I have had the opportunity to matriculate in graduate courses in several areas of study and have spoken to post-baccalaureates at numerous institutions. As such, I feel that the views expressed in this post have some merit. In keeping with the my blog's mission statement, consider this post to be a rough draft of my thoughts--a quick fleshing out of my opinions as opposed to a carefully crafted, highly edited paper.
A large percentage of graduate students cheat. From what I have noticed, a large percentage of graduate students cheat. This problem (if we'd like to call it a problem) is not confined to traditionally competitive programs like law and business, it is prevalent in all graduate fields. Ironically, graduate students cheat even when they do not fear failure, ie. in programs that will not flunk even the worst students. While individual graduate students might posit any of a variety of reasons for committing these acts, the high prevalence of cheating is due to a permissive culture. Many students do not believe that cheating is an unethical behavior.
Universities need to standardize their graduate grading systems. University administrators need to request individual schools and programs to adopt the same grading system for graduate students. Grades may not be important for some firms, ie. universities looking to fill academic seats; however, most companies would like a graduate student's grades to reflect that individual's abilities and work ethic. It is difficult for a corporation to put any faith in this variable when post-graduate scoring systems vary widely between programs within a particular school, much less between graduate schools within a university (or between universities). For the same reasons that researchers use standardized measures assay an issue, businesses would like to universities to use a standard grading system for all graduate students.
Some program heads may cry foul if the university moves towards standardizing grading systems at its institution. They will argue that this action limits their program's/school's autonomy. However, in my opinion, the benefits outweigh any disadvantages when it comes to creating standardized grading systems for graduate students.
Graduate programs should use 3.0 as a minimum. Obviously, schools want to promulgate the view (sometimes an illusion) that their graduate students are a step up from undergraduates. At the same time, they want to promote the belief that graduate education is more rigorous and serious than its undergraduate counterpart. Sometimes these hypotheses are accurate and sometimes they are no more than myths. For instance, I can point to numerous instances in which a school's undergraduates are more intellectually capable than their graduate peers.
Be that as it may, it does not behoove graduate programs to enforce a policy of "No C's" or "2 C's and you are out." This policy causes a host of problems, especially for programs who are averse to flunking out any students. Perhaps most insidious are the instances in which professors feel it necessary to pass a student with a 'B,' even though that individual did absolutely nothing to deserve it. I would suggest that programs instead adopt a 3.0 minimum. It would allow professors more leeway in handing out grades which are commensurate with a student's abilities/efforts as well as allowing programs to differentiate between high achievers, middle-of-the road performers, and weak students.