Grade Inflation Steeper in Private Colleges, Study Says

By Debra Viadero — April 20, 2010 1 min read
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If you to want to have a higher grade point average in college, choose a private school. At least that’s what you might conclude from a study reported yesterday in the “Economix” blog at The New York Times.

For the study, researchers Stuart Rojstaczer and Christopher Healy collected data over the last century from 80 colleges and universities across the United States. They discovered that grades on average rose at about the same rate in both public and private colleges over the first half of the 20th century. The pattern began to change in the 1950s, however, when grade inflation at private colleges began to outstrip that of public universities. Since then, the authors say, GPAs have risen from a national average of 2.52 to about 3.11 by the middle of the last decade.

Today, they calculate, the average GPA is 3.3 for private colleges and universities and 3.0. for public institutions. The authors say that might explain why disproportionate numbers of private-college graduates gain admittance to the nation’s medical schools and law schools.

A version of this news article first appeared in the Inside School Research blog.