BYU’s actuarial program receives highest recognitions from top licensing societies

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Brian Hartman teaching his students about actuarial science. BYU’s Actuarial Science program received the highest distinctions from the top two licensing programs. (Photo courtesy of Brooklynn Jarvis Kelson/BYU Photo)

BYU’s actuarial program, part of the statistics department, has become one of only five universities to receive the highest recognitions from the Casualty Actuarial Society and the Society of Actuaries.

The program, which started 38 years ago with professors Dennis Tolley and Bruce Collings, has continued to grow and gain recognition for its impact on the industry.

“For us to receive those kinds of recognitions means that both societies are recognizing our program as a great program to provide the fundamental education for actuaries as they start with their career,” Tolley said.

The program focuses on using applied math to help assess the risk of insurance, finance and other models of uncertainty.

“Oftentimes CEOs, or if they’re working for consultants, the people they are consulting with depend heavily on their computation and on their estimates,” Tolley said.

David Dahl, a BYU statistics professor, said the major has grown gradually over the years as more students have gravitated toward the program.

“Like everything, it starts small and we’ve had a national finance program for many years, but it’s been growing,” Dahl said.

Around 25 to 30 students have graduated each year from the program over the past few years, according to Dahl.

Receiving the award helped highlight the hard work and dedication of the faculty and students in the program, he said.

“It’s quite a rigorous process and it really speaks to the quality of the program we have,” Dahl said.

Brian Hartman, the actuarial program coordinator, said he believes the recognition from both societies comes from the standard of excellence held by students graduating from the program.

“They’re starting to realize, oh wow, this BYU program is pretty good, these BYU students are pretty good, so then it makes it a whole lot easier for our students to get jobs,” Hartman said.

BYU’s emphasis on undergraduate work separates it from other universities as it better prepares students for future careers as actuaries, according to Hartman.

“We care a lot more about undergraduate research and undergraduate mentoring than most universities,” Hartman said. “It’s pretty unheard of for undergraduate students to be writing research papers anywhere else and we care a lot about that.”

The recognition will help highlight BYU’s potential as a top actuarial school in the nation as more companies, universities and students learn about the program, he said.

“There aren’t a lot of insurance companies or consultancies in Utah and so insurance companies in the East Coast are starting to realize BYU’s potential,” Hartman said.

With recognition, the program has the opportunity to think beyond the confines of insurance and help students expand their opportunities in the workforce, Tolley said.

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