Actuary Courses and Degree Programs

Actuaries deal with the probability of events, specifically in terms of risk and cost. You can study actuarial science at the bachelor's, master's and doctoral degree levels. Read on to learn more about actuary courses and degree programs, as well as the nature of work for actuaries. Schools offering Risk Management degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What You Need to Know

Actuaries help craft the insurance policies for households, individuals and businesses. Some professionals in this field may also consult with the government concerning insurance policies. Actuarial programs require that you complete significant coursework in math and statistics, and can help prepare you take optional certification exams.

Degrees Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Actuarial Science, B.S. in Business Administration with an emphasis in Actuarial Science, Master of Science in Actuarial Science, Ph.D. in Actuarial Science, Ph.D. in Mathematics with a concentration in Actuarial Science
Certificates Undergraduate Certificate in Actuarial Science and Mathematics, Capstone Certificate in Actuarial Science
Courses Applied linear algebra, abstract algebra, elementary differential equations, probability, numeral analysis, loss models, financial mathematics, complex variables, risk theory

What Actuary Degree Programs Are Available?

Actuary programs are offered at the bachelor's, master's and doctoral degree levels. Online degree programs in actuary sciences are not currently available. Bachelor's degree programs may require you to double major in another quantitative academic field, such as mathematics, finance, economics or accounting.

Master's degree programs generally concentrate on pre-professional guidance and laboratory work through advanced topics, such as insurance, higher-level statistical analysis and financial assessment. These programs can also help train bachelor's degree holders who studied another field. A doctoral program can prepare you for an academic or consulting career through an emphasis on research and scholarly work.

What Courses Are Typically Required?

Depending on the academic level, most actuary courses are either found within the department or are interdisciplinary requirements. For example, you may need to take several mathematics, statistics and management courses for your core actuary curriculum. Other topics covered include calculating probability, utilizing statistics properly and finding what variables are part of an actuary equation.

The master's level typically includes research and project intensive laboratory coursework. You can gain practical experience for an actuary career through focus on related areas, such as insurance or finance. Doctoral programs include courses and seminars on rigorous statistical studies, finance theory and research design.

What Careers Can I Pursue?

Employment for actuaries generally requires a minimum of a bachelor's degree with a concentration in economics, mathematics or other quantitative science major. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicted that employment for actuaries would grow by 26% between 2012 and 2022 (www.bls.gov).

While a bachelor's degree is the entry-level degree for actuaries, a master's degree can prepare you for managerial positions or consulting positions, particularly government consulting positions. If you are pursuing academic and research actuary careers, you will typically be required to hold a doctorate degree.

How Can I Further My Education?

Because of the highly specialized nature of the profession, you may also consider obtaining professional certification. For example, the Society of Actuaries (SOA) provides certification exams and membership to you if your actuary profession involve general investment, life insurance and health for individuals (www.soa.org). The Casualty Actuarial Society (CAS), however, is more focused on the risk toward property and health for a wide range of clients (www.casact.org).

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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