A risk management degree is a type of academic degree awarded to students who have completed a postsecondary degree program with an emphasis on risk management. Students may earn this degree from a college, university, or business school. The study of risk management involves identifying, assessing, and managing financial risks for a business or project.
Types of Risk Management Degrees
There are four basic types of risk management degrees that can be earned from a college, university or business school. A bachelor's degree is usually the minimum requirement for risk management personnel. However, a master's or MBA degree may be better suited for some positions.
- Bachelor's Degree - A bachelor's degree in risk management or a bachelor's degree in business administration with an emphasis on risk management are solid options for undergraduates who want to work in risk management. These programs generally take four years to complete, but can take as little as three years or as long as six years depending on the program you choose and the amount of time you want to invest in your studies each week.
- Master's Degree - A master's degree in risk management could be the logical next step for students who have already earned a bachelor's degree but want to further their career or knowledge of risk management. Most master's programs take two years to complete.
- Master of Business Administration - An MBA with a focus on risk management will also be an asset to students who want to work in the business or insurance fields. Students will take a core set of business courses along with specialized courses in risk management. MBA programs usually take two years to complete. One-year and part-time programs are also available.
- Doctorate Degree - Students who would like to earn the highest degree possible may go on to earn a doctorate or PhD in risk management. This degree is best suited for risk managers who would like to teach or work in academic research. A doctorate or PhD program can take several years to complete.
Choosing a risk management degree program is just like choosing any other academic program. You need to weigh a lot of information to make the right choice. Specific things to consider include the size of the school, program reputation, career placement, faculty expertise, student support, and post-graduation resources and opportunities. It is also important to find an accredited program. Accreditation ensures that you will get a quality education and earn a degree recognized by employers. Read more about choosing a business school.
What Can I Do with a Risk Management Degree?
Most of the students who get a risk management degree go on to work as risk managers. They may work as consultants or in a more permanent position with a specific company. Their responsibilities may include analyzing and controlling financial risk. They may use various strategies, such as hedging, to offset or limit an estimated financial loss. Specific career titles can include:
- Risk Manager - Risk Manager is a generic title for many people who work in risk management related careers. Risk management personnel may work with insurance, securities, investments, and other financial vehicles. They typically supervise operations or one or more people.
- Risk Specialist - A Risk Specialist has many of the same duties as a risk manager but usually specializes in a very specific area of risk management, such as real estate risk management or healthcare risk management.
- Actuary - An actuary is a statistician specifically trained in risk management. Job duties may include analyzing data to quantify risk. More than 60 percent of actuaries are employed by insurance companies.
Risk Management Certifications
You do not have to become certified to work as a risk manager--most employers do not demand it. However, there are several risk management certifications that can be earned. These designations look impressive on a resume and could help you earn more money or secure a position before a competing job applicant. Read more about risk management certifications.
Learn More about Earning a Risk Management Degree
The following sites offer more information about risk management degrees and careers.
- Risk Management Society - RIMS, the Risk Management Society, is an association of risk management professionals and educators. They offer special resources to members, including education resources, career information, and networking opportunities. Members can also gain full access to Risk Management Magazine and RisKWire, a daily news service.
- Institute of Risk Management - The Institute of Risk Management (IRM) is a leading non-profit organization dedicated to risk management education and risk professionals. Site resources include accredited courses, career information, events listing, and more.
- Risk Management Association - The Risk Management Association (RMA) is a member-driven non-profit association for risk management professionals. Members include both banking and nonbanking institutions. The site offers information about training, events, publications, tools, and more.