WSCUC Substantive Change
Considering making changes to an educational program (including modality change) or offering educational programs at a location other than Fullerton and Irvine? You MAY need to work with the Accreditation Liaison Officer to submit a Substantive Change application to WSCUC! Please review the information below carefully. For complete details, please refer to the WSCUC Substantive Change Manual .
What is Substantive Change?
As defined in the Handbook of Accreditation , a substantive change at an accredited or candidate institution is defined as one that may significantly affect an institution’s quality, objectives, scope, or control.
What is an Educational Program?
In addition to degree programs, WSCUC definition of "educational programs" now includes non-degree programs as defined as all of the following:
- Is a series of courses
- Carries academic credit from the offering institution
- Results in a credential of some kind (certificate, diploma, credential, etc.)
- Results in a credential that is independent and not awarded as a result of completing an approved degree program
Programs that are “significant departures” from the institution’s current offerings will require a Substantive Change review.
What is a Significant Departure?
A program that is a significant departure in either content or modality from the institution’s current offerings will require a review by WSCUC. Examples of significant departures include: an offering in a curricular area in which the institution has no current approved programs, e.g. a new accounting certificate offered by an institution with no Business programs, or offering an online program at an institution with no or very few approved online programs or vice versa.
A program that is NOT a significant departure from an institution’s current approved curricular offerings or approved modality must be reported when implemented but does not require a review. As part of notifying WSCUC of implementation, the institution will be asked to identify the existing corresponding program that demonstrates the new program is not a significant departure. If, upon notification, the staff determines that the program is a significant departure, the institution will then need to submit a proposal to be reviewed.
Common causes for Substantive Change screening or review
- A new educational program that represents a significant departure from an institution’s current offerings or modality, e.g. a certificate in accounting offered by an institution with no existing Business programs; a new online certificate program offered by an institution with few or no existing online courses.
- A change in program modality for programs in which 50 percent or more will be offered through distance education. (Note that for undergraduate programs the 50 percent rule applies only to the program hours in the major, not the total hours it takes to graduate with a degree.)
- An additional location that is a site where 50 percent or more of at least one program is offered. This applies to locations within the United States or abroad.
- Ceasing operations or closure of any location that offers 100 percent of at least one program (a teach-out plan needs to be approved by WSCUC).
Substantive Change Categories
(p. 11 from the Manual)
This table lists the substantive change categories associated with various levels of review. A Substantive Change Screening form must be submitted for all new degree programs to determine if the program is a significant departure from existing offerings therefore requiring a review.
Substantive Change Categories
|Type of Review||Level of Review||Site Visit Required?|
|New on-site degree program ||Committee review ||No|
|New distance education  or competency-based degree program ||Committee review ||No|
|Dual degree program ||Committee review ||No|
|Joint degree program ||Committee review ||No|
|New non-degree program (if significant departure from current offerings)||Staff review||No|
|New additional location (offers 50% or more of at least one program||Staff review (if offering already approved programs)||Post-implementation visit may be required within six months of implementation.|
|New international location (50% or more of a program)||Committee review||Post-implementation visit may be required within one year of implementation.|
|New branch campus (50% or more of a program)||Committe review for first branch/Staff review for additional branch campuses||Post-implementation visit may be required within six months of implementation.|
|Change from clock to credit hours||Committee review||No|
|Duration: change in length of program (25% or more)||Committee review||No|
|First program at a new degree level (including joint degree)||Structural change review||Pre-implementation visit typically required.|
|First competency-based degree program||Structural change review||Pre-implementation visit typically required.
Post-implementation visit may be required within one year of implementation.
|Change of mission, owenership, legal status, or form of control.||Structual change review & legal review||
Pre-implementation visit typically required.
Post-implementation visit may be required within six months of implementation.
- The first three programs at each degree level will require a review. New programs that represent a significant departure from existing offerings since the last reaffirmation of accreditation will be reviewed. All programs will be reviewed for institutions with Candidacy status and newly WSCUC accredited institutions through their first reaffirmation of accreditation.
- If the program is also the first program at a new degree level, the proposal will be reviewed by the Committee and the Commission (structural change) and will require a site visit.
- The first three distance education programs will require reviews. New programs that represent a significant departure from existing offerings since the last reaffirmation of accreditation will also require a review.
- The first competency-based degree program at an institution will be reviewed by the full Committee and the Commission (structural change) and will require a site visit. The Commission meets in February, June and November. The following two competency-based degree programs require Committee review.
- See sections in this manual on Dual Degree Programs and Joint Degree Programs for more information on approval requirements.
Not sure what to do?
To start the process, please first contact CSUF Accreditation Liaison Officer at email@example.com. Typically, you will be instructed to complete a Substantive Change Screening form (see below for EXAMPLES):
How far in advance should a substantive change application be submitted?
Institutions are encouraged to submit a substantive change application and appropriate fee at least six months prior to the planned implementation date of the change to ensure a spot on the review calendar and to provide adequate time for review and approval by the Commission. Structural changes should be calendared at least nine months in advance. Institutions are encouraged to plan accordingly because programs cannot be started without WSCUC approval.
Please note that for CSUF, the Chancellor’s Office approval is also required when submitting the WSCUC substantive change application. Please allow sufficient time.
Contact firstname.lastname@example.org to get the process started.