Carnegie Mellon University

The Word

Student Handbook

Undergraduate Academic Disciplinary Actions Overview

"Academic Disciplinary Actions" are penalties or sanctions imposed for violation of academic regulations against cheating or plagiarism as defined in the Student Handbook.  

Statute of Limitations

There shall be no "statute of limitations" that precludes faculty from acting on the discovery of alleged violations, either during the semester or term when the course in question is being offered or after the course has ended (and after a student has graduated).  


Cases involving violation of academic regulations against cheating or plagiarism shall be regarded as "confidential" in the manner outlined below:  

  1. No discussion or disclosure of the specifics of any case with any individual within or outside of the university community will occur unless such discussion or disclosure is deemed necessary in the determination of guilt or appropriate sanction by parties reviewing the case at the initial or second level of review or unless such an action is specifically imposed as part of the penalty for a violation.  
  2. The existence of a case, the general nature of a case and the sanctions imposed, if any, may be discussed and available to the university community provided that such availability is unlikely to lead to the clear identification of the student(s) or faculty involved.  
  3. If the student is exonerated, all relevant records under the control of the university will be destroyed (unless the student specifically requests that a record of exoneration be maintained).  


Incidents of suspected academic disciplinary violations shall be handled initially at the course (or equivalent academic level: e.g., creative/research projects) and department level, reported immediately to designated parties and (where appropriate as answered below) shall receive second-level review(s) in the following manner:  

Initial Review, Decision and Action(s)

Initial review, decision and action(s) shall remain local, to involve the course instructor(s) and, if desired, consultation with a third party from the faculty, the department/program head or associate head, or the dean of student affairs (please be aware that local action must be reported as indicated in the section below, Reporting of Initial Action(s). Instructors are free to discuss alleged violations informally with the student(s) thought to be involved, but should avoid revealing the identity of other students involved, if at all possible. Suspected violations that would result in a penalty should be handled by the instructor(s), in direct communication with the student(s) involved, within one week of the discovery of the suspected infraction and before the imposition of a penalty.  

After discussion with the student(s) involved and their response, the instructor(s) shall conclude, within a reasonable period of time and based on available evidence, whether the suspected violation(s) occurred. Instructors (including Teaching Assistants (TAs), in consultation with the faculty member in charge of the course in question) are encouraged to consult at this stage with their department/program head, their dean's office and the dean of student affairs about the nature of the suspected violations, the nature of the evidence of these violations and the range of penalties under consideration. If the conclusion is that the suspected violation(s) did occur, the instructor(s) shall also choose an appropriate penalty. The most severe penalty at this level of review and action shall be failure in the course, although instructors and their departments may also recommend a more severe penalty (or additional penalties) as outlined below under Secondlevel Review and Action(s).   

The instructor(s) shall, immediately and in writing, notify the student(s) involved of this decision, the basis for this decision and (when applicable) the penalty imposed. Students who have actual or pending academic disciplinary action may not drop the course in question, barring explicit approval from the faculty member. Students should also be informed at this time of their right (and attendant procedures) for appeal (see Student Appeals).  

Reporting of Initial Action(s)

A copy of the letter outlining the initial decision and action to the student(s) involved in cases of academic disciplinary violations should also be directed to the following parties:  

  • Department/program head of the course involved  
  • Dean's office of the student's college  
  • Dean's office of the college housing the course in which the violation(s) occurred (if different from the student's college)  
  • The student's major department  
  • The dean of student affairs  

The dean of student affairs will be responsible for coordinating all second-level action detailed below and will maintain the central record of academic disciplinary violations and actions.  

Second-level Review and Action(s)

Normally, a second-level review of an initial decision and action follows from one or more of three sources:  

  1. Recommendation by the instructor, department or college for a more severe penalty;  
  2. Recommendation by the dean of student affairs (e.g., in cases in which there are one or more prior incidents of academic disciplinary violations in the student(s)' record);  
  3. Appeal by the student(s) involved.  

Student Appeals

In general, students who want to appeal an academic disciplinary action must state in writing to the dean of student affairs their intention do so within one week of the penalty date in question and then must present their appeal to the dean of student affairs no later than two weeks after said penalty date. Appeals must be in writing, with appropriate documentation.  

When a second-level review is warranted, the dean of student affairs shall immediately convene an Academic Review Board to consist of at least five members drawn from the Associate Deans' Council (including the associate provost for academic projects), designates of Faculty Senate and the Student Government, of which two shall be students. The board must include at least one member from the college(s) represented by the parties. If a student appeal and a review of a recommendation for second-level action occur simultaneously, both shall be considered by this Review Board simultaneously. Where appropriate, it is expected that the instructor(s) from the course/project involved (or appropriate representatives designated by the department) will be available for participation or at least for consultation. The board shall be chaired by the dean of student affairs who will not have a vote on the board. The parties shall be informed in writing of the date, time and location of this review.  

The Academic Review Board shall (a) review the facts of incidents involved and (b) make a recommendation about second-level action to the dean of student affairs. The dean of student affairs shall then render a decision in writing to the student, with copies to:  

  • The instructor(s) in the course in question  
  • Department/program head of the course involved  
  • Dean's office of the student's college  
  • Dean's office of the college housing the course in which the violation(s) occurred (if different from the student's college)  
  • The student's major department  

This decision is subject to appeal, by either party, to the president of the university.