Major in Actuarial Science

Actuaries are trained in mathematics, statistics and economic techniques that allow them to quantify risk.

They use their skills to analyze and solve business and social problems related to insurance, pensions, Social Security, employee benefits and related fields.

Actuaries work for insurance companies, investment firms, government agencies, employee benefits consulting firms and others. The Jobs Rated Almanac, which rates 200 jobs on the basis of such categories as salary, benefits, outlook for the future, stress, work environment and job security, has rated actuaries among the top jobs in all of its rankings since the 2000s.

Actuaries achieve professional status by passing a series of examinations administered by the Society of Actuaries (SOA) and/or the Casualty Actuarial Society (CAS). Students are generally expected to have passed one or two of the exams while in college, but most are taken after employment. The Elmhurst College Actuarial Science Program prepares students to take the first two actuarial exams covering probability (SOA Exam P) and Financial Mathematics (SOA Exam FM) and obtain SOA/CAS credit for the topics of Economics (Micro and Macro), Finance and Applied Statistics.

The Elmhurst College major in actuarial science consists of 13 credits at or above the 200 level but excludes MTH 325, MTH 326, MTH 327 and MTH 345.

Major Requirements

  • MTH 251 Calculus III
  • MTH 301 Discrete Mathematics
  • MTH 346 Statistics for Scientists
  • MTH 351 Mathematics of Finance
  • MTH 400 Research Methods in Mathematics
  • MTH 421 Probability Theory
  • MTH 451 Senior Paper
  • BUS 261 Financial Accounting
  • BUS 262 Management Accounting
  • BUS 340 Business Finance
  • CS 220 Computer Science I
  • ECO 210 Introduction to Microeconomics
  • ECO 211 Introduction to Macroeconomics
  • MTH 348/ECO 418 Advanced Statistics/Econometrics

More About Actuaries

Actuaries are business professionals who design and evaluate insurance company products and pension programs and plans. They determine the rates for car, home, and life insurance, as well as the amount of money a pension plan needs in order to meet its future obligations. As such, actuaries use mathematical skills to define, analyze, and solve financial and social problems.

To become a practicing actuary, one must be certified by the Society of Actuaries or the Casualty Actuarial Society. These societies administer a series of examinations leading to the two professional designations: Associate (roughly one-half of the examinations passed) and Fellow (all examinations passed). The early examinations cover economics and finance along with the mathematical areas of calculus, probability, statistics, and interest theory. It is possible for Elmhurst College students to pass the early examinations while they are still in college.

The actuarial societies and the Department of Mathematics recommend a major in mathematics or a major in business administration or economics with a minor in mathematics. Courses in accounting, finance, economics, and computer science are strongly recommended. It is important to have a broad background because understanding others and communicating effectively are essential ingredients for success in the profession. For further information, contact the mathematics department chair.

Actuarial examinations are given in May and November of each year. Since the examinations are very difficult to pass (approximately 40% pass the exams), it is very important to do well in the classes and to study the material conscientiously before the examination. To help students pass the examinations, the mathematics department has study materials and old examinations available for student use.

For more information, visit the Be an Actuary website and the Society of Actuaries website.

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