit, or the equivalent amount of work over a different amount of time or (2) at least an equivalent amount of work as required outlined in item 1 above for other academic activities as established by the institution including laboratory work, internships, practica, studio work, and other academic work leading to the award of credit hours.
Distance EducationA method of delivery in which 50% or more of instruction occurs when students and instructors are not in the same location. It includes synchronous (live or in real-time) and asynchronous (not live or in real time) instruction.
Face-to-Face InstructionA method of delivery in which 50% or more of instruction occurs when students and instructors are in the same location.
General EducationCourses in general education introduce undergraduate students to the basic content and methodology of the principal areas of knowledge - humanities and the fine arts, the social and behavioral sciences, and the natural sciences and mathematics.
Instructional LevelFor courses and programs, the level of content and rigor corresponding to traditional academic degree levels: associate, baccalaureate, master’s, education specialist, or doctoral.
Main CampusAn institution’s main campus is the street address used for the institution as a whole. The main campus is typically the campus where the central administrative offices are located.
Method of DeliveryThe principal method by which instruction is delivered to include:
• competency-based education (all forms),
• distance education, and
• face-to-face instruction
NotificationAn official communication from an institution to SACSCOC as defined in Substantive Change Policy and Procedures. A notification is complete only when accepted by SACSCOC upon satisfactory review by staff.
Off-Campus Instructional SiteA location
• geographically apart from an institution’s sole main campus and
• where instruction is delivered.

An off-campus instructional site may qualify as a branch campus.
ProgramA coherent course of study leading to a for-credit credential including a degree, diploma, certificate, or other generally recognized credential.
Teach-Out PlanA written plan developed by an institution for students to complete their programs of study because it decided to end a program, off-campus instructional site, method of delivery, or to close the institution.

A teach-out plan provides an orderly process, the equitable treatment of students, minimal disruption and additional costs to students, and covers all enrolled students regardless of their progress to completion.

Last updated: 9/15/2023