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Substantive Change Policy

Substantive change is a federal term for any “significant modification of the nature and scope of an accredited institution.” Baylor’s regional accrediting agency, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC), is required by the federal government to monitor compliance with the substantive change policy and to approve any major changes. Baylor’s responsibility is:

• to notify SACSCOC of substantive changes in a timely manner, and

• in many cases to seek SACSCOC approval up to six months before implementing the change.

The types of substantive change and the procedures for addressing them may be found in the Commission’s policy on substantive change.

Substantive changes occur at different levels of the university. If a department, school, or college is considering one or more of the following changes at the Program/Course Level:

1. Adding coursework or programs at a different degree or credential level than currently approved;

2. Adding courses or programs that represent a significant departure from current practice, either in content or method of delivery (such as distance learning);

3. Initiating certificate programs at new off-campus sites or which differ significantly from existing programs;

4. Initiating a collaborative academic arrangement, such as a joint or dual degree program with another institution;

5. Increasing the length of a program significantly;

6. Initiating degree completion programs;

7. Closing a program approved at an off-campus site, branch campus, or institution;

then the University must notify SACSCOC or obtain approval before the change can be implemented.

If a department, school, or college is considering one or more of the following changes at the School/College/Department Level:

1. Initiating an off-campus site (including Early College High School programs offered at a high school);

2. Expanding program offerings at previously approved off-campus sites;

3. Initiating distance learning;

4. Initiating programs or courses offered through contractual agreement or consortium;

5. Entering into a contract with an entity not certified to participate in USDOE Title IV programs;

then the University must notify SACSCOC or obtain approval before the change can be implemented.

Finally, if the University is considering one or more of the following Institutional Level changes:

1. Initiating a branch campus;

2. Altering significantly the educational mission of the institution;

3. Initiating a merger/consolidation with another institution;

4. Changing governance, ownership, control, or legal status of an institution;

5. Relocating a main or branch campus;

6. Moving an off-campus instructional site (serving the same geographical area);

7. Changing from clock hours to credit hours;

8. Acquiring any program or site from another institution;

9. Adding a permanent location at a site where the institution is conducting a teach-out for students from another institution that is closing;

then the University must notify SACSCOC or obtain approval before the change can be implemented.

Please contact the University’s SACSCOC Accreditation Liaison, Dr. Michael Matier, for more information and for procedures to follow to obtain the necessary approvals prior to implementation of the proposed action. The Accreditation Liaison will contact the vice presidents and deans periodically about any planned actions that will qualify as substantive changes.

To determine whether a planned change constitutes a substantive change, please take the Substantive Change Survey.