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Ethics programs teach people how to apply social and moral values to everyday issues.

Ethics programs include topics such as:


In ethics programs, students may be able to specialize in:


Community colleges and other two-year schools offer associate degree programs in ethics. An associate degree usually takes two years to complete. After earning an associate degree students can transfer to a college or university for further study.

Many colleges and universities offer bachelor's degrees in ethics. A bachelor's degree usually takes about four years of full-time study.

Several universities offer graduate degrees in ethics. A master's degree typically requires two years of study beyond a bachelor's degree. Doctoral (PhD) degree programs usually require two or more years of study beyond the master's degree.

See schools that offer this program.

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Program Admission

You can prepare for this program by taking courses in high school that prepare you for college. This typically includes four years of English, three years of math, three years of social studies, and two years of science. Some colleges also require two years of a second language.

Below is a list of high school courses that will help prepare you for this program of study:

Graduate Admissions

Admission to graduate programs is competitive. You need a bachelor's degree, good grades, and good test scores on the Graduate Record Exam (GRE) General. Although you do not need to major in a particular subject, you should take college-level courses in philosophy and ethics.

You also need letters of recommendation, a resume, and a statement of purpose describing your goals in studying ethics.

Some schools may also require a personal interview.

Typical Course Work

Program Courses

Undergraduate ethics programs typically include core courses similar to the following:

In addition to these core courses, you also take elective courses, depending on your specific interests. These might include:

Graduate Program Courses

Graduate programs that lead to a master's or doctoral degree also typically include:

Things to Know

Some programs allow you to study part time, especially if you're working or are completing a professional degree such as in medicine, law, or public health.

Many people who choose to get a degree in ethics also have or go on to earn another professional degree. A background in ethics can be useful in approaching your work critically and ethically.


East Side Area

Washington State University - Pullman

King-Snohomish Area

University of Washington - Bothell

University of Washington - Seattle

Statewide and Distance Learning

Washington State University - Global Campus