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. 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. 

12 Institutional Changes

The accreditation provisions of the Higher Education Opportunity Act (HEOA) of 2008 lists 12 institutional changes that must receive Middle State’s approval prior to the implementation of these changes.

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 courses or programs, including Title IV – eligible certificate programs not related to existing degree programs, that represent a significant departure from the existing offerings of educational programs, or method of delivery, from those previously included in the institution’s accreditation;

4. The addition of programs of study at a degree or credential level different from which is included in the institution’s current accreditation;

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

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

7. The initiation or expansion of distance education or correspondence education wherein 50% or more of the courses or credits in one or more academic programs are provided through the alternative delivery;

8. 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;

9. The establishment of domestic and international additional locations, including an additional location acquired from another institution, or established or assumed to provide a teach-out of students from another institution;

10. The planned closure or relocation of an additional location or branch campus, or a change in category among branch campus, additional location, or other instructional sites by the institution;

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

12. The initiation of a contractual arrangement wherein 25% of one or more of the institution’s educational programs is provided by an unaccredited institution, corporation or other entity, or an institution that is not accredited by an accreditor recognized by the U.S. Department of Education.


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 [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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