Substantive Change

Substantive Change

The Office of Institutional Effectiveness facilitates the institution’s reporting and compliance activities for accreditation with the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

As a member of SACSCOC, Carson-Newman University is responsible for notifying and, when necessary, seeking approval for substantive changes from the Commission in accordance with SACSCOC substantive change policy and procedures.  

As defined by the SACSCOC, a “substantive change is a significant modification or expansion of the nature and scope of an accredited institution.”

Substantive changes include but are not limited to the following:

  • Offering courses or programs at a higher or lower degree level than currently authorized.
  • Adding a program that is a significant departure from the existing programs, or method of delivery, from those offered since the institution’s last evaluation.
  • Initiating programs by distance education or correspondence courses.
  • Adding a new method of delivery to a currently offered program.
  • Entering into a cooperative academic arrangement.
  • 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 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.
  • Closing an institution, a program, delivery method, an off-campus instructional site, or a program at an off-campus instructional site.

Failure to comply with the SACSCOC Substantive Change policy and report substantive changes in a time-appropriate manner may result in negative actions being taken against C-N by the Commission or the Department of Education.  Specifically, potential consequences include

  • Loss of Title IV Funding
  • Repayment of monies received from the U.S. Department of Education for programs related to the unreported substantive change
  • Sanctions or removal from membership of the SACSCOC

As changes occur at all institutional levels, each unit’s responsibility is to ensure that appropriate reporting to all oversight agencies and accreditors occurs.  If you believe, or are unsure, if an upcoming change within your unit may qualify as a substantive change, please contact the Accreditation Liaison, Melissa Hensley (  The Office of Institutional Effectiveness will work with you in determining if the change is substantive and requires notification and/or approval from the Commission.

The Office of Institutional Effectiveness has made available on this website (below) the C-N Substantive Change Policy and a presentation presented to campus administrators.