Business ethics have been front page news for much of this decade. One way that business schools build ethical standards into their programs is through adopting school-wide honor codes that provide guidelines for student behavior. Although many schools have such codes, today we examine the specific approaches taken by Tuck, Yale SOM, and Duke/Fuqua.
At Tuck, all students agree to abide by an Academic Honor Principle that emphasizes honesty and integrity both inside and outside the classroom. Closed-book mid-term and final exams are often unproctored or given as take-home tests, and students are trusted to comply with any restrictions on time or resources. The honor code is governed by a student judicial board; faculty and administrators intervene only when students are unable to resolve a matter of academic integrity.
Meanwhile, the Yale SOM upholds a formal honor code that guides the conduct of students, faculty and staff. While its implications extend into the social realm, it is most explicit about students’ conduct in academics and recruiting. In the academic realm, professors are expected to provide clear guidelines regarding assignment requirements and appropriate collaboration, and in turn, students must work fairly within groups and seek clarification from their professor if in doubt about the instructions. With respect to recruiting, students must adhere to the Career Development Office’s standards when attending interviews and responding to offers, as well as uphold a high level of professional behavior in all recruiting activities.
Yale students report that the Honor Code is heavily emphasized during pre-term, and that it permeates campus life thereafter. In routine academic life, students check themselves, both when working individually and in groups, to ensure that they are following the Honor Code, and many report that they enjoy having a high community standard to live up to and uphold. The administration takes the rare occurrences of academic or professional violations very seriously; alleged offenders must answer to a faculty and student committee that decides whether to excuse the accused party or recommend probation, suspension or even expulsion.
At Duke’s Fuqua School of Business, students operate under both Duke University’s expectation of high standards of scholarship and conduct and the Honor Code of the Fuqua School of Business. Violations of the Honor Code include lying, cheating, stealing, or failing to report one of the previously mentioned offenses, and disciplinary action may include suspension or expulsion. The Fuqua Honor Code became front-page news at the end of the 2006-2007 academic year when over 30 first-year students were found guilty of violating the Honor Code by improperly collaborating on a take-home test and nine of these students were recommended for expulsion. Although the story generated a great deal of public commentary on the questionable ethics of business school students, Fuqua’s administration and many of its students see the case as a sign of the school’s commitment to upholding high ethical standards within the community, regardless of the publicity generated.
For more information on schools’ honor codes, be sure to check out the Academics section of the Clear Admit School Guides!