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Joint and Dual Degree Programs and Substantive Change Guidelines



When considering a contractual relationship with another educational institution, we must follow WASC guidelines as well as their standards for review in order to stay in compliance and maintain our current accreditation status.

When entering into a partnership with an institution that is also accredited by Accrediting Commission for Schools (ACS) of the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC), but more than 50% of the degree is issued by the partnered institution, WASC approval through the Substantive Change Review process is required.

When entering into a partnership with an institution that is not accredited, a substantive Change Proposal to WASC must be submitted.

If less than 50% of the course work will be taken at a non WASC accredited institution, a substantive review proposal does not have to be submitted; but the course work at the non-accredited institution that will be into Pepperdine University towards a degree must be approved by the Registrar's office and will follow the "Transfer of Credit" policy. (See www.pepperdine.edu/about/administration/provost/policies )

When developing Joint and Dual degree partnerships WASC requires institutions to submit a Substantive Change Proposal (prior to accepting new students) when:

  1. The academic institution you are entering into a relationship with is not accredited by WASC/ACSCU or another USDOE‐approved accrediting agency and Pepperdine University will be one of the institutions issuing the degree (Joint or Dual degree.)

    "Institutions seeking to offer a dual degree with a partner institution that is not accredited by WASC/ACSCU or another USDOE‐approved accrediting agency must obtain approval through the WASC/ACSCU Substantive Change process prior to offering the program."( WASC Policy on Dual Degree)
  2. The Residency Requirements for Awarding of Credit for a Dual Degree Programs is more than 50%. (NOTE: Pepperdine must offer more than half of the credits awarded towards the degree if we plan to issue the degree).

    "In dual degree programs, the Commission expects that at least half of the credit towards the degree awarded by the WASC/ACSCU‐accredited institution is earned in courses offered by the WASC/ACSCU‐accredited institution and taught by its faculty." WASC Policy on Dual Degree

These two conditions are not the only criteria for submitting a Substantive Change Review. Rather, they are intended to help faculty and administration be aware of two common reasons for the need that a Substantive Change proposal be submitted to WASC. Please consult the Office of Institutional Effectiveness (OIE) or the Provost to determine whether a program in question may require a WASC review. Once it is determined that a WASC review may be required, consult with the OIE or the Provost Office to initiate the review. 


When developing your Substantive Change Proposal there are key components that are required by WASC as well as Pepperdine University. These include:

1. CREDIT HOURS: There needs to be a mechanism in place to ensure that the courses adhere to Pepperdine's policy regarding credit hours.

2. STUDENT LEARNING OUTCOMES: Proposals must explain how the courses and the program meet Pepperdine's program for student learning outcomes, expectations for student achievement, and means to assess student achievement.

3. QUALITY ASSURANCE PROCESSES: The proposal must elaborate on how courses and programs have institutional quality assurance processes. (For example, the program should be covered by Pepperdine's existing program review procedures, or the program must have a regular program review associated with it. Specialized accrediting bodies such as AACSB usually require these practices for accreditation.)

4. ACADEMIC AND FISCAL ELEMENTS: Please explain how you ensure that the academic and fiscal elements of all instructional programs and courses for which the institution provides credit. (Once again, specialized accrediting agencies such as AACSB require this. Another option is for pre­‐approval of course work through the Registrar's office).

These responsibilities include:

  • course content and the delivery of the instructional program;
  • selection and approval of faculty;
  • admission, registration, and retention of students;
  • evaluation of prior learning;
  • evaluation of student progress;
  • and the awarding and recording of credit.

5. ACCREDITATION: Pepperdine University will not lend its accreditation to unaccredited agencies or individuals who operate as contractors to develop and market educational programs. Unaccredited agencies wishing to offer instructional programs may seek their own accreditation, via established procedures.

6. Pepperdine University may enter into contractual relationships that will support and enhance its instructional programs or provide useful auxiliary services and facilities.

These include:

  • Assisting with publicizing programs and recruitment of students, but not with admission;
  • Providing instructional resources and facilities, especially those not available to students at the accredited institution. These include cooperative efforts that permit students or interns to use the facilities of business and industry, hospitals, public agencies, etc.;
  • Providing resource people, especially those with knowledge and abilities not available at the institution; and
  • Providing an independent evaluation of the program(s) offered by the institution.

Pepperdine University may enter into contractual relationships with public or private agencies designed to provide either regular or special instructional program to its employees. These include contractual arrangements with public or independent schools to provide instruction for teachers, with hospitals to provide instruction for medical personnel, with business and industry for instruction of special groups of employees, etc. In all cases, the accredited institution is directly responsible for all academic and fiscal matters related to the program.

Adopted from the WASC policy.

WASC has a number of published policies as well as their Accreditation Standards, to guide us in establishing appropriate policies needed to stay within compliance. These include:

  • Joint Degrees Offered Collaboratively by Two or More Institutions
  • Dual Degree Programs Offered Collaboratively by Two or More Institutions
  • Degree‐Level Approval and Related Institutional Responsibilities
  • Contracts with Unaccredited Organizations
  • International Students
  • Overseas International Education Programs for Non-‐US Nationals
  • Study Abroad
  • Substantive Change
  • Transfer and Award of Academic Credit
  • Federally Mandated Policies:
  • Prior Approval of Outsourced Programs
  • Teach‐Out Plans and Agreements

You can visit the WASC web site at: https://www.acswasc.org/