Academics

As a student at Syracuse University, you may find academic expectations that are unfamiliar or unexpected compared to the educational system system from which you come. Often, the norms that govern classroom etiquette, assignments, student and teacher relations, as well as relations between peers in an American University, are different from the ones to which you may be accustomed. This chapter providesa brief overview of some of the academi policies and customs that are expected at Syracuse University.

The Syracuse University Compact

All academic rules and regulations that apply to students are published in the Syracuse University Bulletin: Academic Rules and Regulations that is available in most campus locations. The following information is summarized from that source, but please make sure to get a copy of that publication. The Syracuse University Compact states that, We the students, faculty, staff, and administrators of Syracuse University will:

  • Support scholarly learning as the central mission of Syracuse University
  • Promote a culturally and socially diverse climate that supports the development of each member of our community
  • Uphold the highest ideals of personal and academic honesty, and
  • Maintain a safe and healthy environment for each member of our community
In all aspects of university life, we will work together to reach these goals.

Academic Standards

Syracuse University has a policy on academic honesty, which states that "students shall exhibit honesty in all academic endeavors. Cheating in any form is not tolerated, nor is assisting another person to cheat. The submission of work by a student is taken as a guarantee that the thoughts and expressions in it are the student’s own except when properly credited to another. Violations of this principle include giving or receiving aid in an exam or where otherwise prohibited, fraud, plagiarism, the falsification or forgery of any record, or any other deceptive act in connection with academic work. Plagiarism is the representation of another’s words, ideas, programs, formulae, opinions, or other products of work as one’s own, either overtly or by failing to attribute them to their true source." (Academic Rules and Regulations: Syracuse University 1998-1999, p. 2)

Plagiarism and How to Avoid It

Plagiarism is more familiarly known as "cheating". It is the act of presenting other people’s ideas, words, and/or the data that they have collected as being the product of one’s effort. It is therefore a form of lying and has no place in an academic institution. It is taken very seriously in the U.S. and the punishment may range from receiving a failed grade on a particular paper to being excluded from the class, or receiving a failing grade in the course.

Some forms of plagiarism, such as cheating on an exam, are obviously unacceptable and will be prosecuted. Sometimes, international students can be guilty of plagiarism because of confusion regarding proper attribution. Very simply, to attribute means to give credit to the originator of an idea, if you are choosing to use those ideas in your own work. If you are using someone’s exact words in your paper, you must enclose their contribution in quotes. At the end of the quote, make sure to indicate the source of the quote. If you are using someone’s ideas paraphrased in your own words, you will still attribute it, without using the quotation marks.

There are specific styles of attribution and referencing that are used in different fields. The most prominent are the guide published by the Modern Language Association (MLA), which is used in the humanities, and the guide published by the American Psychological Association (APA) which is used in the sciences. However, if you are in doubt about the appropriate way to attribute in your field, ask your professor.

Academic Grades

Your performance is evaluated by the means of grades, which are letters of the alphabet assigned to record a certain level of performance, by your instructor. Each letter is assigned a number of points, as shown in the chart below:

Letter Grade Meaning Points per credit
A Excellent 4.0
A-
3.666
B+
3.333
B Good 3.0
B-
2.666
C+
2.333
C Satisfactory 2.0
C-
1.666
D Not assigned to graduate students 1.0
F Failure 0

The points are used to calculate your Grade Point Average or GPA. It is determined by dividing the total quantity of points by the number of credit hours taken. For example, if you took three classes of three credits each, one lab class of one credit, and one physical education class of two credits, once you received your grades, you would calculate your GPA for the twelve credits as follows:

Grades Credits Grade Points
A 3 12
A- 3 10.9998
B+ 3 9.9999
A 1 4
C+ 2 4.6666

Total Points: 41.6663

Divide by 12 credits: 3.4722. Your GPA would therefore be a B+ for the semester

Other Grade Symbols that may appear on your transcript, and what they mean:

Grade Symbol Meaning Points per Credit
AU Audit Not counted
I Incomplete 0
NA Did not attend or withdraw Not counted
NR Not required Not counted
P Passing Not counted
RM Remedial Not counted
V Variable length course grade not yet due Not counted
WD Withdrew after Add/Drop period Not counted

Academic Help

Syracuse University provides resources for students to get assistance academically. Many students benefit from these services. In addition, if you need specific assistance in a course, it is always a good idea to meet with your course instructor during his or her office hours and ask for help. During the semester, the Office of International Services also offers programs on specific study skills issues that pertain to international students. The Dean’s offices in your specific School or College ( For example, the College of Arts and Sciences) also have information on programs and academic resources within the College.

Writing Program

Location: 239 H. B. Crouse Phone: 443-1091

The Writing Program has Consultants who offer assistance to students in writing academic papers, such as editing, proofreading, correcting grammar, and developing a coherent content. To use the consultants, students must sign-up in advance for a one-hour time-block in the main office. During certain times of the year such as Finals week, it is advisable to plan ahead, as the consultants are often busy.

Learning Skills Center

Location: Suite 005, 804 University Ave. Phone: 443-2005

The Center for Academic Achievement’s Learning Skills Center provides individual and group tutorial services in undergraduate courses.

Consultation Center For Reading and Writing

Location: 200 Huntington Hall Phone: 443-4755

The College Learning Strategies (CLS) program offers S.U. undergraduates assistance in acquiring learning strategies in terms of study skills, test preparation, and completion of assignments. Students may enroll in a three credit course (CLS 105) or a one credit course (CLS 100) for instruction. Call the office for more information and specific issues.

SUNY-ESF Office of Career and Counseling Services

Location: 110 Bray Hall Phone: 470-6660

ESF Students can get assistance from this office on a variety of issues from adjustment issues to academic difficulties and study strategies.