The Duke Community Standard

Duke University is a community dedicated to scholarship, leadership, and service and to the principles of honesty, fairness, respect, and accountability.  Citizens of this community commit to reflect upon and uphold these principles in all academic and non-academic endeavors, and to protect and promote a culture of integrity.

To uphold the Duke Community Standard:

  • I will not lie, cheat, or steal in my academic endeavors;
  • I will conduct myself honorably in all my endeavors; and
  • I will act if the Standard is compromised.



The objective of the Sanford Code of Professional Conduct is to promote the Duke Community Standard.  Since the entire Duke community benefits from the atmosphere of trust fostered by the Code, each of its members is responsible for upholding the spirit, as well as the letter, of the Code.


The Sanford Code addresses standards expected of, and violations committed by, Master of Public Policy (MPP) or Master of International Development Policy (MIDP) students of the Sanford School of Public Policy or other students taking courses for graduate credit at the Sanford School.  MPP and MIDP students who violate the Honor Code within other schools or programs remain under the jurisdiction of the Sanford School of Public Policy and will have their cases reviewed and acted upon, as necessary, according to the Honor Code and procedures described in this document. 

For dual degree students simultaneously enrolled in the Sanford School and another school at Duke University, the Dean of the Sanford School and the Director of the MPP or MIDP program will discuss any Honor Code violations committed with administrators in the dual degree student’s sister program to determine the appropriate course of action. 

Disciplinary action, including revocation of a diploma, may be taken against someone who has graduated but later determined, in accordance with procedures established by the Dean, to have committed a Code violation while a student in the MPP or MIDP programs.

PhD students are members of the Graduate School of Duke University and are governed by the Standards of Conduct and Judicial Procedures of the Graduate School. 

Undergraduates are governed by the policies and procedures of the Duke University Division of Student Affairs – Office of Student Conduct. 

For all students, any conduct arising under Duke University’s pickets and protests regulations and cases involving students across communities (Sanford, Fuqua, Divinity, Undergraduate, etc.) also fall under the jurisdiction of the University Judicial Board.


Student Obligations

Students will uphold the Sanford Code of Professional Conduct and the Duke Community Standard, including its obligation to take action if the Standard is compromised.

Student Professionalism

Integral to upholding the Duke Community Standard is the obligation to develop and maintain a professional atmosphere in every aspect of graduate student life.  This includes complying with the Honor Code, as set out in further detail below, and according dignity and respect to other students, faculty, and staff, both on and off campus.  This obligation extends to official and unofficial activities and events.

Student Grievance Procedures

 It is the responsibility of the Director of the MPP or MIDP program to inform students of the appropriate channels for redressing complaints or grievances other than Honor Code violations.  Normally students should bring their concerns to the attention of the person who is the subject of the complaint to see if they can resolve the matter.  Although students may also discuss their complaints with any member of the faculty or staff in a position to advise or assist them, students should submit their complaints to the Director of the MPP or MIDP program for resolution.  If the complaint cannot be resolved satisfactorily at this level, the student may appeal to the Dean of the Sanford School.  An appeal must be filed in writing within two weeks from the date that the student receives notice of the decision by the program directors mentioned above.


Honor Code

An essential feature of Duke University is its commitment to integrity and ethical conduct.  Duke’s honor system builds trust among students and faculty and maintains an academic community in which a code of values is shared.  Instilling a sense of honor and of high principles that extend to all facets of life is an inherent aspect of a professional education.  A student, by accepting admission to the Sanford School of Public Policy, thereby indicates willingness to subscribe to and be governed by the rules and regulations of the University as currently are in effect or, from time to time, are put into effect by the appropriate authorities of the University, and indicates willingness to accept disciplinary action, if behavior is adjudged to be in violation of those rules or in some way unacceptable or detrimental to the University.  A student’s responsibility to the authorities and the regulations of the University in no way alters or modifies responsibilities in relation to civil authorities and laws.


Violations of the Sanford School of Public Policy Honor Code include the following:

  • Unsanctioned collaboration on any examination or assignment.  All academic work undertaken by a student must be completed independently unless the faculty member or other responsible authority expressly authorizes collaboration with another.  Students may not discuss exams until all students have taken the exam. 
  • Plagiarism. “Plagiarism” occurs when a student presents any information, ideas or phrasing of another as if they were his or her own.  Proper scholarly procedures require that all quoted material be identified by quotation marks or indention on the page, and associated with a particular source, be identified and attributed to that source.  Instructors should make clear what their expectations are with respect to citing sources for each project.  Students unsure about the University definition of plagiarism should consult the undergraduate bulletin, The Duke Community Standard in Practice.  The Duke Library website offers guidelines for citing sources and avoiding plagiarism here and here.
  • Harassment. “Harassment”  is any persistent, unsolicited behavior that threatens, intimidates, or torments another and is likely to interfere with an individual’s work or education, or to affect adversely an individual’s health, welfare, safety, or living conditions.  Students unsure about the University definition of harassment should consult The Office of Student Conduct harassment policy statement here.
  • Cheating.  “Cheating” is the act of wrongfully using or attempting to use unauthorized materials, information, study aids, or the ideas or work of another in order to gain an unfair advantage.  It includes, but is not limited to, the following:  plagiarism; giving or receiving unauthorized aid on tests, quizzes, assignments, or examinations; consulting unauthorized materials or using unauthorized equipment or devices on tests, quizzes, assignments, and examinations; altering or falsifying information on tests, quizzes, assignments, and examinations; using without prior instructor permission any material portion of a paper or project to fulfill requirements of more than one course; submitting an altered examination or assignment to an instructor for re-grading; or working on any test, quiz, examination, or assignment outside of the time constraints imposed. See more here.
  • Computer-Related Offenses.  It is expected that any student of the Duke community using its computer resources (all hardware, software, and network connections) will act in a legal and ethical manner.  For more information, look here.
  • Stealing.  “Stealing” is the theft, mutilation, or any other unlawful or improper appropriation or use of any property that does not belong to oneself.  This includes funds or property found in student common areas, faculty and staff offices, classrooms, library and reserve materials; intellectual property of anyone other than oneself; and other funds or property, whether or not related to Duke University. Refer to this information.
  • Lying.  “Lying” includes, but is not limited to, communicating a falsehood in order to gain unfair academic, professional, personal, or employment advantage that impacts the students, faculty, and administration of Duke University. Refer to this information.
  • Any Other Misconduct, whether committed on or off campus, which is adjudged detrimental to the University community.

 A comprehensive list of violations included in the Sanford Honor Code appears in The Duke University Community Standards in Practicewhich defines authoritatively the violations described in the Sanford Honor Code, and is incorporated, along with its subsequent changes, herein by reference.


Student Response to Suspected Violations

A student’s signature on the Duke Community Standard obligates him or her to take constructive action if he or she witnesses, or knows about, behavior that he or she perceives to be inconsistent with the Standard. Although there are no disciplinary sanctions associated with failure to act, a student is, nonetheless, expected to take action as a responsibility of membership in the Duke community.

If any member of the Sanford community believes that an Honor Code violation has occurred, then he or she should, if practicable, approach the suspected violator to clarify the situation.  If, after the approach, the person making the allegation realizes no violation occurred, then the issue may be dropped.  If, however, the person making the allegation still believes a violation may have occurred, he or she must promptly bring the matter to the attention of the faculty member concerned and Director of the MPP or MIDP program. For cases involving social behaviors of concern, a student should alert a faculty member, a senior staff member, or the Director of the MPP or MIDP program to address the matter through the appropriate informal or formal channels.

Action by Directors of Graduate Programs

The Director of the MPP or MIDP program will conduct a preliminary review of the information available about the allegations and provide the accused student an opportunity to respond.  The Director and concerned faculty member will jointly determine whether to dispose of the allegations themselves through penalties or corrective measures, with the student’s concurrence, or through referral to the Sanford School Honor Board for formal review.  The Director is responsible for assembling the relevant documents and records to provide to the Board. 

The accused will be notified of the decision to refer the case to the Sanford School Honor Board, and may elect at any time to have the case reviewed directly by the Dean of the Sanford School in lieu of the Sanford School Honor Board.

The Sanford School Honor Board

The Board will be constituted to hear cases involving an accused MPP or MIDP student who has been referred by the Director of the MPP or MIDP program.

The Sanford School Honor Board shall sit with five members: a. One MPP student and one MIDP student, each elected by the student body of his or her respective program as an “Honor Board Representative.” b. Three members of the faculty appointed by the Dean of the Sanford School and serving staggered three-year terms that can be renewed by the Dean. 

The senior faculty member of the Board (by length of service on the Board) shall serve as Chair.  The Board shall be supported by a staff member to assemble, prepare, and maintain the record of proceedings, including the Board’s findings, in confidential files.

After the official request for a hearing has been received, the Chair must convene the Board within a reasonable period of time.  During this time, it is the responsibility of the Chair fully to inform the Honor Board members concerning the case and to provide copies of the relevant documents and records to the Board and the accused.

The accused has the right to challenge any member of the Honor Board if he or she believes there is a significant conflict of interest with that panelist.  If the Board decides by simple majority vote to excuse one or more of its members for reasons given by the accused, the Dean shall name a replacement for that case only.  If any member of the Board believes he or she has a conflict of interest that might preclude a fair and impartial decision with respect to the accused, that Board member shall recuse himself or herself from the case, and the Dean shall appoint a replacement for that case only.

The accused has the right to be present at the hearing and to choose an advisor to assist him or her in the hearing process.  The advisor must be a current Duke student, a Duke faculty member, or a Duke employee.  The role of the advisor is to assist and support the student through the disciplinary process.  The advisor may not address the hearing panel or any witness during the hearing. 

The hearing shall be closed to the public.  All proceedings shall be confidential. The hearing of any case shall begin with a reading of the allegations by the Chair in the presence of the accused.  The Honor Board may call or question any witness with information relevant to the case.  The accused shall have the right to offer written and oral information, question any witness, and call witnesses.  The Honor Board shall consider only the documents and records provided by the Chair, documents submitted at the hearing, and any testimony of the accused and other witnesses at the hearing in reaching its decision(s).

After consideration of all the evidence, the accused will be excused, and the Honor Board will discuss the case and vote on whether the allegations are supported by clear and convincing information that the accused violated the Honor Code.  A simple majority vote of the Honor Board will determine the finding to recommend to the Director of the graduate program in which the accused is enrolled. If the allegation is substantiated, the Honor Board will then recommend a penalty, again determined by a simple majority vote.

The Honor Board shall have the power to impose the following penalties, or a combination thereof:

  • Expulsion, dismissal from the University with recommendation never to readmit;
  • Suspension, dismissal from the University and from participation in all University activities for a specified period of time, during which the substantiation of any other Honor Code violation may result in more serious disciplinary action;
  • Restitution, payment for all or a portion of property damage caused during the commission of an offense.  Restitution may be imposed alone or in addition to any other penalties.
  • Appropriate apology, as determined by the Director or Dean.
  • Disciplinary probation or other actions deemed appropriate.

The Honor Board Chair shall prepare a written statement of the findings for the Director of the graduate program concerned.  The Director shall review and implement the Honor Board’s findings unless the student appeals.

Pending the final decision on the disposition, the student’s status shall not be changed, nor the right to be on campus or to attend classes suspended, except that the Dean may impose an interim suspension upon MPP or MIDP students who demonstrate by their conduct, that their presence on campus constitutes an immediate threat to the Duke community or its property.


Only the accused student may appeal the decision of the Honor Board to the Dean of the Sanford School of Public Policy.  Appeals shall be initiated in writing within two weeks from the date that a student receives notice of the decision by the Honor Board and shall be made directly to the Dean of the Sanford School of Public Policy.  The Dean may conduct an independent review of the student’s case, or the Dean may choose to appoint an Appeals Committee as part of his or her review.  The Appeals Committee will not include anyone who served on the Honor Board that considered the appellant’s case.

The Chair of the Honor Board shall supply the Dean and/or the Appeals Committee with the record of proceedings, documents, and records related to the case.  The Dean may approve the Honor Board’s findings, or disapprove or modify them in whole or in part, but may not disadvantage the student.  The Dean’s decision is final.


The Dean and leadership community of the Sanford School of Public Policy approved this initial version of the Sanford Code of Professional Conduct, effective July 1, 2009.  The Code may be amended at any time with due notice or publication by consent of the Executive Committee of the Sanford School, in consultation with student representatives.  Questions and problems not answered or anticipated by the foregoing may be resolved by use of other existing institutions or by amendment.  The Dean retains final authority for addressing all student misconduct, including conduct not covered in this Code and referral of matters for resolution in the civil or criminal justice systems.

Last Revision: August 14, 2017