Purpose ‐ The purpose of this paper is to show that academic misconduct appears to be on the rise; some research has linked academic misconduct to unethical workplace behaviors. Unlike previous empirically-driven research, this theory-based study seeks to examine the usefulness of a modification of Ajzen's theory of planned behavior to predict academic misconduct. Design/methodology/approach ‐ A total of 271 students enrolled at a US university were surveyed. Structural equation modeling was used to test the model. Findings ‐ The modified theory of a planned behavior model in which intentions and justifications both serve as antecedents to behavior fits the data well. The model accounted for 22 per cent of the variance in intentions to cheat and 47 per cent of the variance in self-reported cheating. Research limitations/implications ‐ The primary limitations of this research are the cross-sectional research design, the self-selected sample, and the single source of survey data. Practical implications ‐ The study extends the TPB model in the prediction of misconduct behavior. Attitudes, subjective norms, behavioral control, intentions and justifications were related to cheating behaviors. Academic misconduct may be reduced by shaping attitudes toward cheating, changing perceptions of subjective norms regarding the prevalence of cheating, and lowering students' perceptions of their control of cheating by, for example, emphasis on the consequences of getting caught. Understanding and reducing academic misconduct are important for promoting ethical behavior and values in future worker and organization leaders. Originality/value ‐ Identification of factors that influence academic misconduct is an important aspect of professional development research, given its link to workplace misconduct. To date, academic misconduct research has been primarily empirically- rather than theory-driven. The current study identifies factors that contribute to academic misconduct by extending an established theoretical model of behavior.