Substantive Change


A substantive change is a significant modification or expansion in the nature and scope of an accredited institution. In accordance with the Southern Association of Colleges Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC), institutions are required to notify SACSCOC of substantive changes or, when appropriate, seek prior approval of those changes. Moreover, institutions are required to have a policy and procedure in place to ensure all substantive changes are reported to SACSCOC in a timely manner. Under federal regulations, substantive changes include the following:

  • 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 program 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 or decrease in the number of clock hours or credit hours awarded for successful completion of a program;
  • The substantial increase or decrease 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 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 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 teachout program for a closed institution; and
  • 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.

Substantive changes requiring SACSCOC prior approval typically involve a significant departure, or a program that is not closely related to previously approved programs at the institution or site or for the mode of delivery in question. To determine whether a new program is a “significant departure,” it is helpful to consider the following questions:

  • What previously approved programs does the institution offer that are closely related to the new program and how are they related?
  • Will significant additional equipment or facilities be needed?
  • Will significant additional financial resources be needed?
  • Will a significant number of new courses will be required?
  • Will a significant number of new faculty members be required?

SACSCOC due dates for the submission of a prospectus for proposed programs that are a significant departure, thus requiring prior approval, are as follows:

  • January 1, for 7/1 – 12/31 implementation; and
  • July 1, for 1/1 – 5/30 implementation.

All proposals for new academic programs, including certificates and degrees, must comply with the university’s internal routing process outlined in Policy Statement 45: Courses and Curricula and, if applicable, PS-116: Reporting Substantive Change to SACSCOC. Thus, units seeking to propose a new academic program must also request a Substantive Change Review via the Office of Institutional Effectiveness to determine whether the program qualifies as a substantive change and, if so, which procedure the university must follow to comply with SACSCOC substantive change requirements.

To allow for sufficient time to submit the substantive change notification or prospectus and to ensure the anticipated implementation of the program, units must submit the a Substantive Change Review Form to the Office of Institutional Effectiveness prior to seeking final approval from the Office of the President and subsequent approvals via the LSU Board of Supervisors and Louisiana Board of Regents (see PS-45).Units should direct the completed checklist, along with any related proposal materials, to Dr. Sandi Gillilan, Associate Vice Provost, Office of Institutional Effectiveness. Upon completion of the substantive change review, OIE will notify both the unit and the Office of Academic Affairs whether the proposed program qualifies as a substantive change and, if so, will provide guidance regarding the development of the substantive change notification or prospectus. 

Related Documents

LSU Policy Statement 116: Reporting Substantive Change to SACSCOC

LSU Policy Statement 45: Courses & Curricula

SACSCOC Policy Statement "Substantive Change for Accredited Institutions of the Commission on Colleges"

SACSCOC Policy Statement "Mergers, Consolidations, Change of Ownership, Acquisitions, and Change of Governance, Control, Form, or Legal Status"

SACSCOC Policy Statement "Agreements Involving Joint and Dual Academic Awards: Policy and Procedures."

Contact Us

Dr. Sandi Gillilan
Associate Vice Provost
225-578-1937email sandi

Stephenie Franks
Assistant Director

email stephenie