Only Twenty-Five Percent of Top Business Schools Teach Ethics as a Required Course
21 Corporate Crime Reporter 7, February 5, 2007

The bad news – only 25 percent of the nation’s top business schools require a stand-alone ethics course before graduation.

The good news – that’s up from 5 percent twenty years ago.

That’s according to a recent study published in the current issue of the Journal of Business Ethics.

The authors of the report surveyed the top 50 global MBA programs (as rated by the Financial Times).

The study’s authors questioned the deans or key officials of the 44 responding schools and found a keen interest among deans and students in the three areas surveyed – corporate social responsibility, ethics, and sustainability.

The study’s authors found that nearly one-third of the responding schools require coverage of all three topics in the MBA curriculum.

They also located “a significant presence of centers and other forms of institutional support dedicated to these topics.”

One of the authors of the study is Laura Hartman, a professor of business ethics at DePaul University in Chicago.

Hartman said that DePaul has a required ethics course at the undergraduate level, but not at the graduate level.

“Every business school should have a stand-alone required course in business ethics,” Hartman told Corporate Crime Reporter. “But that is not enough. Ethics also need to be integrated into the day-to-day business curriculum. Integration means that the faculty in the other disciplines need to know what is going on in the ethics course. And second, integration means they raise ethical issues in the finance course or the marketing course.”

Hartman said that she found that students are gravitating toward schools that have Net Impact Clubs – formerly known as Students for Responsible Business. The study found that fully 72 percent of the top 50 schools have Net Impact Clubs – including all of the top 10 schools.

Why don’t more of the top MBA schools have required stand-alone ethics courses?

“One reason is resources,” Hartman said. “Not everyone can teach ethics. Second, MBA students want to get through school quickly. So, most schools don’t want to add another required course. And if you add an ethics course, which course are you going to cut?”


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