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Actuarial Science Program at the University of St. Thomas

Actuarial Science Program at the University of St. Thomas

The University of St. Thomas is a liberal arts college in St. Paul, MN. We first offered a Bachelor of Science degree program in Actuarial Science in 1997. The program is housed in the Department of Mathematics, but is quite interdisciplinary, taking advantage of the. University's strong business program which includes a course in risk management and insurance. The Twin Cities (Minneapolis & St. Paul) have a large and diverse insurance industry that is taking an interest in the success of our actuarial science program. I would like to describe a brief history of the program along with its course requirements.

The university was involved in educating future actuaries long before 1997. The Department of Mathematics provided career advising and study sessions for Exam 100 & 110 (under the old system) resulting in a network of alumni in the actuarial field in Minnesota and the upper midwest. Many of these alumni keep close ties with our current program, by serving on the External Advisory Committee for the program, giving presentations to classes, and helping with job placements for both full time and internship positions.

When the Department of Mathematics initiated the development of B.S. Program in Actuarial Science, we sought input from the Division of Business, the MBA Program in Risk Management and Insurance, and from Twin Cities' actuaries. As a result, the current program has two advising committees. The Internal Committee consists of faculty members from the Departments of Mathematics, Economics and Finance as well as the MBA Program in Risk Management and Insurance and advises on curricular matters. The External Committee consists of practicing actuaries from the Twin Cities area and advises on current industry trends while helping identify ways in which the program and the local insurance industry can serve one another.

The course requirements for our B.S. degree in Actuarial Science include the calculus sequence through linear algebra, probability and mathematical statistics, theory of interest, and a one-year course in actuarial contingencies, along with a course in time series and forecasting. Students are also required to take courses in accounting, microeconomics, foundations of business, financial management, risk management and insurance, computer programming, and communication.

We are fortunate to have faculty members in several departments to cover our core courses such as theory of interest, actuarial contingencies, risk management and insurance, and time series and forecasting. With the exception of two courses, risk management and insurance and times series and forecasting, we have at least two faculty members who can teach each of our core offerings. This year, due to a sabbatical leave of absence, I had to take over the risk management and insurance course. However, I was able to recruit an industry person to team-teach the course and five others from the insurance industry volunteered to give lectures on various course topics in their fields of expertise.

To recruit majors to the program, I send letters to high school students who have expressed interest in the university in a mathematics related field, explaining what an actuary is and what our program entails. I also brief the admissions counselors and our community college liaison person so that they can accurately present the program to the prospective students whom they meet. I also rely on my colleagues in the Department of Mathematics to identify good candidates for the major among their freshmen students. All of these strategies have proven fruitful.

We are the fortunate recipients of an endowment funded by an insurance company that will make available scholarships for actuarial science majors beginning in two years. Another local company is working with us to develop a plan that will encourage student research with an industry mentor and a faculty mentor. I believe this effort will help us to recruit even stronger students to the major.

Alumni have been an integral component of our program. They recruit our students, pass along job information, give presentations to our student club, and meet with our students to provide information and advice. Occasionally, alumni and current students have social gatherings, such as pizza together or golf outings, as a part of students' club activities. Whether with our alumni's companies or others, I have been actively involved with students' job searches, encouraging them to start looking for internships early, reviewing resumes, and suggesting companies which they might contact.

With the advent of the new exam system, we are providing study sessions for Course 1 and expect soon to organize sessions for Courses 2 and 3. Our students and faculty colleagues involved in the program have formed an energetic and focused community on campus, engaging each other in and out of our courses.

For more information on the University of St. Thomas program in Actuarial Science, please visit our web site at stthomas.edu/actuarialscience/.

  • Heekyung Youn, Ph.D. and ASA
  • Director, Actuarial Science Program