Philadelphia’s St. Joseph’s University Adds Insurance, Double Major Program

March 9, 2010

Brian Durkin’s academic resume is longer than most. Durkin, who has an associate’s degree in accounting, will graduate from Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia this spring with a bachelor of science degree in finance. And risk management and insurance.

For more and more business students, one major just isn’t enough.

Many believe that business graduates with a double major have a compelling edge over their peers in an uncertain job market. Karen Hogan, Ph.D., chair and professor of finance at Saint Joseph’s, agrees.

“In this market, it absolutely makes sense to have a double major,” she says.

Which is why Hogan, along with administrators within St. Joseph’s Haub School of Business (HSB), spearheaded an effort to branch the Department of Finance into three majors: general finance, financial planning, and risk management and insurance.

Hogan says the decision was made with student interest in mind.

“This is a way to give students credit for the coursework they have invested time and money pursuing,” she says. “Under the new curriculum, students will have up to six free electives which will make the double major easier to obtain without having to increase the standard course load.”

Each of the three new majors requires students to take six upper level courses, four upper-level courses for the minor. The majors will also contain a prerequisite structure, allowing the electives in each to build on the information from previous courses in a logical progression.

Students in the College of Arts and Sciences will also benefit from either a double major or minor within the Department of Finance. Hogan believes the risk management and insurance major is a natural fit for students studying actuarial science and criminal justice.

Student Vi-Zanne Ho has always been drawn to working with numbers and figures. “It’s great that finance and actuarial science allow me to combine my studies together with my passion,” she says. “Having a second major is extremely useful; hopefully I will be able to present myself as a better candidate for employment.”

Hogan believes the same major will be advantageous to criminal justice majors interested in a career investigating criminal fraud.

Despite the program’s relative infancy at Saint Joseph’s, nearly 20 percent of HSB graduates gained employment in the risk management and insurance field in 2009. Established three years ago as a track within the Department of Finance, the program has achieved rapid growth. With support from insurance executives comprising Saint Joseph’s Risk Management and Insurance Board, the program awards $75,000 in scholarships annually, is one of 21 schools globally with a Global Association of Risk Professionals (GARP) collegiate chapter, and will host, for the second year, “The Energy School” which attracts insurance executives nationwide for training on how to adapt to the challenges of protecting our nation’s energy companies from shattering losses.

Despite the large number of Philadelphia-based insurance firms, only three universities in the area offer degrees in this field: Temple University, University of Pennsylvania and, now, Saint Joseph’s.

HSB Dean Joseph DiAngelo Jr. says SJU’s program fills a niche in the market place.

“This risk management and insurance program was designed in accordance with the business school’s unique approach to ethical engagement, academic excellence and industry-focused programs,” says DiAngelo. “Students will receive the skill sets necessary for successful careers in this growing field.”

A Catholic university, Saint Joseph’s is home to 4,200 full-time undergraduates and 3,100 graduate, part-time and doctoral students.

Source: St. Joseph’s University

Topics Education Universities Risk Management

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