Academic Conduct, Courses and Grading

More information about courses, grading, and academic conduct can be found in the UW Student Guide.


One of the most common forms of cheating is plagiarism, using anotherʹs words or ideas without proper citation. When students plagiarize, they usually do so in one of the following six ways:

  • Using another writerʹs words without proper citation. If you use another writerʹs words, you must place quotation marks around the quoted material and include a footnote or other indication of the source of the quotation.
  • Using another writerʹs ideas without proper citation. When you use another authorʹs ideas, you must indicate with footnotes or other means where this information can be found. Your instructors want to know which ideas and judgments are yours and which you arrived at by consulting other sources. Even if you arrived at the same judgment on your own, you need to acknowledge that the writer you consulted also came up with the idea.
  • Citing your source but reproducing the exact words of a printed source without quotation marks. This makes it appear that you have paraphrased rather than borrowed the authorʹs exact words.
  • Borrowing the structure of another authorʹs phrases or sentences without crediting the author from whom it came. This kind of plagiarism usually occurs out of laziness: it is easier to replicate another writerʹs style than to think about what you have read and then put it in your own words. The following example is from A Writerʹs Reference by Diana Hacker (New York, 1989, p. 171).
    • Original: If the existence of a signing ape was unsettling for linguists, it was also startling news for animal behaviorists.
    • Unacceptable borrowing of words: An ape who knew sign language unsettled linguists and startled animal behaviorists.
    • Unacceptable borrowing of sentence structure: If the presence of a sign‐language‐using chimp was disturbing for scientists studying language, it was also surprising to scientists studying animal behavior.
    • Acceptable paraphrase: When they learned of an ape’s ability to use sign language, both linguists and animal behaviorists were taken by surprise.
  • Borrowing all or part of another studentʹs paper or using someone elseʹs outline to write your own paper.
  • Using a paper writing ʺserviceʺ or having a friend write the paper for you. Regardless of whether you pay a stranger or have a friend do it, it is a breach of academic honesty to hand in work that is not your own or to use parts of another studentʹs paper.
  • In computer programming classes, borrowing computer code from another student and presenting it as your own. When original computer code is a requirement for a class, it is a violation of the Universityʹs policy if students submit work they themselves did not create.

Note. The guidelines that define plagiarism also apply to information secured on internet websites. Internet references must specify precisely where the information was obtained and where it can be found.

You may think that citing another authorʹs work will lower your grade. In some unusual cases this may be true, if your instructor has indicated that you must write your paper without reading additional material. But in fact, as you progress in your studies, you will be expected to show that you are familiar with important work in your field and can use this work to further your own thinking. Your professors write this kind of paper all the time. The key to avoiding plagiarism is that you show clearly where your own thinking ends and someone elseʹs begins.

Instructors who believe they have discovered cheating will submit a grade of X (the equivalent of an unreported grade) for the course until the academic misconduct charge is resolved. A hold is placed on the studentʹs registration if he or she fails to respond in a timely manner (within two weeks) to the written request that the student meet with the Deanʹs Representative for Academic Conduct. Students have the right to appear before the Committee to offer testimony. If found guilty, the student will receive one of the following sanctions, listed in order of increasing severity. All actions are reported to the Office of the Vice President and Vice Provost for Student Life. A student may, by written request to the Vice President and Vice Provost for Student Life (usually at the time of graduation), request that the confidential disciplinary record be expunged.

  • Disciplinary Warning: verbal or written notification that the student has not met the Universityʹs standards of conduct, and that a repeated offense will result in more serious disciplinary action. It is not the case that first offenses automatically receive a warning; most first offenses receive a stricter response, with warnings reserved for cases with unusual mitigating circumstances.
  • Reprimand: a written statement censuring a student for violating University regulations, and stating that another offense will result in more serious action. This is normally considered a lenient response, even for first offenses.
  • Restitution: requirement that the student compensate the University or other persons for damages, injuries, or losses. Failure to comply results in canceled registration and a hold on future registration.
  • Disciplinary Probation: an action that places conditions on the studentʹs continued attendance at the University, including the statement that further violation of University policies will likely result in dismissal. The Committee fixes the term and conditions of academic probation. First offenses often result in probation.
  • Suspension: a written statement notifying a student that his or her enrollment has been suspended for a specific period of time for violating University policy. The statement includes the terms and length of the suspension, as well as the conditions for re‐admittance.
  • Dismissal: a written statement notifying a student that his or her attendance at the University has been terminated for violating University policy. Unlike suspension, dismissal is considered to be a permanent action. However, the institution may also provide conditions for re‐admittance.

Note. It is a studentʹs right to appear before the Committee on Academic Conduct. If you believe you have been wrongly accused, and your instructor has handled the situation without reference to the Committee or the appeal process, you may request that the case be referred or refer the matter directly yourself by calling 206‐543‐9233 (e‐mail

Source: Committee on Academic Conduct in the College of Arts and Sciences, Student Conduct Code (WAC 478‐120)


An Incomplete is given only when the student has been in attendance and has done satisfactory work until within two weeks of the end of the quarter and has furnished proof satisfactory to the instructor that the work cannot be completed because of illness or other circumstances beyond the student’s control. A written statement of the reason for the giving of the Incomplete, listing the work which the student will need to do to remove it, must be filed by the instructor with the head of the department or the dean of the college in which the course is given.

To obtain credit for the course, an undergraduate student must convert an Incomplete into a passing grade no later than the last day of the next quarter. For Spring Quarter, the following quarter is considered to be Fall Quarter. The student should never reregister for the course as a means of removing the Incomplete. An Incomplete grade not made up by the end of the next quarter is converted to the grade of 0.0 by the Office of the University Registrar unless the instructor has indicated, when assigning the Incomplete grade, that a grade other than 0.0 should be recorded if the incomplete work is not completed. The original Incomplete grade is not removed from the permanent record.

An instructor may approve an extension of the Incomplete removal deadline by writing to the Graduation and Academic Records Office no later than the last day of the quarter following the quarter in which the Incomplete grade was assigned. Extensions, which may be granted for up to three additional quarters, must be received by the Office of the University Registrar before the Incomplete has been converted into a failing grade.

In no case can an Incomplete received by an undergraduate be converted to a passing grade after a lapse of one year.

In no case shall an Incomplete on the record at the time a degree is granted be subsequently changed to any other grade.

An Incomplete grade does not count for registered hours nor in computation of grade-point averages.

For DL-suffix courses that do not follow the quarter schedule, an Incomplete shall be given only when the student has done satisfactory work to within two weeks of the maximum term for completion of the course, as specified at the time of registration. In order to obtain credit for the course, a student must convert an Incomplete into a passing grade by the end of the quarter following the one in which the Incomplete was given. All other provisions and deadlines of subsections a. through d. shall also apply.

Source: UW General Catalog 2020, Grading System

Grade appeal procedure

A student who believes that the instructor erred in the assignment of a grade, or who believes a grade recording error or omission has occurred, shall first discuss the matter with the instructor before the end of the following academic quarter (not including Summer Quarter.)

If the student is not satisfied with the instructor’s explanation, the student, no later than ten days after his or her discussion with the instructor, may submit a written appeal to the chair of the department, or in a nondepartmental college, to the dean, with a copy of the appeal also sent to the instructor. Within ten calendar days, the chair or dean consults with the instructor to ensure that the evaluation of the student’s performance has not been arbitrary or capricious. Should the chair believe the instructor’s conduct to be arbitrary or capricious and the instructor declines to revise the grade, the chair (or the dean in a nondepartmental school or college), with the approval of the voting members of his or her faculty, shall appoint an appropriate member, or members, of the faculty of that department to evaluate the performance of the student and assign a grade. The dean and Provost should be informed of this action.

Once a student submits a written appeal, this document and all subsequent actions on this appeal are recorded in written form for deposit in a department or college file.

Source: UW General Catalog 2020, Grading System

Concerns about a course an instructor, or a Teaching Assistant

If you have any concerns about a COM course or your instructor or a TA, please see the instructor about these concerns as soon as possible If you are not comfortable talking with the instructor or not satisfied with the response that you receive, you may contact Director of Academic Services, Erika Samson, at, CMU 118, or (206) 543-8860.


Equal opportunity and disability accommodations

The University of Washington reaffirms its policy of equal opportunity regardless of race, color, creed, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, age, marital status, disability, or status as a disabled veteran or Vietnam era veteran. This policy applies to all programs and facilities, including, but not limited to, admissions, educational programs, employment, and patient and hospital services. Any discriminatory action can be a cause for disciplinary action.

Discrimination is prohibited by Presidential Executive Order 11246 as amended; Washington State Gubernatorial Executive Orders 89-01 and 93-07; Titles VI and VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964; Washington State Law Against Discrimination RCW 49.60; Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972; State of Washington Gender Equity in Higher Education Act of 1989; Sections 503 and 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973; Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990; Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 as amended; Age Discrimination Act of 1975; Vietnam Era Veterans’ Readjustment Assistance Act of 1972 as amended; other federal and state statutes, regulations, and University policy. Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action compliance efforts at the University of Washington are coordinated by the Office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action, University of Washington, 442A Gerberding Hall, Box 351240, Seattle, Washington, 98195-1240, telephone 206.543.1830.

The University of Washington is committed to providing access and reasonable accommodation in its services, programs, activities, education and employment for individuals with disabilities. To request disability accommodation in the application process, contact the Disability Services Office at least ten days in advance at: 206.543.6450/V, 206.543.6452/TTY, 206.685.7264 (FAX), or

Source: UW Office of Admissions website

Sexual harassment, non-discrimination and Title IX

Non-discrimination and non-retaliation

The University of Washington, as an institution established and maintained by the people of the state, is committed to providing equality of opportunity and an environment that fosters respect for all members of the University community (Executive Order 31). This policy has the goal of promoting an environment that is free of discrimination, harassment, and retaliation. To facilitate that goal, the University retains the authority to discipline or take appropriate corrective action for any conduct that is deemed unacceptable or inappropriate, regardless of whether the conduct rises to the level of unlawful discrimination, harassment or retaliation.

University policy:

  • Prohibits discrimination or harassment against a member of the University community because of race, color, creed, religion, national origin, citizenship, sex, age, marital status, sexual orientation, disability, or military status.
  • Prohibits any member of the University community, including, but not limited to, the faculty, staff, or students, from discriminating against or unlawfully harassing a member of the public on any of the above grounds while engaged in activities directly related to the nature of their University affiliation.
  • Prohibits retaliation against any individual who reports concerns regarding discrimination or harassment, or who cooperates with or participates in any investigation of allegations of discrimination, harassment, or retaliation.

Source: Office of the VP of Student Life