Substantive Change Policy

Policy #: 
ADM 201.006
Executive Owner: 

This policy applies to all substantive changes that AHU makes.


To ensure timely notification to the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) of substantive changes.


AdventHealth University is responsible for notifying and, when necessary, seeking approval for substantive changes from the Commission in accordance with their Substantive change policy.   A substantive change is a significant modification or expansion of the nature and scope of an accredited institution.  

Substantive changes, including those required by federal regulations, entail:

  • Substantially changing the established mission or objectives of an institution or its programs.
  • Changing the legal status, form of control, or ownership of an institution.
  • Changing the governance of an institution.
  • Merging / consolidating two or more institutions or entities.
  • Acquiring another institution or any program or location of another institution.
  • Relocating an institution or an off-campus instructional site of an institution (including a branch campus).
  • Offering courses or programs at a higher or lower degree level than currently authorized.
  • Adding graduate programs at an institution previously offering only undergraduate programs (including degrees, diplomas, certificates, and other for-credit credential).
  • Changing the way an institution measures student progress, whether in clock hours or credit-hours; semesters, trimesters, or quarters; or time-based or non–time-based methods or measures.
  • Adding a program that is a significant departure from the existing programs, or method of delivery, from those offered when the institution was last evaluated.
  • Initiating programs by distance education or correspondence courses.
  • Adding an additional method of delivery to a currently offered program.
  • Entering into a cooperative academic arrangement.
  • Entering into a written arrangement under 34 C.F.R. § 668.5 under which an institution or organization not certified to participate in the title IV Higher Education Act (HEA) programs offers less than 25% (notification) or 25-50% (approval) of one or more of the accredited institution's educational programs. An agreement offering more than 50% of one or more of an institution’s programs is prohibited by federal regulation.
  • Substantially increase or decreasing the number of clock hours or credit hours awarded or competencies demonstrated, or an increase in the level of credential awarded, for successful completion of one or more programs.
  • Adding competency-based education programs.
  • Adding each competency-based education program by direct assessment.
  • Adding programs with completion pathways that recognize and accommodate a student’s prior or existing knowledge or competency.
  • Awarding dual or joint academic awards.
  • Re-opening a previously closed program or off-campus instructional site.
  • 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 that has ceased operating before all students have completed their program of study.
  • Closing an institution, a program, a method of delivery, an off-campus instructional site, or a program at an off-campus instructional site.

The list can change if federal regulations change. For the most updated information please look at SACSCOC Substantive Change Policy and Procedures.

If the institution is unclear as to whether a change is substantive in nature, it should contact SACSCOC staff for consultation. 

A letter is sent from the University President notifying the President of the Commission summarizing the proposed change.

Notification is a letter from the University President to the President of the Commission summarizing the proposed changed.  Approval is sought through the submissions of a SACSCOC application or prospectus.


1. Starting a New Program

  • As part of the Intent to Plan Notification (IPN) the determination will be made if the program is a substantive change or not 
  • The determination of whether a new program must receive notification or approval is based on the percentage of new content in the program. A new program with 25-49% new content is a significant departure from the institution’s existing programs and requires notification prior to implementation. A new program with 50-100% new content is a significant departure from the institution’s existing programs and requires SACSCOC approval prior to implementation.
  • The determination if the program is a substantive change or not based on SACSCOC published guidelines will be determined by the Director of Institutional Effectiveness/AHU SACSCOC Liaison
  • The Director of Institutional Effectiveness/AHU SACSCOC Liaison may also consult with Institutional Effectiveness Leadership Council to make the determination

2. Any of the other potential substantive changes please contact the Director of Institutional Effectiveness/AHU SACSCOC Liaison.


CommitteeDate VotedMinutes Code
President's CouncilMonday, March 25, 201919:47
Academic PoliciesWednesday, January 12, 202222:06
Approved by: 
Approval Date: 
Thursday, April 11, 2019
Effective Date: 
Monday, March 25, 2019
Review Date: 
Monday, February 24, 2020
Wednesday, January 12, 2022
Friday, January 5, 2024