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Academic Policies

Faculty Advisers

Each student is assigned a faculty adviser upon entering the M.P.H. program. It is the responsibility of the student and the faculty adviser to work together to select courses, monitor academic progress, and develop career plans. For a variety of reasons students may wish to change their faculty adviser. The change of adviser form is available online at http://publichealth.yale.edu/about/gateways/students/mph/mph_academics.

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Course Registration

The beginning of each term is considered a “shopping period” in which students attend classes they are interested in taking. All students must complete the online registration by September 13 in the fall term and January 30 in the spring term to avoid a $50 late fee. At the end of the shopping period, all registrations are considered final. Note: Courses cannot be added after the registration deadline without permission of the faculty adviser and the registrar. See below for information on withdrawing from courses.

Many departments require students to take electives toward their M.P.H. degree. Electives used toward degree requirements are to be used to enhance students’ public health competencies as they pursue the M.P.H. degree. Thus, electives are typically health-related. Exceptions can be made if students can justify that the elective course content will enhance their public health competencies and public health career goals.

Students are allowed to enroll in courses in other Yale schools if there is space available and if the instructor agrees. Students must receive written permission from the registrar of the Law School and the School of Management for any courses taken at those schools. Note: An additional course material fee may apply to courses taken outside YSPH.

One course unit is awarded for any full-term course (not seminars or colloquia) taken in the Graduate School or another professional school. Credit is not granted for courses that are taken on a pass/fail or credit/no credit basis. All courses taken outside of YSPH must be graded (H, HP, P) in order to receive a course unit. Courses taken at Yale College (undergraduate) must typically be at the 300-series level or above in order to receive a course unit toward the M.P.H. degree. Some 200-series courses at Yale College may count if approved by the student’s faculty adviser.

Nonmatriculated part-time study in the M.P.H. program is available with the course instructor’s permission. Nonmatriculated part-time students are individuals who attend classes and participate fully in a course; complete assignments, papers, or examinations; and receive a transcript attesting to completion of the course, credit hours, and a grade. A nonmatriculated student is limited to no more than two courses per term and a maximum of three courses total. All course requirements will be completed by the end of the term. Exceptions must be negotiated with the course instructor.

Part-time nonmatriculated students pay tuition on a per-course basis ($4,350 per course unit). In the event a nonmatriculated student is accepted to and enrolls in a degree program at the Yale School of Public Health, the student is permitted to apply the maximum three courses toward the degree. However, there will be no modification in tuition. Taking YSPH courses as a nonmatriculated student does not guarantee acceptance into any program at the Yale School of Public Health.

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Course Withdrawal

Students may withdraw from a course with the approval of their faculty adviser. Course withdrawal forms are available online at http://publichealth.yale.edu/about/gateways/students/mph/mph_academics. Students may withdraw from a course until October 13 in the fall term and March 9 in the spring term without the course appearing on the transcript. From those dates until the last day of classes (December 8, fall term; April 27, spring term) a student may withdraw from a course; however, the course will appear on the transcript with a letter grade of “W.” Please note that students enrolled in an eight-week (half-term) course can withdraw from the course during the first week without the course appearing on the transcript.

First-year students are not allowed to withdraw from Introduction to Statistical Thinking I (BIS 505a) or Principles of Epidemiology I (CDE/EMD 508a).

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Exemption from Required Courses

Students who feel they have previously covered the material being presented in a required course (not an elective) can request a “course exemption” directly from the course instructor. The instructor must sign the course exemption form (available online at http://publichealth.yale.edu/about/gateways/students/mph/mph_academics). Exemption forms must be submitted to the registrar by the stated registration deadline. Students are still required to register for exempted courses. Exempted courses will be listed on the transcript with a grade of “Q.” Exempted courses cannot be used to satisfy the course unit requirement for the M.P.H. degree.

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Auditing a YSPH Course

An auditor is a student who attends a class to acquire knowledge, but not to earn credits or a grade. Audited courses do not count toward the completion of degree requirements, enrollment certification, financial aid eligibility, or loan deferment purposes. Auditors may not change their status after the registration deadline for standard courses. Auditors must attend classes regularly, complete assigned reading, and participate in discussions, but they are excused from examinations and other assignments. If this requirement is not met, the YSPH registrar may, solely upon notice of the instructor of insufficient attendance, delete the course from the student’s record. For a student who does elect to audit a course, the letters “AUD” are entered on the transcript in the grade column, and the course does not earn credit.

Auditors are admitted to a course on a space-available basis and with the approval of the instructor. Students remain responsible for paying the applicable tuition and fees for the course.

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Grading System

The YSPH grading system is designed to foster an atmosphere of cooperative learning. Consequently, YSPH does not compute the grade point average (GPA) or class rank of its students. Students are graded only to provide them with a formal evaluation of their understanding of the concepts presented in their courses.

All YSPH courses are graded Honors (H), High Pass (HP), Pass (P), or Fail (F). The Internship, seminars, and colloquia receive a grade of Satisfactory (S) upon successful completion. The grade of “Q” indicates courses for which a student has received a course exemption.

  • 1. A grade of Honors should be assigned for performance that is distinguished. This reflects contributions that go beyond the requirements for the course, either in terms of the creativity of their application, the complexity of the settings in which the ideas are applied, or their ability to build on the methods and ideas taught in the class.
  • 2. A grade of High Pass should be assigned for students who have demonstrated a proficiency in the use of class material. Students earning this grade not only understand the material that was taught but can also deploy it in constructive ways for new problems.
  • 3. A grade of Pass should be assigned for students who have demonstrated an understanding of the class material. They must be able to accurately describe ideas and methods and identify contexts in which they are appropriately used. Passing grades indicate that students are capable of performing competently in this domain as public health professionals.
  • 4. A grade of Fail should be assigned to students who cannot demonstrate an acceptable understanding of the core ideas, methods, or other class material and thus lack competence in this domain of public health.

The instructor for each course will determine the specific performance criteria that correspond to each of these tiers of academic achievement. Consequently, quantitative thresholds for particular grades may vary from one course to the next and in some courses may depend on factors (e.g., class participation) that are not readily quantified.

A failure in any course remains on the student’s transcript. If the course is retaken, it is listed again on the transcript with the new grade.

It is expected that instructors will require all course assignments, including term papers and exams, to be submitted by the last day of the term. In very rare cases, students may receive a grade of Incomplete (I). The instructor and the associate dean for student affairs will jointly review each case to approve permission for a student to submit work after the end of the term. Permission may be granted because of an incapacitating illness, a serious family emergency, or another matter of comparable import. If the instructor and the associate dean cannot reach a consensus, the matter will be referred to the Committee on Academic Progress for resolution. The instructor and the associate dean will stipulate the date on which the student’s late work will be due (this date cannot exceed three months from the last day of the term) and will determine the date on which the instructor is expected to submit a course grade to the registrar. If the student’s work has not been completed by the stipulated date, the grade of Incomplete (I) will be converted to a failing grade (F).

Students with a grade of Incomplete will not be allowed to participate in YSPH Commencement activities.

The transcript is a permanent record. Grade changes may only be made if the instructor reports to the registrar that a clerical or computational error has resulted in an inaccurate grade. The University considers an instructor’s evaluation of the quality of a student’s work to be final. Disputes about a course grade that are alleged to result from discrimination based on race, sex, religion, national or ethnic origin, or handicap are resolved through the University’s student grievance procedures.

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Tutorial Support

Students experiencing academic difficulty should seek prompt assistance. Students should first discuss the problem with the course instructor. Course instructors can suggest that a student’s academic difficulties be addressed by a course’s teaching assistant (TA). If after working with the TA the student continues to experience difficulty, the course instructor can recommend that specific tutorial assistance be provided to the student. The instructor should contact the associate dean for student affairs to arrange tutorial assistance.

Advisers have access to each advisee’s transcript both as an early warning of academic difficulty and as an aid to planning course load and selection.

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Academic Standards

Students in the M.P.H. program must pass all core and departmental requirements. Any student who fails a required course must retake it and pass it. The Committee on Academic Progress will review the academic performance of a student whose record in any term shows significant decline, or if there is a reason for concern about the overall quality of a student’s work.

Any student who receives a failing grade in the summer session will be withdrawn from the M.P.H. program.

Academic Probation

The Committee on Academic Progress will place students whose academic work is unsatisfactory on Academic Probation. The committee will take into account the personal situation of the student, but a failing grade in any course will normally result in Academic Probation. Students who receive failing grades in two or more courses during a term, or who receive a second failing grade after being placed on Academic Probation, will be withdrawn from the M.P.H. program. Academic dismissal will be recorded on the student’s transcript.

Information on Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) as it affects federal financial aid programs is available online at http://publichealth.yale.edu/about/gateways/students/mph/mph_academics.

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Change of Department

Departmental changes may be requested during the spring term of the first academic year. Students who wish to change departments must apply in writing to the chair of the requested department to do so. In addition to a written statement about why they want to transfer, students submit a copy of an unofficial YSPH transcript. If the change is approved, the student must submit a change of department form to the Office of Student Affairs. Students must be sure to fulfill all course requirements for the new department. Change of department forms are available online at http://publichealth.yale.edu/about/gateways/students.

Note: Because of the number of requirements and the sequencing of courses, students may not switch into the Health Care Management Program.

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Other Changes and Appeals in Educational Program

Other significant changes in a student’s educational program should be discussed with the student’s faculty adviser and requested in writing to the Committee on Academic Progress. Appeals resulting from decisions made by the Committee on Academic Progress must be addressed to the dean of Public Health, with the description of the basis for appeal. Appeals are heard by the Committee of Permanent Officers, whose decision is final.

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YSPH Committee on Academic and Professional Integrity (CAPI)

Guiding Principles

Honesty, professional integrity, and a commitment to the health of the public provide strong foundations for our educational mission at the Yale School of Public Health (YSPH). We create a community of scholarship through the free and lively exchange of ideas in the classrooms, laboratories, clinics, organizations, and neighborhoods in which we serve. We promote scientific rigor, courage, and compassion to guide us in the work we do—designed to prevent disease and promote health.

The YSPH Code of Academic and Professional Integrity is intended to foster our School’s exceptional learning environment and to support conduct that will distinguish our faculty, students, and staff in our lives at YSPH, the University, New Haven, and the broader scientific, policy, and public health communities in which we live and work.

Academic Integrity

The Yale School of Public Health community, including faculty, students, and staff, supports the highest standards of academic integrity. All academic work—completed individually or in small groups, in the classroom, laboratory, or community—affords an unparalleled opportunity to put forth new and innovative ideas to promote the science and practice of public health.

Faculty will provide clear guidelines for students on the parameters of all course work, including homework assignments, papers, and examinations. Students must contact the professor for clarification if there is any question about these guidelines. Students must complete their work independently or in small groups, as per instruction, always striving to put forth their own best ideas to accomplish their goals. Students are strongly encouraged to build on a strong tradition of public health by utilizing the many excellent print and online resources available to stimulate thinking and promote innovation. In so doing, students must also consult guidelines to insure proper citation of published work.

Community Standards and Freedom of Expression

The YSPH community is inclusive in nature, respecting the diverse backgrounds and views of all its members. Faculty, students, and staff must aspire to standards of conduct that further distinguish the School as a center of professional and personal integrity. We must adhere to ethical guidelines and the highest standards of professional and personal behavior. We abide by the principles of the Human Relations Code of Conduct, Yale University School of Medicine:

Yale University School of Medicine is committed to the promotion of personal and professional development of all individuals in its community, and encourages dialogue that will foster the growth, well-being, and dignity of all its members. In pursuit of these goals, the School is dedicated to maintaining an environment which places the highest priority on collegial relationships, mutual respect, and sensitivity among students, faculty, staff, and patients. An educational community functions best when there is civility and respect for the dignity and worth of each individual.

It must be ensured that our School is free from discrimination and acts of intolerance based on race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, national origin, ancestry, age, or physical handicap. This commitment remains consonant with the obligation to protect open and wide-ranging public discourse. The principle of freedom of expression that might otherwise protect even the most offensive public speech does not protect, nor does it even encompass, a right to threaten the dignity and privacy of an individual. Such personally directed behavior will not be tolerated; it is antithetical to academic values, debilitates its victims, compromises the offenders, and undermines the University’s fundamental commitment to individual freedom and respect for all its members. Furthermore acts of intolerance may destroy the very atmosphere wherein freedom of expression is otherwise tolerated and cherished.

In its commitment to the protection of free inquiry and expression in the classroom and throughout the school community, YSPH also reflects Yale University’s commitment to and policy on freedom of expression as eloquently stated in the Woodward Report (Report of the Committee on Freedom of Expression at Yale, 1974). See http://studentlife.yale.edu/guidance-regarding-free-expression-students-yale.

Code of Academic and Professional Integrity

Honor Code

The Honor Code explicates the highest ethical standards to which we must hold ourselves, our peers, and our colleagues. Honesty, respect, and trust are hallmarks of the science and practice of public health. They must be nurtured at all times in our classrooms and in our work beyond the classroom. Upon arrival at YSPH, all students will sign an Honor Code that states:

By enrolling in the Yale M.P.H. program, I am accepting the responsibility to promote and uphold the Code of Academic and Professional Integrity.

I understand that the work I submit must represent my own efforts; that I will conduct myself with dignity, integrity, and honesty in my studies; that I will uphold the directions of my faculty and complete all my work in the spirit it was assigned. I understand I must honestly represent my credentials, abilities, and situation as I further my career as a public health professional.

I agree to be held accountable for maintaining the atmosphere of honesty and professionalism at Yale University and within the greater academic community. In the spirit of my professional development—where I should not tolerate misconduct in my professional setting—I also agree to contact the appropriate faculty member, or the associate dean for student affairs, if I witness a violation of this Code of Academic and Professional Integrity by any of my peers.

Upon completion of all written assignments and examinations, students will sign the following statement:

I have not given, received, or witnessed inappropriate exchange of information on this assignment, and I certify that this is my own original work.

Behaviors Subject to Disciplinary Action

Students at YSPH freely associate themselves with the University, and in doing so affirm their commitment to the University’s principles of honesty and academic integrity. They are expected to abide by all University regulations, as well as local, state, and federal laws. The forms of behavior subject to disciplinary action include, but are not limited to:

  • 1. Cheating and plagiarism Plagiarism and cheating are understood to include all forms of misrepresentation in academic and professional work, such as:
  • a. Failure to acknowledge ideas and phrases used in an essay or assignment that were gained from another writer, including the Internet. Any direct quotation must be specifically attributed, and any other reliance on a reference must be acknowledged.
  • b. Cheating on examinations, problem sets, and any other form of assignment or test.
  • c. Falsification and/or fabrication of data, or misrepresentation in any report on research or other work.
  • d. Submission of the same paper in more than one course or as a thesis, unless explicit permission from the instructors has been obtained in advance.
  • e. Use of prepared notes in an examination or communicating with another person during an examination (including take-home examinations) unless specifically authorized by the instructor.
  • f. Use of electronic files belonging to another person, or electronically sharing files when this is specifically prohibited by the instructor.
  • 2. Misrepresentation or lying
  • a. Misrepresentation or lying in applications for admission or financial aid.
  • b. Misrepresentation or lying during a formal or informal inquiry by School or University officials. If the Committee on Academic and Professional Integrity has found that the student purposefully misled the committee during its deliberations, the committee may consider that factor as grounds for imposing a more severe penalty.
  • 3. Violation of Yale University rules/functions
  • a. Disruption of a legitimate function or activity of the University community, including disruption of classes and meetings, blocking entrances and exits to University buildings, unauthorized occupation of any space on the Yale campus, or preventing the free expression or dissemination of ideas.
  • b. Unauthorized or fraudulent use of University services, equipment, or facilities, such as computer equipment, telephones, or letterhead.
  • c. Misuse, alteration, or fabrication of University credentials or documents, such as an identification card, academic transcript, or grade list.
  • d. Violation of University rules for using information technology services and facilities, including computers, the University network, and electronic mail.
  • e. Misuse or unauthorized removal of materials in University libraries or laboratories.
  • f. Trespassing on University property to which access is prohibited.
  • g. Theft, misuse of funds, or willful damage to University property.
  • h. Refusal to comply with the direction of University Police Officers or other University officials, including members of faculty, acting in the performance of their duties.
  • i. Interference with the proper operation of safety or security devices, including fire alarms, electronic gates, or sprinkler systems.
  • 4. Illegal activity Any behavior prohibited by law may be subject to criminal prosecution as well as to a charge by the Committee on Academic and Professional Integrity.
  • a. Illegal behaviors directed against the University or the University community.
  • b. Possession or use of explosives or weapons on University property.
  • c. Unlawful manufacture, possession, use, or distribution of illicit drugs or alcohol on University property or as part of any University activity.
Behaviors Not Covered under CAPI

Complaints of sexual misconduct, including sexual harassment and sexual assault, are addressed by the University-Wide Committee on Sexual Misconduct (http://provost.yale.edu/uwc); see also Resources on Sexual Misconduct in the chapter Yale University Resources and Services.

Disciplinary Policies and Procedures

Committee Composition and Charge

The Committee on Academic and Professional Integrity considers instances of academic infractions and other serious violations by YSPH students against the School and University communities. The committee is appointed by the dean and consists of a faculty member from each YSPH division, the associate dean for student affairs, and a student from each M.P.H. class. The dean will designate one of the faculty members as the committee chair. When members of the committee have become familiar with the details of a specific complaint, the chair will determine if any members shall be excused because of a conflict of interest.


The committee will collect the facts relevant to each complaint under consideration, make judgments on whether an infraction or violation has been committed, and determine a penalty where appropriate. Although deviations may be taken by the chair when appropriate to a given case, the following steps are customary:

  • 1. The work of the committee normally begins when a member of the YSPH community (faculty, student, or staff) brings a possible violation or infraction to the attention of the committee chair or the associate dean for student affairs. The chair then requests a written statement and copies of any other materials relevant to the complaint. Based on these materials the chair, in consultation with the associate dean for student affairs, will decide whether the offense, if the charge is true, is of sufficient severity to bring to the attention of the committee. If so, the associate dean for student affairs will notify the student who is the subject of the complaint in writing, and provide the student with a list of the committee members and a copy of these procedures. The student has the right to: (a) appear before the committee; (b) examine all written materials being provided to the committee; (c) ask for the recusal of any member of the committee for cause; (d) be accompanied by a member of the YSPH community who will act as an adviser. In the YSPH Disciplinary Process the student’s adviser is not an advocate, but rather a source of support to the student. The adviser may help the student prepare for the meeting of the committee and may accompany the student to the meeting. During the meeting the adviser may quietly suggest questions or issues for the student to raise with the committee, but the adviser does not participate directly in the meeting. An adviser is optional. If so desired, a student may select a member of the YSPH community and ask that individual to act as an adviser; an adviser is not appointed by the committee.
  • 2. The student must respond in writing to the charge of misconduct within three days of receiving notification from the associate dean for student affairs. The written response should be a statement of reasonable length which comments on the facts of the allegations of misconduct, the student’s involvement in it, and any other matters that the student deems relevant.
  • 3. The committee will endeavor to conduct its business in such a way as to protect the privacy and personal integrity of all individuals who are involved with the case. In addition, the committee will seek to make its judgments as promptly as is consistent with the need to establish the facts of the case and to come to judgments based on those facts.
  • 4. The hearing will normally take place in a single continuous session, but the chair may call additional sessions if appropriate. The chair will open the meeting by reviewing the charges against the student and the procedures to be followed. The student may make a brief opening statement. The committee will then direct questions to the student as to the facts of the case, and it is the student’s duty to respond truthfully. After responding to the committee’s questions, the student may make a brief closing statement.
  • 5. The chair may call additional witnesses as appropriate, including the individual(s) who reported the possible violation. The student may ask the committee to call witnesses who can present relevant information about the facts of the case.
  • 6. All committee deliberations will be conducted without the presence of the student or any other person who is not a member of the committee. The committee will consider only evidence that has been presented to it at the hearing. If the committee concludes that an infraction or violation has occurred, it will then recommend an appropriate penalty. The committee’s decision on the penalty will be by majority vote, except that any recommendation to suspend or expel a student must be by a two-thirds vote of the committee. Penalties will be set based upon the severity of the infraction. Any serious infraction of the Code of Academic and Professional Integrity may be grounds for dismissal.
  • 7. At the conclusion of its hearing and deliberations, the committee will prepare a report for the YSPH dean which describes the charge of misconduct, summarizes the hearing, presents the factual findings, and outlines the committee’s conclusions, including any proposed penalty. The dean will determine whether the committee’s conclusion is supported by the evidence. If the dean determines that the conclusion is not supported by the evidence, the dean will remand the decision for further fact finding or deliberation. The dean will also review the proposed penalty and may approve or change it if the dean believes that a lesser or greater penalty is warranted.
  • 8. Unless remanded by the dean for further review, the finding of an infraction or violation is final, as is the penalty upon the dean’s concurrence. The dean will inform the student in writing of the result of the hearing and any penalty as soon as possible.
  • 9. All proceedings of the Committee on Academic and Professional Integrity are confidential. Proceedings and the final determination are shared only with members of the committee, the dean, the student who is the subject of the disciplinary proceeding, and, upon the finding of a violation, the student’s faculty adviser as well as the director of graduate studies. Students found in violation of the Honor Code or the Code of Academic and Professional Integrity will not be permitted to serve as Teaching Fellows.

The following penalties are among those that may be recommended by the committee and imposed by the dean. Any violation of the Honor Code or the Code of Academic and Professional Integrity will result in a penalty, up to and including expulsion. The Yale School of Public Health regards cheating and plagiarism as grievous offenses that strike at the heart of academic integrity, for which the standard penalty will be two terms of suspension.

  • 1. Reprimand A written statement of censure will remain in the student’s file until the student graduates or withdraws.
  • 2. Restriction Denial of the use of certain University facilities or of the right to participate in certain activities or to exercise certain privileges.
  • 3. Disciplinary Probation The student is in official jeopardy. The commission of a second offense while on probation will normally result in suspension or expulsion. Disciplinary probation will be recorded on the student’s transcript.
  • 4. Suspension Separation from the University for a stated period of time. A suspended student forfeits all privileges of enrollment including residence, attendance at classes, participation in organized extracurricular activities, and use of University facilities. This penalty will be recorded on the student’s transcript.
  • 5. Expulsion Permanent separation from the University. This penalty will be recorded on the student’s transcript.

All cases referred to the Committee on Academic and Professional Integrity will be addressed, and a decision made by the committee, regardless of whether the student voluntarily withdraws from the Yale School of Public Health prior to resolution. It will be noted on the student’s transcript that the student withdrew with disciplinary charges pending. Students at the Yale School of Public Health on an F1 Student Visa who are suspended or expelled will be subject to the requirements of the F1 Student Visa program administered by the U.S. Government. Such students should consult with the Yale Office of International Students and Scholars to understand the current requirements.

Appeal Process

A student upon whom a disciplinary penalty has been imposed by the dean of Public Health will have the right to appeal this decision to the dean of the School of Medicine on the following two grounds: (1) that the committee made procedural errors in its deliberations; or (2) that substantial new information is available that was not previously available to the committee. A written notice of appeal must be submitted to the dean of the School of Medicine within five business days after the decision of the committee and the dean of Public Health has been received. The procedures by which such an appeal will be considered and decided will be determined by the dean of the School of Medicine. There will normally be no stay of any disciplinary penalty imposed by the dean of Public Health during the appeal process.

In Conclusion

We set forth this Yale School of Public Health Code of Academic and Professional Integrity to provide guidance and support for professional standards expected from all members of our community. Violations of this code will be taken very seriously, and penalties will be issued to uphold these standards. More importantly, however, is the commitment by faculty, students, and staff to promote excellence in education, research, and service. By upholding academic honesty and integrity, we have a stable foundation from which to move forward in our work to enrich science and improve the health of the public.

Committee on Academic and Professional Integrity 2005–2006; updated May 2010, July 2012, May 2015

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