Honor Code

In order to uphold a culture of fairness and integrity, USF students are required to adhere to the university’s honor code.

Take some time to familiarize yourself with the six-part plan, outlined below.

I. Purpose

As a Jesuit institution committed to cura personalis — the care and education of the whole person — USF has an obligation to embody and foster the values of honesty and integrity. USF upholds the standards of honesty and integrity from all members of the academic community.

The honor code applies to all students (undergraduate and graduate) in the College of Arts and Sciences, the School of Education, the School of Management, and the School of Nursing and Health Professions. Faculty and students in the School of Law should review their own honor code for policies and procedures. Students enrolled in distance learning (online courses) are subject to these policies as well as supplemental policies set forth by their program.

II. The Honor Pledge

All USF students will uphold the honor code by adhering to the core values of the university and supporting its mission to guide their academic careers and educational experiences.

USF Academic Honor Pledge
I pledge to demonstrate the core values of the University of San Francisco by upholding the standards of honesty and integrity, excellence in my academic work, and respect for others in my educational experiences, including supporting USF's mission.

III. Standards of Conduct

Adherence to standards of honesty and integrity precludes engaging in, causing, or knowingly benefiting from any violation of academic integrity. Without regard to purpose, the following violations are prohibited:

  1. Cheating
    Cheating is the use or attempted use of unauthorized materials, information, and study aids, as well as unauthorized collaboration on examinations and other academic exercises. It is the responsibility of students to consult with their professors concerning what constitutes permissible collaboration. Cheating or helping others cheat is academic fraud.
  2. Plagiarism
    Plagiarism is the act of presenting, as one's own, the ideas or writings of another; plagiarism, in any of its forms, violates academic integrity. While different academic disciplines have different norms of attribution, all strive to recognize and value individuals' contributions to the larger body of knowledge. It is the responsibility of students to consult with their professors in order to understand the norms of attribution in each discipline and area of study.
  3. False Citations
    False citation is attribution to an incorrect or fabricated source; false citation is academic fraud. False citation seriously undermines the integrity of the academic enterprise.
  4. Submitting the Same Work for Multiple Assignments
    Students may not submit work (in identical or similar form) for multiple assignments without the prior, explicit approval of all faculty to whom the work will be submitted. This includes work first produced at USF or at another institution attended by the student.
  5. Submitting False Data
    False data is information that has been fabricated, altered, or contrived in such a way as to be misleading; the submission of false data is academic fraud.
  6. Falsifying Academic Documentation
    Forging or altering academic documentation (including transcripts, signatures, letters of recommendation, certificates of enrollment or standing, registration forms, and medical certifications) concerning oneself or others is academic fraud.
  7. Abuse of Library Privileges
    Depriving others of equal access to library materials constitutes a violation of academic integrity. This includes sequestering library materials for the use of an individual or group, refusal to respond to recall notices, and the removal or attempt to remove library materials from any university library without authorization.
  8. Abuse of Shared Electronic Media
    Depriving others of equal access to shared electronic media used for academic purposes constitutes a violation of academic integrity. This includes actions that result in the damage or sabotage of campus computer systems.

IV. Academic Integrity Committee: Role and Membership

The Academic Integrity Committee is responsible for oversight of the honor code and shall investigate alleged honor code violations in a fair and impartial manner. In cases in which a student is found in violation of the honor code, the Academic Integrity Committee will award sanctions as appropriate (a description of possible sanctions is included under section V, part D). Under no circumstances (including a finding of 'not in violation' of the honor code) does the Academic Integrity Committee have the authority to change a student's grade. In cases in which a student is found not in violation of the honor code, all information pertaining to the alleged violation, including the name of the student, will be removed from the committee's records.

The Academic Integrity Committee is a representative group of faculty, students, and administrators from the College of Arts and Sciences, the School of Management, the School of Education, and the School of Nursing and Health Professions. Ordinarily, a minimum of three faculty from the College of Arts and Sciences, one faculty from the Schools of Management, Education, and Nursing and Health Professions, up to four undergraduate students, and two graduate students as well as staff members constitute the Academic Integrity Committee. The University of San Francisco Faculty Association (USFFA) and the Provost Council jointly appoint the faculty and administrative members. The ASUSF undergraduate and graduate councils select the student representatives.

The Chairperson is appointed by the Provost for a term of two years and is a non-voting member unless the members are evenly split on a decision regarding an honor code violation. Other members serve for a minimum of two years; ideally members from the same department serve staggered terms. Academic Integrity Committee members administer the Honor Code and educate students, staff, faculty, and administrators about their academic responsibilities. Scheduling problems and other circumstances may alter committee makeup and length of terms.

The Academic Integrity Committee is in session during the fall and spring semesters of the academic year and will make every effort to resolve an alleged incident of an honor code violation within the semester during which the initial report of a violation is made. Should a report of a violation be made during summer or intersession, the Committee will address the report in the ensuing semester (either fall or spring). Anticipated timeframes for completion of each stage of the investigation and resolution process are included in the descriptions that follow and may be adjusted at the discretion of the Chair as necessary.

A staff person in the Office of the Provost keeps all written or recorded information related to the business of the Academic Integrity Committee on a password protected server.

V. Rights and Responsibilities of Involved Parties

All members of the university community are charged with ensuring that the honor code is applied in a fair and unbiased manner. This includes individuals who witness a violation or potential violation of the honor code and individuals who are accused of an honor code violation.

Referring individuals are members of the faculty, staff, or the student body who witness or suspect they have witnessed a violation of the honor code. Such individuals are bound by the honor code to report the violation, resolved or unresolved, to the Academic Integrity Committee. (Examples of potential resolutions that can be applied at the course level are offered in section VI.)

Faculty or staff members who witness a violation have the responsibility to confront the student(s) allegedly involved, gather evidence regarding the alleged violation, and contact the Academic Integrity Committee. Resolution at the course level is encouraged but does not remove the reporting requirement. Should the case be unresolved or otherwise serious, reporting individuals are expected to be available to the Academic Integrity Committee throughout the course of its investigation, including in-person interviews and serving as a witness in any hearings.

Students who witness a potential honor code violation are charged to either approach a faculty member or to contact the Academic Integrity Committee directly to provide a direct and honest account of their observations. Should the case be unresolved or otherwise serious, student witnesses are expected to be available to the Academic Integrity Committee throughout the course of its investigation, including in-person interviews and serving as a witness in any hearings. While every effort will be made to ensure the anonymity of a student witness through the initial stages of an investigation, it may be necessary for the student to step forward publicly and in front of the accused.

Students who are accused of an honor code violation have the right to defend themselves against any and all charges levied against them. Students may gather and submit evidence and recruit witnesses in their defense. Students also have the right to bring a case to the Academic Integrity Committee themselves if they believe they have been falsely accused. Students may also appeal the initial decision of the Academic Integrity Committee through a request for a formal hearing.

VI. Possible Violations of the Honor Code

If a faculty member suspects that a student has violated the honor code, the faculty member notifies the student to give him/her an opportunity to respond to the allegation. If the faculty member concludes that a violation has occurred, s/he may do any or all of the following: issue a warning, lower the grade, assign a failing grade. The faculty member is encouraged to report the incident and its resolution to the Academic Integrity Committee by online here, particularly in the case of a serious violation or unsuccessful resolution. If a student does not challenge the allegation brought by the faculty member, the incident will be included in the database for the duration of the student's attendance at USF, at which time the record will be expunged (unless a sanction is awarded by the Academic Integrity Committee - see below). If a student challenges the allegation of violation of the honor code, s/he may refer the matter to the Academic Integrity Committee.

If another member of the university community (faculty member, staff, administrator or student) believes that a student has violated the Honor Code, s/he may notify the Academic Integrity Committee using the online form found here.

The names of all students who have been involved in honor code violations reported to the Academic Integrity Committee will be placed in a password-protected Academic Integrity database maintained in the Office of Student Conduct, Rights and Responsibilities in University Life. The names of students who are later found not to have been involved in an honor code violation will be promptly removed from this database. Complete information related to violations of the Honor Code in which sanctions were awarded will be kept for up to seven (7) years in this secure, confidential database, which will assist in identifying students who may repeatedly violate the honor code. Those students who repeatedly violate the honor code will be forwarded to the Academic Integrity Committee for further action.

When a violation is reported to the Academic Integrity Committee, the process that follows occurs in the following stages: A) Initial Report, B) Referral and Investigation, C) Resolution, and D) Sanction.

A. Initial Report

All incidences of honor code violations are reported to the Academic Integrity Committee for inclusion in its database. This initial report will include information on the nature of the alleged violation, evidence in support of the accusation of a violation, and resolution (if any) already reached between the referring individual and the accused. Upon receipt of this initial report, the chair of the Academic Integrity Committee will contact the both accused student and the referring individual within two weeks to discuss the alleged violation and then determine a suitable next course of action.

B. Referral and Investigation

The following situations will be referred to the Academic Integrity Committee for a full review:

  1. If the student contests the accusation of an honor code violation.
  2. If no successful resolution between the referring individual and the student has been reached.
  3. If, from initial review of the initial report and evidence presented by the referring individual, the Chair of the Academic Integrity Committee deems an uncontested violation to be of a potentially serious nature.
  4. If the student has previously been found in violation of the honor code as documented in the database.

    When such a disputed, serious, unresolved, or repeat violation is referred to the Academic Integrity Committee, the Chairperson of the Academic Integrity Committee will determine whether a formal investigation is appropriate within 30 business days of the initial report. In such cases, s/he may appoint, as appropriate, two committee members (a faculty/administrator and a student) to investigate the allegations and report their findings to the Academic Integrity Committee.
  5. Making reasonable efforts to interview the student(s), the complainant(s) and the potential witnesses, the investigators gather information relating to the alleged violation. Investigations are expected to take no longer than two weeks from the time of the appointment of the investigating team, at which time a written report is submitted to the Academic Integrity Committee. If the investigators differ in their conclusions, separate reports may be submitted.
  6. If, upon review of the report presented by the investigating team, the Academic Integrity Committee determines that there is insufficient evidence of an honor code violation, the report of the violation will be dismissed and the outcome reported to the student, the reporting individual, and the Associate Dean of the student's school or college.
  7. If, upon review of the report presented by the investigating team, the Academic Integrity Committee determines that there is sufficient evidence of a violation, resolution will follow.

C. Resolution

In the cases where the Academic Integrity Committee concludes that sufficient evidence of an honor code violation has been presented, the Chairperson of the Academic Integrity Committee will inform the student in writing that s/he has been found in violation of the honor code within one week of the committee's decision.

  1. If the student accepts the decision of the Academic Integrity Committee, the Academic Integrity Committee will re-convene to consider an appropriate sanction as outlined in section V, part D (a letter of censure in the student's academic file; suspension from the university; or a recommendation to the Provost for dismissal or denial/revocation of a degree.) Once the Academic Integrity Committee reaches a decision, the chairperson of the Academic Integrity Committee will communicate in writing directly to the student, the reporting individual, the Associate Dean of the student's school or college, and the Provost the outcome of the investigation within two weeks of the student's acceptance of the charge. This written report will detail the evidence considered, final decision, and reasons for the decision, which is submitted to the Office of the Provost. The decision of the Academic Integrity Committee is final and binding.
  2. If the student chooses to appeal the decision of the Academic Integrity Committee, s/he may request a hearing within one week of notification of the finding of a violation. In such cases, the Academic Integrity Committee Chair will schedule a hearing to be held within four weeks of the student's request. The student(s) will be notified in writing of the hearing date and the alleged violation(s). The letter to the student(s) shall include:
  3. A copy of the honor code;
  4. A summary of the allegations;
  5. A list of expected witnesses and evidence;
  6. The date, time, and place of the hearing;
  7. The names of the Academic Integrity Committee members; and
  8. The rights of the student.
  9. Hearing
    • The Academic Integrity Committee Chair prepares all materials to be considered at the hearing and makes them available to the student charged with academic dishonesty, the person making the charge, and the Academic Integrity Committee at least ten (10) working days before the hearing.
    • Evidence that the student wishes to submit in response to the allegations must be submitted to the Academic Integrity Committee Chair for distribution at least five (5) working days before the hearing; it is at the discretion of the Academic Integrity Committee to consider any evidence submitted after that time.
  10. Rights of the student at the hearing include:
    • To be allowed reasonable time to prepare for the hearing (no less than ten working days after being notified of the hearing date).
    • To select a support person to be present as an observer during the hearing; legal counsel is not permitted.
    • To be present at the hearing. The student may waive his/her right to attend in which case the hearing may proceed without the student.
    • To present evidence or witnesses. The student must inform the Academic Integrity Committee regarding requests for witnesses at least five working days before the scheduled hearing. The student is responsible for notifying his/her witness(es) of the hearing date, time, and location.
    • To waive any rights associated with the hearing as provided by the honor code.
    • To receive a written report from the Academic Integrity Committee.
    Hearing Procedures guidelines:
    • A minimum of five members of the Academic Integrity Committee must be present.
    • The Academic Integrity Committee Chairperson or a designee presides over the hearing and determines all procedural matters prior to and during the hearing.
    • If a student fails to appear at a scheduled hearing, the hearing may be held and the matter resolved without the student present.
    • The hearing will be closed to the public in all cases.
    • In matters involving multiple students, their cases may be heard in a single hearing. If all students do not consent to a joint hearing, the same Academic Integrity Committee will hear their cases separately.
    • Any witness, other than the student, is present only for his/her testimony.
    • The Academic Integrity Committee shall decide via secret ballot whether the student is "in violation," of the honor code. A majority of Academic Integrity Committee members must vote "in violation" in order for sanctions to be imposed.
    • If the Academic Integrity Committee determines the student is "in violation" of the honor code it may impose any of the following sanctions: a letter of censure in the student's academic file; suspension from the University; or a recommendation to the Provost for dismissal from the University or denial/revocation of a degree. If the Academic Integrity Committee determines that the student is "not in violation" of the honor code, the student may pursue a grade appeal if appropriate to the incident.
    • Once the Academic Integrity Committee reaches a decision, the chairperson of the Academic Integrity Committee will communicate in writing directly to the student, the reporting individual, the Associate Dean of the student's school or college, and the Provost the outcome of the hearing.
    • The decision of the Academic Integrity Committee is final and binding.
    • The Academic Integrity Committee prepares a written report, detailing the evidence considered, final decision, and reasons for its decision, which is submitted to the Office of the Provost.

D. Sanctions

The Academic Integrity Committee may award any of three sanctions (letter of censure, suspension, expulsion) in the case of any serious or repeat violation, regardless of resolution at the course level. The following guidelines will be used, without regard to mitigating or exacerbating circumstances, by the Academic Integrity Committee to determine the sanction that is most appropriate for the violation committed. Sanctions will be based on the severity of the violation. For offenses not expressly addressed in these guidelines, the Academic Integrity Committee should consider the general principles they convey.

  1. Letter of Censure

    A letter of censure is the least severe sanction recommended by the Academic Integrity Committee to the student's Dean. It describes the honor code violation and is placed in the student's academic file, which is retained in the registrar's office. The letter is kept on file for seven (7) years, at which time it is destroyed.

    Offenses for which a letter of censure is an appropriate sanction are often characterized by a combination of deceit, ignorance, and confusion on the part of the accused. Examples of when a letter of censure is appropriate include, but are not limited to:
    • Submitting the same paper written by the student, or portions thereof, in multiple courses without permission or attribution;
    • Collaboration on an assignment where collaboration was not allowed;
    • Including false or improper citations in the assignment.
  2. Suspension

    Suspension is the intermediate level sanction recommended by the Academic Integrity Committee to the student's Dean. Suspension will typically be imposed for one semester, but may be imposed for two semesters. Suspension is noted on the student's transcript at the end of the semester's entries in which the violation occurred: "Suspension: Violation of Honor Code."

    Offenses for which suspension is an appropriate sanctions are extensive, grave and/or serious first-time violations, or for a repeat violation of a lesser offense. Examples of offenses in which suspension is the appropriate sanction include, but are not limited to:
    • Complete or partial plagiarism on a paper;
    • Cheating on a test;
    • Unauthorized collaboration on a project;
    • Altering a graded assignment for re-grading.
  3. Dismissal from the University or Revocation of a Degree

    Dismissal from the university or revocation of a degree is the most severe sanction recommended by the Academic Integrity Committee to the student's Dean and the Provost. Dismissal is noted on the student's transcript at the end of the semester's entries in which the violation occurred: "Dismissal: Violation of Honor Code." If a student has already received a degree from the University, the President or Provost of the University may revoke the degree. The sanction will be entered permanently on the student's record.

    Dismissal from the university or revocation of a degree is appropriate for serious, grave, and/or extensive first-time or repeat offenses such as altering one's academic transcript. It is also reserved for situations in which efforts to educate the student on the importance of academic integrity and to reform his/her behavior have not worked, and the Academic Integrity Committee believes it is appropriate to permanently remove the student from the university. Dismissal is also appropriate if a student has previously committed one or more honor code violations with suspension and has committed another violation after return from suspension.