Insurance studies degree boosts professionals’ career

Bruce Walton

Verna Lafferty worked in the insurance industry but wanted out of it. However, after discovering Kent State’s unique insurance studies program tailored to professionals returning to school, she decided to give the industry another shot.

After leaving her job in 2010, Lafferty enrolled at Kent State, intending to study radiology. But that changed when she discovered the new insurance studies degree was available.

Lafferty said she realized that she wasn’t ready to leave the insurance business and decided to enroll in the new program. Lafferty, academically a senior in her second year of the insurance studies program, hopes her degree will help her to get an office job or underwriter position.

Matthew Butts, executive director for regional campuses said the program was created specifically for students looking to change, find or improve their career path in the insurance industry.

“That’s what makes this degree so attractive,” Butts said. “It appeals to different people for different reasons.”

According to a 2013 study conducted by the Ohio Insurance Institute, the insurance industry is Ohio’s 9th-highest employment industry and the 6th-highest average weekly wage. Butts said that with such a robust business that employs more than 100,000 people, there’s no degree that encompasses everything.

Carol Blaine, lead faculty and program coordinator of insurance studies, said some of Ohio’s leading insurance businesses have been involved in the program’s development.

Blaine said the insurance agencies’ involvement helps students in two ways. Students graduate with the knowledge employers are looking for, and instructors have access to experts who review the curriculum.

Blaine said this connection with Ohio’s insurance industry helps students secure internships and interviews before they graduate.

“For example, Nationwide is not part of our advisory board, but though a variety of connections, including my own, we have a commitment from their vice president of talent management that says every Kent State graduate gets an interview with Nationwide,” Blaine said.

Contact Bruce Walton at [email protected].