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Actuarial Science

Program Description

Just the Facts

Actuarial Science. A program that focuses on the mathematical and statistical analysis of risk, and their applications to insurance and other business management problems. Includes instruction in forecasting theory, quantitative and non-quantitative risk measurement methodologies, development of risk tables, secondary data analysis, and computer-assisted research methods.

This program is available in these options:

  • Certificate / Diploma
  • Associate degree
  • Bachelor's degree
  • Graduate Certificate
  • Master's degree
  • Doctoral degree

High School Courses

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See the high school courses recommended for programs in this pathway:

Related Careers

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Additional Information

You could liken the training needed to be an actuary to playing a video game with eight levels of difficulty. That's because the Society of Actuaries' series of professional exams gets tougher at each successive stage. But for those who make it through, the prize also gets bigger.

Actuaries apply mathematical principles -- especially probability, statistics and risk theory -- to practical problems. For example, they figure out how much money people must pay each month in order to be covered by an insurance policy.

To calculate the risks and benefits, actuaries look at several factors, including the level of risk the insurer faces.

To be an actuary, you need to pass a series of exams administered by the Society of Actuaries (SOA) and the Casualty Actuarial Society (CAS). You will also probably need a university degree.

Some universities offer degrees in actuarial math or actuarial science. In other cases, related courses are offered in a math or business program.

To get into an actuarial science program, you should have good marks across the board and be particularly good in math, says Robert Brown. He is a professor of statistics and actuarial science. Take as many high school math courses as possible, including algebra and calculus.

Other good degrees to take include finance, economics or business.

You could also take a degree in statistics. "Actuaries have to do lots of both applied and theoretical statistics," says Grace Chan. She works with University of Iowa's department of statistics and actuarial science.

No matter what degree you take, you still need to pass the professional exams (there are eight in total) if you want to advance.

You can take as long as you like to complete these exams, but employers may expect you to have passed at least two before offering you a job. And the more you take, the more money you'll make.

Textbooks are the main cost in an actuarial science program. You will also have to pay a fee to take the professional exams.


Occupational Outlook Handbook
For more information related to this field of study, see: Actuaries

Employment news and opportunities

Actuarial Science
A list of master's programs worldwide

Be An Actuary
Basic information for those who would like to learn more about the profession

Purdue Actuary Club
For students interested in actuarial science and careers


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