A student, by accepting admission to The Graduate School of Duke University, thereby indicates willingness to subscribe to and be governed by the rules and regulations of the University as currently are in effect or, from time to time, are put into effect by the appropriate authorities of the University, and indicates willingness to accept disciplinary action, if behavior is deemed to be in violation of those rules or in some way unacceptable or detrimental to the University. However, a student’s position of responsibility to the authorities and the regulations of the University in no way alters or modifies responsibilities in relation to civil authorities and laws.

A graduate student at Duke University stands in a primary and unique relation of responsibility to the faculty in the major department, the faculty upon whose recommendation a graduate degree will or will not be awarded to the student. In matters which involve or may affect the student’s intellectual or professional life, the student is directly responsible to this department and its representatives, and such matters should primarily be handled by the department.

Actions which appear to conflict with University-wide rules and regulations will fall under the jurisdiction of the University Judicial Board.

A student may elect to have the dean of The Graduate School hear matters related to the student’s conduct in addition to or instead of faculty members from the student’s major department, or may elect to have such matters reviewed and judged by a judicial board instead of the dean of The Graduate School or members of the faculty in the major department. (The constitution and procedure of the judicial board are detailed below.)

The director of graduate studies in the student’s major department may request that a student’s actions be reviewed by the Judicial Board or by the dean of The Graduate School.

The Graduate School Judicial Board


The Graduate School Judicial Board shall have five members, serving for a period of two years: two students selected from the student body, two members of the graduate faculty appointed by the executive committee of The Graduate School, and one associate or assistant dean appointed by the dean of The Graduate School. The Board shall elect one of its members as chairman. The Board shall have at its service a recording secretary to keep minutes of the hearings and of the Board’s actions in a permanent, confidential record book. The Board will be constituted in order to hear cases in which the accused is a student currently enrolled in The Graduate School and in cases in which the accused is a former student but which arise out of activities of the accused while a student enrolled in the Graduate School, and which have been referred to it by the director of graduate studies in the student’s department, by the dean of The Graduate School, or by the student.

Preliminary Procedures

If a student requests a hearing by the Judicial Board it must be done in writing, allowing its chairman at least 72 hours to convene the Board. In addition, the chairman shall not convene the Board until 72 hours after being asked to convene the Board. It is the responsibility of the chairman of the Judicial Board fully to inform its members concerning the case and the reasons the case has been referred to the Board; and to prepare a written summary of this information for the Board, the dean, and the student.

Procedural Safeguards for the Hearing

The accused has the right to challenge any member of the Judicial Board on grounds of prejudice. If the Board decides to excuse one or more of its members for reasons given by the accused, it shall consult with the dean about the need for replacements. The accused may choose an adviser to assist in the defense. The accused may also produce witnesses (including no more than two character witnesses), introduce documents, and offer testimony. A person having direct knowledge relevant to a case being heard by the Board is a material witness. The Judicial Board may request the appearance of material witnesses. The Board shall also request, upon written request of the complainant or the accused, the appearance of material witnesses. Witnesses shall be notified of the time, place, and purpose of their appearance. The accused has the right to examine the written statement of any witness relevant to the case at least 72 hours before the hearing. The accused has the right to be faced with any witness who has given a statement relevant to the case at the hearing if the witness’s attendance can be secured.

The hearing will be conducted in private unless the accused requests an open hearing. If any objection is raised to conducting an open hearing in any particular case, the Judicial Board shall decide the issue by majority vote. If the decision is made not to hold an open hearing, the accused shall be informed in writing of the reasons for the decision.

The Judicial Board shall consider only the report of the chairman, documents submitted into evidence, and the testimony of witnesses at the hearing in reaching its decisions.

Conduct of the Hearing

The hearing of any case shall begin with a reading of the charge by the chairman in the presence of the accused. The accused shall then plead guilty or not guilty or move to terminate or postpone the hearing. The accused may qualify a plea, admitting guilt in part and denying it in part. The accused may not be questioned for more than one hour without recess.

At any time during the hearing, the accused or the Judicial Board may move to terminate or to postpone the hearing or to qualify the plea or to modify its charge.

Pending verdict on charges (including appeal) against the accused, status as a student shall not be changed, nor the right to be on campus or to attend classes suspended, except that the chancellor or provost may impose an interim suspension upon any member of the university community who demonstrates, by conduct, that continued presence on the campus constitutes an immediate threat to the physical well-being or property of members of the university community or the property or orderly functioning of the university.

Sanctions and the Verdict

The Graduate School Judicial Board shall have the power to impose the following penalties:

  • Expulsion: dismissal from the university with the recommendation that the person never be readmitted.
  • Suspension: dismissal from the university and from participation in all university activities for a specified period of time, after which the student may apply for readmission.
  • Disciplinary probation: placing the student on a probationary status for a specified period of time, during which conviction for violation of any regulation may result in more serious disciplinary action.
  • Restitution: payment for all, or a portion of property damage caused during the commission of an offense. Restitution may be imposed by itself or in addition to any of the other penalties. In the case of a student who is not currently at Duke or who has already graduated, such sanctions could include revocation of the degree.

The judgment shall consist of a finding of guilty or not guilty of the charge and, when the accused is found guilty, a statement of the punishment assessed. On all questions, including the verdict and the finding of guilty or not guilty, the Board shall be governed by a majority vote. The Judicial Board may decide to rehear a case in which significant new evidence can be introduced. In addition, the defendant may request an appeal.


The appellant may submit to the Dean a written statement containing the grounds for appeal and arguments. In such cases, the Dean should determine if the appeal should be granted, and the Dean can hear the case, or refer it to the appropriate faculty in the student’s department or to the Judicial Board.

Amendment and Construction

This judicial code and procedure and this constitution and procedure for the Graduate School Judicial Board may be amended at any time with due notice or publication by consent of the dean, the Executive Committee, and the graduate students. Questions and problems not answered or anticipated by the foregoing may be resolved by the use of other existing institutions or by amendment.


— The Graduate School’s judicial code and procedures were first ratified in the spring of 1971 and subsequently amended in November 1998.