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The Risk Management and Insurance Program at Eastern Kentucky University ranks in the top 20 nationally, according to the February 2018 issue of Best’s Review magazine.

Eastern, which offers the only undergraduate insurance degrees in Kentucky, fared especially well in the “Popular Performers” category, which tracks online survey responses, many of whom are alumni.

Dr. Burke Christensen, program director and the Robert B. Morgan Chair of Insurance, said the ranking indicates that “respondents throughout the country know about our program and recognize that our graduates are well-educated and do well in their careers.”

In addition to on-campus classes, the University began in Fall 2017 to offer an online degree in risk management and insurance. Already, 11 are enrolled online among the program’s approximately 100 students. The entire program will be available online by Spring 2020, according to Dr. Siwei Gao, who heads the online program.

Debbie Ellis, program coordinator, attributed the program’s success to a commitment to student success, coupled with a personal touch.

“While students are at EKU, we provide a great deal of industry exposure through travel to conferences, bringing in industry professionals to share their work experiences, and having students participate in our annual golf scramble and Robert B. Morgan Insurance Conference,” Ellis explained. “We also create a relationship with our students by keeping in contact with them through almost daily emails about job openings, internships that are available, national and departmental scholarships, travel opportunities, national competitions and professional designations (CPCU) that they can work toward.”

That support doesn’t end when the students graduate. As the magazine article notes, the program was established at EKU more than 40 years ago and boasts “a network of graduates and friends who are in executive positions throughout the industry” – men and women who “actively mentor and hire the University’s current students and new graduates.”

Many of the industry professionals who come to speak to EKU students, as well as a large majority of attendees for the annual golf scramble and Robert B. Morgan Insurance Conference, are graduates of the program.

“The contact we maintain with our alumni makes it possible for our current students to learn from them and create a network of young professionals who can help them find a position in the industry,” Ellis said. “Our alumni know that we have many companies letting us know of openings they have, and that we have connections with industry professionals.”

Seventeen scholarships totaling $20,000 are awarded annually to students in EKU’s program. In addition, the program’s annual study abroad trip to London connects students with insurance executives in the international reinsurance and excess and surplus lines insurance market. The cost of the trip is subsidized by donor contributions.

The bachelor of business administration and bachelor of science degrees in risk management and insurance at EKU are accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business International. Graduates are prepared for careers in risk management, underwriting, claims adjustment, company operations, agency and brokerage, and related fields.

“We can compete with other RMI programs in larger cities, with more students … and more recognition,” Ellis said. “We are bringing this program out of obscurity and into national attention. We could not have asked for a better way to let industry professionals know that we are here and that our students are prepared to work with the best of them.”

Burning Glass Labor Insight reported last year that regional demand for bachelor’s-level risk management and insurance professionals grew 50 percent between 2013 and 2016. According to the Ohio Insurance Institute, those with a bachelor’s degree and multiple years of related work experience can earn $50,000-$100,000 annually.

For more information about EKU’s Risk Management and Insurance Program, visit