Media and government attention to the consequences of poor business ethics has created powerful reasons for taking a business ethics course. Many employers now require staff members to complete business ethics training, and business people often choose to study the topic on their own. Choosing the best business as ethics course requires that you research your options, which include university-based courses, business ethics seminars, and free online open course offerings. The best business ethics course for you is one that you can afford, meets the requirements of your employer, and that serves your educational goals.
If your employer wants you to take a business ethics course, be sure to find out what type of course your employer wants you to take. For example, your employer may only be interested in you gaining information and is happy to send you away on a weekend seminar or pay for an online or classroom-based continuing education course. On the other hand, your employer may want you to develop a more in-depth understanding of business ethics, which you may better achieve if you take a university-based business ethics course. Be sure to ask your employer about tuition reimbursement. Taking your business ethics course through a local community college can cost a lot less than paying private university or for-profit seminar company tuition and fees.
Other considerations in taking a business ethics course is its focus. For example, many companies are concerned about their social responsibility, particularly to the environment and to workers in the third world. Before enrolling in a business ethics course, it's a good idea to ask the school or the instructor whether the material you are interested in is included in the course. If you are interested in learning more about sustainable farming practices and fair trade but the course focuses on business management ethics, it's probably not the course for you. If a school or instructor indicates that the course does focus on a topic that you are interested in, find out whether the instructor actually has any experience or academic standing in that particular area.
Business ethics courses taught at colleges and universities may be offered either through the business department or the philosophy department. If your academic and professional background is primarily in business, you may want to consider taking a course taught through a philosophy department. This can give you a unique and different perspective on business ethics taught by an applied ethicist, rather than someone who approaches the field from a business-first perspective.