Collegiate Risk Management and Insurance Education

By Gardner, Lisa A.; Schmit, Joan T. | Journal of Risk and Insurance, December 1995 | Go to article overview
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Collegiate Risk Management and Insurance Education

Gardner, Lisa A., Schmit, Joan T., Journal of Risk and Insurance


The most recent survey of collegiate risk management and insurance (RMI) education, conducted over six years ago by researchers at the Insurance Center at Drake University, provided a glimpse into the collegiate educational opportunities in RMI. Recently, academic institutions have experienced a number of significant changes that can be expected to impact all disciplines, including RMI. These changes include a contracting job market, shrinking pools of state funds available for the support of higher education, declining enrollments in business schools, and shifts from a uniform standards criteria to a mission-oriented evaluation process by the American Assembly of Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB).

In addition to general trends such as these, some dramatic discipline-specific changes appear to be influencing RMI education. Concern over pollution liabilities, mass torts, health care financing, and the growth in costs of natural catastrophes has put risk management in the public eye. Federal interest in insurance regulation, product liability reform, and universal health care have added interest in the discipline. Yet several RMI programs at highly regarded universities have been eliminated, and additional losses seem possible. An investigation of the current status and expected future of collegiate RMI education, therefore, is warranted.

At the request of the Strategic Planning Committee of the American Risk and Insurance Association (ARIA), we conducted a survey of collegiate risk management and insurance education in the United States and Canada. The purpose of the project was to gauge the status of collegiate RMI education and observe trends in course offerings, programs, faculty, and students. In this article, a school is said to have RMI "studies" if it offers at least one RMI course at the undergraduate level; it has an RMI "program" if it offers an RMI major, minor, or concentration. The results of the survey indicate that RMI studies are widespread, with over 26,000 students enrolled in RMI courses at more than 200 of the responding schools. Over 60 of these schools offer RMI majors, minors, or concentrations at the undergraduate level.

Over 380 faculty positions are devoted to teaching RMI courses at the responding institutions. Many of these positions are filled by part-time instructors, particularly at schools with undergraduate RMI studies. Although the survey results show that the supply of RMI faculty positions will likely grow over the next five years, the number of new RMI doctorates is expected to exceed the number of available positions. Some of the new graduates will fill finance or economics positions, choose to teach outside the United States and Canada, or take nonacademic positions.

A slight majority of the responding schools house their RMI studies in finance departments. Other frequently mentioned departments include risk management and insurance; finance and economics; and finance, insurance, and real estate. Although RMI incorporates aspects of several disciplines, educational institutions associate it most closely with finance. Separate RMI departments are more likely to be found where full RMI programs (majors, minors, or concentrations) exist.

Not unrelated to faculty status is curriculum status, which is also expected to grow in the next five years. Although three schools expect to eliminate RMI studies, 15 plan to add them, and, among existing programs, 40 anticipate supplementing their RMI studies with additional RMI course offerings. Nonetheless, RMI is still likely to remain a small discipline.

To provide a more complete explanation of the survey results, the next section briefly reviews general business education studies and RMI education, specifically. Descriptions of the hypotheses to be tested and survey methodology follow. The fourth section contains the results. The final section of the article discusses select conclusions and implications for risk management and insurance education, as well as suggestions for future research.

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