Academic Dishonesty Statistics

Although many people admit the importance of academic integrity, cheating and other forms of dishonesty continue to take place in various educational institutions, from elementary schools to colleges. Many students put a great deal of effort into finding ways to get better grades, forgetting about the value of the knowledge itself. In this article, not only will we provide you with reasons for and forms of academic misconduct, but we’ll also dive into the statistics and find out how often students violate the academic honor code and how to prevent integrity breaches.

Definition Of Academic Cheating

Academic dishonesty (also known as academic misconduct) refers to committing some unethical act related to various types of academic activities (studying, teaching, research, etc.), intending to achieve better results. Some common types of academic misconduct include, but are not limited to:

  1. Cheating refers to using various types of materials, information, or devices that are not allowed when completing an academic task. It can include communicating with other test-takers without the consent of the proctor, using a phone to search for information on the Internet, etc.
  2. Plagiarism implies using the works of other people (their ideas, words, designs, etc.) without their consent. One of the most common forms of plagiarism is copying text written by one or more other authors and pasting it into your paperwork without citation.
  3. Fabrication involves using data that doesn't exist. For example, having failed to find evidence for their theories, some students opt for counterfeiting the necessary information.

Why Do Students Prefer to Cheat?

Although educational institutions come up with new, stricter regulations and honor codes, academic dishonesty remains a serious cause for concern. The Educational Testing Service (ETS) gives statistics showing that, whereas in the 1940s only 20% of college students admitted to cheating, nowadays the percentage has increased to 75 - 98%. Another study, conducted by Dr. Donald McCabe in cooperation with the International Center for Academic Integrity, showed that 95% of students confessed to having cheated in some form (plagiarism, cheating on a test, etc.). This survey involved 70,000 students (both graduates and undergraduates) and was conducted for 12 years (from 2002 to 2015).

This prompts the question: what are the reasons for such shocking school and college cheating statistics, and why do even high-achieving students tarnish their reputation by getting into cheating incidents? Here are the most common explanations:

  • Lack of time or poor time management
  • Fear of failure
  • Anxiety about grades
  • Desire to help classmates
  • Academic overload
  • Stress, etc.

What’s more, some students not only cheat, but also find it acceptable in particular situations. Eric M. Anderman, a professor from Ohio State University, published a survey in 2017 stating that the majority of the 400 respondents admitted that it’s not a big deal to cheat if you are not interested in a subject. This perspective was also considered in research from Lindale High School (LHS). According to the results, 44.4% of students consider it ethical to behave dishonestly while doing homework, but not during a test.

Could Cheating Hinge on Student Culture?

Attitudes toward academic dishonesty may vary from country to country, depending on the national mentality and culture. When it comes to plagiarism, for example, collectivist cultures such as China and Japan, may not clearly understand the concept of citation since they are not used to putting individual achievements over community work. 

What’s more, East European countries, such as Bulgaria, Croatia, and former Soviet Union countries tend to be less strict and more accepting of academic cheating than Western European countries and the US. According to a survey carried out by CEDOS together with American Councils for International Education, American and European universities often have different or even opposite opinions about academic misconduct.

Academic Cheating Fact Sheet

The cheating rate among high school and college students is tremendously high, and it isn’t losing momentum. There is an avalanche of cheating incidents happening worldwide. Students who have been lured by cheating once usually tend to continue shortcutting. Unsurprisingly, the statistics are supported by ample evidence. Here are some jaw-dropping facts about cheating in school and college:

60.8% of polled college students admitted to cheating

According to a survey conducted by the CollegeHumor website among 30,000 respondents, 60.8% of college students admitted to committing some form of cheating. Moreover, 16.5% of them didn’t feel guilty about it. This data was supported by the results of Rutgers University research showing that 68% of the polled students acted dishonestly during their studies.

Cheaters have higher GPAs

Many students opt for cheating to get good grades. Although it may be upsetting for their honest counterparts, cheaters manage to achieve their goals. Statistics provided by Fordham University show that dishonest students have a Grade Point Average (GPA) of about 3.41, while non-cheaters can boast of only 2.85. It’s important to understand that these numbers not only indicate the decreasing amount of opportunities for honest students, but also may push more of them to commit the same unethical acts.

95% of cheaters don't get caught

Research carried out by ETS and the Ad Council indicates that the majority of cheaters stay unnoticed and don’t get caught for their misconduct. This is another motive for other students to break the established rules of academic integrity. According to U.S. News and World Report, 90% of polled college students are sure that they will not be caught cheating.

Dishonesty among college students stems from high school

According to ETS and Ad Council research, 75% to 98% of students who admitted to cheating at college confessed to have started doing it in high school. Moreover, academic dishonesty is showing up among even younger students, meaning that it is starting to take place not only in high school, but also in elementary school.

There is no gender difference in cheating

The Ad Council and ETS survey states that there is no significant gender difference in academic misconduct. However, men tend to confess to it slightly more than women. When it comes to subjects, disciplines like math and science are more prone to cheating incidents.

Cheating is getting worse

According to research from the Josephson Institute Center for Youth Ethics, the number of cheating students is not only high, but also shows an uptrend potential. The study provided statistics from two academic years. In the first year, it revealed 59% of cheating high-school students, but in the next year, the number surged to 95%.

Renowned Colleges Turn Out to Be Vulnerable Too

Despite the common belief that renowned educational institutions have managed to eliminate cheating, statistics and news headlines provide a different view. According to McCabe research, reputable colleges and universities have significantly reduced the level of academic misconduct due to stricter honor codes and a more developed academic culture, but they haven’t managed to eradicate it. Even world-famous elite institutions are found to be involved in cheating scandals.


In 2012, Harvard University was involved in one of the biggest cheating scandals in its history. About 125 of its students were suspected of working in collaboration on an exam despite being asked to do it alone. As a result, around 70 students were forced out.


According to a Yale Daily News survey conducted in 2019, Yale isn’t an exception in terms of academic dishonesty. 14% of the 1,400 Yale undergraduates surveyed confessed that they cheated while studying at the university. Moreover, only 8% of them were caught, while 82% weren’t noticed and 10% didn’t give an answer to the question. What’s more, 26% of the polled students reported that they caught others cheating.


Stanford University conducts academic integrity research every quarter. In the winter quarter of 2015, they noted a significantly larger number of honor code violations, mostly in one of their introductory courses. College officials and other experts explained it with the technological boost that makes it easier to cheat and the cultural pressure that makes students use any means to achieve success.

Strategies for Reducing Cheating

Knowing the scale of the problem and understanding some of its reasons, let’s consider several strategies that can be implemented by educational institutions to strengthen their academic integrity.

  1. Avoid student overload. When placed under continuous pressure, students often fail to manage their time and start looking for easier ways to get a good grade.
  2. Be thoughtful about language. It’s important to choose the right words for praising your students. It’s recommended to use phrases that include both praising and stimulus for further progress. For example, “You did a great job but there are still more areas you can develop in.”
  3. Develop academic culture. Educational institutions are advised to devote more time to discussing ethical matters with their students. Moreover, they could consider including these types of lessons in their curriculum.
  4. Proctoring. The increasing popularity of e-learning and continuous technological development has fostered a surge in academic misconduct. However, why not turn the tide in your favor? Nowadays, there are many innovative digital proctoring solutions, such as, that help educational institutions increase the effectiveness of online learning and protect their reputation.


Academic misconduct is a serious concern of modern education. The statistics on how many students cheat in college and high school is shocking. Moreover, it’s important to note that the situation is not getting better, but even worse. The most common reasons for academic cheating include student overload, lack of time, pressure to succeed, etc. To improve their integrity and protect their reputation, educational institutions have to foster academic culture, thoroughly analyze the reasons for students’ unethical behavior, and come up with improved strategies based on cutting-edge technologies.


What is the percentage of students cheating?

The level of cheating in high school according to statistics is extremely high. One of the most thorough studies, carried out by Dr. Donald McCabe, reveals that about 95% of polled students (both undergraduates and graduates) admitted to having cheated in some form.

How often do students get caught cheating?

According to different statistical data, students don’t often get caught cheating. Technological development has made it more difficult for institutions to efficiently proctor educational activities. This is also the reason why a growing number of students in schools and colleges are opting for an easier way of getting a better grade.

Is academic cheating getting worse?

Academic misconduct is tending to get worse in all types of educational institutions. One of the common explanations for cheating is the pressure to succeed. Many students try to find easier ways to get better grades. Moreover, they are also motivated by the statistics, showing that cheaters have higher GPAs than honest students.

What percentage of high schoolers have cheated?

According to the McCabe study, the percentage of cheaters in high school is very high. 95% of respondents (of which there were around 70,000) admitted to breaking the honor code of their institution. 64% of them confessed to cheating during tests and 58% admitted to committing plagiarism.