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To describe the expectations for graduate student conduct and adjudication of allegations of violation of the Code of Conduct.



All graduate students.

The Pennsylvania State University recognizes the basic rights and responsibilities of the members of the University and accepts its obligation to preserve and protect those rights and responsibilities. Further, the University must provide for its members the opportunities and protections that best serve the nature of the educational process.

The Code of Conduct governing the behavior of students of the University must ensure the basic rights of individuals as well as reflect the practical necessities of the community. The code also must prohibit or limit acts that interfere with the basic purposes, necessities, or processes of the University or with the rights of its members. Finally, the code must reconcile the principles of maximum freedom and necessary order.

Allegations of Code of Conduct behavior shall be adjudicated by the discipline system described and implemented by the Office of Student Conduct.

For purposes of this policy, “student” includes all individuals enrolled at the University in residence or online, either full-time or part-time; pursuing undergraduate, graduate, or professional studies, both degree and non-degree seeking; as well as individuals enrolled in non-credit courses and programs. In addition, for purposes for the Student Code of Conduct, Code jurisdiction also includes individuals who have accepted an offer of admission to the University; and students who withdraw after allegedly violating the Student Code of Conduct, who are on leave of absence from the University, or who are not officially registered and/or enrolled for a particular semester but have a continuing relationship with the University. The Office of Student Conduct should be consulted for questions regarding how this would apply in specific cases. There shall be clearly defined channels and procedures for such adjudication and the right of appeal. Sanctions shall be commensurate with the seriousness of the offense and may include temporary or permanent expulsion. Repeated violations justify increasingly severe sanctions.

The Code of Conduct shall be made public in an appropriate manner and may be revised by the University in consultation with the faculty, students, and staff.

Policy Statement

  1. By virtue of their maturity and experience, graduate students are expected to have learned the meaning and value of personal honesty and professional integrity before entering graduate school. Every graduate student is expected to exhibit and promote the highest ethical, moral, and professional standards as scholars, and as future faculty, professionals, and leaders in their respective fields. Meeting this expectation is a component of satisfactory scholarship for graduate students, in addition to meeting academic standards such as, but not limited to, minimum required grade-point average or grades in required courses for the program.
  2. A violation of ethical, moral, and/or professional standards is regarded as a serious offense, raising grave doubt that the graduate student is worthy of continued membership in the Graduate School community, and may result in academic sanctions including suspension or dismissal by the graduate program in which the student is enrolled, from that academic program, and/or by the Graduate School from continued or future enrollment in any graduate program at the University.
  3. A violation of ethical, moral, and/or professional standards may not necessarily involve Code of Conduct behavior, but still may result in academic sanctions including suspension or dismissal by the graduate program and/or the Graduate School, as described above. However, engaging in any Code of Conduct behavior, as determined by the Office of Student Conduct, does constitute a failure to exhibit and promote the highest ethical, moral, and professional standards expected of graduate students, and may result in additional sanctions as described above, in addition to any disciplinary sanctions by the Office of Student Conduct.
  4. Nothing in this policy is intended to constitute a contract or contractual terms. No provisions of this policy shall confer contractual rights upon any parties. To the extent that this policy may be applicable to faculty or staff, the terms outlined herein do not constitute terms, benefits, or conditions of employment. The terms set forth herein are subject to change unilaterally and without notice by University administration.

Revision History

  • Adapted from Graduate Bulletin: June 2018.
  • Revisions proposed by the Graduate Council Committee on Academic Standards and approved by Graduate Council, February 2013.
  • Revised by special Ad Hoc Committee on Student-Related Polices, August 2005.
  • Approved by Graduate Council, February 2003.
    • New policy.
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