MBA Program Withdraws From China Due to "Widespread Plagiarism," Other Issues

Posted by: Geoff Gloeckler on July 26, 2010

A small New Jersey college has decided to close its China MBA program after finding evidence that students there engaged in rampant cheating.

Centenary College, a Hackettstown-NJ-based institution, ended its MBA program for Chinese-speaking students after finding “evidence of widespread plagiarism,” the school said in a statement posted on its website today. The China MBA program was based in Beijing, Shanghai, and Taiwan. All 400 students have been given the choice of accepting a tuition refund—as much as $1,400—or taking a comprehensive exam to earn a degree, The Star-Ledger reported.

According to the statement, all but two students have thus far decided to take a refund. Students have until July 30 to make a decision. It is also noted in the statement that students who cheat are ordinarily dismissed from the school, but the China MBA students are being given more leniency “in an effort to afford students every fair possibility.”

Centenary officials were unavailable for comment on Monday.

Donald McCabe, founder of the Center for Academic Integrity and professor of global business at Rutgers University, says that to his knowledge, no college has ever closed a program after identifying widespread cheating. But he also does not know of another school that has found 400 students who may have committed plagiarism.

According to Centenary's Academic Code of Conduct, "the college expects students to conduct themselves honestly in all academic activities." The document offers examples of academic dishonesty and provides a definition of plagiarism. Students who commit plagiarism normally receive a zero for their work. "Flagrant cases of academic dishonesty" could result in a student being kicked out of a class or dismissed from the school, the document says. (It is not known if the Chinese-speaking students in the China MBA program were given copies of the Academic Code of Conduct)

The school first noticed the plagiarism and other unspecified issues after its president, Barbara-Jayne Lewthwaite, launched a review of the China MBA program in January 2009. After the review, the school appointed a new dean of international programs who is responsible for the school's exit from China, according to the statement.

In deciding how to respond to the academic dishonesty, Centenary also consulted with an international law firm and the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, which accredits the school. "The College and its counsel have been working diligently to resolve this situation in a manner that is fair and in the best interests of both the program's students and the College as a whole," Centenary's statement says.

Centenary is not the first to be tripped up by cheating B-school students. In 2007, Duke University's Fuqua School of Business punished 34 first year students for cheating on a take-home exam. Schools have also battled cheating on the GMAT. The Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC) canceled the scores of 84 test-takers who used a test-prep website to view GMAT questions in 2008. Some students in China have long gained access to questions from actual GMAT exams on websites and online forums, and GMAC has been working to shut down those sites and invalidate the scores of students who use them.

According to Rutgers' McCabe, schools need to educate students in order to curb cheating. "Make sure to tell students what's expected of them and the implications if they don't follow the expectations," he says.

Educating students is especially important when schools open campuses abroad or bring in foreign students, McCabe says. He notes that some foreign students--particularly from parts of Asia--don't have the same understanding of cheating and plagiarism as their American counterparts. And they may be under more pressure to cheat, he says, in part because they risk embarrassment or the loss of government scholarships if they don't maintain high GPAs.

-By Zachary Tracer

Reader Comments

Joon Park

July 27, 2010 9:23 PM

For some reason I'm not surprised! Plagiarism is rampant in most colleges and universities in China, Korea and even Japan. Of course let's not exclude the good old USA. Let's be's a world wide phenomenon that has existed for ages and its severity has increased thanks to the world wide web.


July 28, 2010 12:48 PM

you have just scratched the surface. 80% of chinese students learn nothing in university. they learn on the job. all the engineers maintaining your aircraft? fake thesis! its really bad here and few know. luckily one school, whose results are typical of schools in china, had the guts to call it like it is. all fake cheaters.

John Fredrick

August 4, 2010 11:42 PM

I had lunch with a few recent HBS grads the other day and they mentioned that there was rampant cheating while they were there. Students would take tests together even when not allowed, and use books of notes taken from study groups even for closed-book exams. They mentioned that the professors pretty much know about it, but don't really care, and "really can't prove exactly who cheated and who didn't, so why risk sullying the reputation." While Harvard is already known for it's dishonest (and fraudulent) grads, you wouldn't think it's STILL happening.


August 5, 2010 2:57 AM

Yes, plagiarism in China is rampant but it's because most students don't get caught. They translate English docs into Chinese and look like great students. They aren't used to thinking for themselves and they just don't know anything else but cheating.
To be fair, some students do their own work but most see cheating as worth the risk.


August 5, 2010 7:04 AM

It's a trash US school selling degrees in China for money. I doubt this school even has accredition. Now, Chinese public are awared of these garbage foreign schools, as a result less people enrolled, this is good way for the school to exit China with good reason.


August 5, 2010 4:03 PM

John, you speak the truth.

Not exactly sure about the "trash" part but in essence this school is blaming the students as a reason to exit a failing and unprofitable program in China that has no marketable benefit over a lower cost local program other than that it is "foreign."

Jack Liu

August 12, 2010 5:35 AM

The college's agent work toghter with the formerly director (china market) of the school, sell almost 500 MBA degrees in china each year, students don't need anything, and no undergradute dipolma, just pay the fee then "study" for two days (one weekend) then got the diploma!!! which is my friend got though that way,(he can't speak english, and never study at college before, just gradute from Middle school, and pay the fee and for two days "studies" then one MBA earned).


August 12, 2010 2:53 PM

As a B-School professor, it has been my experience that plagiarism is easily avoided if students are assigned to write papers, take tests in class, and work on projects mentored by faculty. In class tests, with books closed and faculty observing, present a significant hurdle to cheating. Written papers can be run through a plagiarism checker. And hands-on projects require students to collect, analyze, and use real-world data. Of course, each of these requires that faculty invest significant time and place teaching in a position of professional primacy (ahead of or on a par with research). Teaching, however, is less valued, even though preparing the next generation to exceed the previous would seem a valuable investment.

pell grant

August 20, 2010 9:58 PM

Great, I never knew this, thanks.


October 8, 2010 3:23 AM

I applaud Centenary College's decision to favor academic integrity over easy cash from China although I suspect that more than a few disgruntled alumni were the ones who pushed hard on this.
Hard love is what China needs in this matter. Plagiarism and cheating are the norm at all levels of education. It's about time that international institutions stop conflating standards and mores with a Chinese facility simply because it calls itself a university and teaches what it calls students.


October 18, 2010 1:48 PM


April 10, 2011 10:37 PM

In most cultures, plagiarism is the norm.

plagiarism checker


May 17, 2011 10:38 AM

Major thanks for the article post. Will read on…


May 28, 2011 1:25 AM

Yep, I've seen massive cheating in an MS and PhD in Engineering. Definitely internationally acceptable, notably Asian. If the professors weren't such idiots in giving take-home exams and saying "work alone," I wouldn't have been the only one getting an honest B while the others got A's. Almost got kicked out.


June 12, 2011 4:36 PM

Are you making this up as you go along?


June 30, 2011 11:41 AM

This is pretty unfortunate. I'm not naive, but I was surprised how widespread the cheating was. Maybe it was the type of school that had something to do with it? Pflugerville Dentists


July 21, 2011 5:38 PM

While that is a lot of cheating, to me it just seems like this has been going on for a long time and it's really not anything new. ">Carpet Cleaning Austin


October 29, 2011 3:43 PM

Lester Rizzio

February 6, 2012 2:13 PM

Couldn't have said it better myself.


February 11, 2012 1:13 AM

The Chinese are experts at cheating, and they are destroying the American educational system. Not only are they cheating us on trade, they're cheating us on our own soil

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