The Society of Actuaries has recognized BYU as a Center of Actuarial Excellence by the Society of Actuaries, making the university the first western program to receive the honor and 17th to receive the title out of the country’s 185 actuarial programs.
“I’m excited about the additional opportunities that this will provide for the students and the fact that we will now be better known,” BYU actuarial science program director Brian Hartman said.
Actuarial science major Cason Wight said he feels proud to be from a school with such a strong actuarial program.
“As one of the few CAE schools, we stand out as a strong addition to the actuarial profession,” Wight said.”The CAE designation will definitely help more companies become familiar with our school.”
According to Hartman, actuarial science is like auto insurance. It is the process of assigning prices to uncertain events that might happen in the future.
“The price of your auto insurance depends on how many accidents you are going to get in to, and it is the actuary’s job to predict that,” Hartman said. “Actuaries are needed anywhere there is uncertainty.”
Actuaries need a deep understanding of risk to use analytical skills to protect organizations against loss from accidents. Hartman said it is largely a mix of finance and statistics.
According to Hartman, the prestigious designation goes to programs that meet demanding standards, including having a high graduate placement and a robust curriculum that prepares students to succeed in the industry and pass the rigorous actuarial exams.
“When students say they are from BYU, it now means a little bit more. It always meant just as much to us, but it means more to everyone else now,” Hartman said.
Actuarial Science Club member Courtney Jolley said she feels lucky to have such great professors who want the best for students as they move into their careers.
“Being a center of excellence says a lot about our program, and I think we have already started to get more attention from employers because of this distinction,” Jolley said.
The program receiving the Center of Actuarial Excellence award allows students within the program to have the opportunity to attend conferences, meet potential employers and have a better shot at getting noticed, according to Hartman.
“We have more companies that are coming to campus now, and I think that this will help that grow even more,” Hartman said.
The award will also give BYU students networking opportunities across the globe that otherwise wouldn’t be readily available to them, according to Hartman. There are few actuarial jobs in Utah, but there are many in bigger cities such as Denver, Phoenix, Seattle, Boston and New York.
“I think what will change is the perception of the program from outside,” Hartman said. “We were always working hard to get students jobs, but I think that it makes that a little easier being named a CAE. Students are still getting the same preparation, but that preparation is now being recognized.”
The program has always had a lot of talent with a very high ratio of graduates with jobs, Hartman said, but it is finally getting recognition.
“Over the last three years, we only had four out of almost 100 graduates who didn’t have a job at graduation,” Hartman said.
The program has expanded its research and will continue to expand in the years to come.