Academic Doping: Institutional Policies Regarding Nonmedical use of Prescription Stimulants in U.S. Higher Education


Academic integrity policies at 200 institutions of higher education (IHE’s) were examined for the presence of academic prohibitions against the nonmedical use of prescription stimulants (NMUPS) or any other cognitive enhancing drug (CED). Researchers used online search tools to locate policy handbooks in a stratified random sample of IHE’s drawn from the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) database, searching for NMUPS/CED use as violations of either academic integrity or alcohol and other drug (AOD) policies. Of 191 academic integrity policies found online, NMUPS/CED prohibitions were present in only one. However, NMUPS was addressed in all but two of the 200 IHE AOD policies, often with language referencing IHE adherence to federal or state law. NMUPS/CED prohibitions are predominantly absent in IHE academic integrity policies, raising questions about whether colleges and universities are concerned about the use of enhancement drugs as a form of cheating. Implications for fairness, health promotion, and future research are discussed.

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The development of this manuscript was supported in part by research grants T32DA007233, R01DA031160 and R01DA036541 from the National Institute on Drug Abuse, National Institutes of Health. The National Institute on Drug Abuse, National Institutes of Health had no role in the study design, collection, analysis, or interpretation of the data, writing of the manuscript, or the decision to submit the paper for publication. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institute on Drug Abuse or the National Institutes of Health. For the first author, work on this manuscript was supported by the T32DA007233 research grant. For the third author, work on this manuscript was supported by research grants R01DA031160 and R01DA036541.

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List of institutions of higher education (IHE) included in study sample

Abilene Christian University

Alabama State University

Alcorn State University

American Musical and Dramatic Academy

Amherst College

Babson College

Bard College

Barnard College

Barton College

Bates College

Belhaven University

Bemidji State University

Berklee College of Music

Bluefield State College

Boston University

Brenau University

Brigham Young University-Hawaii

Brown University

Bryn Mawr College

Buffalo State SUNY

California Lutheran University

California Polytechnic State University-San Luis Obispo

California State University-Fullerton

Campbell University

Cardinal Stritch University

Carleton College

Carlow University

Carnegie Mellon University

Chamberlain College of Nursing-Missouri

Chapman University

Christian Brothers University

Claremont McKenna College

Clarion University of Pennsylvania

Clayton State University

Colby College

College for Creative Studies

College of the Ozarks

Columbia University in the City of New York

Concord University

Coppin State University

Cornell University

Cumberland University

CUNY Brooklyn College

CUNY John Jay College of Criminal Justice

CUNY Lehman College

CUNY Queens College

CUNY York College

Dalton State College

Dartmouth College

Davidson College

Denison University

Dickinson College

Duke University

Edinboro University of Pennsylvania

Emerson College

Emory University

Fashion Institute of Technology

Flagler College-St Augustine

Florida Atlantic University

Fordham University

Freed-Hardeman University

Georgetown University

Gettysburg College

Graceland University-Lamoni

Grambling State University

Greensboro College

Hamilton College

Harvard University

Haverford College

Jacksonville University

Johns Hopkins University

Kenyon College

Lafayette College

Lancaster General College of Nursing & Health Sciences

Lehigh University

LeTourneau University

Louisiana State University and A&M

Macalester College

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Middlebury College

Mississippi University for Women

Mount Holyoke College

Mount Mary College

Muhlenberg College

Nevada State College

New York University

Newman University

Northeastern University

Oakland City University

Oakwood University

Oberlin College

Occidental College

Ohio State University

Pacific Union College

Penn State University

Pepperdine University

Pomona College

Prairie View A & M University

Princeton University

Purdue University-Calumet Campus

Ramapo College of New Jersey

Reed College

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Rice University

Roberts Wesleyan College

Rutgers University

Saint Augustine’s University

San Diego State University

Simmons College

Skidmore College

Southeastern Louisiana University

Southwestern Assemblies of God University

Spring Hill College

St Lawrence University

Stanford University

State University of New York at New Platz

Stevens Institute of Technology

Stillman College

SUNY College at Geneseo

SUNY College at Oneonta

SUNY College at Oswego

SUNY, Albany

Swarthmore College

Texas A & M University-Commerce

Texas A & M University-Texarkana

Texas Christian University

Texas Wesleyan University

The Art Institute of Atlanta

The New England Institute of Art

The University of Tampa

The University of Texas at Austin

Trinity College

University of Connecticut

University of Massachusetts, Amherst

University of Michigan, Ann Arbor

University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

United States Military Academy

United States Naval Academy

University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa

University of Alaska, Fairbanks

University of Arizona

University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff

University of Arkansas, Fayetteville

University of California, Berkeley

University of California, Los Angeles

University of California, Santa Barbara

University of Central Florida

University of Chicago

University of Colorado, Boulder

University of Delaware

University of Florida

University of Georgia

University of Hawaii, Manoa

University of Idaho

University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

University of Indiana, Bloomington

University of Iowa

University of Kansas

University of Kentucky

University of La Verne

University of Maine, Orono

University of Maryland, College Park

University of Minnesota, Twin Cities

University of Mississippi

University of Missouri

University of Montana, Missoula

University of Nebraska, Lincoln

University of Nevada, Reno

University of New Mexico

University of North Dakota

University of Oklahoma

University of Oregon

University of Rhode Island

University of Richmond

University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma

University of South Dakota

University of South Florida-Main Campus

University of Tennessee, Knoxville

University of Texas, Austin

University of the Pacific

University of Utah

University of Vermont

University of West Alabama

University of Wisconsin, Madison

University of Wyoming

University of South Carolina, Columbia

University of Virginia

University of Washington (Seattle, WA)

Vanderbilt University

Vassar College

Washington & Jefferson College

Washington Adventist University

Washington and Lee University

Washington University in St Louis

Wesleyan University

Whitman College

William Carey University

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Aikins, R., Zhang, X. & McCabe, S.E. Academic Doping: Institutional Policies Regarding Nonmedical use of Prescription Stimulants in U.S. Higher Education. J Acad Ethics 15, 229–243 (2017).

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  • Academic integrity
  • Higher education
  • Cognitive enhancement, nonmedical use of prescription stimulants
  • Ethics
  • Cheating
  • Policy