Substantive Change 



Policy Name:

Substantive Change


Dr. Christine Kelly-Kleese
Institutional Accreditation Liaison

Dr. Jen Servi-Roberts
Program Management Committee Chair


Office of the President

Effective Date:

June 2012, January 25, 2019 (Revision);
November 13, 2020 (Revision);
January 22, 2021 (Revision); 
September 17, 2021 (Revision);
September 13, 2022 (Revision);
February 16, 2024 (Revision)

Last Reviewed:






SACSCOC Substantive Change Policy


Policy Statement 

Durham Technical Community College provides written notification to its accrediting agency, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC), of substantive changes at the College in accordance with Commission policies and timetables.

Contact Information

Dr. Christine Kelly-Kleese
Vice President, Chief Strategy Officer/SACSCOC Accreditation Liaison
919-536-7200, ext. 2402


Durham Technical Community College (Durham Tech) is a constituent member of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC), which serves as the College’s accrediting body. SACSCOC is recognized by the U.S. Department of Education as an agency whose accreditation enables its member institutions to seek eligibility to participate in Title IV programs. To maintain its recognition with the Department of Education, SACSCOC has incorporated federal requirements into its substantive change policy and procedures. These requirements specify that an institution must seek and receive approval prior to the initiation of a substantive change so that the change can be included in the institution’s scope of accreditation. 


Durham Tech’s SACSCOC Accreditation Liaison is responsible for providing information about the SACSCOC substantive change policy to the  President, division heads, deans, and directors at the beginning of the academic year or more frequently if updates are required by SACSCOC action.

The Accreditation Liaison is a member, by virtue of position, of the College’s Program Management Committee. This role allows the liaison to gain first-hand knowledge of proposed program changes, including the introduction and discontinuation of programs.

Division heads, deans, chairs, and/or (executive) directors are responsible for informing the Program Management Committee Chair of changes to the College’s educational programs, services, or operations that might prompt the initiation of a substantive change. These changes are documented in the New Program Proposal Form (for new programs) or the Program Revision Proposal form (for changes to existing programs).

The Program Management Committee Chair reviews the submitted forms and consults with the SACSCOC Accreditation Liaison to determine whether the proposed changes are considered substantive in nature. Guidance regarding that determination is then added to the New Program Proposal/Program Revision Proposal form in preparation for moving the requested change forward to the Program Management Committee for review.

The Chair will coordinate the committee’s review and recommendation of proposed changes. Upon Committee action, the Management Committee Chair must contact the Accreditation Liaison.

For substantive changes that involve the introduction or discontinuation of a program, the initiating employee is responsible for providing the Accreditation Liaison with the following details: 

  • A description of the educational program(s) involved;

  • The nature of the change;

  • The academic and professional qualifications of faculty members assigned to coordinate and teach the program(s);

  • The manner in which the College will provide educational and academic support for students enrolled in the program(s) involved; and

  • How students enrolled in programs being discontinued will be able to complete the program in good order (Refer to the Curriculum Course/Program Termination procedure for more information).

The Accreditation Liaison is responsible in turn for notifying the President of proposed changes in the College’s educational programs, services, or operations that might prompt the substantive change.

The President is responsible for notifying SACSCOC of substantive changes; for ensuring the Board of Trustees is properly notified of planned revisions to educational programs, services, or operations; and, when applicable, for seeking Board approval for adding significantly different programs to the academic curriculum or other substantive changes to College programs or services.

The Accreditation Liaison is responsible for coordinating any required follow-up action requested by SACSCOC in response to substantive change notification, including prospectus submission and any on-site visits to the College.

Submission Deadlines

Substantive change prospectus, application, and notification submission deadlines depend on (1) the type of SACSCOC Board of Trustees review (full Board of Trustees review or review by the Executive Council of the Board of Trustees on behalf of the full Board) and (2) the planned implementation date of the substantive change. Employees should contact the Accreditation Liaison for assistance in determining the appropriate timeline to follow.

For a substantive change (e.g., degree level changes, acquisitions, etc.) requiring approval by the full Board of Trustees to be implemented after the date of the Board meeting, the submission deadlines are as follows:

  • March 15 for review at the Board’s biannual meeting in June of the same calendar year; and
  • September 1 for review at the Board’s biannual meeting in December of the same calendar year.

For a substantive change requiring approval by the Executive Council of the Board of Trustees, which meets year-round, or for a substantive change requiring notification only, the submission deadlines are as follows:

  • January 1 for changes to be implemented July 1 through December 31 of the same calendar year; and
  • July 1 for changes to be implemented January 1 through June 30 of the subsequent calendar year.


SACSCOC Accreditation Liaison – The College employee appointed by the President to oversee the College’s compliance with SACSCOC accreditation requirements and policies.

Prospectus – A concisely worded narrative that describes a proposed substantive change written in the format specified by SACSCOC.

Substantive change – A significant modification or expansion in the College’s nature and scope. Under federal regulations, substantive change includes:

  • Any change in the established mission or objectives of the institution;
  • Any change in legal status, form of control, or ownership 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;
  • The addition of courses or programs of study at a degree or credential level different from that which is included in the institution’s current accreditation or reaffirmation;
  • A change from clock hours to credit hours;
  • A substantial increase in the number of clock or 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 fifty (50) percent of an educational program;
  • 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;
  • Adding a permanent location at a site where the institution is conducting a teach-out program for a closed institution; and
  • Entering into a contract by which an entity not eligible for Title IV funding offers twenty-five (25) percent or more of one or more of the accredited institution’s programs.