REG 11.35.03 – Graduate Student Discipline Procedures

Authority: Dean of the Graduate School

History: First Issued: September 19, 2006.  Last Revised: November 29, 2011.

Related Policies:
UNC Policy 700.4.1 – Minimum Substantive and Procedural Standards for Student Disciplinary Proceedings
UNC Policy 700.4.3[G] – Guidelines on Student Disciplinary Proceedings: Meaning and Effect of “Expulsion”

UNC Code Section 502 –Chancellors of Constituent Institutions
UNC Code: Appendix 1, XII (Student Activities and Government)

NCSU POL11.35.01 – Code of Student Conduct
NCSU REG10.00.02 – Responding to Allegations of Research Misconduct
NCSU REG11.35.02 – Student Discipline Procedures

Contact Info: Dean of the Graduate School (919-515-2872)


This regulation sets forth the procedures that apply when a graduate student is charged with academic misconduct in violation of the Code of Student Conduct (Code) involving the graduate student’s thesis or dissertation.  Allegations of research misconduct involving a graduate student’s thesis or dissertation are also subject to NCSU REG10.00.02 – Responding to Allegations of Research Misconduct.  NCSU REG11.35.02 – Student Discipline Procedures shall govern all other alleged violations of the Code of Student Conduct by graduate students.


When used in these Graduate Student Discipline Procedures (Procedures):

2.1  “Academic misconduct” means conduct that is described in any provision of section 8 through 11 of the Code.

2.2  “Advisor” means an individual who gives advice or consultation to a student who is charged with a violation under the Code.  The advisor may be another student or a faculty or staff member who is not an attorney.  Advisors do not act as representatives or advocates for a student respondent.  A student respondent is solely responsible for presenting his or her case in a disciplinary hearing or conference, even when an advisor has been provided.

2.3  “Complainant” means any individual(s) who submits a formal complaint against a student alleging a violation of the Code.  At hearings, the complainant may offer information or documentary information to present a case of misconduct and/or call other witnesses to do so, and may be someone other than the individual who submitted the formal accusation against a student or group/organization.

2.4  The terms, “Provost” and “Dean of the Graduate School (Dean)” include their designees or appointees.

2.5  “Respondent” means a student(s) or groups (s) who must respond to allegations against them.

2.6  “Student” means any person pursuing a masters or doctoral degree at NC State from the time they accept admission through the date of their graduation.  This includes but is not limited to persons not currently enrolled but who are still seeking a degree from NC State, and any other person enrolled in a credit earning course offered by NC State.  For purposes of exercising jurisdiction for University discipline, it also includes any person who has graduated if the University determines that his/her graduation or receipt of credit may have involved misconduct while he/she was working toward a degree.

2.7  “University” means NC State and all of its undergraduate, graduate, and professional schools, colleges, and administrative units.


3.1  In applying these Procedures to student academic misconduct, the definitions and standards of conduct contained in the Code will be interpreted by the Dean to reflect the special circumstances and expectations for graduate students.


4.1  The Dean will determine whether a complaint of a student’s academic misconduct will be referred to a hearing under these Procedures, outlined in section 7, or reviewed under NCSU REG11.35.02 – Student Discipline Procedures.  Normally, referrals will occur within thirty (30) calendar days from receipt of the complaint.  Reasonable extensions of time are permissible.

4.2  When a respondent is charged with research misconduct, and the respondent’s case has been addressed in a separate proceeding under NCSU REG10.00.02 – Responding to Allegations of Research Misconduct where he or she has either admitted or been found responsible for research misconduct, and the University decides to take further disciplinary action, responsibility for a corresponding violation of the Code is deemed to be established and the case may be referred to a hearing under these Procedures to determine sanctions only.


5.1  Appointment of Graduate School Hearing Panel

Once the Dean has decided to review a complaint of academic misconduct under these Procedures, the Dean will appoint a Hearing Panel (Panel) to hear the matter.  The Panel shall be comprised of two members of the Administrative Board of the Graduate School, one of whom will be designated as the Chair of the Panel (Chair) and three graduate students from the Graduate Student Association recommended by the President of the Graduate Student Association.  All members of the Panel must represent Colleges/Schools other than that of the respondent.

5.2  Panel Initial Meeting

The Chair shall promptly convene the full Panel for an initial meeting.  The initial meeting shall be for Panel members only, except that a representative of the Dean may also attend.  The purpose of the initial meeting shall be to review the charges against the respondent, the procedures that will be followed, the confidentiality of the disciplinary process, and to set a schedule of potential hearing dates.  The hearing should not be scheduled for at least ten (10) calendar days after the student receives notice of the charge, unless the student agrees to an earlier hearing date in writing.  A Panel member who has a conflict with, bias about, or interest in the case should recuse himself or herself from the Panel.  In cases of recusal, the Dean will appoint a substitute Panel member to serve on the Panel.


6.1  Immediately following the Panel’s initial meeting, the Dean shall provide written notice to the student, with a copy to the Panel, to include the following:

6.1.1  The charge(s) against the student;

6.1.2  A detailed statement from the complainant concerning the allegations against the student;

6.1.3  The possible sanctions that can be implemented if the student is found responsible for the misconduct;

6.1.4  The appointment and membership of the Panel;

6.1.5  The hearing date; and

6.1.6  The right to have an advisor and an observer (as defined in section 8 of these Procedures) present at the hearing.

6.2  Respondents who wish to expedite their hearing and waive the ten (10) day notice may do so by informing the Dean of this waiver in writing.

6.3  If the respondent believes that a Panel member has a conflict with, bias about, or interest in the case, he or she may challenge the Panel member for cause.  The challenge must be submitted in writing to the Dean within five (5) calendar days of receipt of the notice.  The Dean shall promptly review the challenge and either uphold the decision or appoint a substitute Panel member.  However, the respondent and complainant, or anyone acting on their behalf, may not speak to or contact a Panel member prior to the hearing.


The following procedures apply to all cases reviewed by the Panel.

7.1  Respondents be shall accorded reasonable access to the case file, including a list of potential witnesses.  The case file will be retained at the Graduate School and a copy of the file will be provided to the student.

7.2  The information supporting the charge shall be presented by the complainant.  The complainant may be a faculty member or instructor, or a designated University administrator or staff member from the Graduate School.  At hearings, the complainant may be someone other than the original individual who submitted the formal accusation against the respondent, but will present the information supporting the charge on behalf of the accuser.  Where the complainant is a student or someone else who is not a University employee, that person may serve as a witness, but the case will be presented by a University administrator or staff member designated by the Graduate School.

7.3  The Chair or Dean may require attendance of witnesses at the request of either party or through the process of gathering information about the case.  Witness attendance notices must be approved by the Chair, and be delivered via any delivery method that can verify receipt of the notice.  University students and employees must comply with the notice, unless excused by the Dean for good cause.

7.4  If a respondent fails to appear at the hearing after proper notice, the complainant will still be required to present the information regarding the alleged violation.  The case will be decided on the basis of the information presented.

7.5  Hearings will be closed to the public.  The respondent may bring an observer in accordance with the section 8 of these Procedures.

7.6  The Chair shall exercise control over the proceedings to expedite the process and to achieve orderly completion of the hearing.  The Chair may recess the hearing if the Panel determines that the presence of additional persons is critical to the decision making process.  Any person, including the respondent, who disrupts a hearing may be excluded by the Chair.

7.7  Hearings shall be recorded.  The recording will be maintained in the respondent’s file and will be available to the student as part of his/her student record, with appropriate redaction of information related to other students unless such information is a necessary part of an appeal.

7.8  Witnesses shall be asked to affirm or swear that their testimony is truthful.  Witnesses who intentionally provide false information may be subject to University disciplinary action.

7.9  Prospective witnesses, other than the complainant and respondent, will be sequestered at the beginning of the hearing and excluded from the hearing during the testimony of other witnesses.  In addition, all parties and witnesses shall be excluded during Panel deliberations.  If necessary, the legal advisor to the Panel may observe deliberations, inform the Panel of applicable University polices, regulations and rules, and answer procedural questions as they arise, but will not participate in discussions or attempt to influence the outcome.

7.10  The Panel’s determination shall be made on the basis of whether the complainant has shown that it is “more likely than not” that the respondent violated the Code.  The respondent’s past disciplinary record will be available during the sanctions portion of the hearing.

7.11  Formal rules of evidence shall not apply in hearing proceedings.  Unduly repetitious or irrelevant information or witnesses may be excluded by the Chair.  Hearsay information may be presented unless the Chair determines it is too unreliable, provided that the respondent shall have an opportunity to rebut any hearsay information.

7.12  The Panel may take notice of commonly known information within the general experience of University students and faculty members, provided that the respondent is informed of any such information and given an opportunity to address it at the hearing.

7.13  Written witness statements are the student disciplinary equivalent of affidavits but without the formalities.  They shall not be admitted into evidence unless signed by the witnesses as observed by a staff member in the Graduate School.  Exceptions to the observed requirement may be approved by the Dean for good cause.  Statements from others regarding insight into the respondent’s decision-making and character introduced at the sanctioning portion of the hearing need not be witnessed.

7.14  The sequence of a Hearing shall be as follows:

7.14.1  The Chair shall read statements regarding the expectations for truthfulness and confidentiality, then sequester the witnesses in the case, except as provided in these Procedures.

7.14.2  The Chair shall read the charge(s) and accept whether the respondent admits or denies responsibility for the charge(s).

7.14.3  The complainant shall present his or her case, including any witnesses.  The Panel and respondent may question the complainant and witnesses during the presentation.

7.14.4  The respondent shall present his or her case including any witnesses.  The Panel and complainant may question the respondent and witnesses during the presentation.

7.14.5  Questions from the parties shall be directed through the Panel.  The Chair may limit questioning that is redundant, irrelevant, or abusive.

7.14.6  The complainant and respondent may make a closing statement.  A closing statement is a short summary of the information previously presented, and conclusions the speaker wishes the Panel to draw from the information.

7.14.7  The Panel will enter into a period of deliberation.  A decision will be made by majority vote.  Only the Panel members and the legal advisor may be present at deliberations.  Deliberations are not recorded.

7.14.8  The Panel will announce its decision on each charge.  Decisions of the Panel may be “responsible” or “not responsible.”

7.14.9  A determination of responsibility shall be followed immediately by a sanctions portion of the hearing in which either party may submit information or make statements concerning the appropriate sanction to be imposed.  The past disciplinary record of the respondent shall not be supplied to the Panel prior to this portion of the hearing, except in cases where the charge includes failure to follow through on previous sanctions, recommendations, directives or violations of behavioral contracts.  In those instances, the allegations of the complaint would of necessity reflect the past disciplinary record of the respondent.

7.14.10  The Panel will enter into a period of deliberation for recommended sanctioning.  A decision will be made by majority vote.  Procedures for this deliberation are the same as for deliberation of responsibility on the charge(s).  The Panel may apply any of the sanctions set forth in the Code.

7.14.11  The Panel’s findings and recommendations on sanctions shall be transmitted in the form of a written report to the Dean by the Chair.  The Panel shall submit its written report to the Dean no later than ten (10) calendar days after the conclusion of the hearing.  The report shall state the charge, the graduate student’s plea to the charge, the Panel’s findings on the charge, including a review of the evidence in support of the Panel’s findings, and a recommended sanction if the student was found responsible for the misconduct.

7.14.12  The Dean of the Graduate School shall issue a decision in writing, and determine appropriate sanction(s) where the student is found responsible, no later than thirty (30) calendar days after receipt of the Panel’s report.  If the sanction is expulsion, the decision of the Dean must be reviewed and approved by the Provost.  The written decision must be delivered to the student through a means where delivery can be verified, and must contain a brief summary of the evidence upon which the decision is based and the appeal rights of the student, including the time limits in which to appeal and the permissible grounds for appeal.


8.1  Representation is not permitted in any graduate student disciplinary proceeding.

8.2  Respondents referred for a hearing may be accompanied by an adviser, who must be a student or staff or faculty member who is not an attorney.  Full responsibility for understanding the procedures and presenting the case remain with the respondent even where an adviser provides assistance.

8.3  In addition to an adviser, respondents may bring an observer to the hearing.  An observer may be a parent, friend, or other person of the respondent’s choice.  The observer may be an attorney only if criminal charges arising out of the same incident have been filed.  Observers may confer with the respondent during the hearing so long as the observer does not address the Chair or Panel members.  However, observers cannot provide representation at the hearing, actively participate in the hearing, serve as a witness, or disrupt or delay it.


Each student who has received a disciplinary sanction shall be notified in writing of his or her appeal rights.  This notice must be given no later than the date the written decision is delivered to the student (or the date delivery is properly attempted, in the event delivery is not successful).  Only the student who has been found responsible for a conduct violation may appeal.

9.1  Appeal Routes

9.1.1  Any disciplinary decision, other than expulsion decisions, may be appealed to the Provost, whose decision shall be final, and no further appeal of the decision is permitted.

9.1.2  Expulsion decisions may be appealed to the Chancellor.  The Chancellor’s decision on appeal shall be the final decision at the University.  A further appeal may be made to the UNC Board of Governors.  Appeals to the Board of Governors should be sent by certified or registered mail, return receipt requested, to the President of the University of North Carolina within ten (10) calendar days after the student receives the final University decision.  The mailing address for appeals to the Board of Governors is: c/o Vice President and General Counsel, Office of the President, University of North Carolina, P.O. Box 2688, Chapel Hill NC 27515-2688.  A copy of the written notice of appeal to the Board of Governors must also be delivered to the Dean.

9.2  Grounds for Appeal

9.2.1  Under the appeal rights set by the UNC Board of Governors and applicable at NC State, an appeal of a disciplinary decision is limited to allegations that the decision violates due process rights, meaning there has been a material deviation from the procedural and/or substantive due process standards adopted by the UNC Board of Governors.  Therefore the appeal must allege violation of:  Procedural Standards; and/or  Substantive Standards

9.2.2  On appeal, a respondent has the burden of showing that the disciplinary decision violates Procedural and/or Substantive Standards.  Violation of Procedural Standards means that the respondent was not provided the required notice or an opportunity for a fair hearing due to specified procedural errors, or errors in interpretation of University policies or regulations, that were so substantial as to effectively deny the respondent a fair hearing.  Reasonable deviations from the procedures set out in this regulation will not invalidate a decision or proceeding unless the respondent can show that, but for the deviation or error, there likely would have been a different outcome in the case.  Violation of Substantive Standards means there is a lack of information in the record that could support the decision or sanction(s).  This last ground for appeal does not mean the information presented at the hearing can be re-argued on appeal; rather, it requires a showing that no reasonable person could have determined the respondent was responsible or could have imposed the sanction that was issued.

9.3  Record on Appeal

In all cases resulting in an appeal, the decision, the complete record of the proceeding (including documentary evidence and any recording or transcript of testimony), the appeal materials filed by the student, and any other relevant information, will be compiled by the Dean and delivered to the person designated to review the appeal.

9.4  Deadline and Place for Delivery of Notice of Appeal

9.4.1  Appeals must be received within ten (10) calendar days from the date that the written decision or sanctions is provided, or attempted to be delivered, to the student through any delivery method where receipt can be verified.  If the tenth (10th) calendar day falls on a weekend or University holiday, the deadline for filing the appeal will be extended to the next University business day.  Failure to submit the written notice of appeal within this time limit will render the original decision final and conclusive.  An extension of time may be requested in writing within the ten (10) day limit, but it is within the discretion of the Provost to grant or deny such requests.  Written notice of appeal must be delivered to the Dean.

9.4.2  The notice of appeal must contain the following:  A copy of the decision being appealed;  A statement of the grounds for appeal, which at a minimum should contain a list of alleged errors in the decision or procedure and statement of why the decision or sanctions are in error;  A requested remedy; and  The signature of the appellant and date the appeal is being submitted.

9.5  Appeal Review

9.5.1  The imposition of sanctions may be deferred during the pendency of appellate proceedings, at the discretion of the Provost, upon written request of the respondent.

9.5.2  Appeals will be decided on the record of the original proceedings.  New hearings will not be conducted on appeal.  However, the person(s) reviewing the appeal may choose to ask the parties to submit written statements of their positions on appeal, beyond the information in the appeal notice.  If the hearing body is alleged to have violated these Procedures, a written response may be solicited from the hearing body or the Chair on its behalf.  Any such written statements from the parties or the Chair must be drawn on information in the record; they cannot include new information or facts bearing on responsibility that were not presented at the hearing.  These written statements become part of the record.  Any decision to allow new information in the appeals process will be made by the person(s) reviewing the appeal.

9.6  Appeal Decisions

Following their review, the person(s) reviewing the appeal may decide:

9.6.1  To affirm the findings and sanction(s) imposed by the original decision-maker.

9.6.2  To reverse or modify the decision and/or sanction(s) of the decision-maker.  Such reversal or modification shall take place only upon a showing by the respondent of clear and material error on the part of the Panel and/or decision-maker and which error affected the outcome of the case.

9.6.3  To remand the case to the initial level of decision-maker for a supplemental hearing or for a new hearing.  Cases will only be remanded based on:  Specified procedural errors or errors in interpretation of University policies or regulations that were so substantial as to effectively deny the respondent a fair hearing; or  New and significant material information that has become available and was not available previously to a person exercising reasonable diligence, which information could have affected the outcome of the proceeding.

9.6.4  To dismiss the entire case.  Dismissal will occur only if there is insufficient information to support a finding of responsibility.