Honor Code

Statement of the Honor Code | Honor Code Applied to Preparation of Papers | Honor Code Applied to Tests, Examinations, and Other Exercises | The Honor Code Application to Group Work | Responsibility of the Individual Student


 “Vanderbilt University students pursue all academic endeavors with integrity. They conduct themselves honorably, professionally and respectfully in all realms of their studies in order to promote and secure an atmosphere of dignity and trust. The keystone of our honor system is self-regulation, which requires cooperation and support from each member of the University community.”

The Vanderbilt Honor System was instituted in 1875 when the first final examinations were administered by the University. Dean Madison Sarratt summarized the system as follows, “Let every individual who contemplates entering Vanderbilt University ask himself/herself/theirself first this important question: ‘Am I strong enough to give my word of honor and then live up to it in spite of every temptation that may arise?’”

The purpose of the Honor Code is to preserve and promote academic integrity. Ideally, a student’s personal integrity is presumed to be sufficient assurance that in academic matters one does one’s own work without unauthorized help from any other source. The Undergraduate Honor Council and the Graduate and Professional School Honor Councils are organizations that seek to preserve the integrity of the Honor Code at Vanderbilt University. Each council aims to secure justice for any student under suspicion of dishonesty, to vindicate his/her/their name if innocent and, if guilty, to protect the honor and standing of the remaining students.

The Honor Code is only one of the elements provided to Vanderbilt students to aid in the development of creative thinking, intellectual maturity, and personal accountability, with respect for honesty, integrity, and truth. The goal of the Honor System is to have all students leave Vanderbilt not only as graduates, but also as citizens of integrity.

All nursing students are required to acquaint themselves with the provisions of the Honor Code through the information in the School of Nursing VUSN Student Handbook. (https://nursing.vanderbilt.edu/students/current/pdf/handbook.pdf)

Nursing students are subject to the jurisdiction of the Honor Council of the School of Nursing. Students are responsible for obtaining from their professors an explanation of the freedom they may exercise in collaboration with other students or in use of outside sources, including:

  • The student’s own work prepared and submitted for another course;
  • Assignments that permit students to discuss the assignment or to collaborate, including during group study sessions;
  • All limitations placed on take-home examinations, including use of class or outside materials or discussion with classmates;
  • Use of examinations or other materials from previous sections of the class; and
  • Use of Internet or other electronic resources, including proper attribution.

In the event that a student does not obtain a clear explanation of the application of the Honor Code from an instructor in any class, the student must assume that the Honor Council will follow the strictest interpretation of the Honor Code with respect to that class. Ignorance of the Honor Code is not a valid excuse for violating it. 

All VUSN students will be required to electronically acknowledge the information provided regarding the Honor Code and to electronically sign to affirm personal commitment to honor academic integrity at VUSN. 

Cheating, plagiarizing, or otherwise falsifying results of study is prohibited. Giving and/or receiving unauthorized aid on an assignment are prohibited by the honor code. This includes use of texts, papers, computer programs, or other class work prepared by commercial or noncommercial agents and submitted as a student's own work. Any actions to circumvent or avoid the remote proctoring system are unauthorized. The Honor Code applies not only to examinations, but also to all work handed in (including drafts), such as papers, reports, solutions to problems, tapes, films, recordings, and computer programs. The System also applies to any act that is fraudulent or intended to mislead the instructor, including falsifying records of attendance for class, for events for which attendance is required or for which class credit is given, or for internships or other work service. Work in all courses – including those that involve, in whole or in part, online learning – is subject to the provisions of the Honor Code.

Nursing students are expected to become familiar with the VUSN Student Handbook (https://nursing.vanderbilt.edu/students/current/pdf/handbook.pdf), available online prior to the beginning of fall semester classes, which contains the constitution and bylaws of the Honor Council.  Staff in the Office of Student Accountability, Community Standards, and Academic Integrity handle all non-academic misconduct issues. 

Faculty may issue a personal warning to the student suspected of academic dishonesty; however, the option of warning the student personally is open to the faculty member only in the event of a minor suspicion and/or if sufficient evidence of misconduct is not available. The flagrancy of the violation determines which course of action the faculty member is expected to follow. Refer to Faculty Manual: https://www.vanderbilt.edu/faculty-manual/part-iii-university-principles-and-policies/ch9-honor-system/.


Nursing students should refer to the Undergraduate Student Handbook (https://www.vanderbilt.edu/student_handbook/the-honor-system/#the-honor-code-applied-to-preparation-of-papers) for detailed explanation of what constitutes plagiarism and proper citation. Material found on websites or other Internet sources can–and should be–cited. Students should consult a citation manual or the course instructor for the appropriate format. For further information about citation styles, refer to the Jean and Alexander Heard Library’s online guide to Plagiarism, Citation, Copyright, and Fair Use. (https://researchguides.library.vanderbilt.edu/c.php?g=68598&p=444290)

All nursing students are required to provide documentation of satisfactory completion of the Plagiarism Tutorial as part of new student requirements. 

Any student who is uncertain about the application of the plagiarism and citation rules should consult the instructor. A student who plagiarizes out of ignorance is still guilty of an Honor Code violation.


Students are on their honor not to ask for or give information pertaining to any portion of an examination before or after they have taken it, in such a way as to gain or give an advantage over other students.

The pledge whether handwritten or acknowledged electronically signifies that the work submitted is the student’s own and that it has been completed in accordance with the requirements of the course as specified by the instructor. In addition, each student and faculty member are expected to establish a clear understanding of the requirements in each course. 

Any student uncertain about the application of the pledge to a particular course requirement should always consult the instructor. Any work handed in for credit, however, is considered “pledged” unless otherwise stated by the instructor.


  • Students are responsible for any work submitted in their names for the fulfillment of a course, program, or assignment.
  • Students should obtain permission from their instructors before collaborating on any assignment with a classmate.
  • Students should ask their instructors if a tutor or other individual may help with any assignment.
  • All group members are responsible for the data and the content of labs, reports, assignments, and projects.
  • The guidelines for appropriate collaboration and task division pertaining to group work vary among classes and instructors. It is therefore the student’s responsibility to obtain a clear understanding of appropriate collaboration from the instructor.

Tips for Success

  • Students should read course syllabi and follow all policies, guidelines, or instructions outlined therein.
  • Students should make sure that they are aware of any guidelines or restrictions on specific class assignments or examinations.
  • Students should get any instructions and assignments from the instructor if they miss a class.
  • Students should ask their instructors before collaborating on any assignment with a classmate.
  • Students should ask their instructors if a tutor or other individual may help with any assignment.
  • When unsure whether or not to cite a phrase or fact, students should cite.
  • Students should ask their instructors or consult a citation manual to learn how to cite online sources.
  • If an instructor tells students not to use outside sources, students should not - nor should they take the instruction as an excuse not to cite sources if they are used.
  • Students should ask their instructors before sharing lab reports, results, or other data with classmates or a lab partner.
  • Students should ask their instructors before reviewing tests administered for the same course in a previous semester.
  • Students should not turn in an assignment from a previous course without the permission of both instructors involved.
  • Students should not assume that whatever they are doing is permissible. If a student cannot say with complete certainty that any particular conduct is permissible, they need to consult the course instructor.
  • If permitted by the instructor, students should check over group members’ work before it is submitted, including labs, data, and other reports. 
  • Students should keep copies of original data used for group projects and assignments.
  • When in doubt, ask the instructor.


Without the support and cooperation of the entire student body, the Honor Code will not work. Students must insist on the absolute integrity of themselves and their fellow students. It is the obligation of every student who suspects an Honor Code violation to act in one of the following ways; determining the choice of action by the flagrancy and/or certainty of the violation.

If nursing students have reason to suspect that a breach of the Honor Code has been committed, they must take one of these actions:

  1. Issue a personal warning to the suspected student.
  2. Inform the instructor in the course of the suspicions and identify, if possible, the person(s) suspected.
  3. Report the incident to the School of Nursing Honor Council Faculty Adviser.