Whenever we get a question asked by a student about exams, studying, cheating, disputing grades, or other aspects of university-level coursework, I see flags and comments along the lines of:

  • The course references suggest "undergraduate." Is this question on topic here?
  • Voting to close as off-topic, since this is a question about a problem facing an undergraduate student
  • Although it's conceivable that a similar question could be asked by a graduate student who had cheated, in reality this is an extremely detailed description of a totally undergraduate experience.
  • Well, as it pertains to undergraduate students it would still be off topic. I suspect this is a much less common issue at the graduate level (as coursework is less emphasized) though it is possible.

Given that a large number of master's and a significant number of doctoral degree programs include coursework, is there anything undergraduate-specific about questions on exams, studying, cheating, disputing grades, or other aspects of university-level coursework?

  • 1
    You're right about undergraduate students being more vulnerable to such situations as cheating or asking for exam related advice. A graduate student, by that very fact that they're a graduate student, tends to be more responsible. I mean, it is more of a job like situation; That could be why graduate level questions are usually of the type "How to tackle this challenge?" Also, age of the student might be an influence here. Questions such as "I did this, now what do you think I should do?" tends to be more opinionated, but they could serve as a warning to others.
    – user41235
    Commented Oct 26, 2014 at 22:40
  • 3
    What is the original reason for excluding undergraduate questions from this site?
    – Village
    Commented Oct 29, 2014 at 12:17
  • @Village Afaik, the original reasoning was that we did not want to get swamped by "how do I best get into [University X]?" type of questions. (which, ironically, we get anyway)
    – xLeitix
    Commented Nov 7, 2014 at 15:23

3 Answers 3


It's certain that dealing with misconduct by undergraduates is very much a part of the academia experience, for grad students as well as faculty. I see that when a faculty member comes and ask: "A student did (misconduct), can you advise me on how to respond?" then as long as it is not too narrowly applicable a situation, then it seems to clearly be within scope.

If a similar question from a student leads to discussion of the faculty perspective and options for engagement, then it seems like having at least some questions and answers of this sort would be appropriate. Certainly, recent reaction seems to show that the community is quite happy to speak at length on the subject...

  • I am asking specifically about questions asked by a student. Must they lead to a discussion of faculty engagement to be on topic? If so, why?
    – ff524
    Commented Oct 27, 2014 at 14:34
  • 1
    @ff524 My own personal opinion is that the perspective from academia (not necessarily just faculty) is critical for it to be useful within the scope of this site. For contrast, I note down-voted answers in the recent discussion that talked about how to cheat better or legal strategies to inhibit the professors.
    – jakebeal
    Commented Oct 27, 2014 at 16:07

I routinely see graduate students in my own university

  • study,
  • cheat on exams and homework,
  • submit plagiarized homework,
  • get upset because others are cheating,
  • dispute grades,
  • complain that a class is badly organized,

and all the other things we accuse "undergrads" of doing.

Therefore, I believe questions about conduct in university-level coursework should be on topic.

  • Hmm, that's too bad... or rather, points 2, 3, 4 are bad. Points 1, 5, 6 are perfectly reasonable, I think, , nothing to accuse anyone of :-)
    – einpoklum
    Commented Nov 4, 2014 at 19:52

is there anything undergraduate-specific about questions on exams, studying, cheating, disputing grades, or other aspects of university-level coursework?

For what concerns the above highlighted points, I've never seen any difference in behaviour between undergraduates and graduates (immaturity propagates across degrees).

So, yes, I think that questions about conduct are on-topic.

  • 2
    Even professors cheat! Just replace HW/exams with publications. There are academically dishonest people across all ranks. Academic dishonesty in general is on topic here. I very much agree. Commented Nov 6, 2014 at 3:20

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