Possible Outcomes

The Administrative Board has a range of possible outcomes it can take in disciplinary cases, listed here. Some of these outcomes change a student's status at the College, meaning that students are not in good standing as a result of the outcome. Those that range from "scratch" to "admonish" do not change a student's status. The other possible actions of the Board do change your status in the College, meaning that you are no longer considered to be “in good standing.” This information is disclosed to parents or guardians, as well as to graduate or professional schools under certain circumstances. See the list below for more details.

The Board's decisions are governed by the rules and regulations contained in the Student Handbook, and guided by standard responses and considerations of equity. Every effort is made to provide fair treatment of each undergraduate relative to all other undergraduates. To take action, the Board must be sufficiently persuaded that the student has violated the rules of the Faculty. The Board's decisions generally depend on two criteria: 1) the seriousness of the infraction; and 2) extenuating circumstances, including the extent to which a student has had similar trouble before. Any disciplinary action requires at least a majority vote of the members present and eligible to vote and, in the case of a requirement to withdraw, at least a two-thirds vote of the members present and eligible. (A student’s own Resident Dean of First-Year Students/Allston Burr Resident Dean and Board Representative are not eligible to vote, and the Chair of the Board ordinarily does not vote.) Ordinarily, a close vote will lead to further consideration of the case by the Board, after which another vote may be taken.


A petition is bracketed when a decision is postponed pending receipt of additional information or documentation. Should this be the case with your petition, your Resident Dean of First-Year Students/Allston Burr Resident Dean will be in touch with you about what information is desired and how to obtain it. A bracketed petition is normally addressed at the next consecutive meeting of the Administrative Board, should the information be available at that time.


ScratchA finding by the Board that nothing wrong occurred, or that there are no grounds for action. A decision of scratch is recorded in a student’s file to signal that the Board found no fault.

Take No Action

Take No ActionThis response indicates that a serious accusation was made but was not or could not be substantiated. 


AdmonishAdmonition is a warning from the Board that a student has violated the rules or standards of conduct in the College, and it begins a state of jeopardy (i.e., it signals to the student that the Board may respond to future misconduct with formal disciplinary action).


ProbationDisciplinary probation puts a student on notice that their conduct gives considerable cause for concern. A student on disciplinary probation is expected to pay very close attention to their conduct, both during the period of probation and after. The Board will likely respond more seriously (e.g., requirement to withdraw) to further infractions. A student is relieved of probation at the end of the time period set by the Board, provided there has been no further misconduct.

Requirement to Withdraw

Requirement to Withdraw. Action taken when a student’s conduct is unacceptable and the Board has determined that the student needs to be separated from the College in order to gain perspective on their actions, or to address and resolve any difficulties. In all cases, the Board requires the student to leave the Harvard community completely and to hold a full-time, paid, non-academic job in a non-family situation for at least six consecutive months before petitioning for readmission to the College. The length of withdrawal normally ranges from two to four terms. Readmission to the College after a requirement to withdraw is not automatic, and requires a vote of the full Administrative Board. A student readmitted after a requirement to withdraw for disciplinary reasons is readmitted in good standing (unless the misconduct also resulted in an unsatisfactory academic record). Ordinarily, a second requirement to withdraw (whether for a disciplinary case or academic review) is final.

Recommendation to Dismiss/Expel

Recommendation to Dismiss/ExpelIn the most serious cases of misconduct, the Administrative Board may require a student to withdraw and make a recommendation to the Faculty Council that the student be dismissed or expelled from the College. Dismissal severs a student’s connection with the University and the student can be readmitted only in the rare instance of another vote by the Council; expulsion severs the student’s connection with the University permanently.