I am currently applying to grad schools due soon, and on the system I am using to apply to different schools, it asks whether an academic sanction has been levied against me. In my first year of university I did have a sanction levied against me (assignment worth 5%), however, it did not end up on my transcript. I definitely learned from my mistake, and I know the ethical thing is to answer yes, but I do know that the people who review applications have stated that many people who had answered yes, don't always get accepted. As an applicant in Canada (University of Toronto St.George), will schools be able to know if I had an academic sanction levied against me if its not on my transcript? They only require my academic transcript, and letter of references, and from my understanding this may only be on my internal files, which won't be shared without my permission. I had a friend in a similar situation, however, the sanction will remain on their transcript until they graduate, thus they will have to answer yes.

Any help is appreciated

Thank you

  • I would not call "assignment wort 5%" a "sanction levied". Those words sound too extreme..do they have a precise definition of what an academic sanction is? Good luck!
    – Thomas
    Oct 21, 2019 at 6:57
  • What sort of answer are you able to give? Just a checkbox for yes/no, or an actual explanation?
    – Buffy
    Oct 21, 2019 at 11:04
  • Hey guys thanks for your answers! A sanction levies is still technically defined as a 0 on an assignment which I got! It did not really affect my grades, and the prof said it wont be shown on my academic record and only saved on internal filed in the event I repeat another academic offense. The answer I am able to give is a checkboxed yes/now with a short written explanation. The thing is the program I am applying to accepts less than 8% of applicants, I really think checking yes would hurt me. Oct 21, 2019 at 16:36
  • Update: I talked to my academic office, they said the grad school will only be able to see what is on my transcript since they don't look into internal files when accepting people. So I think I will leave the answer as a no! Oct 21, 2019 at 16:49
  • So you just did poorly on one assignment? That's not academic misconduct. Academic misconduct is unethical behavior such as cheating, plagiarism, etc. Oct 21, 2019 at 22:52

1 Answer 1


There is a difference between academic sanction and academic misconduct. Your question seems to confuse the two. Technically, if the question specifically asks for academic sanction, then according to your definition of a sanction as you say, you do fulfil that criteria and should mark it Yes.

However, the bar for academic misconduct is far higher and this sanction does not seem to fulfil it. Berkeley defines academic misconduct as -

any action or attempted action that may result in creating an unfair academic advantage for oneself or an unfair academic advantage or disadvantage for any other member or members of the academic community

I can't see how you getting a zero and being sanctioned for a 5% assignment would lead to an unfair academic advantage in any way. The intent is to create an unfair advantage even if it is not technically illegal or against the rules. Remember though that college applications are the subject to much publicity in America at the moment, with high profile criminal charges led by the Department of Justice splashed across the media - New York Times article

Canada seems different, as they have a more comprehensive public system and no high profile media cases (not that I know of anyway), so the politics would be different. Such a minor 5% sanction for an assignment would not be gripping stuff. However, if you have to get a notary to sign your grad school application, then that would be a higher bar than if you just tick crossed it online. The legalities are complex and the motivation for the university or justice department to investigate an issue that seems outside the spirit of the law and more of a technicality would likely be minimal. Such a low acceptance rate of 8% will mean any reason to refuse your application would likely be significant. Good luck.

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