Substantive Academic Program Change

Definitions

As set-forth by the Code of Maryland Regulations (COMAR) or determined by the indicated organizational entity

Academic Program Inventory   An official, cumulative listing of endorsed program offerings that is maintained and regulated by MHEC.

Area of Concentration   A sequential arrangement of courses within a program which at the undergraduate level exceeds 24 semester hours, at the master’s level exceeds 12 semester hours, and at the doctoral level exceeds 18 semester hours.

Bachelor or Art/Bachelor of Science   Awarded for successful completion of a program of 120 or more undergraduate semester credit hours.

Certificate of Advanced Study   Certificate awarded for successful completion of at least 30 semester credit hours of graduate study of the equivalent beyond the master’s degree.

Classroom Instruction   “Classroom instruction” means live instruction for academic credit that allows immediate interaction between student and instructor, such a lectures, laboratory instruction, seminars, colloquia, interactive instructional television, and, if immediate live feedback is available from an instructor, independent study and computer-aided instruction.  “Classroom instruction” does not include instruction through correspondence, non-interactive learning, credit for prior learning, cooperative education activities, practica, internships, externships, apprenticeships, portfolio review, departmental examinations, or challenge examinations.

Closed Site   Response to the request of a sponsoring agency or organization to offer a previously MHEC-endorsed academic offering on that entity’s premises solely for the benefit of its employees.  Programs may be offered through traditional means as well as through various technological modes.  The relatives and associates of employees and the general public may not be recruited or admitted to these program offerings.  Access to library, faculty and academic support services must be consistent with the scope and nature of such offerings. 

COD   Johns Hopkins University Council of Deans.

COMAR   Code of Maryland Regulations (law)

DC/ELC   Washington, D. C. Education Licensure Commission.

Determination of a New Program   A new program exists if one or more of the following conditions occurs.  The proposal establishes: [1] An institutional program leading to a formal award in a subject area in which the award is not previously authorized; for example, an institution wishes to offer an undergraduate major in chemistry, but currently offers undergraduate majors in other fields of study, or an institution wishes to offer an undergraduate major in addiction counseling, but currently offers an option in addiction counseling within an approved program in mental health.  [2] An instructional program in a subject area in which a formal award is offered at different lever; for example, an institution awards a BS in chemistry and wishes to award an MS in chemistry, or an institution wishes to offer an associate degree in addiction counseling, but currently offers only a lower-division certificate in addiction counseling.  [3] A new major by combining course work offered in two or more existing degree programs; for example, an institution wishes to offer a program in biochemistry by permitting students to combine course work offered in its current programs in biology and in chemistry.  [4] An award of a different type in a subject area in which another formal award at the same level is already offered; for example, an institution awards a Master of Science in Management and wishes to offer a Master of Business Administration, or an institution awards an AAS and wishes to offer an AA or AS. 

Directed Technology Certificate   Designed for community colleges, certificates awarded for successful completion of a specialized learning program which meets employer training needs and consists of at least 12 credits but no more than 24 credit hours at the freshman or sophomore levels, or both.

Distance Education   “Distance education” means course work for academic credit delivered by telecommunicated instruction to a physical space specifically reserved for the purpose of receiving the instruction, for example, a teleclassroom, and requires the payment of tuition or fees for instruction.  “Distance education” does not include telecommunicated instruction at the student’s initiation via an individual personal computer.

Doctoral Degree   Degree awarded for successful completion of at least two years of study beyond the master’s level, including completion of a thesis or dissertation.

First Professional Degree   A degree awarded for successful completion of all institutional requirements for becoming a practitioner in a field such as law, medicine, dentistry, pharmacy, theology, or nursing.

Formal Award   A certificate, diploma or degree granted in recognition of successful completion of the requirements of the program.  Such official awards are conferred by the faculty and ratified by the institution’s governing body.

In-State Institution   A degree granting institution whose primary campus is in Maryland and whose authority to grant degrees is conferred by Maryland.

Instructional Program   A course of study, requiring the completion of a specified number of course credits from among a prescribed group of courses, which lead to a formal award.

Joint Degree   A single degree offered by two or more institutions bearing the name and seal of each in which all participants are subsequently involved in required course work, faculty exchange, and shared use of facilities.

Lower Division Certificate   Certificate awarded for successful completion of a minimum of 12 semester credit hours at the freshman or sophomore levels, or both.

Master’s Degree   Awarded for successful completion of at least 30 semester credit hours or the equivalent of graduate level-courses.

MICUA   Maryland Independent College and University Association

MHEC   Maryland Higher Education Commission

MSCHE   Middle States Commission on Higher Education

Off-campus Program   More than one-third of the required course work in a major field of study leading to an undergraduate degree or graduate certificate  offered by an approved or chartered in-State institution at a location other than the principal location of the sponsoring institution during any 12-month period; or course work offered at a location other than the principal location of an approved or chartered in-State institution that is advertised as leading to an undergraduate or graduate degree or to a graduate certificate at that location, regardless of the portion of a program offered at that location.

Off-campus Site   A facility other than the main campus of an approved or chartered in-State institution that: [1] is not a closed site but is open to the general public; [2] offers three or more off-campus program by that institution; and [3] does not offer substantially all the instruction necessary to offer an undergraduate degree.

New Certificate Program   Proposals for new certificate programs in areas other than a directed technology certificate or certificate programs in existing degree areas may be made in a brief , 1 - 2 page document that: [1] explains the centrality of the proposed certificate program to the mission of the institution; [2] provides evidence of the market demand for the proposed certificate program; [3] sets out the curriculum design; and [4] shows that adequate faculty resources exist for the proposed certificate program.

New Degree   A degree level not specified in an in-State institution’s certificate of approval or authorized by its charter such as an associate level. bachelor’s level, master’s level, doctoral level, or first professional level.

Post Baccalaureate Certificate   Awarded for successful completion of at least 12 semester credit hours of college-level work, the majority of which are at the master’s level.

Post Master’s Certificate (under discussion and consideration)  Awarded for successful completion of at least 12 semester credit hours of college-level work, beyond the master’s degree.                                               

Professional Certificate   Awarded for successful completion of the number of courses required by the appropriate national professional association.

Program   A structured and coherent course of study with clearly defined objectives and intended student learning outcomes, requiring the completion of a specified number of course credits from among a prescribed group of courses, which leads to the award of a certificate or degree.

SCHEV   State Council of Higher Education for Virginia

Segments of Higher Education   The University System of Maryland, Morgan State University, St. Mary’s College of Maryland, The Maryland community colleges, the Maryland Independent College and University Association; and the Maryland Association of Private Colleges and Career Schools.

Statement of Accreditation Status   An official, cumulative statement of the breadth and nature of an institution’s accreditation that is maintained and regulated by the MSCHE, often referred to as an institution’s “umbrella of accreditation.”

State Plan   State of Maryland document entitled “State Plan for Higher Education”

Substantive Change   When an institution is accredited, or its accreditation is reaffirmed, that action applies to conditions existing at the time of MSCHE’s decision.  MSCHE requires that all member institutions be reevaluated periodically because institutions are in continual processes of change. While the decision to modify an institution is an institutional prerogative and responsibility, MSCHE is obligated to determine the effect of any substantive change on the quality, integrity, and effectiveness of the total institution.

Accreditation and Candidacy Status are subject to modification or revision in the event of changed circumstances that MSCHE reasonably determines requires such actions.

A principal of institutional accreditation is that everything done in the name of the institution is covered by its accreditation. Conversely, anything done without appropriate concern for consistency with an institution’s stated mission and concern for quality and integrity may threaten the accredited status of the entire institution.

Substantive changes are not automatically covered by the institution’s accreditation or candidate status and may precipitate a review of the accredited or candidate status of the institution.  Institutions planning a substantive change have the responsibility to inform MSCHE of the plan in advance, following procedural guidelines. Prior approval of the plan for substantive change is required before the change is included in the institution’s previously granted Candidate or Accredited Status. MSCHE reserves the right to rescind approval of a substantive change or other Commission action if subsequent developments might have affected MSCHE’s decision. 

MSCHE considers the following types of change to be substantive and therefore to require MSCHE review and approval. Substantive change includes, but is not limited to the following general categories:

  1. Significant institutional mission change
  2. Distance education
  3. Higher degree or credential
  4. Contractual agreements
  5. Non-credit offering that affect mission
  6. New sites/location, branch campuses, additional locations
  7. Rapid growth
  8. Mergers, changes in legal status, form, control, ownership
  9. Site closure
  10. Institutional closure
  11. Clock/credit hour substantive change  

IMPORTANT.  Recent changes to existing Federal policy affecting notifications regarding MSCHE’s “New sites/locations, branch campuses and additional locations” and MHEC’s “New degree programs, majors and certificates” require prompt appropriate action to avoid significant institutional and divisional accreditation-related problems. Under provisions of the new Higher Education Opportunity Act, the “effective date for Substantive Change approval cannot be retroactive.” At the first sign that a notification is required, prompt action is critical regarding the same. Going forward, here are the key dates and time frames for MSCHE’s receipt, review and approval of all future notifications.  In your planning, please anticipate these time frames well in advance.

Submit report by:    For MSCHE Executive Committee action in:
September 1  October
November 1December
January 1 February
March 1April
May 1 June

Please contact Vice Provost Dr. Ed Roulhac immediately  if have questions or need further information.

Substantial Expansion or Modification of an Existing Program   A substantial expansion or modification of an existing program/area of concentration exists when one of the following situation occurs. [1] The proposal establishes a new program title within an approved program; for example, an institution offers a program in human resources and wishes to offer a program in human resources management. [2] Or the proposal establishes a new area of concentration within an existing program; for example, an institution offers a program in psychology and wishes to add an new area of concentration in employee assistance training, or an institution offers a program in mental health and wishes to offer a new area of concentration in addiction counseling.

Upper Division Certificate   Awarded for successful completion of at least 12 semester credit hours at the junior or senior levels, or both.

Undergraduate Major   Varying by degree program and subject area, a minimum of 30 semester hours (½ of which must be upper division credit) in one field or in an interdisciplinary or multi-disciplinary field.  A coherent, sequential, integrated academic program of study-in-depth which is intended to provide a body of knowledge, methods of study, and practice appropriate to a subject area.