3.12.1 Substantive Change

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

Judgment of Compliance

PVAMU SACS Accreditation - Judgement Compliance

Narrative of Compliance

Substantive change, as defined by the Commission, is a significant modification or expansion in the nature and scope of an accredited institution [1].  Since 1999, Prairie View A&M University has experienced significant changes in its nature and scope.  Namely, the institution has moved from a level III Institution to a level VI Institution and has implemented four Ph.D. programs. To ensure compliance with the Commission’s substantive policy, PVAMU has established the following substantive change guidance which is used to inform the faculty, staff and administrators [2]:

Substantive Change Guidance
Inherent in continuous quality improvement in academe is on-going review and updating of courses, programs, academic structures, modes of delivery, and educational access opportunities. The changes that evolve from such reviews are of basically two types, substantive and non-substantive. 

Prairie View A&M University has defined a substantive change as any action that has the potential to place at risk institutional quality or integrity based upon failure to comply with the standards for review, oversight, and evaluation established by The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, The Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, discipline specific regulatory or accrediting agencies, and the U.S. Department of Education.

Prior to publishing, representing in any way, or implementing any substantive change the academic units must follow the procedures outlined in the “Procedures” Section of this document.

As outlined in the curriculum change process chart [3], all recommended changes in academic programs or in the units in which they reside begin with the faculty and move from the curriculum committee, program coordinator to the department/division head, school/college committee, and the dean who authorizes submission of the proposed change to the appropriate curriculum council. Undergraduate changes are submitted to the University Academic Council and graduate changes are submitted to the Graduate Council. The respective councils are charged with determining if the proposed change is substantive, reviewing the standards of all appropriate internal and external entities, and certifying to the Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs that the proposed change has been reviewed for adequacy relative substantive change standards.


Action Required UAC GC Financial
Notification Only              

The President and CEO is apprised of substantive changes prior to their being transmitted to any external entity.  Financial sufficiency and financial aid guidelines sufficiency are reviewed by the Vice President for Business Affairs and the Assistant Provost for Student Financial Services.

Sample substantive change requests during the years 2001-2008 are as follows:

  • (2001) Substantive Change Involving Membership at Level V [4] [5] [6]
  • (2003) Substantive Change to Implement the Ph.D., Electrical Engineering [7] [8] [9] [10]
  • (2004)  Substantive Change to Implement the Ph.D., Clinical Adolescent Psychology [11] [12] [13]
  • (2008) Substantive Change to offer BBA in a two-plus-two format at Lone Stare College in Cypress [14] [15] [16]

In all of the aforementioned cases, Prairie View A&M University notified the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges of changes in accordance with the substantive changes policy and sought approval prior to initiating the changes. However, in 2007, the University recognized that it had not notified the Commission of a relocation of an off campus instructional site in Dallas, Texas. The University subsequently notified the Commission on July 2, 2007 of this oversight [17]. The Commission accepted the late notification; however, asked additional questions regarding the expansion of interactive instruction at the Dallas Urban League [18]. Research conducted revealed that students enrolled at the off campus instructional sites in Dallas, Texas, were able to take more than 49% of degree requirements. Based on these findings, and as a response to the Commission's letter, the University immediately halted instruction and notified students that interactive video courses would no longer be offered at the Dallas Urban League [19]. Substantive change guidance is shared with deans and department heads at the beginning of the academic year to assure timely notification.

Supporting Documentation and Links

Comprehensive Standards 3.12.1

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