This information is for students completing course work and/or programs in College of Agricultural Sciences. Graduate students and Schreyer honors students should also consult graduate or honors program information.

At Penn State, students are responsible for understanding how to avoid academic misconduct and academic dishonesty. Copying from online or prohibited sources, collaboration (working with another person), hiring someone to complete your coursework, and plagiarism (misrepresenting another person’s words, images, or ideas as your own) are often prohibited in Penn State courses. If you have questions about academic integrity, you should seek guidance before you submit your work for evaluation. Often, you can find helpful information in your course syllabus. You may also seek guidance from your instructor.

For an overview of University procedures, please read the information online.

Academic Integrity Resources for Students


Academic Integrity Training for Students

Citation and Writing Guides

What counts as a violation of Academic Integrity?

Recording and Sharing Class Information


What is Academic Integrity?

Why Is Academic Integrity Important at Penn State?

What Happens When You Commit a Violation?

Using the Internet for Classwork-Make Sure It’s OK

Academic Integrity Violation Example: Copying

Why do Penn State Educators Care So Much About Academic Honesty?

For many students, a Penn State education is a serious investment of time, effort, and money, and they
appreciate knowing that their investment is meaningful and that educators respond actively to students who try to gain an advantage dishonestly.

When students join the Penn State Community, they commit to the Penn State Principles, which say
"Academic integrity is a basic guiding principle for all academic activity at Penn State University, allowing the pursuit of scholarly activity in an open, honest, and responsible manner..."

How to Avoid Common Academic Integrity Problems

1) Read your course syllabus. Pay attention to what you may and may not do.

2) Unless you have clear and explicit permission, do not use outside or online sources, do not collaborate, do not share any class information or materials with anyone else, and do not upload or share any course information to an online vendor, repository, tutoring site, or quizzing site.

3) When in doubt, ask your educator - Everyone makes mistakes, loses track of deadlines, and gets confused. If you cannot meet a deadline or are not sure if something is permissible, the best thing to do is ask.

4) Avoid plagiarism -- If you use another person’s words, images, or ideas, you need to cite the source both in the body of your text AND in a reference/bibliography/works cited section at the end of your paper. If you use someone else’s words, you must put them within quotation marks unless directed otherwise by your instructor. If you rephrase someone else’s words, you should change the wording substantially and cite the original source. Small changes (e.g., a few synonyms) are not enough to make someone else's words or ideas your own. When in doubt, ask.

What to Do If You Face Allegations of Academic Misconduct

  • Try not to take it personally. Penn State policies direct faculty members to report suspicions of academic misconduct, even when students engage in academic misconduct because they “made a stupid mistake” or misunderstood something. Faculty members who do not do this could put themselves in jeopardy.
  • Do not panic. Allegations of academic misconduct are a beginning, not an end. As part of this process, students may indicate that they challenge, or contest, the allegations and/or the penalties (also called sanctions) proposed by the educator. Students who contest have an opportunity to voice their concerns to an independent committee. The College committee determines if there is evidence of academic misconduct and, if there is, if the sanctions/penalties recommended by the faculty member are appropriate. When faculty members submit allegations of academic misconduct, students receive specific information about their rights. Read this information and ask your faculty members questions, if needed.
  • A conversation with the faculty member should be scheduled immediately. Ask about the evidence that led the faculty member to believe that you violated instructions or policies. If you have a reasonable explanation for the evidence, share that explanation with the faculty member.
  • Remain in the course. Once you are notified of allegations of academic misconduct, you may not drop the course unless those allegations are dismissed. If you do, the Office of the Registrar to re-enroll you back into the course, and you could be responsible for the consequences of missing work/assessments.
  • Check your PSU email regularly and look for correspondence about the alleged incident.
  • Complete and return the electronic Academic Integrity form when you are notified by your instructor. Students must complete and return the form within 5 business days. Otherwise, the process moves ahead with the acknowledgement that the student has chosen not to contest either the allegations or the proposed sanction(s). To complete the form, you must make a decision.

The options for your decision are:

  1. Accept the allegations(s) and sanction(s).
    This will end the academic integrity process and the faculty member will apply the proposed academic sanction(s).

However, if the student is found to have a previous academic integrity violation (after the administrative review) the College will inform the faculty member and they have the option to then increase their sanction request (after the College Academic Standards Committee reviews the case).

If the faculty member also requested an additional administrative sanction on the form, the College Academic Standards Committee will convene to consider the request and pass their opinion on to the Office of Student Accountability and Conflict Response, which is responsible for the implementation and supervision of administrative sanctions.

  1. Contest the allegation(s) of misconduct, the proposed sanction(s), or both.
    When students choose this option, The College will convene their Academic Standards Committee. The student will have an opportunity to submit a statement and supporting documentation, explaining why the suspicious behavior(s) was/were not evidence of academic misconduct. Essentially, students should share their side of the story. The College’s Academic Standards committee will provide the student and the faculty member an opportunity to review and comment on all case materials submitted. If students want to submit private information (e.g., sensitive medical documents), they should contact the Associate Dean’s Office, who will then share a summary of that information with the faculty member (e.g., the student provided medical information) while striving to honor the student's confidentiality request (e.g., without sharing symptoms or a diagnosis). If the faculty member chooses to comment on the student’s statement, the student will have an opportunity to respond before information goes on to the committee for review.

If the committee determines there is evidence of an academic integrity violation, the committee will review the sanction(s) proposed by the faculty member, consider the student's history of academic misconduct (or lack thereof), and then determine outcomes. Our Academic Standards Committee will not escalate academic sanctions beyond the educator’s recommendation. Thus, the student will not put themself at risk for harsher sanctions if they choose to contest.

The Academic Standards Committee will share outcomes with the student, the faculty member who submitted the academic integrity form, and the Associate Dean (and when appropriate, the Schreyer Honors College).

Sanctions for Academic Misconduct

Once a faculty member sends a notification to a student about their suspicions of academic misconduct, the student may not drop the course until those allegations are dismissed. Students who disregard this information and drop the course will be re-enrolled back into the course and could be responsible for the consequences of missed work/assessments.

  • Students who accept responsibility for an academic integrity violation or who are found responsible for a violation face automatic consequences: They lose the opportunity to drop/late drop/withdraw from the course and the opportunity to make Dean’s list that semester.
  • Often, consequences also include academic sanctions. These impact progress in a course or program. These sanctions include a reduced grade on the exam, assignment, or paper, a reduced course grade, or an ‘F’ for the course. For students with repeated offenses or for very serious offenses, including cases involving graduate students, the college or graduate program may consider removing the student from their degree program, impacting graduation. The magnitude of the sanction depends on many things, including how much of the academic work was affected by the prohibited behavior(s), how important that work was for the course grade or academic evaluation, how important that work was for the identity of the course or educational program, and if the student has engaged in academic misconduct previously.
  • Sometimes, consequences include a request from the faculty member or from the Academic Standards Committee to the Office of Student Accountability for an administrative sanction. These sanctions might include a warning or probation and can include a transcript notation. For egregious or repeated violations, the sanction might be an “XF,” which includes both an ‘F’ for the course and a transcript notation. The Office of Student Accountability and Conflict Response uses their own process to consider these requests.

To track repeat offenders, the University keeps a record of students who accept responsibility for academic misconduct and who are found responsible for academic misconduct. The College does not share this information with those who are not part of the academic integrity process. Academic misconduct is not noted on a student’s transcript unless a transcript notation is an explicit part of an administrative sanction. Currently, the University does not report academic misconduct to other organizations unless the academic misconduct results in an administrative sanction.