UCLA MBA Applicants Rejected for Plagiarism

Posted by: Louis Lavelle on February 1, 2012

A dozen MBA applicants at UCLA’s Anderson School of Management have been rejected after the school discovered plagiarism in their admissions essays—including a passage lifted from businessweek.com.

As the Los Angeles Times reported on Jan. 29, the applicants’ undoing was a service called Turnitin for Admissions. As we’ve reported, the service scans admissions essays and compares them to a huge database containing billions of pages of web content, books and journals, as well as student work previously submitted to Turnitin for a plagiarism check. Turnitin looks for instances of matching text, but leaves it to the individual schools to determine whether the similarity is plagiarism or an innocent mistake.

In the UCLA case, the 12 cases of plagiarism were found in a batch of 870 applications for the current admissions cycle, the Times reported. A phone call to Andrew Ainslie, a senior associate dean at Anderson, was not returned before this post was published.

In one case, an applicant wrote that he “worked for organizations in which the culture has been open and nurturing, and for others that have been elitist. In the latter case, arrogance becomes pervasive, straining external partnerships.” The passage appears remarkably similar to one that appears in a “sample application essay’ written by an applicant to the Boston University MBA program. The essay was published anonymously by businessweek.com in 2003 as part of a feature providing advice to applicants on how to write effective essays.

Turnitin for Admissions, which launched in 2009, is now used by as many as 20 business schools including Brandeis University’s International Business School, Iowa State’s College of Business, Northeastern’s College of Business, Wake Forest Schools of Business, and Penn State’s Smeal College of Business. Smeal was prompted to sign on with Turnitin after the admissions committee discovered 29 cases of plagiarism in a batch of 360 essays submitted for the 2010 admissions cycle.

Reader Comments


February 3, 2012 10:38 AM

roughly 8% got caught.. I am suer.. there are alteast 30% .. got away "benefit of doubt" lol

Chris Dalton

February 9, 2012 3:47 PM

With the apparent pressure on younger and younger MBA applicants to perform well on their programs to realise the much-vaunted earning potential of the degree, the topic of plagiarism now plagues much of the MBA, particularly with the explosion of the number of less-than-reputable companies offering "tutoring" support and assignment writing services via the internet.

As a recent exchange between myself as one such UK provider of this kind of cheating published on my blog (http://wp.me/pqaSc-ew) shows, there is little embarassment about this. Part of the justification of this form of plagiarism is (so these companies say) the poor way in which universities treat their students. "They're only after your money," it goes "so you might as well play the same game.."

What do others think?

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