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Home Substantive Change Policy & Procedures

The federal government requires Clark Atlanta University’s regional accrediting agency, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC), to monitor compliance with the substantive change policy and to approve any major changes. Under the U.S. Department of Education regulations (34 CFR 602.22), substantive change is defined as “a significant modification or expansion in the nature and scope of an accredited institution.”


As a member institution, Clark Atlanta University is responsible for notifying SACSCOC of changes in accordance with the substantive change policy and, when required seek approval prior to the initiation of changes as a condition of its continued accreditation by the SACSCOC. Failure to follow this substantive change policy and its procedures may place the accreditation of the University in jeopardy. The SACSCOC may imposition of a sanction on the University; the University may lose its Title IV funding; or the U.S. Department of Education may require the University to reimburse money received for Unreported Substantive Changes.

Substantive changes occur at different levels and the University may address them in several ways based on SACSCOC reporting requirements. Examples of substantive changes may include, but are not limited to, establishing a new site at which students can earn 50% or more of the credits toward a CAU degree, or the first offering of joint program with another institution through which CAU credit may be earned. If a school, department or unit is considering one or more of the following changes, then the University must notify SACSCOC to obtain approval before implementing the change.

Program/Course Level Changes:

  1. Adding courses or programs of study at a different degree or credential level than currently approved
  2. Adding courses or programs that represent a significant departure from current practice, either in content or method of delivery (such as distance learning)
  3. Initiating certificate programs at new off-campus sites or which differ significantly from existing programs
  4. Initiating a collaborative academic arrangement, such as a joint or dual degree program with another institution
  5. Increasing the length of a program significantly
  6. Initiating degree completion programs
  7. Closing a program approved at an off-campus site, branch campus, or institution


School/Department Level Changes:

  1. Initiating an off-campus site (including Early College High School programs offered at a high school)
  2. Expanding program offerings at previously approved off-campus sites
  3. Initiating distance learning
  4. Initiating programs or courses offered through contractual agreement or consortium
  5. Entering into a contract with an entity not certified to participate in USDOE Title IV programs 

Institutional Level Changes:

  1. Altering significantly the educational mission of the institution
  2. Initiating a branch campus
  3. Initiating a merger/consolidation with another institution
  4. Changing governance, ownership, control, or legal status of an institution
  5. Relocating a main or branch campus
  6. Moving an off-campus instructional site (serving the same geographical area)
  7. Changing from clock hours to credit hours
  8. Acquiring any program or site from another institution
  9. Adding a permanent location at a site where the institution is conducting a teach-out for students from another institution that is closing