University of Southern California Academic Integrity Attorney

The University of Southern California, much like most other higher education institutions, strives to maintain academic integrity because it's the cornerstone of intellectual environments. Students who are accused of violating the university's rules regarding academic integrity will be accused of what's known as “academic misconduct.” This charge will put your academic and professional career in jeopardy, and will be an uphill battle that students shouldn't fight by themselves.

Being a college student at USC is undoubtedly stressful. You're likely assigned tons of homework, exams, projects, and presentations, forcing you to either sharpen your time management skills and adapt or struggle with completing it all. Unfortunately, the struggle to keep up with studies is the number one culprit behind academic misconduct charges.

In this article, we'll address how USC defines and handles academic misconduct, as well as why you need a student defense attorney to represent you throughout the school's processes.

The University of Southern California's Academic Integrity Standards

According to USC's Student Judicial Affairs and Community Standards, members of the USC community are expected to be honest and forthright in their academic endeavors. When students accept their offer to USC, they are also agreeing to abide by the Student Conduct Code as it is outlined in the handbook. 

Any actions that don't align with the Student Conduct Code is considered academic misconduct. Some common forms of academic misconduct include:


  • Submitting material authored by another and represented as the student's own work
  • Acquiring work from any source and presenting it as the student's own work
  • Copying work or ideas in verbatim or near-verbatim form and not correctly referencing the source

Unauthorized Collaboration

  • Working with others unless expressly permitted by the instructor
  • Providing a copy of an exam or answer key to others
  • Sharing with another student a solution to homework or other assignments 


  • The use of unauthorized assistance
  • Allowing another student to copy work
  • Resubmitting substantially the same work that was produced for another assignment without the knowledge and permission of the instructor
  • Possessing notes or other materials not explicitly allowed by the professor during an exam
  • Talking with fellow students during exams
  • Looking at another student's exam
  • Continuing to write after the allotted time period
  • Taking a test for someone else or permitting someone else to take a test for you

Falsifying Academic Records

  • Attempting to change, alter, or being an accessory to changing a grade in a grade book, work submitted on a test or a final project, a “supplementary grade report,” or other university academic records
  • Submitting work which is false, invented, or does not represent work completed by the student
  • Misrepresentation of official records including but not limited to: academic transcripts; exam papers altered for re-grading; D's notes; forged signatures; and letters of recommendation. 

The University of Southern California's Procedure for Mitigating Academic Misconduct

Academic integrity violations at the undergraduate level are managed by the Office of Student Judicial Affairs and Community Standards. Violations at the graduate level are managed by the respective School. Here is the official protocol USC takes upon receipt of alleged academic misconduct.

Initiating a Complaint

If the instructor, academic unit or appropriate university official has reason to believe, based on observation or other evidence that a student has violated the university academic integrity standards, they are encouraged to make reasonable attempts to meet with the student and discuss the alleged violation and the evidence which supports the charge. When necessary, such discussions may be conducted by telephone or electronic mail. In this meeting, every effort should be made to preserve the basic teacher/student relationship. The student should be given the opportunity to respond to the complaint.

The instructor should mark an assignment as “MG” until notification is received from the Office of Student Judicial Affairs and Community Standards that a final decision has been made. Also, because a student may dispute an allegation, they must be allowed to attend all classes and complete all assignments until the process has concluded and the complaint has been resolved.

Response to Complaint

Once a report of a violation has been submitted, the Office will evaluate the report and confirm whether or not the accused student has been subject to prior allegations at the university. 

If an incident requires further review, a student is notified in writing and must meet with a review officer from the Office as part of the administrative review process. At or following that meeting the Director or designee will determine whether the matter may be appropriately resolved by administrative review, either voluntary or summary. The administrative review meeting with the Student Judicial Affairs review officer is the student's opportunity to present any information regarding the incident. If the student fails to respond to the written notice and instruction to schedule an appointment with the designated review officer, an administrative hold will be placed on the student's record prohibiting the student from performing registration transactions until an appointment is scheduled and completed. In addition, a summary administrative review may be conducted in absentia when a student fails to respond to initial notification.

Sanction and Consequences

Sanctions include but are not limited to: grade sanctions (an “F” in the course) and dismissal from the academic department. In addition, sanctions of suspension or expulsion from the university may be assessed through a review process when requested by the instructor, by the academic or administrative unit in which the violation occurred, or when indicated by university standards. 

Students may not withdraw from a course in which they have committed or have been accused of committing an academic integrity violation. Students found to have withdrawn from a course in which an academic integrity violation is alleged or determined will be re-enrolled in the course upon receipt of a violation report by the Office. 

Students found responsible for an act of academic misconduct in a course in which they have participated but have not enrolled, will be retroactively enrolled and assigned an appropriate sanction. Sanctions for second offenses will be more severe and generally will include suspension or expulsion. 

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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