Substantive Change

Reaffirmation of accreditation applies to university conditions that exist at the time of its accreditation. While any modification to the institution’s programs, mission, course offerings, degree offering, etc. are the prerogative of the institution, Middle States is obligated to determine whether any of these changes affect the integrity and effectiveness of the institution. The U.S. Department of Education has determined that certain types of institutional changes are considered "substantive." Thus, any "substantive change" that is not covered by the institution’s accreditation must be reviewed and approved by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE) prior to its implementation. 

14 Types of Substantive Change

1. Any change in the established mission or objectives of the institution;

2. Any change in the legal status, form of control, or ownership of the institution;

3. The addition of programs that are a significant departure from the existing offerings of educational programs previously included in the institution’s accreditation;

4. The addition of courses or programs that are a significant departure from the methods of delivery that previously existed;

5. The initiation of expansion of direct assessment or competency-based educational programs;

6. The addition of programs of study at a degree or credential level that is different from those that existed or were previously included in the scop of the institution's accreditation;

7. A change from clock hours to credit hours in one or more institutional programs;

8. A substantial increase or decrease in the number of clock or credit hours awarded for successful completion of a program;

9. Contractual arrangements with an institution or organization that is not certified to participate in the Title IV federal student financial aid funding programs when the non-accredited entity offers more than 25% of the accredited institution's educational programs;

10. The establishment of an additional location at which the institution offers at least 50% of an educational program;

11. The establishment of a branch campus, including a branch campus acquired from another institution, or established or assumed to provide a teach-out of students from another institution;

12. The planned closure, relocation, or reclassification of a site (change in category among branch campus, additional location, or other instructional sites);

13. The institutional closure or institutional status requiring a teach-out plan for approval;

14. Before implementation of any Experimental Site Initiative (ESI) that require accreditation approval.


Additional information about what constitutes a "substantive change" in each of these areas can be found in the Middle States Substantive Change Policy Statement.  Any GW school, department, or program that is planning to institute a change that falls into any of the categories above must inform the Associate Provost for Academic Planning and Assessment of these plans well in advance of the implementation of the change. Please note that Middle States requires substantial documentation of the proposed change, and reviews requests every other month.  For further information, contact Cheryl Beil, Associate Provost for Academic Planning and Assessment at cbeil[email protected].


Effective January 1, 2018
Middle States Commission on Higher Education

MSCHE Substantive Changes

Institutions are required to report, and to have Commission approval in advance for, plans to introduce substantive changes at the institution so that the Commission can determine the effect that such changes may have on the quality, integrity, and effectiveness of the total institution.

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