Connected Campus

3.12.1 Substantive Change


The institution notifies the Commission of changes in accordance with the Commission’s substantive change policy and, when required, seeks approval prior to the initiation of changes.


_X_  Compliance           ___  Partial Compliance          ___  Non-Compliance




Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary (MABTS) maintains a comprehensive, written substantive change policy [1] that addresses all aspects of a substantive change in the institution. MABTS employs a procedure [2] to notify the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) of all substantive changes in the institution.




The 2014-15 MABTS Employee Handbook demonstrates a substantive change policy under the heading, Initiation and Expansion of Educational Programs:


When a new educational program or the expansion of a current program at the same level but substantially different from one already approved is being considered, the seminary must inform the President of the SACSCOC in advance of the admission of students. The administration and faculty must be responsible for the development of new academic programs recommended to the trustees. In addition to notifying SACSCOC, the following procedure is to be followed:


• Proposal presented to the Academic Council

• Academic Council makes recommendation to the Faculty

• Faculty makes recommendation to the Board of Trustees


The SACSCOC requirement is that the institution must demonstrate that it has conducted a thorough assessment of needs, market factors, financial, and faculty resources.


Substantive Changes. According to SACSCOC, a substantive change is a significant modification or expansion of the nature and scope of an accredited institution. Under federal regulations, substantive changes include:


• 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 

• 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 50% 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


Entering into a contract by which an entity not eligible for Title IV funding offers 25% or more of one or more of the accredited institution’s programs [1]




As the Academic Council votes upon the implementation of academic change initiatives, it relies upon the Director of Institutional Assessment to advise them if decisions made are substantive changes according to SACSCOC. The change initiative is presented to the faculty for vote and ultimately the Board of Trustees in one of their two biannual meetings [2]. Upon approval of the academic council, the faculty, and the board of trustees, the director submits a letter of notification to the president of SACSCOC [3] informing her of the proposed change. After a response by SACSCOC of receipt of the substantive change notification letter, the Director of Institutional Assessment crafts a substantive change prospectus according to SACSCOC standards [4]. After notification by SACSCOC to proceed with the substantive change [5] the institution begins to plan for implementation [6].




1. MABTS Substantive Change Policy

2. Trustee Meeting Minutes – Online Degree

3. Notification Letter to SACSCOC

4. Online Degree Substantive Change Prospectus

5. Notification Letter from SACSCOC

6. Online Degree Publicity 

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