Distance learning business ethics training is available from community colleges, universities and private online schools. There are standalone courses in addition to undergraduate and graduate programs in business-related areas, all of which are offered fully online. For-profit organizations may also provide online ethics courses that help businesses train employees and comply with industry standards.
Some schools offer self-paced online continuing education courses or certificates in business ethics that do not award college credit. For-credit distance learning programs that have ethics coursework may lead to an associate's, bachelor's or master's degree in business administration. Schools sometimes offer business ethics as a concentration within a business administration degree program. Graduate programs may require relevant work history.
Students entering continuing education courses may have to meet few if any strict admissions guidelines. Those entering an associate's or bachelor's program in business may only need to have a high school diploma or GED, but some programs at the latter degree level expect distance learners to already have some general education and business-related college credits. Those applying to an online Master of Business Administration program must have a bachelor's degree and usually need credits in prerequisite business coursework, a relevant work history and possibly GRE or GMAT scores.
Online ethics classes typically cover the same topics as on-campus programs. They may share the same syllabus and follow the same semester schedule. Through online classes, students examine the relationship between organizational culture and ethical practices by analyzing human behavior and psychological justifications. Classes may be broken down to address ethics in specific fields, such as finance, human resources or health care. They focus significantly on case studies to analyze real instances of ethical dilemmas and provide solutions based on their learning. Topics covered in an online business ethics class may include:
- Business risks and benefits
- Corporate operations
- Legal obligations
- Organizational management
- Trickle-down accountability
- Evaluation of ethical decisions
Students taking for-credit or noncredit courses through a college or university commonly log on to a personal account through learning software such as WebCt, SkillPort or Blackboard. Then they can check e-mail, post to discussion forums and receive syllabus updates through this portal. Some programs require a minimal amount of participation and track students' contributions.
Schools' virtual classroom environments house lectures, assignments, assessments and other course materials that distance learners can usually access any time of day. Personal time management skills are important, however, because for-credit courses usually have assigned due dates for coursework.
Online courses offer a convenient way for students to complete business ethics training, covering topics in management, ethics and corporate operations. These courses may be included within broader undergraduate and graduate degree programs in business.