The purpose of this policy is to ensure that all substantive changes regarding the nature and scope of East Tennessee State University (ETSU) are reported to the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) in accordance with defined standards and federal regulations.
ETSU maintains compliance with the substantive change policy and procedures of SACSCOC.
- ETSU recognizes the responsibility of SACSCOC to review substantive changes that occur
between decennial reviews and to determine if the University continues to meet defined
standards and federal regulations.
- ETSU notifies SACSCOC of significant modification or expansion of the nature and scope
of the university and, when required, seeks approval prior to the initiation of changes.
- ETSU faculty and administrative officials who approve substantive changes for academic
programs and off-campus instructional sites do so in accordance with established procedures.
- If unclear as to whether a change is substantive in nature, ETSU contacts SACSCOC staff for consultation.
- ETSU recognizes the responsibility of SACSCOC to review substantive changes that occur between decennial reviews and to determine if the University continues to meet defined standards and federal regulations.
Authority: SACSCOC Policy Statement: Substantive Change for SACSCOC Accredited Institutions (available at http://www.sacscoc.org/pdf/081705/SubstantiveChange.pdf)
SACSCOC defines several terms pertinent to this policy and procedure, including:
Academic program changes
Changes to current academic degree programs, dual or joint degrees, offerings through contractual agreements or consortia, and certificate programs. The most common substantive changes for academic programs include:
- expanding at current degree level (significant departure from current programs);
- initiating degree completion programs;
- initiating dual or joint degrees involving program expansion (significant departure from current programs);
- initiating dual or joint degrees with other SACSCOC accredited institution(s);
- initiating programs or courses offered through contractual agreement or consortium;
- initiating a certificate program at a new off- campus site at employer’s request and on short notice (previously approved program);
- initiating a certificate program that is a significant departure from previously approved programs at employer’s request and on short notice;
- closing a program, approved off-campus site, branch campus, or institution where the institution plans to teach out its own students.
Location that is geographically apart and independent of the main campus of the institution. A location is independent of the main campus if the location is:
- permanent in nature;
- offers courses in educational programs leading to a degree, certificate, or other recognized educational credential;
- has its own faculty and administrative or supervisory organization; and
- has its own budgetary and hiring authority.
ETSU has no branch campus.
A formal educational process in which the majority of the instruction (interaction between students and instructors and among students) in a course occurs when students and instructors are not in the same place. Instruction may be synchronous or asynchronous. A distance education course may use:
- the internet;
- one-way and two-way transmissions through open broadcast, closed circuit, cable, microwave,
broadband lines, fiber optics, satellite, or wireless communications devices;
- audio conferencing; or
- video cassettes, DVD’s, and CD-ROMs if used as part of the distance learning course or program.
SACSCOC requires notification when initiating distance education for the first time. However, ETSU was approved by SACSCOC to offer distance education in Fall 2001; therefore, this policy does not include substantive changes for initiating distance learning.
Off-campus instructional sites
Teaching sites located geographically apart from the main campus of ETSU. These sites are not independent of the main campus in terms of faculty and administrative or supervisory organization or budgetary and hiring authority. The most common substantive changes for off-campus instructional sites include:
- initiating a new off-campus site where students can obtain 25- 49% of credits toward
a program or certificate;
- initiating a new off-campus site where student can obtain 50% or more credits toward
a program or certificate;
- 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;
- moving an approved off-campus site within the same geographic area to serve essentially the same pool of students.
Program closure date
Date at which program admission ceases. SACSCOC defines program closure as the date students are last admitted, independent of program status or nomenclature with institutional or state policy.
A program that is not closely related to previously approved programs at the institution or site or to the mode of delivery in question is a significant departure. 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, are included in this policy. To determine whether a new program is a “significant departure,” it is helpful to consider the following questions:
- What previously approved programs does the institution offer that are 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 will be required?
- Will a significant number of new faculty members will be required?
- Will significant additional library/learning resources be needed?
Unlikely substantive changes
Substantive changes that are unlikely to occur at ETSU. A complete list of substantive changes is provided in the Substantive Change for SACSCOC Accredited Institutions Policy Statement, available on the SACSCOC website (www.sacscoc.org). These changes include:
- altering significantly the educational mission of the institution;
- altering significantly the length of a program;
- changing governance, ownership, control, or legal status of ETSU;
- relocating ETSU’s main campus;
- initiating a branch campus;
- adding a permanent location at a site where the institution is conducting a teach-out
for students from another institution that is closing;
- adding a site under a U.S. military contract for a previously approved program;
- entering into a contract with an entity not certified to participate in USDOE Title
IV programs if the entity provides any portion of an educational program offered by
- initiating dual or joint degree with at least one institution not accredited by SACSCOC;
- initiating a merger/consolidation with another institution;
- initiating a direct assessment competency-based program;
- acquiring any program or site from another institution; and
- closing a program, approved off-campus site, branch campus, or institution where the institution plans contracts with another institution(s) to teach-out students.
Effective Date: March 24, 2017
- Faculty submit proposed academic actions during the curricular process. Reviews include
college and university committees with a penultimate review at Academic Council.
- Prior to Academic Council review, the ETSU SACSCOC Accreditation Liaison conducts
an assessment of the proposals for possible substantive changes as defined by the
- If the proposal contains actions that appear to be substantive, the Liaison requests
more information from the academic department prior to the Academic Council meeting.
- If the determination of a substantive change is unclear, the Liaison contacts the
SACSCOC Substantive Change office staff.
- Following Academic Council approval, the Liaison notifies the Provost of the SACSCOC implication of any proposed changes.
- If the proposal contains actions that appear to be substantive, the Liaison requests more information from the academic department prior to the Academic Council meeting.
- For changes that are substantive in nature, ETSU complies with SACSCOC policy regarding notification and documentation required.
- Faculty submit proposed academic actions during the curricular process. Reviews include college and university committees with a penultimate review at Academic Council.
Effective Date: March 24, 2017
Scope and Applicability
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