By Iris Stone
Who would want to get a degree in risk management and insurance? After all, it’s an unusually specific field that lacks the mass marketability of an accounting or finance degree. But this area of study, which the International Risk Management Institute defines as “the practice of identifying and analyzing loss exposures and taking steps to minimize the financial impact of the risks they impose,” is of enormous importance to many businesses. As a result, individuals with expertise in risk management and insurance (RMI) enjoy both a plethora of job opportunities and strong demand from employers who are in need of their unique skills.
Ranking the 15 Best Bachelor’s Degrees in Risk Management & Insurance
There are currently somewhere between 50 and 70 RMI programs available in the United States, depending on whether one includes certificates and minors in their tally. But we weren’t looking for just any programs when we compiled our list; we wanted the best, which to us meant finding the schools with the most focused, comprehensive options for students who want to immerse themselves completely in this uniquely specialized field. Therefore, we did not consider BBA or BSBA degrees (which typically consist mainly of business courses with a relatively small number of RMI classes) or online programs.
Using College Navigator as well as the International Risk Management Institute’s directory, we compiled a list of eligible colleges and then ranked them on the following six metrics:
- Dedicated Department: the schools with the largest and most complete RMI programs often dedicate an entire department to the subject. On the other hand, it’s more common for colleges with smaller, less significant programs to lump them into their business or finance department.
- Specializations: one key sign that a program’s curriculum has become truly comprehensive is when it starts branching into specializations. Schools with so many RMI classes available that they can offer multiple variations of the same degree are more likely to appeal to students, too.
- Advanced Program: colleges that have developed their programs to the point that they are attracting graduate students – and have faculty engaged in RMI research – send a signal about their dedication to the topic. In addition, schools that have achieved this status may be more likely to offer research/experiential learning opportunities to undergrads.
- Productivity: the number of RMI degrees that an institution confers in a given year provides an indication of how “productive” that program is; larger numbers means more students choosing – and sticking with – the RMI major. (This data came from both school websites and College Navigator.)
- Gamma Iota Sigma: risk management programs that take themselves seriously will waste no time in establishing a chapter of Gamma Iota Sigma, the only international business fraternity specifically for RMI students.
- Actuarial Excellence: although technically different disciplines, there is significant overlap between risk management/insurance and actuarial science in terms of both required knowledge and career options. Schools that have earned a designation from the Society of Actuaries as a “College of Actuarial Excellence” demonstrate an overall commitment to finance, risk, and insurance education.
After calculating each school’s performance in the above categories, we assigned final scores out of a maximum 100 points. Only the very best of the best – the ones that scored above 50 in our already selective pool – made this ranking of the 15 top insurance and risk management studies programs.
15. SUNY College at Oswego
As the first and arguably best bachelor of insurance and risk management degree program available at a New York State public school, SUNY College at Oswego’s RMI has long been a bastion of opportunity for those seeking a career in this lucrative industry. Indeed, the appeal of Oswego’s RMI program has to do with far more than just price (Although at less than $17,000 a year on average, it’s certainly an attractive feature). Perhaps most notably, Oswego offers two emphases – Investment and Marketing – within this already specialized program. By splitting the degree into two tracks, Oswego allows students to customize their education to suit their personal career goals.
Annual Net Price: $16,021
14. Ferris State University
Big Rapids, MI
Ferris State University’s newly launched RMI bachelor’s degree already ranks among the top undergraduate risk management programs in the country. Core classes in this program span diverse topics like commercial/personal insurance, insurance law, enterprise risk management, and more, ensuring that students graduate with a working knowledge of all aspects of this ever-changing field. Required internships further bolster expertise by providing tangible, practical experience at local and national insurance firms. Given the strength of its curriculum, it’s no wonder this young program has already set its sights on earning ACBSP (Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs) approval – as soon as it graduates its first cohort, that is!
Annual Net Price: $12,813
13. Northern Michigan University
From low student-faculty ratios and tuition to expansive major and core curricula, there are many reasons to consider Northern Michigan University’s accredited insurance and risk management studies program. But where similar schools might be satisfied with those achievements alone, NMU goes even further. For example, the school runs the Financial Trading Lab, a state-of-the-art computer center where students can participate in a virtual facsimile of a stockbroker’s trading floor. NMU even has a student-managed investment group called the Superior Fund, granting program participants access to a competitive, exciting, and hands-on learning exercise.
Annual Net Price: $12,703
12. Missouri State University
At Missouri State University, top insurance and risk management majors can earn their bachelor’s degree in just three years. This is a dramatic departure from the protocol of most other schools on this list, at which a four-year degree plan is the norm. MSU, on the other hand, actively encourages committed students to pursue the accelerated plan. Necessary steps include declaring the major in their first year, taking a full course load each summer, and passing every required class in one attempt. While rigorous, this course schedule enables ambitious undergrads to get a significant jump-start on their career in the insurance business.
Annual Net Price: $14,515
11. Butler University
There’s little reason to doubt that Butler University hosts one of the best and most affordable bachelor’s degrees in risk management and insurance. For starters, this program boasts a 100% graduate job placement rate and maintains an active chapter of Gamma Iota Sigma, an international risk management and insurance honors society. But what’s more unique is Butler’s own student-run insurance company, which provides undergrads with invaluable real-world experience. Although the venture won’t be fully operational until 2019 or so, current and soon-to-be RMI majors will still have an opportunity to get in on the ground floor before they graduate.
Annual Net Price: $34,814
10. Utica College
At Utica College, students have two options for earning an affordable bachelor’s degree in risk management and insurance. The first and oldest of the two is a management degree with a concentration in risk management, which enabled Utica to take the first steps in developing a comprehensive curriculum when RMI programs were still exceedingly rare (even today there are only about 60 nationwide). The second and newer of the two is a dedicated BS in Risk Management and Insurance, which launched with a full suite of relevant classes – and even offers separate concentrations in Insurance and Risk Management.
Annual Net Price: $22,466
9. Eastern Kentucky University
Like Utica, Eastern Kentucky University provides two pathways as part of its affordable undergraduate risk management programs: a BBA degree and a BS degree in Risk Management and Insurance. The differences between the two options are not dramatic – but they’re not entirely cosmetic, either. Most significantly, the BBA requires a dedicated business-driven core curriculum, whereas the BS program incorporates a more generalized elective schedule. And since EKU is the only school in the state that even offers an undergrad RMI program, the fact that it offers two choices just makes the experience that much better for local students hoping to enter the field.
Annual Net Price: $12,492
8. Ohio Dominican University
Any school that guarantees internships – as well as job interviews – in its students’ chosen field of study automatically deserves a closer look. Not only does Ohio Dominican University promise exactly that, but it also offers plenty of other perks to distinguish itself as a top choice for insurance and risk management majors. For example, undergrads who plan to earn an advanced degree can enroll in ODU’s 4+1 MBA (but only if they maintain a GPA of 3.0 or higher). At the same time, the program’s strong partnerships with industry giants like Nationwide and Century Insurance provide easy access to networking and career opportunities.
Annual Net Price: $21,740
7. Ball State University
With an average net price of less than $13,000, Ball State University easily qualifies as one of the most affordable bachelor of insurance and risk management degree programs in the country. But a cheap degree is hardly all Ball State has to offer. In fact, the school provides an impressively comprehensive survey of the field, thanks to a curriculum that emphasizes best practices and a faculty with plenty of industry experience. What’s more, BSU houses a dedicated Center for Actuarial Science, Insurance, and Risk Management that not only provides coursework, but also conducts actuarial research, runs professional-in-residence programs, and offers scholarship and internship opportunities for undergraduates.
Annual Net Price: $12,847
6. University of Central Arkansas
Currently, the University of Central Arkansas is the only place in the state to find an accredited bachelor’s degree in risk management and insurance. And while this admittedly makes UCA’s the best program in Arkansas by default, its high-value package of coursework and extracurriculars would perform just as well in a much more competitive arena. Among the most notable benefits are an optional Financial Planning Track within the major, an on-campus chapter of Gamma Iota Sigma, and an opportunity to earn a Chartered Property Casualty Underwriter (CPCU) Certificate prior to graduating. RMI majors also have access to unique resources – including a Student Resume Book – through the university’s Center for Insurance & Risk Management Studies.
Annual Net Price: $12,798
5. Florida State University
Currently ranked among U.S. News’ best business programs nationwide, Florida State University’s affordable insurance and risk management studies program already receives plenty of attention – and for good reason. Some of the program’s biggest highlights are its excellent graduate job placement rates and ample internship and scholarship opportunities—but that’s only the beginning. After all, FSU didn’t stumble upon these impressive statistics just by luck; rather, they are the result of a concerted departmental effort to help students network and find interviews. In addition to the career center’s targeted professional training services, RMI majors can also make connections through a special two-day job fair and placement program known as “Insurance Days.”
Annual Net Price: $16,708
4. Olivet College
Olivet College is one of the few schools with an RMI curriculum so robust that it offers its own set of specializations. This means that students will not only acquire a solid understanding of their chosen field, but they’ll also customize their education through a “special interest track” in “Agency” or “Insurer.” Beyond this, Olivet’s top insurance and risk management major receives plenty of support from its on-campus chapter of Gamma Iota Sigma. Indeed, GIS plays a significant role in the RMI degree program, offering a wide range of co-curricular activities and opportunities to augment the comprehensive business, insurance, and finance core curriculum.
Annual Net Price: $21,449
3. Illinois State University
Illinois State University’s two degree tracks in insurance provide students with the opportunity to choose between multiple professional specializations in this already highly specialized field. The most general option is ISU’s standard bachelor of insurance and risk management degree program, which consists of a suite of business and insurance courses that span health, property, liability, risk management, financial planning, and more. Alternatively, more technologically adept students can opt for a specialization in Business Information Systems. This option places greater emphasis on programming skills and system analysis/design while still developing an in-depth understanding of insurance financial services.
Annual Net Price: $17,509
2. St Johns University
Offered through St. John’s University’s Manhattan campus, the Peter J. Tobin College of Business provides one of the best insurance and risk management studies programs for globally minded students. In addition to the generally cosmopolitan vibe of New York City, RMI students at St. John’s enjoy internships with international insurance firms and a variety of study abroad opportunities, including trips to Rome and Paris. St. John’s also offers a Quantitative Risk and Insurance (QRI) track within the RMI program itself—an option that will help graduates become attractive candidates to global insurance and asset management firms.
Annual Net Price: $27,390
1. Temple University
Price, customizability, and quality are the three pillars of Temple University’s Fox School of Business, which happens to be one of U.S. News and World Report’s Top 50 undergraduate business schools in the country. For this ranking, it was the unusual number of options that Temple provides its RMI students – along with the school’s designation as a Center of Actuarial Excellence – that catapulted it to the #1 spot. With distinct specializations in Actuarial Science, Healthcare Management, and Risk Management & Insurance, this top undergraduate risk management program puts a premium on skill development and industry marketability – while also easily outshining its competition.
Annual Net Price: $20,236
Our selective ranking only includes the 15 top undergraduate risk management programs, but a full list of degree and certificate options is available from the International Risk Management Institute.
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