Substantive Change at VSU

Institutional Obligation

"Member institutions are required to notify the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) of changes in accordance with the substantive change policy and, when required, seek approval prior to the initiation of changes."


It is the policy of Valdosta State University to report all substantive changes to the Commission on Colleges by using its policy on Substantive Change for Accredited Institutions for guidance.

Examples of Substantive Changes

According to SACSCOC, “substantive change is a significant modification or expansion in the nature and scope of an accredited institution.” VSU’s Academic Committee, Academic Deans, and Provost/VPAA are the principal initiators or approvers of items which may be considered a substantive change. To discuss whether or not actions under consideration in your area may be a substantive change, contact Dr. Michael Black, Director of Institutional Effectiveness and SACSCOC Accreditation Liaison.

Examples include:

  • Initiating coursework or programs at a different level than currently approved

  • Expanding at current degree level (significant departure from current programs)

  • Initiating a branch campus

  • Initiating certificate programs

  • Significantly altering the educational mission of the institution

  • Initiating joint or dual degrees with another institution

  • Initiating degree completion programs (i.e., compressed format)

  • Initiating off-campus sites (including Early College High School programs offered at the high school)

  • Expanding program offerings at previously approved off-campus sites

  • Altering significantly the length of a program

  • Initiating distance learning

  • Initiating programs or courses offered through contractual agreement or consortium

  • Closing a program, an approved off-campus site, branch campus, or institution

  • Initiating a direct assessment competency-based program

Procedures to Ensure Timely Reporting

  • Stage 1: The Faculty, Department Head, Dean, and College Executive Committee prepares and approves curriculum revisions according to VSU's Guidelines for New or Changed Courses or Curriculum. Approved recommendations advance to Stage 2.

  • Stage 2: The Academic Committee of the Faculty Senate and Graduate Executive Committee meet monthly during the academic year to review and approve proposed curriculum changes and ensure changes comply with established VSU procedures and policies, including VSU's Determination of Credit Hours for Courses Policy.

  • Stage 3: After approval by the Academic Committee, VSU's SACSCOC Accreditation Liaison will examine all curriculum changes and apply the SACSCOC Substantive Change Policy to determine what communication is needed to the Commission on Colleges. Communication may consist of a concise notification letter or a substantive change prospectus. Communication between VSU and the Commission about substantive change shall be from VSU’s President and/or VSU’s Accreditation Liaison. Other VSU faculty, staff, or administrators should not communicate directly with SACSCOC about substantive change reporting.

In addition to the above method, each semester the SACSCOC Accreditation Liaison verifies with academic deans about substantive changes reporting. If you require a copy of prior VSU-to-SACSCOC correspondence, contact the Office of Institutional Effectiveness.