Substantive Change

The Office of Academic Planning and Program Development facilitates the institution's reporting and compliance activities for accreditation with the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

As a member of the SACSCOC, Sam Houston State University is responsible for establishing an internal SHSU Substantive Change Policy. SHSU is also responsible for notifying and, when necessary, seeking approval for substantive changes from the Commission in accordance with the SACSCOC Substantive Change Policy.  In addition, some substantive changes require notification to the Department of Education for federal financial aid purposes.   

  • What is a Substantive Change?

    As defined by the SACSCOC, a “substantive change is a significant modification or expansion of the nature and scope of an accredited institution.” Per SACSCOC Substantive Change Policy, there are three types of substantive change:

    •  Institutional Changes
    •  Off-Campus Instructional Site / Additional Location Changes
    •  Program Changes

    Institutional Changes: Institutional changes include, but are not limited to:

    •  Acquiring another institution or any program or location of another institution
    •  Merging/consolidating two or more institutions or entities
    •  Entering into written agreements
    •  Relocating the institution
    •  Closing the institution
    •  Changing the governance of an institution
    •  Change in institutional level
    •  Changing the mission or objective(s) of an institution or its programs
    •  Changing the legal status, form of control, or ownership of an institution
    •  Change in the institution's measure of student progress to completion
    •  Changing or adding competency-based education programs
    •  Changing or initiating distance education or correspondence courses
    •  Offering courses or programs at an institution previously offering only undergraduate degrees, diplomas, certificates, and other for-credit courses
    •  Adding graduate programs at an institution previously offering only undergraduate degrees, diplomas, certificates, and other for-credit courses

    Off-Campus Instructional Site / Additional Location Changes: The SACSCOC defines an off-campus instructional site as "A location geographically apart from an institution's sole main campus, and where instruction is delivered." Off-campus instructional site substantive changes include, but are not limited to:

    •  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
    •  Changing or adding dual enrollment sites
    •  Changing distance education involving an off-site instructional site
    •  Changes in the percentage of program instruction offered at an off-campus site
    •  Changing an off-campus clinical training site
    •  Closing an off-campus instructional site
    •  Relocating an institution or an off-campus instructional site of an institution
    •  Reopening an off-campus instructional site

    View an inventory of approved off-campus instructional sites

    Program Changes: Program changes include, but are not limited to:

    •  Changing from clock hours to credit hours or credit hours to clock hours
    •  Changes in competency-based education by direct assessment
    •  Entering into a cooperative academic arrangement
    •  Changes in correspondence education
    •  Changing or adding dual or joint academic awards
    •  A for-credit credential for which an institution awards a degree, diploma, certificate, or other credentials at any level of instruction
    •  Changing or adding a program designed for prior learning
    •  Changing the length of a program
    •  Adding a new program that is a significant departure from existing programs
    •  Changing or adding a method of delivery to a currently offered program
    •  Changing or adding programs' completion pathways
    •  Reopening a program
    •  Closing a program

  • Why is it so important to report substantive changes to SACSCOC and other relevant entities?

    Failure to comply with the SACSCOC Substantive Change policy and report substantive changes in a time-appropriate manner may result in negative actions being taken against SHSU by the Commission or the Department of Education.  Specifically, potential consequences include:

    •   Loss of Title IV Funding
    •   Repayment of monies received from the U.S. Department of Education for programs related to the unreported substantive change
    •   Sanctions or removal from membership of the SACSCOC

    Some substantive changes must also be reported to the Department of Education for federal financial aid purposes.  The SACSCOC Liaison will notify the Office of Financial Aid of substantive changes involving off-site locations and the initiation of new programs. 

  • What are my responsibilities in reporting a substantive change?

    As changes occur at all levels of the institution, it is the responsibility of each unit to ensure that appropriate reporting to all oversight agencies and accreditors occurs.  If you believe an upcoming change within your unit may qualify as a substantive change, please notify the institution's SACSCOC Liaison, Dr. Somer Franklin, at your earliest convenience.  The SACSCOC Liaison will work with you in determining if the change is substantive in nature and requires notification and/or approval from the Commission.  Procedures have been implemented to ensure that the academic deans and the division vice presidents receive training in substantive change procedures.

  • Who should I contact if I need to report a substantive change or if I have questions?

    For questions related to substantive changes and to report a substantive change, please contact:

    Dr. Somer Franklin
    SACSCOC Liaison
    Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs
    (936) 294-1009

    Lila Alvarado
    Office of Academic Planning and Assessment
    (936) 294-1536

Substantive Change Resources

•  SACSCOC Substantive Change Website
•  SACSCOC Substantive Change Policy and Procedures
•  SHSU's Substantive Change Policy
•  Substantive Change FAQs
•  Substantive Change Quick Reference Guide

Substantive Change Forms

•  Off-Site Course Request
•  Program Closure Teach-out Plan