The use of grade point average (GPA) to guide and inform decision-making permeates many corners of the educational landscape, including admission decisions into collegiate academic programs. Using GPA in this way turns an individual academic measure into a commodity that can be used to settle a competition amongst applicants. The rationale for using GPA in this way often goes undiscussed by policymakers who select it as a criterion. Additionally, turning GPA into a commodity that unlocks academic opportunity runs the risk of affecting how students approach learning in order to get an advantage over those whom they are competing against. This study sought to answer the ways in which GPA affects student learning, the understood rationale of policymakers for why GPA should be used as a metric in this way, and the role consequentialist and deontological ethics have in guiding the rationale. To address the research questions of this study a mixed methods design utilized data collected from two-year nursing programs throughout a state college system, and survey and interview data from students within the programs and educators who set admission policy for the programs. The research determined that using GPA as a criterion can affect student learning behavior, policymakers believe that GPA provides an objective measure that can predict academic readiness and therefore success on credentialing exams, and that consequentialist ethics often are utilized more frequently than deontological ethics to support decisions made concerning admission policy.


Melissa Krull

Committee Member

Candace Raskin

Committee Member

Beatriz DeSantiago-Fjelstad

Date of Degree




Document Type



Doctor of Education (EdD)

Program of Study

Educational Leadership


Educational Leadership



Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.



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