University of Houston-Victoria

Institutional Research Effectiveness

Substantive Changes

Substantive Change refers to a policy of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) requiring that changes that represent a “significant modification of the nature and scope of an accredited institution” be reported to and receive approval from SACSCOC prior to implementation of the change. SACSCOC policy complies with federal law and Department of Education requirements. Failure to adhere to the Substantive Change policy may result in UHV losing Title IV funding or being required to return money received for programs related to the unreported substantive change.

Process for Substantive Change for Curriculum Changes

To ensure that all curriculum changes which may require substantive change are identified in a timely fashion, the Provost and/or SACSCOC liaison will review every curriculum change before it is submitted to Faculty Senate for approval. If a substantive change prospectus or letter must be prepared, the Provost and/or SACSCOC liaison will work with the faculty to prepare the documents. This may happen concurrently with the Faculty Senate’s curriculum approval process.

Programmatic changes which require new courses and/or new faculty are probably a change significant enough to require a prospectus. Every new academic program, including concentrations and minors which share a CIP with existing programs, will be recorded in the Office of Institutional Effectiveness, along with the status (date letter/prospectus sent; date approval/acknowledgment received; or date of decision to submit neither).

Process for Substantive Change for Instructional Sites or Consortial Agreements

To ensure that prospectuses related to opening and closing sites are submitted in a timely fashion, the Provost and/or SACSCOC liaison will submit a prospectus as soon as the decision is made.

To ensure that consortial relationships which may require substantive change are identified in a timely fashion, the Provost and/or SACSCOC liaison will begin drafting a prospectus as soon as the contract is drafted, before the final agreement is signed.

Timeline for Preparing Substantive Change Materials

Changes must be approved by SACSCOC before implementation. Following is a guide for calculating deadlines:

Kind of change
Date of implementation of change
Begin writing the prospectus/letter
Deadline to submit a prospectus/letter
Prospectus required
fall semester October January 1
spring or summer semester May of previous year July 1 of previous year
Letter required
fall semester February


spring semester August October









Students may not be accepted into a new program before approval is received from SACSCOC. Once the prospectus has been submitted, programs may advertise and recruit students as long as all materials clearly state that the program is pending approval by SACSCOC. 

Summary of SACSCOC Substantive Change policy statement

Following are some changes that require a notification or prospectus to be submitted to SACSCOC:

  • Offering classes at a new location
  • Ceasing to offer classes at a location
  • Creating a new academic program
  • Reconceptualizing or changing the length of an academic program
  • Ceasing to offer an academic program
  • Offering a program in a format not previously offered at UHV (e.g., correspondence or competency-based programs)
  • Forming a consortial relationship with another degree-granting institution, other than articulation agreements
  • Changing the mission, governance, or legal status of the university

A fuller list of possible substantive changes can be found in the SACSCOC Substantive Change policy.