Substantive Change

The University of North Texas is deeply committed to advancing education excellence, creating knowledge and innovations through collaborations, and offering a broad array of programs.  This commitment brings perpetual change and growth to the institution.  Some changes are substantial enough to require reporting to various outside bodies, such as the:

  • University of North Texas System (UNTS)
  • UNTS Board of Regents
  • Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB)
  • Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)
  • United States Department of Education.

The Office of University Accreditation stands ready to help faculty and administrators report their substantive changes to the appropriate bodies.  Several types of changes do require prior approval before implementation.

What is SACSCOC Substantive Change?

The University of North Texas is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).  Member institutions are required to notify SACSCOC of changes in accordance with the substantive change policy and seek approval prior to the initiation of changes when required.  Member institutions are required to have policies and procedures to ensure that all substantive changes are reported to the Commission in a timely manner.  This is an expectation by the U.S. Department of Education, and unreported Substantive Changes are considered serious infractions that may result in sanctions against the institution.

SACSCOC defines substantive change as “a significant modification or expansion in the nature and scope of an accredited institution.”  The types of substantive change and the procedures for addressing them appropriately are defined in policy.  University Accreditation supports UNT in reporting substantive changes to maintain compliance with policies as changes and innovations are implemented. 

Examples of substantive changes include:

  • Any change in the established mission or objectives of the institution
  • The addition of courses or programs that represent a significant departure, either in content or method of delivery, from those that were offered when the institution was last evaluated
  • Expanding program offerings at previously approved off-campus sites by adding programs that ARE significantly different from current programs at the site AND at the institution.
  • A substantial increase in the number of credit hours awarded for successful completion of a program
  • The establishment of an additional location geographically apart from the main campus at which the institution offers at least 50% of an educational program (includes dual credit courses and video conferencing)
  • The establishment of a branch campus
  • Closing a program, off-campus site, branch campus or institution
  • Entering into a collaborative academic arrangement that includes only the initiation of a dual or joint academic program with another institution
  • Acquiring another institution or a program or location of another institution
  • The initiation of a direct assessment competency-based educational program

Where can I find Substantive Change Policies and Procedures?

To read the substantive change policies for UNT, the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board or SACSCOC, please review the following:

UNT Policy and Procedures on Substantive Changes

 

Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB)

 

Southern Association of College and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)

Please Note: Not all changes require reporting to SACSCOC and/or the THECB.  Contact University Accreditation if you have questions.

Failure to Comply

Failure to comply with the substantive change procedures of SACSCOC can result in serious consequences that include:

  • Suspending the activity until approval is received
  • Requiring the institution to pay back Federal financial aid dispersed to students
  • Placing the institution on sanction or removing the institution’s accreditation entirely

Is my change 'substantive'?

There is no specific formula used to determine if a modification or expansion is significant.  It is a professional judgement that uses evidence to build a case for the decision.  It is helpful to consider the following questions when deciding if a change is a SACSCOC substantive change that requires reporting:

  • What previously approved program(s) does UNT offer that is closely related to the new program and how are they related?
  • Will significant additional equipment or facilities be needed?
  • Will significant additional financial resources be needed?
  • Will a significant number of new courses be added to the curriculum?
  • Will a significant number of new faculty members be required?
  • Will significant additional library/learning resources be needed?

If you believe you have a change that may require substantive change reporting, complete the Substantive Change Intake Form and submit it to the UNT Office of University Accreditation.  We will review your information and contact you with additional information. 

How do I gain initial Provost planning authority for a change?

Initial Provost Authority
Many changes require Initial Provost Authority before implementation. Initial authority is obtained using the VPAA form for new programs or changes to existing programs. Signed forms should be forwarded to Dr. Terri Day, Vice Provost for Academic Administration.  Refer to the flowchart of the degree program inventory change process and its relationship to Curriculog changes.

This form should be used for the following types of changes: 

  1. creating a new degree/standalone graduate certificate (online, face-to-face, or hybrid);
  2. adding a concentration to a degree (only required if the concentration significantly changes the degree in its current form);
  3. consolidating degrees;
  4. closing a degree or certificate;
  5. increasing/decreasing SCH for a degree/certificate;
  6. changing a CIP code
  7. changing program modality to more than 50% electronically delivered, e.g. online, video conferencing, etc.;
  8. entering into a collaborative academic arrangement that includes the initiation of a dual/joint program;
  9. offering a degree or certificate program at an offsite location
  10. initiating a direct assessment competency-based educational program;
  11. renaming a degree/certificate
  12. creating a Grad Track pathway (a copy of the Grad Track application should be attached to this form);
  13. changing the name of a college/academic department;  
  14. moving degree/certificate programs between colleges/departments
  15. moving departments to other colleges; or 
  16. creating/closing a department/college

Steps for reporting Substantive Changes to SACSCOC?

If you believe you have a change that may require SACSCOC substantive change reporting, complete the Substantive Change Intake Form and submit it to the UNT Office of University Accreditation.  We will review your information and contact you with additional information. 

UNT Substantive Change Intake Form

Process Overview for Substantive Change Reporting

If SACSCOC approval is needed after UA reviews the Intake Form, a substantive change prospectus must be prepared by the department well in advance, and sent to UA by the following due dates:

  • June 1, 2019 for a spring 2020* implementation (January 1 to June 30)
  • December 1, 2019 for a fall 2020* implementation (July 1 to December 31)
  • June 1, 2020 for a spring 2021* implementation (January 1 to June 30)
  • December 1, 2020, for a fall 2021* implementation (July 1 to December 31)