The institution notifies the Commission of changes in accordance with the Commission’s substantive change policy and, when required, seeks approval prior to the initiation of changes. (See Commission policy “Substantive Change for Accredited Institutions.” ) (Substantive change)
X In compliance Partially compliant Non-compliant
Since the reaffirmation of accreditation in December 2008, Francis Marion has submitted six Substantive Change documents to SACSCOC:
October 2009 added a new degree at an advanced level
Specialist in School Psychology 
August 2014 added an off-site location
Mount Pleasant, SC
RN to Bachelor of Science Nursing
(hybrid format with the on-line portion being asynchronous) 
April 2016 added a substantially different Master Degree
Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies 
August 2017 closed the Mount Pleasant, SC site [SACSCOC response pending]
In November 2016, the Board of Trustees approved a change of language in the Mission Statement which would allow Francis Marion to offer programs at the doctorate level . The existing statement– “The University also offers professional degrees at the baccalaureate, master’s, and specialist levels” was revised to become “The University also offers professional degrees at the baccalaureate, master’s, and specialist levels, and a professional doctorate.”
Board of Trustees Resolution 05-16 was the first step in petitioning the SC General Assembly to allow Francis Marion University to offer a professional doctorate. In April 2017, the SC General Assembly granted approval for Francis Marion to offer a professional doctorate, and on April 24, 2017 SC Code of Laws Title 59– Education. CHAPTER 103. State Commission on Higher Education. SECTION 15.B (2)(e) Higher education mission and goals became effective [7-scroll down to p. 5].
SECTION 59-103-15. Higher education mission and goals.
(B) The General Assembly has determined that the primary mission or focus for each type of institution of higher learning or other post-secondary school in this State is as follows:
(1) Research institutions
(a) college-level baccalaureate education, master’s, professional, and doctor of philosophy degrees which lead to continued education or employment;
(b) research through the use of government, corporate, nonprofit-organization grants, or state resources, or both;
(c) public service to the State and the local community;
(2) Four-year colleges and universities
(a) college-level baccalaureate education and selected master’s degrees which lead to employment or continued education, or both, except for doctoral degrees currently being offered;
(b) bachelor of science degree in Mechanical Engineering approved by the Commission on Higher Education at South Carolina State University;
(c) bachelor of science degree in Electrical Engineering approved by the Commission on Higher Education at South Carolina State University;
(d) doctoral degree in Marine Science approved by the Commission on Higher Education;
(e) subject to subsection (C), doctoral degree in Nursing Practice approved by the Commission on Higher Education at Francis Marion University;
(C) Notwithstanding subsection (B), the doctoral degrees set forth in subsection (B)(2)(c), (d), and (e) are only allowed so long as new state general funds are not appropriated for the operations of the degree program.
Reference  cites prior approval from the South Carolina Commission on Higher Education.
Francis Marion’s SACSCOC Vice President, Stephanie Kirschmann, has been informed that an application to offer a Doctorate in Nursing Practice (DNP) has been submitted to the South Commission on Higher Education. If the DNP program is approved by the Commission, the University will submit a substantive change proposal to SACSCOC to offer the DNP degree at Francis Marion which will also require a change to the level of degree offered.
Substantive Change Policy and Procedures
As an institution accredited by SACSCOC, Francis Marion is obligated to follow the SACSCOC Substantive Change Policy . The purpose of this university policy is to ensure that the requirements set forth in the substantive change policy of SACSCOC are met.
Proposals for: revisions of academic programs; mode of pedagogical delivery; geographical nature of the University (i.e., components located away from the main campus); or arrangements with others institutions are initiated at the school, department, or committee level. The Provost or President may also begin discussions with the relevant academic units whenever either of them thinks that a modification of current academic programs or modes of delivery would be beneficial for the University or the Community.
Initiatives of a substantial magnitude, regardless of the generative source, will be discussed by the President, Provost, and Vice President for Business Affairs to consider the advantages for the University and the community and the financial impact on the University. A feasibility study may be initiated to provide information about these factors. If it is determined that the proposal is fiscally feasible—either because of existing funds or the potential to get funding—the project is channeled through the appropriate university governance groups for approval.
The person/persons who prepare the document to present to the appropriate governance body should review it to determine if the nature or scope of the change is such that it would cause a significant modification to the nature and scope of the University and/or its mission. Any of the following conditions constitute a substantive change:
- There is a change in the established mission or objectives of the institution
- The proposed courses or program represent a significant departure, either in content or method of delivery, from those that were offered when the institution was last evaluated by SACSCOC
- The number of credit hours required to complete a program changes substantially
- A degree or credential level which is different from those which are currently offered is needed
- Francis Marion will enter into a collaborative academic arrangement that includes the initiation of a dual or joint academic program with another institution
- The method for determining course credit (i.e., clock hours; credit hours) changes
- At least 50% of an educational program will be offered at an additional location geographically apart from the main campus
- An existing program, off-campus site, or branch campus will be closed
- There is a change in the legal status, form of control, or ownership of the institution
- A branch campus will be established
- Francis Marion will acquire another institution or a program or location of another institution
- Francis Marion will acquire a permanent location at a site where the institution is conducting a teach-out program for a closed institution
- Francis Marion will enter into a contract by which an entity not eligible for Title IV funding offers 25% or more of one or more of the accredited institution’s programs
Notify the University SACSCOC liaison if you think that any of the above conditions exist; so that the proper procedure of the Substantive Change for SACSCOC Accredited Institutions Policy Statement  can be implemented. In cases where there is ambiguity as to whether or not the change is significantly substantive to require a notification to SACSCOC or a petition for approval, the university liaison will communicate with the appropriate SACSCOC staff.
The following documents are distributed as indicated below:
- Instructions concerning submissions to the Academic Affairs Committee  are distributed annually by the Provost’s office staff to chairs/deans during the last week of August. Selected information about Substantive Changes accompanies the instructions.
- Instructions concerning submissions to the Graduate Council  are distributed annually by the Provost’s office staff to chairs/deans of academic units with graduate programs during the last week of August. Selected information about Substantive Changes accompanies the instructions.
- Items  and  are given to anyone who requests information from the Provost’s Office concerning applications to the Academic Affairs Committee or the Graduate Council.
- A copy of this policy document is distributed annually by the SACSCOC liaison to all members of the Academic Affairs Committee during the last week of August.
- A copy of this policy document is distributed annually by the SACSCOC liaison to all members of the Graduate Council during the last week of August.
The SACSCOC liaison receives and reviews agendas for the Academic Affairs Committee meetings and Graduate Council meetings as a final check to ensure that no substantive change has been overlooked.
If the project is approved by the General Faculty, the person(s) who are assigned to write the proposal to submit to the South Carolina Commission on Higher Education will also work with the SACSCOC liaison who will prepare the substantive change notification or prospectus for SACSCOC.
If an administrative decision is made to discontinue, or substantially curtail, an academic program or partnership, the SACSCOC liaison will be notified by the Provost. The SACSCOC liaison will collaborate with the person who prepares the notification for the SC Commission on Higher Education to prepare a notification for SACSCOC.
- Change of Level of Degree Offered
- Add New Site
- Add a Substantively Different Master Degree
- End a Contract with a School District- Darlington
- End a Contract with a School District-Dillon
- Board of Trustees 05-16 Resolution Approving a Change to the Mission of FMU
- Legislative History & SC Code of Laws Title 59- Education. CHAPTER 103. State Commission on Higher Education. SECTION 15 Higher Education Mission and Goals
- Letter of Approval from SC Commission on Higher Education
- Substantive Change for SACSCOC Accredited Institutions Policy Statement
- Substantive Change for SACSCOC Accredited Institutions Policy Statement-Conditions
- Instructions for Submissions to the Academic Affairs Committee
- Instructions for Submissions to the Graduate Council