Substantive Change

SJSU must obtain WASC approval for the programs it offers. We have long held “general” approval to offer both Baccalaureate and Masters degrees and new degrees programs at those levels do not require a separate WASC review and approval.

Degree programs offered via distance ed, which were formerly reviewed separately by WASC, have now been included in the “general approval” category (see below).

For programs we plan to deliver off campus, at locations more than 25 miles from the main campus, we must still obtain prior WASC approval through a process called Substantive Change (see below).

In addition, SJSU must report the current address of all off campus programs to both Financial Aid and WASC, whether they are within 25 miles or not.

Action required of chairs:

  1. Review and report the addresses of all Off Campus and Distance Ed programs your department offers to the Office of Graduate & Undergraduate Programs , via the Associate Dean, at the start of each semester. A form will be circulated via the Associate Dean for this purpose. Remember that campus stands to be severely penalized by the federal government for failure to report each semester ALL off campus addresses where we offer degree programs.
  2. If you plan to offer a new degree program off campus, or via distance ed, please consult with the AVP of Graduate & Undergraduate Programs early in your planning process. This applies whether you are moving an existing degree into a new modality as well as when you are creating a new degree program to be offered in either off campus or distance modality.

General Modality Approval:

Effective July 1, 2013, San Jose State University WASC granted SJSU General Modality Approval for distance education programs. WASC will no longer require institutions with demonstrated experience offering distance education programs to seek substantive change approval for new distance education programs.

This exemption does not override an institution’s Degree Level Approval designations. The institution must still seek prior approval for new distance education programs at degree levels for which it has “Specified” or “Individual” degree level approval. The Degree Level Approval policy may be found here:

SJSU’s general degree level authorizations are for Bachelors and Masters degrees. SJSU has an individual degree authorization for the Professional Doctorate: Doctor of Nursing Practice. Any new doctoral degree proposals will require WASC’s substantive change approval

Reporting Requirements:

The institution is required to report all new degree programs within 30 days of implementation by submitting the Program Implementation Form. All new programs must also be reported on the WASC Annual Report each year. The institution is responsible for demonstrating at the time of its next review that it has monitored the quality of new programs through assessment, program review, and other means that are linked to program improvement. In addition, the institution is responsible for identifying clear outcomes and quality performance indicators for each degree, which are regularly tracked to support review and improvements of degree programs individually, and programs offered in the modality collectively.

Substantive Change:

“WASC has required prior approval of institutional substantive changes in degree programs, methods of delivery, and organizational changes since 1979. In 1994, 2008, and 2009, the Higher Education Reauthorization Acts led to a significant number of regulations concerning substantive change. Among the regulations adopted by the U.S. Department of Education were federally mandated site visits to off-campus programs and authentication of students enrolled in distance education programs.

The substantive change process is designed to ensure the consistency of quality across all institutional operations, on- and off-campus and through distance education, and to ensure that institutions undergoing major changes continue to meet the Standards of Accreditation. The concern for quality has grown as off-campus programs have crossed regional and international boundaries, technology-mediated learning has flourished, more institutions are beginning to offer both professional and research doctorates, and more institutions are merging or affiliating with other institutions.

Under both Commission policy and federal law, certain substantive changes are required to have prior approval. In its development of substantive change policies, WASC has responded to relevant Department of Education regulations.

WASC’s current (2012) Substantive Change Manual may be found at: Enter “Substantive Change Manual” in the Search Bar.

Please contact the Office of Graduate & Undergraduate Programs if you have questions.