All colleges have rules regarding academic honesty that students are expected to abide by. After all, academic integrity is a presumed part of college life, regardless of where you go to school. But some schools take things a step further and have something called an Honor Code that’s central not only to academic life, but also to campus life, more generally.
For example, at an Honor Code college, exams might be unproctored or offered in a take-home format, and it would be normal to see laptops left unattended as you walk through a study area in the library. Students sign the Honor Code when they arrive on campus (often a ceremony steeped in tradition), and they may also be expected to report to an honor committee or judicial board when they observe dishonest activity. Honor codes are in place at a wide range of schools – from small liberal arts colleges to the Ivy League to flagship state universities. As you conduct your college search, here some representative examples to consider.
Haverford College – At Haverford, the honor code is entirely student-run, and affects the academic and social life of the college. Not only do students take tests without proctors and schedule their own final exams, but the dorms have no RAs. At Haverford, when you accept your offer of admission, you don’t need to submit an enrollment deposit to secure your spot; this is because it’s assumed that you’ll honor your commitment. In addition, the Haverford honor code is dynamic: the entire student body meets every year to debate and revise the code as a group, ensuring it remains current and up-to-date.
Davidson College – Davidson actually has two honor codes: the Honor Code and the Code of Responsibility, both of which are adhered to by students, faculty, and staff. The Honor Code applies to academic integrity, and the Code of Responsibility applies to general social expectations in 13 areas to create an environment of trust and respect. Tests are unproctored, and professors often assign take-home exams. Final exams are self-scheduled, as well.
University of Virginia – UVA’s Honor System is the nation’s oldest student-run honor system. Students are bound by the honor code not to lie, cheat, or steal. While expected to uphold the honor code at all times, they’re officially obligated to follow it only when they are in Charlottesville or Abemarle County (where UVA is located), and when they identify themselves as University of Virginia students (for example, when studying abroad). Offenses are presented to a judiciary body made up entirely of students. Board members investigate allegations and assist students through every step of the Honor System process.
Princeton University – Princeton is the only school in the Ivy League with an honor code. The honor code focuses specifically on academic honesty, and is entirely student-run. Students are responsible for following the code themselves, signing a pledge when they matriculate, and on every exam they take. Students are also expected to report violations to the Honor Committee, a board of students that reviews all honor violations.
Remember, all colleges will expect academic honesty and have policies in place to address cheating and plagiarism. However, colleges with honor codes give students more responsibility and autonomy in maintaining an atmosphere of academic integrity, not to mention an open and safe campus environment.