The Undergraduate Honor System

The publication Rights, Rules, Responsibilities defines policies and rules with respect to accepted standards of conduct for students. It also includes the constitution of the Honor Committee and a detailed account of standards governing academic integrity and behavioral conduct.

Princeton’s honor system was established by the undergraduates in 1893 and has been in effect without interruption since that time. It has been successful because generations of undergraduates have respected it, and by common agreement, have given it highest place among their obligations as Princeton students.  At Princeton all in-class written examinations, tests, and quizzes are conducted under the honor system. Under the honor system, students have a twofold obligation: individually, they must not violate the code, and as a community, they are responsible to see that suspected violations are reported.

Jurisdiction over violations of academic rules and regulations rests with two distinct committees at Princeton. All written examinations, tests, and quizzes that take place in class are conducted under the honor system. All violations of the honor system are the concern of the Undergraduate Honor Committee. Violations of rules and regulations pertaining to all other academic work, including essays, term papers, laboratory reports, and take-home and remotely taken examinations fall under the jurisdiction of the Faculty-Student Committee on Discipline. Should there be any uncertainty regarding which body is responsible for the adjudication of a particular case, clarification should be requested from the Office of the Dean of Undergraduate Students ( and the chair of the Honor Committee.

The Honor Committee consists of selected and appointed undergraduates. When a report of a suspected violation of the honor system is received, the Honor Committee immediately conducts an investigation. If the investigation indicates that it is warranted, the full Honor Committee is convened and a confidential hearing is held. If the student in question is found not responsible, all records of the hearing are destroyed. If a student is found responsible, the committee recommends an appropriate penalty to the dean of undergraduate students. A student found responsible for violating the Honor Code can be given a reprimand, placed on disciplinary probation for a set period of time, or suspended from the University for one semester or one, two, or three years. A second offense can result in expulsion. Censure may be added to all penalties to underscore the seriousness of the violation.

Violations of the Honor Code consist of: any attempt to gain an unfair advantage in regard to an examination, both inside and outside the examination room, and any attempt to give assistance, both inside and outside the examination room, whether the student attempting to give assistance has completed their own work or not. Specific violations include, but are not limited to: tampering with a graded exam; claiming another’s work to be one’s own; obtaining or attempting to obtain, previous to any examinations, copies of the examination papers or examination questions, or any illegal knowledge of these questions; or other actions in violation of the policies set forth by the professor. Committing dishonesty, defined as lying to or purposely misleading the Committee, is also a violation of the Honor Code. It will not be considered dishonesty for a student to maintain their own innocence.

Every student is obligated to report to the Honor Committee any suspected violation of the Honor Code that they have observed. The Committee will make every attempt to ensure the anonymity of reporting students. Students may make reports by emailing [email protected], contacting the chair directly, or any member of the committee.

For more information regarding student obligation to the Honor Code, examination procedures set by faculty, the role of the Honor Committee, current procedures of the Honor Committee (including those regarding report and investigation of a suspected violation, hearing, decision and results, findings and appeal) and the Constitution of the Honor System, please see section 2.3 of Rights Rules Responsibilities.