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Office of the Provost

Osborne Administration Building

SACSCOC Requirements

Substantive Change Reporting

A substantive change is a significant modification or expansion of the nature and scope of an accredited institution. Substantive change includes high-impact, high-risk changes and changes that can impact the quality of educational programs and services. SACSCOC accredits an entire institution. Accreditation extends to all programs and services of an institution wherever located and however delivered.

SACSCOC does not accredit individual programs, locations, or portions of an institution. However, some new programs, locations, and other institutional changes are subject to notification and/or approval as defined in Substantive Change Policy and Procedures [pdf] .  The University of South Carolina Columbia recognizes the importance of compliance with the SACSCOC substantive change policy, which requires accredited campuses to report all substantive changes accurately and in a timely manner to the Commission on Colleges.  University Policy ACAF 2.11 [pdf] describes the process and procedures utilized to ensure that the University complies with SACSCOC policy regarding substantive change.  

All substantive changes are defined in policy.  Each substantive change is individually addressed in policy.   There are three categories of substantive changes:

  • Institutional changes
  • Program changes
  • Off-campus instructional site changes


Substantive Change Actions and Status

The University publishes official correspondence related to substantive change, including submission to SACSCOC and responses from the Commission on the Office of Institutional Research, Assessment, and Analytics (OIRAA) website .  


Specific Requirement by Type of Substantive Change


Monitoring and Implementation of Substantive Change Policy

In order to launch a new academic degree program (including certificate of graduate study)  or academic unit, faculty are first asked to complete a Program Pre-Authorization Request for Provost review. Similarly, substantive changes to an existing degree program or academic unit will also require pre-faculty-governance completion of the request form. The Office of Academic Programs and the SACSCOC Liaison review six questions from pre-authorization forms that are submitted to determine a change is substantive or a significant departure.  The six questions review are:

  1. What previously approved programs does USC offer that are closely related to the new program and how are they related?

  2. Will significant additional equipment or facilities be needed?

  3. Will significant additional financial resources be needed?

  4. Will a significant number (greater than 25%) of new courses be required?

  5. Will a significant number of new faculty be required?

  6. Will a significant number of additional library/ learning resources by required?

When making decisions regarding significant departure the university SACSCOC liaison evaluates the questions listed above and compares it against the significant departure continuum provide below.

SACSCOC Significant Departure Continuum


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