Student Handbooks

MBA for Professionals Student Handbook - Expectations of Academic and Professional Behavior

All Willamette MBA students are expected to conduct themselves with academic integrity, ethical conduct, and professionalism in all aspects of their MBA education and in all interactions with peers, faculty, staff and guests of the Atkinson School.

Academic and professional behavior is governed by the Atkinson School Honor Code, Willamette University Student Rights & Responsibilities and Standards of Conduct, and applicable laws and regulations. The information on this page is your guide to our expectations of student behavior.  In the absence of a specific notation of expectations and policy, the Honor Code standards of professionalism and excellence are the default Atkinson School policy:

  • To not seek an unfair advantage over other members, including but not limited to giving or receiving unauthorized aid during completion of academic and professional requirements;
  • To honestly represent one’s self and facts at all times;
  • To respect the personal and property rights of all members of the Atkinson community; and
  • Uphold the Honor Code by fully cooperating with and protecting the confidentiality of the proceedings.

Atkinson School Expectations of Academic Honesty

Never Cheat, Plagiarize, Use Unauthorized Academic Materials, or Misrepresent the Facts

  • Think Before You Act -- it is never necessary to violate expectations of academic honesty and integrity. If you are tempted to violate expectations of academic honesty remember you always have other options. In all cases, it is better to do your own work and present yourself honestly - even if you get a lower grade on a test or assignment - than to experience the personal, academic and professional consequences associated with violating the Honor Code.  Put yourself in a good position for your development and growth and don’t let short term issues like lack of sleep, feeling panicked about your course work, etc. cloud your thinking.  There are always better alternatives than choosing to violate your honesty and integrity  -- and you should always choose honesty and integrity.

Understand the Allowable Degree of Collaboration for Each Assignment

  • Be sure you understand the level of collaboration allowed for each deliverable, exam and project.  The allowable level of collaboration will vary with each faculty member, course and assignment. If you have a question or do not understand the level of collaboration allowed on a given assignment, check the syllabus and/or ask the professor for clarification.  If you do not understand, do not rely on the opinions of other students for information regarding the allowable level of collaboration.
  • In general (unless otherwise presented by the faculty member, syllabus or assignment), students are encouraged to collaborate with each other as a means of maximizing their learning opportunities and understanding the issues involved. However, students should not collaborate in preparing their actual deliverable work product. The analysis, recommendations, solutions, information etc. presented in your written or presentation work product deliverable must be your own work and not that of others.

Cite Your Sources

  • Atkinson students are required to submit only their original work, or the properly cited work of others. Whenever using the ideas, words, or work of another person, you must acknowledge the source. In written work, proper acknowledgment includes a comment in the text, a footnote, or both, and includes listing the source in the bibliography. In oral presentations, an explicit statement about the work's source is required.

Be Proactive, Ask Questions, Use Your Resources

  • Graduate school is difficult and everyone needs help at one time or another.  Lack of sleep, illness, discouragement, family and personal issues, and/or feeling stressed will happen to everyone. The Atkinson School and Willamette University have many people and services to help you manage the transitions you will experience during your MBA program. People and resources available to help you include: Atkinson school faculty, administrators and staff; mentors, peer career advisors and PACE teaching assistants; the Atkinson tutoring program; the health and counseling services of the Bishop Wellness Center; the Office of Chaplains, Sparks Center fitness classes and activities; the services of the International Education Office, and others.

Atkinson School Expectations of Professional Behavior

Learn and Grow

  • Choose behaviors that represent your best professional self.
  • Accept accountability for your professional and personal actions.
  • Recognize and learn from your mistakes.
  • Maintain professional behavior under stress.
  • Present your "most professional self" in all interactions.
  • Take initiative, meet your commitments and responsibilities, and seek help when you need assistance.

Attend and Participate in Classes

  • Attend all classes and participate in all learning activities. Active class participation and in-class discussions enhance the learning environment for all students.
  • Complete assignments (readings, case studies, etc.) prior to the class session and be prepared to actively participate in class discussion.
  • Arrive for class on time, return from class breaks on time, and remain in class for the duration of the class.
  • Email or telephone the professor before class starts if you cannot attend because of illness or an immediate, unpredicted personal or professional commitment.
  • Withdraw from a course if you cannot meet the attendance requirements.
  • Inform the professor prior to the start of class if you must arrive late or leave early.  Enter or exit in a manner that minimizes disruption of the class.
  • Respect the rights of other students to fully participate in the class.
  • Students who miss a class are responsible for all material covered in the missed class and may be asked by the professor to complete additional work to make up for the missed class session.

Communicate With Courtesy and Respect

  • Courteous and respectful communication is expected in all school activities: classes, team meetings, student organizations, events, guest speakers, career treks, email, voice mail, texting, and social media.
  • Show professional courtesy and personal respect to others. Actively participating with courtesy and respect in spirited interactions is part of a professional learning experience. Threats, harassment, name-calling, and use of profanity are not acceptable professional communication behaviors and are violations of the Atkinson School and Willamette University codes of conduct.
  • Read your email and respond to messages promptly. The Atkinson School and the University use this email address as a primary communication source for official information. Students are assumed to have knowledge of the content of official emails and announcements.
  • Professional behavior applies to email, too. Be sure your emails communicate your message and present yourself as your most professional self before you push send.
  • Communicate your concerns to the appropriate person. Students are expected to be professional and proactive in discussing their concerns. The accepted process for communicating your concerns at the Atkinson School is as follows.  First, talk to the student, faculty or staff member involved in the concern. If talking to the faculty or staff member involved does not solve the concern, then the student should talk to Assistant Dean/Director of Admission, Alex Subert. If talking to Alex Subert does not solve the concern, then the student should talk to Madhu Rao, Senior Associate Dean.

Contribute to Group and Team Process

  • Clarify team expectations in regard to roles, responsibilities and quality of work expected.
  • Each team member is expected to actively participate in group and team projects. Each team member has a responsibility for their own professional development, the professional development and effectiveness of the team, the result of the team’s effort to provide value for their client or course, and the reputation of the Atkinson School and Willamette University.
  • Commit to meeting the standards of the group. Free-riding is not a professional behavior and is a disinvestment in the value of the educational experience for the free-rider and the group. As such, free-riding can be processed through the academic or professional behavior segments of the Honor Code. A free-rider is defined as a person who does not dedicate the time or quality of effort the group expects from all members.
  • Respect other points of view and value the talent, role and background of each individual member of the team.
  • Encourage all members of the team to share their ideas and concerns, then listen.
  • Focus on opportunities for action to solve problems rather than focusing on complaining.
  • Commit to influencing positive change.  View every person as "part of the solution" rather than "the problem."

Represent Yourself and the Atkinson School Professionally at Company Presentations, Speakers, Networking Opportunities and Events

  • MBA students have many opportunities to interact with alumni, employers, and other stakeholders. In fact, the Willamette and Atkinson School network is one of the most valuable lifelong resources a student can have. As a representative of yourself and the school, students are expected to conduct themselves in a professional manner in all circumstances.
  • Professional guests who donate their time to speak and meet with students expect and deserve your full attention and respect. In all interactions with our guests, be sure to ask questions and communicate in a professional manner. Laptops should have lids down during these events (unless otherwise directed by the speaker), cell phones should be turned off, and refrain from participating in side-conversations.  Be on time, dress appropriately, bring your business cards, and be prepared to take notes with paper/pen and pencil.
  • Keep your commitment to attend events for which you submitted an RSVP to attend. Companies and speakers are planning on your attendance. Failure to meet your commitments hurts your professional reputation, the reputation of Atkinson students in general, and the overall reputation of the School and University.
  • If you have questions about how to communicate with or respond to an alum or member of the business community contact the Career Management staff.

Use Electronic Devices Appropriately

  • Use laptops and similar electronic devices in class only when they are contributing to the class learning experience. Inappropriate uses include but are not limited to: email, instant messaging, texting, social media websites, video gaming, web browsing, reading materials not related to class, and any other activity that may be distracting to the student, other students or faculty.
  • Cell phones should not be used in class, meetings, presentations and interviews. Set cell phones and pagers to “off” or “silent.”

Dress Appropriately

  • The general daily atmosphere of the Atkinson School is casual. However, there are many events on-campus and off-campus for which business or business casual attire should be worn.
  • Students should wear business or business casual attire for events such as company site visits, meetings of professional organizations, guest speakers, mentor receptions, final class presentations, interviews, etc. As a general rule, business casual attire is required for all Career Management events unless otherwise specified. Students are encouraged to obtain information about appropriate attire prior to attending any event. General guidelines for levels of professional dress:
    • Business Formal: Business attire typically means a jacket for both men and women. A tie for men, button down shirt, matching slacks and dress shoes. For women, business attire would typically mean a skirt or slacks, jacket, button down shirt or shell with clear or solid color nylons and dress shoes.
    • Business Casual: Business casual typically means men and women can leave the jacket, tie and nylons at home. Men can wear polo or golf shirts and slacks. Women can wear slacks or skirt and a professional looking shirt.  Business casual does not include sweat suits, jeans, t-shirts, tennis shoes or flip-flops.

Use Social Networking Sites Effectively

  • Social networks such as Facebook and LinkedIn can be helpful or detrimental to your reputation and professional opportunities. Always represent yourself in a professional manner to be sure that your online presence helps you reach your personal and professional goals.

  • As an MBA student you are investing significant energy, time and money in your future. Think twice about the words and pictures you choose to communicate yourself to the world. Recognize that many employers research applicants online and what they find influences their perception of your personal and professional judgment... which in turn influences their hiring decisions.


  • Alcohol may not be served or consumed in Willamette University buildings unless the event has been approved for alcohol through the formal University approval process.  If an event has been approved for alcohol, a third party vendor will be present to distribute the alcohol and a security officer will be present. 
  • Alcohol may not be served or consumed in any outdoor areas of the campus during the academic year unless at an event that has been approved for alcohol through the formal University approval process. 
  • Individuals not of legal drinking age (not yet 21 years old) are not permitted to consume, or be under the influence of alcohol.
  • Willamette University alcohol policy is a campus wide policy. Failure to observe University policies may subject the individual(s) or group(s) to sanctions outlined in Willamette University Student Rights & Responsibilities - Standards of Conduct.