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V. Substantive Changes

When the Council on Academic Accreditation in Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology (CAA), grants accreditation or candidacy status to an entry-level graduate program, its accreditation status applies only for the conditions that existed at the time of that action. The CAA recognizes that, in response to changes rapidly occurring in the educational environment, reduction in financial resources, and changes in the marketplace, academic programs are developing alternative models to deliver education in the most cost effective way, while providing students with the skills necessary to succeed in an increasingly challenging environment. Minor changes within the program may take place prior to its next scheduled review, which are routinely reported in an annual report and approved by the CAA. The Council views these minor changes as part of a healthy educational process and encourages programs to make them as part of their ongoing self-assessment and continuous improvement.

At times, however, more substantive changes occur in a program that may have a direct and significant impact on the program's ability to comply with the accreditation standards. Examples of substantive changes include those that allow 50% or more of instruction from the accredited program to be offered in a different geographic location or in a format significantly different from what currently is accredited or in candidacy.

To assess the continued quality of education being provided to students in CAA-accredited and candidate programs and the programs' continued compliance with the Standards for Accreditation, the CAA must review and approve substantive changes that occur between scheduled review periods. The CAA requires that, prior to the implementation of a proposed substantive change, the program submit written materials to the Council. The timing for submission of reports to the CAA is to ensure that accreditation standards are met before students begin the new program. The CAA will not grant accreditation for the proposed change until the program has received final approval by all appropriate university and state authorities. However, materials may be submitted for CAA review prior to the final approval by the authorizing body.

The following are categories of substantive changes in education delivery that are herein described:

The CAA will evaluate whether the proposed change affects the accredited or candidate program's ability to maintain compliance with the accreditation standards. Site visits will be conducted as necessary in accordance with CAA procedures to ensure that the program component is in compliance with the CAA standards. If multiple sites are developed, a sample will be selected for visitation. An additional fee may be assessed for the conduct of a site visit, depending on the timing and complexity of the visit.

Distance Education

For purposes of accreditation review, a distance education (DE) program is defined as a formal educational process in which 50% or more of the required graduate academic credit hours, excluding practicum, may be accrued when the learner is separated from the instructor, and there is support for regular and substantive interaction between the students and the instructor. The interaction may be synchronous or asynchronous.

Programs must use interactive technologies in their distance education programs, which may include one or more of the following:

  1. the Internet;
  2. one-way and two-way transmissions through open broadcast, closed circuit, cable, microwave, broadband lines, fiber optics, satellite, or wireless communications devices;
  3. audioconferencing; or
  4. video cassettes, DVDs, and CD-ROMs, if the cassettes, DVDs, or CD-ROMs are used in a course in conjunction with any of the technologies listed in (1) through (3).

CAA does not review correspondence education programs, which are defined by USDE as primarily initiated by the student and typically self-paced.

Satellite Location or Branch Campus

A satellite location or branch campus of an accredited program is defined as a foreign or domestic site:

  1. other than the primary accredited program site where a portion of the graduate program is offered on-site; and
  2. where both the faculty and students are located; and
  3. for which the primary accredited program has administrative responsibility including financial, physical, and human resources; and
  4. where 50% or more of the required academic credit hours, excluding practicum, may be completed; and
  5. where the core curriculum offered allows students to meet the same professional degree and graduation requirements as that of the primary campus; and
  6. the graduate degree is granted by the institution of higher education in which the primary accredited program if offered.

Each satellite or branch campus must be evaluated as a component of the primary accredited program. Evidence of a memorandum of understanding must be provided at the time of application and maintained between the primary accredited program and the satellite location(s) or branch campus(es). Depending on its proximity to the primary site, the satellite location may require a separate site visit for accreditation purposes.

Note: If a satellite program does not meet the conditions specified above, e.g., independence of satellite location, it must apply for separate accreditation.

Contractual Arrangement

A contractual agreement is between an institution of higher learning and another type of entity, such as a speech/language/hearing center or other business. Accreditation cannot be awarded to a non degree-granting organization, only to a program within an institution of higher education. It is the program that is accredited, not the university or associated business. Therefore, in a contractual arrangement, it must be shown clearly how the program to be accredited is under the auspices of a university program.

Note: These policies and procedures do not apply to contractual agreements for fourth-year internships for students in a doctoral program.

Submission and Approval of Proposed Substantive Changes

Programs that seek approval of a proposed substantive change must:

  • Submit a substantive change plan at least 12 months before the enrollment of students into the proposed program. Plans must be submitted by February 1 or August 1 for consideration by the CAA.
  • Provide additional information if requested by the CAA during its review, including hosting a site visit if warranted.
  • Provide documentation that final approval by all appropriate university and state authorities has been secured. Materials may be submitted for CAA review prior to the final approval by the authorizing body, but CAA will not approve the plan until all approvals are in place.

The CAA will make a final review of the substantive change materials and related correspondence and consider whether to approve the proposed changes at one of its two face-to-face decision-making meetings during the year. Once approved, the program's accreditation status will indicate the type of change (satellite location or branch campuses, distance education, or contractual arrangements) that are now part of the program's accreditation in CAA's listing of accredited and candidate programs.


Following approval of a new substantive change, the program must include a description and data for that aspect of the program as part of its annual reports and in (re)accreditation applications. Programs also will be assessed annual fees for additional modalities of the program, as outlined in the current Accreditation Fee Schedule. Failure to provide required information or accreditation fees may jeopardize the accreditation status of the program.

A program planning to close an approved satellite/branch campus, or a program offered through distance education or through a contractual arrangement must inform the CAA of this event, consistent with CAA's policy on Program Closure Notification. The program should submit to the CAA its phase-out plans as indicated in the Program Closure Notification policy, which includes the number and status of the remaining students in the program and how they will be accommodated.


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