Twenty years ago, it was nearly impossible to find colleges and universities offering degrees in insurance. Now there are many programs across the nation that offer bachelor’s degrees, concentrations, certifications, and even graduate degrees in insurance.
Children of agents and brokers who want to follow in their parents’ footsteps and work for the family agency can greatly benefit from a formal education in insurance. They will have a distinct advantage over those starting out with no prior knowledge of the industry.
For those people already working full time in the industry, there are online programs that can increase students’ earning power and competitiveness in the job market.
Whether students are just starting out in the industry or consider themselves veterans, a degree in insurance can only benefit them in their careers. In the first of a series of articles, Insurance Journal profiled five universities that offer undergraduate and graduate degrees in insurance. More universities will be featured in future editions.
University of North Texas
Department of Finance, Insurance, Real Estate & Law; College of Business Administration
Location: Denton, Texas
Degrees: Bachelor of Business Administra-tion, with Professional Field in Risk Management and Insurance.
Number of students: Approximately 30 declared majors at any one time; the program graduates approximately 15-20 students per year. There are about five “double majors” per year who major in RMI and Finance, Financial Services, or other disciplines, such as Entrepreneurship or Management. There are usually 10-20 declared “minors” annually.
Year started: 1950
Curriculum: The Professional Field consists of 30 hours and Professional Field courses are required. No substitutions will be approved unless a course has been deleted from the course inventory or a course was canceled due to low enrollment and will not be offered before the graduating semester.
Professional Field courses include: Principles of Risk and Insurance Manage-ment; Life Insurance; Property and Liability Insurance I; Property and Liability Insurance II; Estate Planning; Risk Management.
Supporting courses: International Finance; Employee Benefit Programs; and 6 hours approved in advance by the department chair or professional field advisor.
Internship: Students complete an internship for three hours of course credit, upon completion of 12 semester hours at UNT, including six hours in their area of study.
Career potential: Production (agent or broker), claims, underwriting, agency management, customer service representative, account service representative, etc. Loss control specialist, risk manager, risk analyst, cost containment specialist, actuary.
What the program offers students: According to Dr. Brenda Wells, Associate Professor of Insurance, the program offers training in all types of insurance, both property/casualty and life/health. In addition, it assists students in all phases of career preparation, including resume writing assistance, and recognition through the publication and mass distribution of a semi-annual Resume Book.
Wells said the program offers “scholarships galore!” In the last four years, an annual total of over $40,000 has been available for insurance majors; the average amount available per student – more than $1,000. Extensive networking opportunities are available, including participation in industry conferences (Dallas Fort-Worth RIMS Fall Conference, IIAD’s All Industry Day, and others), and two social events each year for students, alumni and industry representatives.
The school boasts a nearly 100 percent employment rate for all graduates, and offers financial support and guidance for students pursuing CPCU, ARM, CLU, and other designations while in school. Successful completion of most exams results in full reimbursement for exam fees.
Faculty has a wide range of experience in teaching, industry experience, education and research, and all senior-level courses are taught by full-time faculty members. All adjunct professors have a CPCU, Master’s degree, or other advanced education.
What makes the program unique: The majority of graduates look forward to starting salaries of $35,000 to $44,000 and the program has an active Insurance Club, which has two philanthropy projects each year, several social events, and regular football tailgate parties. Business cards are provided to all majors. Faculty know each student, and provide personal assistance and job placement services.
Degree plan flexibility: two courses are selected by the student (with faculty approval) and can include courses in Work-place Safety, Public Speaking, Negotiating, Professional Selling, Contract Law, Investments, or other topics that interest the student and pertain to future career options.
Approximately 80 percent of the program’s majors are fully or partially self-supporting; the average age is approximately 23 years.
The program has a strong alumni base and mentors are available for students. Program alumni are employed by companies such as Marsh, AON, AIG, State Farm, St. Paul Traveler’s, Liberty Mutual, GEICO, Zurich, Northwestern Mutual, Lockton, Kimberly-Clarke, Unitrin, and many others. The Web site www.insuretexas.org was created by students of the program.
Web site: www.coba.unt.edu/firel/
Contact: Dr. Brenda Wells, UNT Financial Services Center, email@example.com, (940) 565-4285.
University of Arkansas at Little Rock
Department of Economics and Finance
Location: Little Rock, Arkansas
Degrees offered: Major in Finance with concentrations in Insurance and Financial Planning.
Number of students: 46
Year started: 1986
Curriculum offered: Principles of Insurance, Employee Benefits, Commercial Property and Liability Insurance, Estate Planning, Corporate Risk Management, Professional Financial Planning, Cooperative Education.
Career potential: Underwriter, agent, claims adjuster, financial planner, corporate risk manager, actuary.
What the program offers students: According to Lars Powell, Assistant Professor of Finance, students will gain an advanced conceptual understanding of risk and risk management; insurance policy interpretation; risk identification and measurement; and the legal environment of risk and insurance. The program offers job placement services, interaction with insurance professionals, and generous scholarships.
What makes the program unique: Courses are scheduled to accommodate traditional students as well as those who are employed full-time.
Web site: http://cba.ualr.edu/economics/ economicsfinance.htm.
Contact: Professor Lars Powell, firstname.lastname@example.org, (501) 569-8894.
University of Louisiana at Lafayette
Insurance and Risk Management Program
Department of Economics & Finance; B.I. Moody III College of Business Administration
Location: Lafayette, Louisiana
Degrees: Bachelor of Science in Business Administration (BSBA). Majors: Finance, Insurance and Risk Management.
Number of students: 80+ majors
Year program started: 1994
Curriculum: Integrated insurance/ risk management and finance course work. Insur-ance/Risk Management courses required for all insurance/risk majors: Principles of Insurance and Risk Management; Life/
Health Insurance; Property/Casualty Insurance; Employee Benefits; Seminar in Business Risk Management; Independent Study (optional); Internship (optional).
Finance courses required for all insurance/risk majors: Corporate Finance; Investments; International Finance; Credit Statement Analysis.
Career potential: Producer (agent/broker), underwriter, adjuster, risk manager, benefits manager, financial/estate planner, regulatory personnel, etc.
What the program offers students: Broad overview, with emphasis on practical matters, of the life/health and property/casualty industries, as well as both admitted and excess/surplus line insurance markets, industry issues/practices, ethics and integration with finance coursework.
What makes the program unique: Dr. William L. Ferguson, Program Coordinator, said UL Lafayette insurance/risk program was created and operates as a partnership with industry. Students are exposed to real world applications and experiences by academically and professionally qualified instructors.
Web site: http://cobweb.louisiana.edu/academics/academics_INSUR_home.htm
Contact: Dr. William L. Ferguson, Program Coordinator, and G. Frank Purvis, Jr. Eminent Scholar Endowed Chair of Insurance.
Florida State University
Department of Risk Management and Insurance
Location: Tallahassee, Florida
Degrees: Bachelor of Science with major in Risk Management and Insurance; Master’s of Management with a major in Risk Manage-ment/Insurance (offered online); Ph.D. with a major in Risk Management and Insurance.
Number of students: 150
Year started: 2000 (Master’s program); 1940s (undergraduate program)
Curriculum: For the online Master’s program, students take 11 courses covering operations, contracts, risk management, accounting, investments, life, benefits and the legal environment. Undergraduates take Life/Health Insurance Products; Property/Casualty Insurance Products; Property/Casualty Insurance Operations; and Commercial Risk Management.
Career potential: Most graduate students are already employed in the insurance industry in underwriting, risk management, claims and production. For undergrads, career opportunities exist in the fields of marketing (including agency and brokerage), underwriting, loss control, claims and risk management for non-insurance corporations.
What the program offers students: Dr. Patrick Maroney, associate dean for graduate programs, said students receive “insight into the entire picture of insurance,” and they can “appreciate the implications beyond their narrow responsibilities.” The undergraduate department annually holds a two-day placement program and almost all graduates seeking employment are placed upon graduation. There are also internship opportunities, and the FSU Insurance Society is a forum for students, faculty, and business leaders to interact outside the classroom environment.
What makes the program unique: Maroney said the undergraduate program is ranked in the top 10 by US News and World Report. He added that all courses are taught by full-time faculty andthe online program is the only one offered by an accredited AACSB school of business.
Web site: http://www.cob.fsu.edu/rmi/
Contact: Dr. Maroney, (850) 644-8217 for graduate programs and Dr. Dean Gatzlaff, (850) 644-4070, for undergraduate programs.
Appalachian State University
Department of Finance, Banking and Insurance
Location: Boone, North Carolina
Degrees: Bachelor of Science in Business Administration Degree, with a major in Risk and Insurance.
Number of students: 100-120
Year started: 1979
Curriculum: Students take Principles of Risk Management and Insurance as an introductory course, and then take courses in personal lines property and liability, commercial lines property and liability, and risk management. Students can also enroll in classes such as retirement and employee benefits, financial planning and estate planning.
Career potential: Most of the graduates, about 75 percent, serve as underwriters or claims adjusters in the property/casualty industry; some 25 percent become agents or brokers or corporate risk managers.
What the program offers students: Dr. David Wood, Freeman Professor of Insurance said students receive a broad-based education into the industry; they know what they’re getting into after graduating and ” can really hit the ground running.” The curriculum prepares students to understand the employers in the field and equips them with an introduction to finance. They have the opportunity to take additional financial courses.
What makes the program unique: Wood said the small size provides for a “lot of faculty/student interaction.” Students have educational travel opportunities; they have visited New York and Las Vegas, and may soon travel to London. There is an international component, and students are encouraged to get involved in the industry and to keep up with current issues.
Web site: http://www.business.appstate.edu/
Contact: Dr. David Wood, (828) 719-8278.