• 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 2


Watch the Substantive Change Procedure Updates webinar.

The webinar provides important information on recent changes to the substantive change procedure and may impact how you structure your request.

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.


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


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.


About the Accreditation Management Portal (AMP)

Member institutions log in to the Accreditation Management Portal (AMP) to submit 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.


Agreements with Unaccredited Entities Guide

This guide is for institutions considering entering into agreements with unaccredited providers and is designed to be referenced in conjunction with the Agreements with Unaccredited Entities Policy.


Agreements with Unaccredited Entities Policy

When an accredited institution enters into an agreement with an unaccredited entity with the intent that the latter will provide services to the accredited institution, the accredited institution must ensure that the services provided by the unaccredited entity comply with the Commission’s Standards and policies.


Change in Ownership Implementation Form

Institutions must submit this form regarding Changes of Ownership, Mission or Form of Control within 30 days after implementation of the change.


Common Issues in Sub Change Proposals

This list identifies the most commonly cited areas of revision in substantive change proposals. The first section lists issues commonly caught in the preliminary staff review done by WSCUC staff. Other sections identify common issues specific to undergraduate, graduate and distance education programs.


Developing Substantive Change Proposals

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


Dual Degrees Policy

A dual degree program is defined as a program of study offered collaboratively by two institutions that leads to the award of a separate degree from each of the participating institutions. This policy outlines the expectations for institutions offering dual degree programs in conformity with the Standards of Accreditation (the Standards).


Graduate Program Review Guide

The purpose of these guidelines is to complement and inform the WSCUC Standards of Accreditation, providing more specific guidance about the planning, development, and evaluation of graduate programs. These guidelines are minimal baseline standards for quality and do not necessarily reflect robust or ideal characteristics of graduate programs.