Substantive Change

Substantive change is a federal term pertaining to any “significant modification of the nature and scope of an accredited institution.” Colleges and Universities must notify their accrediting body of potential or actual substantive change in a timely fashion, and in many cases must receive approval for such change from the accrediting body before the initiative is implemented.

Duke University’s regional accrediting body, the Commission on Colleges (COC) of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS), is required by the federal government to monitor its constituents’ compliance with the substantive change policy and to grant permission for major changes to occur. In order to ensure our compliance, all proposers of new programs, degrees, and other major initiatives should review the substantive change policy at the link provided in Appendix Y of the Faculty Handbook as well as the relevant portion of the SACSCOC website, which contains much useful information.

In addition, proposers must fill out this checklist and submit it to the Duke University Liaison to SACSCOC before presenting the initiative to the Academic Programs Committee (in the case of academic programs and degrees) or to the University Priorities Committee (in the case of major nonacademic changes).

Please feel free to call Molly Goldwasser with any questions (919-684-0731) or to email her at