• Substantive Change

About Substantive Change

A substantive change is a change to an institution’s mission, educational programs, scope, control, or organizational structure that needs to be reported to and approved by WSCUC in advance of implementation. The standard of review for substantive changes is whether a substantive change would adversely affect the institution’s capacity to meet WSCUC Standards of Accreditation.

WSCUC’s review procedures are tailored to different types of substantive changes with consideration for the scope and significance of each change for the institution.

The substantive change process is designed to ensure the consistency of quality across all institutional operations, on and off-campus and through distance education. The concern for quality has grown as off-campus programs have crossed regional and international boundaries, technology-mediated learning has flourished, and more institutions are beginning to offer both professional and research doctorates.

In 1994 and then again in 2008, the Higher Education Reauthorization Acts led to a significant number of regulations concerning substantive change, and the U.S. Department of Education began requiring federally mandated site visits to off-campus programs and authentication of students enrolled in distance education programs.

Under both Commission policy and federal law, certain substantive changes are required to have prior approval. The procedures defined in the Substantive Change Manual provide guidelines for institutions to demonstrate compliance with these regulations, as well as other WSCUC requirements.


Step 1


Review the Substantive Change Manual.

The manual provides you with the details needed to determine review requirements, timelines and submission procedures. (If you are not sure if a change requires substantive change review, please contact John Hausaman).

Step 3


Submit your request.

Using the Accreditation Management Portal, Accreditation Liaison Officers (ALOs) will submit requests for substantive changes relating to programs, applications for new locations, or changes to organizational structure. Once submitted, the Substantive Change staff will review the submission to determine the necessity of a review and schedule the review as appropriate.

The Substantive Change Committee

WSCUC builds on the federal mandate for review of substantive change through peer review. Routine changes within the institution’s current scope of accreditation, such as a request to offer an academic program in a discipline closely related to the institution’s existing offerings, or a new program that does not require substantial new courses to implement may be reviewed by staff.

Significant changes undergo review from peer reviewers who serve on the Substantive Change Committee (SCC). The Committee is comprised of peer reviewers with collective expertise in assessment, finance, graduate, undergraduate and general education, international programs, distance education, doctoral programs as well as a variety of discipline areas.

Learn More About the SCC

Substantive Change Resources

The resources gathered here are specific to the substantive change process and include all the core information we consider important to this process. Here you will find guides to help you navigate the substantive change experience, relevant policies, reports used for data gathering, templates and samples of related documents and more.

You can refine your search by audience, resource type, or keyword. As you update your search details the resources will adjust. To explore all WSCUC resources use the main resource search page.


2013 Handbook of Accreditation

The 2013 Handbook is designed to serve several purposes: to present the Commission’s Core Commitments and Standards of Accreditation; to guide institutions through the institutional review process; and to assist review teams at each stage of review.


2023 Handbook of Accreditation

The WSCUC 2023 Handbook provides information on the 2023 Standards, the Institutional Review Process for Reaffirmation, the Thematic Pathway for Reaffirmation (TPR), and Commission Decisions.


Accreditation Management Portal (AMP) Login

Member institutions log in to the Accreditation Management Portal (AMP) to submit their annual reports, request substantive changes, and view invoices. The AMP is also used by institutions to update profile information, institutional contacts, and details related to programs and locations


Becoming Accredited

This page provides information and resources for institutions interested in seeking WSCUC accreditation.


Developing Substantive Change Proposals

Information on Substantive Changes, including how they are defined, and the process for applying for such a change.


Equity and Inclusion

The Commission approved a bold, new statement on Equity and Inclusion at its June 25, 2021 meeting. Learn more about this statement and about Equity and Inclusion at WSCUC, including current policies, resources, activities, and the Commission’s Equity & Inclusion Council.


Evidence and Data

This page provides access to data on WSCUC accredited institutions, information about WSCUC data initiatives such as peer benchmarking, and highlights of WSCUC’s “Better Conversations, Better Data” initiative.


Key Indicators Dashboard

The Key Indicators Dashboard (KID) presents detailed trend and comparative information on WSCUC’s accredited undergraduate and graduate institutions in a clear, easy to use format. KID displays from federal data sets to present multiple years of metrics, trend data, and comparisons based on both national and WSCUC averages. KID provides integrated, accessible data on institution size and context, student completion, student finances, institution finances, and post-graduation outcomes.


Substantive Change Resources

Information on how institutions need to report and seek approval of changes to their mission, educational programs, scope, control or organizational structure.


Volunteer Information Portal (VIP) Login

The Volunteer Information Portal (VIP) is for Peer Reviewers and other volunteers in our community. A person’s VIP account allows them to: create and update their profile; share areas of expertise and necessary details to be considered for future volunteer opportunities; view current team information and see peer reviewer history via My Teams; and access the Key Indicators Dashboard (KID).