Actuarial science program wins 2019 University Award

July 5, 2019 by Jessica Macy Lam

The U of T Department of Statistical Sciences actuarial science program has won the 2019 Casualty Actuarial Society (CAS) University Award.

The program was selected for the prestigious award based on its innovative curriculum, and the hands-on experience it offers to students, preparing them for the property and casualty industry.

According to Vicki Zhang, the associate chair of undergraduate studies for actuarial science, the educational curriculum and research portfolio for the program underwent a substantial upgrade in the past several years.

“We’re just very happy that our hard work paid off,” Zhang says. “This recognition is very important to us.”

In the program, students get the opportunity to take courses that allow them to work on projects that they would come across when working in the property and casualty industry. They get to hone their problem-solving skills based on real case studies and enhance their communication skills by learning how to report and present to a business audience. Data science and computing skills are also a part of the curriculum.

Industry engagement is a factor the Casualty Actuarial Society looked at when selecting recipients for the award.

The program has a unique three-course property and casualty series, which were co-created and taught by seasoned professionals in the industry. “The series is especially valued in the property and casualty industry, and employers of the Industrial Advisory Board are happy to see the new direction the program has taken,” Zhang says.

“We are also in the process of adding a new professional experience component where students will be taking a semester-long internship with our industry partners to do a final presentation of their work in front of a group of professionals,” Zhang says. “Many of the industry partners are in the property and casualty industry.”

Apart from courses, the actuarial science program has a very popular and successful mentorship program run by the actuarial student club that allows students to network with professionals in the industry.

Actuarial science offers students many different career paths, in life insurance and annuity, property and casualty insurance, pension and group benefits, investment and finance, or data analytics, among others, Zhang says. U of T’s program allows for each student to pursue their own individual interests by offering a combination of theoretical and practical courses.

This, along with the industry exposure students get, has made the program stand out among other universities across North America.

“With the award program entering its fourth year, innovation in curriculum, research, and industry engagement to support property and casualty actuarial practice has become the focus,” said Chris Coleianne, a CAS fellow who chairs the organization's University Award Program. “The University of Toronto has demonstrated that spirit of innovation in several ways, including the three-course property and casualty series and its use of real world-based case studies, to expose students to the problems practicing property and casualty actuaries face regularly.”

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