Tonight's blog entry is sponsored by the following Facebook status. (Name removed because I did not ask the permission of the poster)

>Why is my Christian Ethics course required for an Ethics Minor?

(The poster went on to comment that that she mostly objected to the religious portion of the course)

There's two reasons why classes become required: a) Some authority figure says that a certain program should include a class on a certain topic (i.e. an accrediting agency, religious leader, the dean) b) The department decides that such a class should be included within a program.

Regarding (b), there are numerous reasons why the department would make a decision to require a certain class. Among them:

  • Attempting to get the maximum utilization out of an instructor. Consider this "Christian Ethics" class. If there's maybe 12 people who are required to take this class as a part of their degree program, perhaps a religious studies degree, and there's usually only three or four people who have an Ethics minor declared, then one instructor can knock kill the proverbial two birds with one proverbial stone. This is a typical situation at a small-er University like mine.
  • Competition between Department A and Department B. It is relatively common to see two departments with overlapping interests, Math and Physics for example, to offer competing classes. "Calculus for Physicists" would be an example here.

As far as the actual answer to the question, do some research. What agency accredits your department? When did the requirement come into effect? Who was on the faculty and who was chair at that time?

And, as a final comment, I urge college seekers to select a major before they enter the school, and closely look through the degree requirements at that time. University catalogs are universally boring reading, but I consider them the most valuable tool in selecting a University.