Risk Management Degrees: At a Glance
Risk management teaches students how to minimize the risk of and deal with disruptions to business, finances and schedule. These degree programs are usually offered in a university's business school, though some, especially those focused on computer security and related topics, may be offered in a university's engineering school.
Graduates with this degree go into a variety of business and finance-based professions. However, most of these are expected to see slower than average growth. For example, the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS) predicted that job growth for financial managers would grow by nine percent between 2010 and 2020.
|Who is this degree for?||Individuals in a related field, such as business, who want advanced training in risk management|
|Common Career Paths (with approximate mean annual salary)|| - Financial specialist ($66,000)*|
- Insurance underwriter ($68,000)*
- Financial manager ($120,000 - with at least five years of experience)*
|Time to Completion||1-2 years|
|Common Graduation Requirements|| - Approximately 30-35 credits of coursework |
- Capstone project
|Prerequisites|| - GRE or GMAT scores|
- Undergraduate degree in related field
- Knowledge of field through experience
Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (May 2011 figures)
Master's Degrees in Risk Management
Master's degree programs in risk management are typically designed for working professionals who have familiarity with the field. Most programs award the Master of Science and focus on financial aspects of business, though some may also offer topics on security. Because programs are aimed at working professionals, most include a measure of flexibility. Additionally, programs may ask for letters of recommendations or other means to prove you have risk management experience.
Pros and Cons
- Higher-than-average salary potential for related careers
- A variety of risk management programs are available at this level
- Employers may prefer candidates with a master's degree
- Predicted job growth in related careers is generally slower than average
- May be competing against applicants with a bachelor's degree and experience
- Programs may require that you have professional experience prior to admission
Courses and Training
Most risk management master's degree programs are designed to take 1-2 years to complete. Additionally, master's degree programs may prepare you for a specific certification, such as the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) or Financial Risk Manager (FRM) designations. Courses tend to focus on financial topics, though some may also include project management, electronic systems, insurance and security courses. You may also be required to complete a capstone project.
Some course topics you can expect to study in these programs include:
- Financial risk modeling
- Corporate finance
- Insurance accounting
Online Degree Options
Some schools may offer risk management programs both on-campus and online. The online programs may take longer than campus-based programs due to the availability each semester of online courses. Programs that are offered completely online are less likely to include a capstone project. However, even programs that are not offered online may have some flexibility built in, such as offering classes in the evenings or on the weekends.
Getting Ahead With This Degree
Many different certification options are offered for risk managers. Aside from the CFA and FRM designations mentioned above, the National Alliance for Insurance Education and Research offers a Certified Risk Manager (CRM) certification. To earn the certification, you must take five risk management courses and pass the exams for all of them within five years. Also, the Institute of Internal Auditors has a Certification in Risk Management Assurance (CRMA) credential that requires you to take part of the exam for their Certified Internal Auditor (CIA) certification, have a character reference form filled out by someone with one of their certifications or your supervisor and meet education and experience requirements.
Alternate Degree Option
If you like the idea of working with finances, but would like to work with investments instead, you might consider becoming a financial analyst. Financial analysts watch the performance of investments and make recommendations to individuals and businesses. You could prepare for this career with a bachelor's or master's degree in a related field, such as finance, or a Master of Business Administration.
According to the BLS, job prospects in this field are expected to increase by 23% between 2010 and 2020. As of May 2011, financial analysts make an average salary of around $88,000 a year.