Accreditation of entry-level graduate programs by the CAA is based on information and conditions that are current at the time accreditation is granted. The CAA’s substantive change policy and procedures (established 2001, last revised February 2022) was developed to accommodate programs to ensure continuous quality when major changes are proposed that could have an impact on their ability to comply with accreditation standards. Substantive changes, such as offering a new degree program, expanding or altering how curriculum is offered by using distance education or at a satellite campus, all have an effect on the accredited program and its resources.
This policy applies only to CAA-accredited entry-level graduate education programs.
Modifications to the Policy & Procedures
Accreditation Handbook—Chapter X: Eligibility and Program Development
- 2021—The CAA revised the definition of 'distance education' to align with U.S. Department of Education's (USDE) expectations that go into effect July 1, 2021. The CAA's recognized scope of activities with USDE includes the accreditation of programs offered via distance education. The revision now delineates regular and substantive interactions between instructors and students, and the CAA will now require progams that offer distance education to describe and document these engagements. Additional questions have been integrated for programs filing reports beginning August 1, 2021.
- 2020—The CAA revised the policy to no longer allow candidacy programs to seek approval of substantive changes during their candidacy term. The CAA approved a temporary waiver for programs seeking permanent changes to offer distance education for the timeline to file a notice of intent and the requirement that a change plan be submitted 12 months prior to enrollment for the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic.
- 2015—The CAA revised the procedures to require programs to file a notice of intent 5 months in advance of submission and to confirm to not enroll students in the proposed modality until the plan has been approved
- 2014—The CAA revised the procedures to require programs to submit substantive change plans by February 1 or August 1 for consideration by the CAA
- 2010—The CAA revised the policy to remove the change in degree level option from this policy. The CAA also clarified expectations that accredited programs must have a formalized agreement with a satellite location/branch campus and that satellite locations or branch campuses may be based in either foreign or domestic sites
- 2005—The CAA revised the policy to remove the consortium section and established a separate policy to address reviews for consortia programs. The CAA revised the submission procedures in November 2005 to clarify required documentation for all substantive change applications (Accreditation Handbook—Chapter X: Eligibility and Program Development)
- 2001—The CAA established substantive change policy and procedures. Programs already engaged in activities articulated in this policy prior to 2001 were to report on these activities in their CAA Annual Report or (Re)Accreditation Application.