It is no surprise that a decade marred by financial crisis, natural disasters and terrorism has greatly raised the profile of risk management. Most organizations are now coming to recognize the importance of the discipline and, perhaps more importantly for the industry's future, more and more college students are choosing to study risk management and insurance.
The field's workforce is old and getting older. With many risk and insurance professionals on course to reach retirement age over the next decade, who will be the chief risk officer of your company in 20, 30 or 40 years? Most likely, he or she will be a graduate of an accredited risk management and insurance program.
Collegiate RMI programs were not always so popular. In the May 1992 issue of Risk Management, we ran an article stating that "the discipline of risk management has been overlooked by the majority of institutions of higher learning." That may still be true to a certain extent, but colleges and universities throughout not only the United States, but the world, are embracing companies' universal need for graduates with a background in risk management and a desire to work in the field.
"In general, we are seeing more interest in insurance careers," said Diane Fowler, executive director for Professional Insurance Agents (PIA) of Connecticut, New Hampshire, New Jersey and New York. "[The jobs] are more or less recession-proof, and I think the industry is doing more to promote the programs that are out there."
As more high school- and college-aged students realize the potential of a career within risk management and insurance, RMI programs are becoming more popular, recently sprouting up in schools such as the University of Southern Maine, Saint Joseph's University in Philadelphia and the University of Houston.
Some notable associations have also taken extra steps to encourage and nurture the youngest breed of future insurance professionals. New Jersey Young Insurance Professionals (NJYIP) has launched an outreach program called Project Y. The initiative consists of a website and marketing materials to encourage young high school- and college-aged individuals to consider careers in insurance. This is just one example of the many new programs, most of which are supported by local companies in need of a solid workforce.
I think corn antes are recognizing that they need to build protection into their own businesses," said Fowler. "As for insurance, I think the industry overall is going through a transition and is ripe for having well-educated people." All signs point to a definite need for people with RMI degrees.
The 10 schools profiled in our review this year are those institutions with the most RMI graduates in the 2008/2009 school year (excluding summer term).
1. University of Georgia
Terry College of Business
Degrees offered: BA, MBA, Ph.D.
RMI degree first offered: 1965
Graduates from undergrad program in 2008/2009: 112
UGA's Terry College of Business ranks number one because of its sheer size: 112 students graduated in 2008/2009 with a bachelor's degree from the RMI program while 1,497 students were enrolled in the program's risk management and insurance courses. The undergraduate program, which was ranked second in the nation by U.S. News & World Report in 2008, places great emphasis on real-world experience by encouraging students to participate in internships. More than 60 local companies have benefited so far. "Terry students are in such demand that the RMI department can require that internships be paid," said Rob Hoyt, head of the insurance, legal studies and real estate department and a professor of corporate risk management and enterprise risk management. For undergraduates, a heavy emphasis is placed on applied projects, such as conducting insurance audits on actual small businesses in the Athens area. …