Columbia University Academic Integrity Attorney

The success of academic environments heavily relies upon the expectation that all members of the university community will exhibit truthfulness and honesty in their academic endeavors - this is academic integrity. Academic integrity is the foundation of intellectual communities like Columbia University.

Columbia's Honor Code is comprised of a number of rules that serve to preserve and maintain academic integrity. Any violation of these regulations is considered “academic misconduct.” Accusations of academic misconduct are serious and will be punished through the school's judicial system. Guilty determinations have been known to jeopardize students' college careers and affect their professional lives down the line as well.

In this article, we'll address how Columbia University handles allegations of academic misconduct and why accused students need a student defense attorney to assist them through the process.

What is Academic Dishonesty?

According to Columbia's Honor Code, academic dishonesty transpires when an assignment calling for independent design and implementation results in two or more essentially similar solutions, or in a solution that can not be explained by the instructor in terms of general method or specific techniques. Simply put, academic dishonesty is the act of completing an assignment in a way that's unauthorized by the professor or instructor.

It's difficult to distinctively define what constitutes academic dishonesty. However, the following examples should almost always be judged to be in their appropriate categories.

  • Submitting work that isn't original
  • Submitting someone else's work, or a modification of that work, with or without that person's knowledge, regardless of the circumstances under which it was obtained, modified, or copied
  • Allowing someone else to submit the student's work or a modification of that work
  • Students approaching an assignment as a group in which group work is prohibited, and submitting multiple copies, each as individual work
  • Using someone else's work, including segments of permitted program libraries, without proper attribution
  • Using another student's work without the latter's consent or collaboration
  • Contracting course work out to others
  • Planning or executing with another student a cooperative subterfuge during an exam
  • Obtaining any privileged course-related information from the instructor's or the assistants' accounts
  • Lying or failing to give full cooperation to the instructor or the deans during an investigation of dishonesty
  • Making use of unauthorized material during an exam

Misconduct can occur in any academic situation including, but not limited to, a course research project, independent study, presentation, qualifying examination, preliminary examination, or dissertation. 

Columbia's Policies and Procedures for Handling Academic Integrity Violations

If an instructor suspects academic dishonesty, he or she will contact the student or students involved and asks for explanations. The instructor has the discretion to request a meeting with the student or students, who may be seen individually or as a group, and with or without witnesses. If the explanations are perceived as inadequate, the instructor will inform the students that they've been suspected of academic dishonesty and will impose sanctions and report the incident to the appropriate dean with a written summary of the investigation. An instructor also has the option to defer the sanction until an investigation has been completed.

The deans will have the discretion to ultimately pursue a separate investigation and initiate the disciplinary process. This is done in hopes of exposing any pattern of academic dishonesty that may be happening. The disciplinary process consists of a hearing with the students, the instructor, and determine the appropriate disciplinary action. Consequently, the disciplinary penalty may include suspension or expulsion. The deans inform the instructor of their decision, and it will be carried out. 


Students who are found “responsible” for academic dishonesty could be subject to a range of sanctions. In general, the academic penalty for a first offense within the Department is a grade of zero on the assignment, project, or exam, or reduction of the course grade at the discretion of the instructor. The academic penalty for second and subsequent offenses - across all courses within the Department - is a failure in the course. An instructor may immediately fail a student for sufficiently severe infractions.


Students may appeal academic penalties in writing to the Academic Committee within 10 business days, or in those cases investigated by the deans, within 10 business days of the deans' decision. The committee solicits from the instructor and from witnesses additional written statements. The committee then forwards its recommendations to the instructor. 

Academic Integrity Attorney 

An academic misconduct violation can jeopardize the academic and professional goals you or your college student have set. If you value the investment you've made into your education and your professional future, contacting a skilled student defense attorney is a must. Attorney Joseph D. Lento has helped students who've acquired serious academic misconduct charges recover from these allegations, and he can do the same for you. Contact him today at 888-535-3686 for more information.

Contact Us Today!


If you, or your student, are facing any kind of disciplinary action, or other negative academic sanction, and are having feelings of uncertainty and anxiety for what the future may hold, contact the Lento Law Firm today, and let us help secure your academic career.

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