Informal Resolution

As an instructor, if you suspect that a graduate student has engaged in academic misconduct that you would like to resolve, please read this section carefully. 

Graduate level academic misconduct is generally considered to be egregious within higher education given that students are expected to have completed their bachelors with an understanding of ethics and integrity that they carry to their graduate level education. Therefore, it is recommended that faculty members first consult with their chair or dean and the director of Graduate Academic Conduct and Climate before resolving a suspected academic misconduct case. Further, this consultation will determine whether the student has been found previously to be responsible for academic misconduct. 

When an instructor proceeds with the informal resolution phase, it is crucial to inform the student about their available options. Successful informal resolution relies on clear communication channels, allowing the suspected graduate student to provide a thorough response. Other faculty responsibilities are listed here

In the informal resolution process, academic sanctions (i.e. class grade reduction or assignment fail) should only be imposed on the graduate student only after a student has accepted responsibility for the violation and the sanction that is recommended by the instructor. This must be documented with the Graduate Division through a Graduate Division Faculty Disposition Form (GDFDF), which must also be signed by the graduate student. Once a student signs a GDFDF, they may be subject to specific policies implemented by the Academic Unit, such as losing their right for a grade appeal for the specific course. If a graduate student does not consent on the sanction(s) imposed on them, a formal hearing process must be initiated. If the graduate student does not accept their misconduct but the instructor still believes that misconduct took place, or if the chair/dean does not approve of the proposed sanction, a formal hearing process must be initiated. 

During an informal resolution process, the Academic Unit may not direct any actions that may affect the student’s status.

No further actions are required if a graduate student is found to not have engaged in academic misconduct during the informal resolution process.

Formal resolution resources for faculty and staff

Graduate Division Faculty Disposition Form – will be available in August 2023


Faculty who agree to serve on a committee must complete a 1-hour training that goes over the policy and procedures. Please fill out this form to receive access for the training materials. 

Faculty & Staff Forms

Forms for both faculty, staff and students will be available in August 2023.


  • If you suspect a case, report it to your chair or dean and the Graduate Division to make sure the student does not have a prior record. 
  • Presume the student to be not responsible for the misconduct until they admit responsibility and withhold on giving academic sanctions. 
  • Notify the student of your suspicion. In this notification, refer the student to this website AND provide them copy of the student fact sheet 
  • Make sure the student shares their side of the story. 
  • Make sure to ask for documentation that clarifies the student’s actions and give them a deadline to submit the documents.

The Graduate Division will oversee graduate student academic misconduct matters, in collaboration with the relevant academic unit. 

Matters concerning student conduct (i.e., alleged violations of University Policies and/or campus regulations regarding the activity of students) are handled by the Center for Student Conduct at 203 Sproul Hall, 510.643.9069. Additional questions concerning student conduct can be answered by calling this number.

The Berkeley Campus Code of Student Conduct administered by the Center for Student Conduct is more attuned to adjudicating cases of academic misconduct by undergraduate students. Academic and professional graduate students have different pedagogical norms and expectations, and this policy is intended to provide greater nuance to the investigation and adjudication process.

The policy outlines two different phases in the approach to the resolution of suspected graduate academic misconduct — an informal phase and a formal phase — where the Graduate Division is a consultant throughout the process. When an instructor suspects that a graduate student has committed academic misconduct, they must first discuss the allegations with their chair or dean and with the Graduate Division to confirm that the student does not have a prior record of academic misconduct. If the student does not have a prior record, then the faculty member may attempt to resolve the suspected academic misconduct by discussing it with the student. This is considered the informal phase. If the student has a prior academic misconduct record, if the student and faculty member do not agree on whether misconduct occurred, or if the student or department chair/dean disagrees with the sanction, then a formal investigation is initiated. During the formal phase, a committee of at least three faculty will conduct a hearing to investigate the allegation (the student may challenge the membership of this committee) and, if the student is determined by a preponderance of evidence to be responsible, decide upon the appropriate sanction(s).

Academic units will decide whether they want to adjudicate cases themselves or refer them to the Graduate Division. Cases may be adjudicated by an academic unit or centrally by the Graduate Division. If an allegation made under this policy has a connection to federal funding, it will be addressed by the Office for the Vice Chancellor for Research.

Anyone may file a complaint. Go to Graduate Academic Integrity and select, “Report a Case”, email All graduate academic misconduct cases are reported to the Graduate Division.

A student may be notified informally by email or in person by the individual filing a complaint, which would initiate the beginning of an informal resolution process. Cases that need to be resolved through the formal resolution process are notified to the student with an Alleged Violation Letter (AVL) sent via email to the most recent email address in file with the University.

An AVL will include a statement about when and where the alleged violation occurred and what allegedly happened. It will also include members of the committee responsible for investigating and conducting the hearing, a specific statement of the sanction(s) that may be applied, and a proposed timeline for the completion of the academic misconduct process.

We recommend graduate students contact the Graduate Division via email [] to schedule an appointment if they have questions about the process. Those who receive an AVL will have a date set on the letter to respond to the allegations. Students can schedule a meeting with the Graduate Division prior to responding to the AVL. Students can additionally seek advice from Ombuds Services (510) 642-5754 and/or the ASUC Student Advocate’s Office (510) 642-6912.

If a student admits to violating University policies and/or campus regulations, or is determined to be responsible in a hearing, they should expect to be sanctioned. Sanctions range from a warning to dismissal from the University. The Graduate Division strives to ensure that imposed sanctions are appropriate to the violation.

If a student is able to provide a plausible explanation for the circumstances that led to the allegation and if there is evidence to support that claim, the matter will likely be dropped. However, if the student denies the allegation, and in the judgment in their case, there is evidence indicating that the student is responsible, their case will be investigated by a hearing committee (the Committee).

The Committee consists of an odd number of faculty members (min. 3, one external to the department/unit if the Committee is appointed by the chair/dean) who is responsible for the investigation and hearing. The hearing process is generally conducted in the form of an investigation. The Committee is responsible for collecting testimony, documents and other information regarding the alleged academic misconduct. The Committee is not required to conduct the hearing at a specific time (except when the resolution of the allegations depends upon the credibility of a witness or witnesses, and the appropriate sanction for the academic misconduct could include suspension or dismissal); in fact, the hearing will generally take place as a series of interviews and the collection of relevant documents.

The Graduate Academic Misconduct policy stipulates that a graduate student alleged to have engaged in academic misconduct is not responsible for such violations unless the student admits responsibility or it is determined through the process and procedures set forth by the policy by a preponderance of evidence to have engaged in academic misconduct.

The process will continue with or without the student’s involvement and a decision will be reached based on the information that is provided to the hearing committee. The student may not use a refusal to participate as a later ground for appealing a decision.

The standard of proof for all hearings is a preponderance of evidence. A preponderance of evidence is defined as “more likely to be true than not.”

The Graduate Academic Misconduct Policy stipulates that a graduate student may have an advisor (anyone who is not involved in the complaint) with them at any stage of the process. The advisor may not represent or speak for the graduate student. The graduate student must participate on their own behalf. The advisor may provide assistance to the graduate student in preparing for and participating in meetings. 

Records are confidential and are typically kept for five (5) years from the completion of the incident. At the end of the five years or after a student has graduated, records concerning most cases are destroyed. Cases that resulted in an outcome of dismissal are kept indefinitely.

In compliance with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA), all conduct records are considered confidential records, with exceptions noted in FERPA. Only those persons authorized by the student or by the Graduate Division may have access to these records.

If you have further questions please contact