A new Courses by Newspapers series begins today in The Weekly. The series, "Moral Choices in a Contemporary Society," will run for 16 consecutive weeks and will enable the reader to earn college credit.

Anyone may apply to take the course at one of four schools regardless of past education or current enrollment. The schools - the American University, the University of Virginia Regional Center in Falls Church, the Open University of the University of Maryland/University College in College Park and the Graduate School of the U.S. Department of Agriculture - each offer a different program based on the 16 articles that will appear in The Weekly every Thursday.

Each school will award college level credits to those enrolled in the course who successfully complete the requirements. The American University offers four undergraduate college level credits; the University of Virginia offers three upper division college credits: the University of Maryland offers three undergraduate college level credits; and the Department of Agriculture offers four transferrable undergraduate college level credits, though it is not an accredited university and does not offer degree programs.

"Courses by Newspaper" is a national program funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities. The courses are administered and originated by the University Extension, University of California, San Diego.

The series of 16 articles makes up the "lectures" in the course, and supplementary materials are available for casual readers and those taking the course for credit.

The course is to explore the often controversial moral dilemmas that perplex modern Americans, surrounding such issues as sexual conduct, crime and punishment , political and business ethics, abortion, pornography, science, technology, work and race.

The tuition at the University of Virginia's Regional Center in Falls Church is $81 plus a $5 registration fee. Late registration is begin accepted through February. For more information, call 532-5800, Ext. 45.

The American University's tuition is $120 with late registration being accepted through Feb. 11. Call 686-2500 for more information.

The Open University of the University of Maryland/University College charges tuition of $102 plus a one-time matriculation fee of $15. Late registration by mail will be accepted through Feb. 3. Late registration in person will be accepted through Feb. 8. For additional information, call 454-2765.

Tuition at the Agriculture Graduate School is $45 for credit and audit participants and $25 for senior citizens. Late registration will be accepted through Jan. 28. For more information, call 447-6337.

Here is the scheduled course outline:

One: The Nature of Morality. How is the moral order established and changed? By Philip Rieff.

Two: The Dilemmas of Sex. What new responsibilities are imposed by today's sexual revolution? By Jean Lipman-Blumen.

Three: The Family and Morality. How has the influence of the family - our traditional foundation of moral order - been weekened? By Christopher Lasch.

Four: Abortion. What are the moral arguments surrounding this bitter controversy? By Daniel J. Callahan.

Five: Aging and the Aged. Should usefulness be the criterion for continued existence? By Daniel J. Callahan.

Six: Politics: The Domestic Struggle for Power. Is there any relationship between the moral and political orders? By Robert W. Tucker.

Seven: Politics: The International Struggle for Power. In international affairs, does might define right? By Robert W. Tucker.

Eight: Law and Morality.Can our conduct always be shaped by rules of law? By Lon Fuller.

Nine: Crime and Punishment. What response is there to crime except worthy punishment? By Ernest Van Den Haag.

Ten: Pornography and Obscenity. Is the individual degraded by degradations of the language? By John P. Sisk.

Eleven: Science and Morals: Freedom of Inquiry and the Public Interest. Is science imunne from moral considerations? By Hans Jonas.

Twelve: Science and Morals: The Ethics of Biomedical Research. What are the ethical means and ends of research on human beings? By Hans Jonas.

Thirteen: The Morality of word and Play. Whatever happend to the sense of vocation - doing your best at whatever the job might be? By Martin E. Marty.

Fourteen: The Morality of Business. Is business exempt from moral controls? By Martin E. Marty.

Fifteen: Racism. What is the relationship of racism to the moral order? By Kenneth B. Clark.

Sixteen: Moral Education. Who is responsible for moral education today? By Phillip Rieff.