Office of the Assistant Provost

Substantive Change

The University of Montevallo is obligated to comply with the substantive change requirements of the U.S. Department of Education (34 C.F.R. § 602.22). Substantive change refers to any “significant modification of the nature and scope of an accredited institution.”

The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC), the University’s regional accreditor, oversees institutional compliance with this regulation. To that end, substantive changes require institutions to notify SACSCOC in a timely manner and under some conditions, to obtain approval prior to implementation.


Substantive Change: A significant modification (including deletions) or expansion of the nature and scope of an accredited institution. Under federal regulations, substantive change includes revisions to the mission, legal status, or control of the institution; the addition of courses or programs that are significant departures from current offerings; establishment of off-campus instructional sites; program closures; collaborative academic or contractual arrangements with other institutions or entities; and related actions. SACSCOC specifies additional types of substantive changes that must also be reported and/or approved before implementation.

Significant Departure: A program that is not closely related to previously approved programs at the institution or off-campus site in terms of content or mode of delivery proposed. This can often be hard to determine and often requires an inquiry by the SACSCOC Liaison to the SACSCOC Substantive Change Office.

SACSCOC Accreditation Liaison: The individual designated by the President of the University to serve as the University’s representative to SACSCOC and to communicate with SACSCOC concerning substantive change and other accreditation requirements.

Request for Substantive Change Review: A request submitted to the Accreditation Liaison by a dean or designee to determine if a proposed program action would be considered a substantive change under current SACSCOC policy and to confirm the requirements for ensuring compliance.

The Accreditation Liaison will review the proposed change in relation to current SACSCOC policies, provide advice concerning requirements and dates by which a notification or prospectus must be submitted, and work with program faculty to prepare the documentation and letter of transmittal for the President’s signature.


Failure to follow SACSCOC substantive change policy and procedures may result in adverse accreditation actions for the institution, such as sanctions, loss of Title IV funding, or being required by the U.S. Department of Education to reimburse money received by the institution for programs related to the unreported substantive change.

To ensure that SACSCOC reporting deadlines are met, questions and requests for review should be directed to the Accreditation Liaison as early as possible in the planning process.

Relevant Documents
U.S. Department of Education Regulations Concerning Substantive Change (34 C.F.R. §602.22.) Page 12
SACSCOC’s Substantive Change Policy (subject to change without notice)
UM’s Curriculum Change Policy