University Policies on AI Writing Tools | Overview & List

Educators are in the process of working out how to respond to AI writing tools like ChatGPT, and many students (and instructors) are unsure exactly what is allowed right now.

Our research into the current guidelines of 100 top universities indicates that most don’t have definitive guidelines yet and that individual instructors ultimately decide what’s allowed in their classes. Specifically, we found four responses to AI writing tools from universities:

  • At 27% of universities, there seem to be no clear guidance or policy so far.
  • At 51% of universities, individual instructors decide their own policy for now.
  • At 18% of universities, the tools are banned by default unless instructors say otherwise.
  • At 4% of universities, the tools are allowed (with citation) unless instructors prohibit them.

US university policies, June 5

See data (Google Sheet)

If you’re unsure what is allowed in your case, always check your syllabus or ask your instructor directly. Read on for a general summary of university stances so far and a table linking to specific guidance from 100 top universities.

Note
We plan to update this article periodically to reflect the current state of the conversation as more universities develop, publish, and rework their policies. Check back in the future if the information you’re looking for isn’t here yet.

If you’re a student at or representative of an educational institution, we’d love to hear about how your institution is responding to AI writing tools so far—especially if you can share more up-to-date guidelines from your university. You can reach us at ai-tools@scribbr.com.

University stances so far

As explained above, even when there’s a default AI policy in place, individual instructors have the freedom to depart from it and decide what’s allowed in their classes.

The resources currently available from universities are mainly guidelines for instructors, not official policies. Instructors are advised to create their own rules and communicate them clearly to students in their syllabus and in class. The main approaches your instructor might decide on are:

  • Banning the use of AI writing tools for assignments: Instructors may decide that these tools are incompatible with the intended learning outcomes of your class and prohibit their use entirely. This is likely to be a common policy for now. Instructors may use an AI detector to enforce this rule.
  • Allowing AI writing tools in some cases: You may be told to use AI only for specific purposes (e.g., only for research, not writing), only for special assignments, or only when you ask permission. You may also have to cite ChatGPT (or whatever tool you used) and describe how you used it.
  • Allowing AI writing tools generally, when appropriately cited: Some instructors may decide to allow the free use of these tools in any assignment. They will usually still require you to cite them and possibly to describe in detail how they were used.

While it’s up to individual instructors to determine their policies, very few instructors right now will allow you to use AI writing tools freely without citing them. Universities generally agree that presenting AI-generated writing as your own work is plagiarism (or at least academic dishonesty).

Tip
If you’re unsure about the specific policy in your case, check your syllabus or ask your instructor. When asking, be specific about what use cases you’re interested in (e.g., “May I use ChatGPT to develop my research question?”—not just “May I use ChatGPT?”).

By default, it’s safest to assume that AI writing tools are not allowed until you know your instructor’s specific policy. The consequences of plagiarism and academic dishonesty can be serious, so make sure you know where you stand. It’s better to be safe than sorry.

List of university policies and guidelines

The table below provides links to resources on the current policies or guidelines of 100 top US universities. You can also check out the data in more detail in our research spreadsheet.

In each case, we tried to find the most definitive guidance available from the university. Because this technology is developing quickly and universities are in the middle of a semester, they normally don’t have a definitive policy statement yet. Most commonly, we were able to find:

  • Resources for instructors, advising them on how to develop their own policy on these tools
  • Statements from faculty quoted in news articles
  • Statements from faculty in public forum discussions

The table is organized alphabetically by university name and divided into three tabs for ease of navigation. Just find and click on your university’s name. If you can’t find information on your university, it’s always best to ask your instructor directly or check your syllabus.

Other interesting articles

If you want to know more about ChatGPT, AI tools, fallacies, and research bias, make sure to check out some of our other articles with explanations and examples.

Frequently asked questions

Can I have ChatGPT write my paper?

No, it’s not a good idea to do so in general—first, because it’s normally considered plagiarism or academic dishonesty to represent someone else’s work as your own (even if that “someone” is an AI language model). Even if you cite ChatGPT, you’ll still be penalized unless this is specifically allowed by your university. Institutions may use AI detectors to enforce these rules.

Second, ChatGPT can recombine existing texts, but it cannot really generate new knowledge. And it lacks specialist knowledge of academic topics. Therefore, it is not possible to obtain original research results, and the text produced may contain factual errors.

However, you can usually still use ChatGPT for assignments in other ways, as a source of inspiration and feedback.

Is ChatGPT a credible source?

No, ChatGPT is not a credible source of factual information and can’t be cited for this purpose in academic writing. While it tries to provide accurate answers, it often gets things wrong because its responses are based on patterns, not facts and data.

Specifically, the CRAAP test for evaluating sources includes five criteria: currency, relevance, authority, accuracy, and purpose. ChatGPT fails to meet at least three of them:

  • Currency: The dataset that ChatGPT was trained on only extends to 2021, making it slightly outdated.
  • Authority: It’s just a language model and is not considered a trustworthy source of factual information.
  • Accuracy: It bases its responses on patterns rather than evidence and is unable to cite its sources.

So you shouldn’t cite ChatGPT as a trustworthy source for a factual claim. You might still cite ChatGPT for other reasons—for example, if you’re writing a paper about AI language models, ChatGPT responses are a relevant primary source.

Can I program with ChatGPT?

Yes, ChatGPT is able to create code in different programming languages like Python, Java and C++.

There are several ways you can use ChatGPT in your studies, such as if programming is part of your bachelor’s or master’s degree.

Can I cite ChatGPT?

Yes, in some contexts it may be appropriate to cite ChatGPT in your work, especially if you use it as a primary source (e.g., you’re studying the abilities of AI language models).

Some universities may also require you to cite or acknowledge it if you used it to help you in the research or writing process (e.g., to help you develop research questions). Check your institution’s guidelines.

Since ChatGPT isn’t always trustworthy and isn’t a credible source, you should not cite it as a source of factual information.

In APA Style, you can cite a ChatGPT response as a personal communication, since the answers it gave you are not retrievable for other users. Cite it like this in the text: (ChatGPT, personal communication, February 11, 2023).

How do I access ChatGPT?

You can access ChatGPT by signing up for a free account:

  1. Follow this link to the ChatGPT website.
  2. Click on “Sign up” and fill in the necessary details (or use your Google account). It’s free to sign up and use the tool.
  3. Type a prompt into the chat box to get started!

A ChatGPT app is also available for iOS, and an Android app is planned for the future. The app works similarly to the website, and you log in with the same account for both.

Cite this Scribbr article

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Caulfield, J. (2024, May 30). University Policies on AI Writing Tools | Overview & List. Scribbr. Retrieved July 16, 2024, from https://www.scribbr.com/ai-tools/chatgpt-university-policies/

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Jack Caulfield

Jack is a Brit based in Amsterdam, with an MA in comparative literature. He writes for Scribbr about his specialist topics: grammar, linguistics, citations, and plagiarism. In his spare time, he reads a lot of books.

1 comment

Jack Caulfield
Jack Caulfield (Scribbr Team)
April 24, 2023 at 3:49 PM

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