Reporting and Approval of Academic Actions Constituting Substantive Change

I. Scope

This policy applies to all colleges/schools and other units within the University involved in activities or actions directly or indirectly identified by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) as a substantive change. Substantive changes are categorized as relating to the institution, to programs, or to off-campus instructional sites.

II. Policy Statement

The purpose of this policy is to ensure that the George Mason University operates in compliance with regulations established by SACSCOC.  Because it is the responsibility of the Provost, as chief academic officer, to ensure that all college-level units of the university consistently meet these regulations, all such actions must be reviewed and approved by the Office of the Provost prior to implementation.  A centralized approval process is also intended to relieve the deans and directors or college-level units of the responsibility of remaining familiar with the details of an external policy that changes frequently.

All substantive changes to academic degree programs must be reported by the colleges and schools to the Office of the Provost, in order to request written approval for the substantive change action and for the implementation timeline. College-level units are not permitted to implement substantive change actions without written approval from the Office of the Provost.

Refer to the “Responsibilities and Procedures for Obtaining Approval of Potential Substantive Changes at George Mason University” document for additional information regarding the reporting of potential substantive changes at George Mason University.

III. Definitions

“Substantive change” is defined in accordance with relevant SACSCOC policies.  Refer to the “Responsibilities and Procedures for Obtaining Approval of Potential Substantive Changes at George Mason University” document for a complete listing of the various types of substantive changes. Questions about whether a given action constitutes substantive change should be directed to the Office of the Provost for clarification.

IV. Compliance

Failure to comply with the SACSCOC Substantive Change Policy may result in negative action by SACSCOC with regard to George Mason University’s accreditation. Deans and directors of college-level units are expected to ensure that their units remain in compliance with this policy.

V. Forms


VI. Dates:

A. Effective Date: August 15, 2010

B. Date of Most Recent Review:  October 19, 2021

VII. Timetable for Review

This policy, and any related procedures, shall be reviewed every three years or more frequently as needed.



Date approved: 08/15/2010

Revised: 05/03/2016

Revised: 01/13/2020

Revised: 03/04/2021

Revised: 10/19/2021