The actuary career is one of the best-kept secrets in the job hunting sphere. There are only around 30,000 actuaries in the United States, but the pay is generous and the work is rewarding. The United States Department of Labor anticipates that the demand for this job will grow 26% by 2022! What exactly does an actuary do? In the broadest short-form explanation, an actuary forecasts and formulates strategies to mitigate future events. But instead of a crystal ball, they use numbers to see the future. They have strong mathematical and advisory skills with a knack for tinkering with technology. They partner with companies in fields like insurance, finance, and government to help them prepare for negative future events and figure out how to prepare investments, futures, and rates.
Top 5 Actuary Degree Programs
|1||University of Wisconsin School of Business, Madison||Madison, Wisconsin|
|2||University of Texas, Austin||Austin, Texas|
|3||University of California – Santa Barbara||Santa Barbara, California|
|4||University of Pittsburgh, Main Campus||Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania|
|5||Carnegie Mellon University||Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania|
It typically takes 4 to 7 years for college students to become an actuary. An online bachelor’s degree is only required to enter the workforce, and if you’re good at math, the study material itself is not that hard to accomplish. The real challenge comes from passing the actuarial exams, which are administered by the Society of Actuaries and the Casualty Actuarial Society in the United States and Canada. There are seven exams total, and only one or two are required for students to enter the career field. However, if an actuary wishes to climb up the ladder, passing the other exams is the best course of action. This is where the quality of an actuary’s education comes into play. Below are 20 schools with at least one actuary degree program you can enroll in for the best value.
The Best 20 Colleges with Actuary Degree Programs
University of Wisconsin School of Business, Madison
The main campus of this well-reputed school is a top leading STEM school in the Midwest, and its BBA in Actuarial Science program is hard to compete with. It’s one of the best actuarial degrees in the United States, and students get the amazing opportunity to take part in the Technology Enhanced Learning Project, which helps shape public educational support systems. The school has relationship ties in the insurance, government, and finance sectors, making it an optimal choice for advancement in actuarial careers.
University of Texas, Austin
The actuarial degree program at the University of Texas Austin campus is as much a big deal as the state it hails from. Public Ivy recognition and a worldwide reputation show testament to the school’s hard work, combined with a sleek career-minded curriculum. Students learn actuarial science curriculum in a math concentration, and how it applies to the latest business standards in the insurance and finance industries.
University of California – Santa Barbara
UC Santa Barbara is a campus of the premier University of California system and is currently ranked #6 Public University in the nation (2021 USNWR). Over 300 students are majoring in the Actuarial Science program hosted by the Department of Statistics & Applied Probability, distinguished by its interdisciplinary curriculum blending rigorous actuarial career preparation with statistics, data science, financial mathematics and probability courses. Top students continue to the combined BS/MS degree in Actuarial Science featuring team research projects carried out in close collaboration with industry sponsors.
University of Pittsburgh, Main Campus
The Department of Mathematics at the University of Pittsburgh (Pitt) offers the B.S. in Actuarial Mathematics. As an interdisciplinary program, the Pitt’s Actuarial Math program is very attractive to students who are interested in mathematical finance, quantitative finance, risk management, and business administration and aiming at a strong entry into careers in banking and insurance industries.
The degree program offers courses in statistics, finance, economics, and data science. These courses and additional seminars organized by the Pitt Actuarial Club are designed in the way to prepare students taking the professional actuarial society examinations. Every year there are about 25 students graduated from the program. On average, each graduate passes 3 exams upon graduation.
Pitt’s outstanding reputation throughout the northeast already gives our students an advantage on the job market. In addition, the math department hosts annual actuarial job fairs participated by many insurance companies and finance firms nationwide. Through these successful job fairs and other meanings of advertising and job-searching activities at Pitt, more than 80% of Pitt actuarial graduates, upon graduation or within six months of graduation, are able to secure a full-time job or be admitted to graduate schools.
Carnegie Mellon University
This private school in Pittsburgh is famous for its founding by the business tycoon Andrew Carnegie, and it carries on his reputation for success in its alumni. Students learn actuarial business skills in the computational math area of focus, which continues through the bachelor’s and master’s degree levels. Over 98% of students graduating with an MS in Computational Finance receive job offers from employers, including those in the actuarial professional sector.
Michigan State University College of Natural Science
While the undergraduate actuarial program is fairly new at Michigan State, the school itself certainly isn’t. In fact, it was the first university to inspire the federal Morrill Land-Grant Act in 1862 that allowed schools to utilize the proceeds of federal land sales. Michigan State University has developed into one of the strongest STEM schools as a result, giving it a worthy ranking in the list of actuary degrees.
This Alabama-based school is among the most recognized in the Deep South for its superb engineering and agricultural education, combined with a formidable BS in Applied Mathematics – Actuarial Science degree option. Auburn is ranked among the Top 50 schools by the U.S. News and World Report. The strong curriculum immerses students into solving mathematical problems in the business sectors, preparing them for the toughest challenges in the career field.
Butler University’s actuarial education is unique in the fact that its entire math department is dedicated to the study of actuarial statistics, not as a specialized offshoot. As such, the Department of Mathematics, Statistics and Actuarial Science at Butler developed not just one actuarial program, but two. The Actuarial Science Program equips students with everything they need to know about an actuarial career, while the Actuarial Science Management version equips budding actuaries talented in management with an in-tandem 33 hour MBA program.
Appalachian State University
There’s no denying that Appalachian State University is a top tier college in the Appalachian region. Its actuary degree program is nothing to sneeze at, either, and contains challenging, practical hands-on learning experience. Students completing the curriculum get to take a seminar from an actual actuary staff member. They also build their own mathematical models for stakeholders in a real-time business environment.
Drake University College of Business and Public Administration
This top-notch school in the Midwest is one of only 17 recognized as a Center for Actuarial Excellence by the Society of Actuaries. The actuarial program itself is taught by professional actuaries from the industry, giving the experience a real-world business feel with practical knowledge for students. Internships are easily accessible from the school, making this a natural choice for those serious about pursuing a career.
Saint Joseph’s University
Hard work and cooperative internships help define this private Jesuit school as one of the best in Philadelphia for its actuary degree program. In fact, the U.S. News and World Report picked Saint Joseph’s University among the top twelve regional schools in the North. Saint Joseph’s Haub School of Business and College of Arts and Sciences collaborated to define the program with actuary shadowing and business ethics, which sets graduate students from this school apart from the rest of the pack.
Here’s a fun fact about Bradley University for aspiring actuaries. It was founded in 1887 as a watchmaking school! In this light, the professional caliber of its actuarial science program is no less fitting for the learning field. Students can earn the degree through two routes – the Mathematics Department at Bradley’s College of Arts and Science, or the Foster College of Business. Either way, students will come out on top with a solid degree that may help them land a respectable job or move on to graduate school in six months or less.
University of Nebraska-Lincoln
There’s plenty of flexibility for actuary students to learn at the University of Nebraska Lincoln campus. Both a BA and a BS in Actuarial Science are offered as separate degrees at the College of Arts and Sciences. A minor in Actuarial Science is also an option at the department branch. Meanwhile, students have the option to pursue a BS in Business Administration with an Actuary concentration at the College of Business instead. The business side requires 8 more credits but can be doubled with a financial major as the fruit of their efforts.
What began as a small private Christian school in 1953 grew into an impressive top-ranking Midwest university by the U.S. News and World Report. Even more impressive is the pass rate of its students who take the actuarial exams, a miraculous 100 percent! Perhaps a strong biblical emphasis is what’s responsible for the school’s remarkable actuarial success. Perhaps it’s Dordt’s flexible double major and actuarial minor programs that make its synergy tick. Whatever the reason, the result is clear. Dordt University’s excellence in actuarial studies is definitely worth noting on your must-see list. For five years in a row, Dordt has been ranked #1 in the nation for student engagement by The Wall Street Journal / Times Higher Education.
Louisiana State University College of Science
The recently updated Actuarial Science Concentration reflects the latest information in the professional actuarial industries. Students have the option to forgo the “capstone” course requirements for LSU math majors by participating in the Casualty Actuarial Society Student Central Summer Program, or another similar summer internship program approved by the school.
University of Maine at Farmington
If you want an actuary degree for a low price at a top-ranking school and stay in a beautiful New England town, the University of Maine at Farmington is the place to be. The school recently ranked in the top five for the Northern region by U.S. News and World Report. We are closely connected to and guided by practicing actuaries throughout the state, and our graduates regularly leave UMF with 2-4 exams, all VEE credits, an internship, and a job offer! All of this, plus the scenic view? Yes, please!
University of St. Thomas, Minnesota School
As the largest private college in Minnesota, the University of St. Thomas has enjoyed a long period of success and growth. Its humble beginnings as a seminary school for priests in 1885 blossomed into offering over 150 majors and minors today, and its actuary degree program is second to none. It’s even named a Center for Actuarial Excellence by the Society of Actuaries. The program is a delightful hybrid of mathematics, business principles, communication, and liberal arts, making this well-rounded education an attractive prospect in the job market.
Illinois State University
Illinois State University is the first public college founded in Illinois and its actuary degree program is a solid foundation. With a 95% job placement rate at an entry-level value of over a $70,000 annual salary, the school is a great choice of quality and value for actuary students.
Valparaiso’s history is as unique as the origin of its name. Originally founded by the Methodist Church in 1859, it was destroyed in the Civil War and afterward was revived as a teaching and business school. Valparaiso changed hands to the Lutheran Church in 1925 and continues to grow since then. The college’s strengths in mathematics and statistical skills have propelled students into some of the most prestigious careers in the nation.
Ohio University, Main Campus
This school is among the most trusted colleges in the state, and its actuarial science major is a strong blend of math and business skills. In fact, the degree is only two courses away from a business or finance major, making a double major education a remarkable prospect for students.
Our Ranking Methodology
All of the points given to rank the schools were based on the estimated tuition and graduation rates from each college’s website. The data was calculated based on the academic semester year and in-state rates. An academic year is defined by two semesters in our calculations. Scoring data is sourced from the specific campus mentioned rather than the parent school where it applies. Each college was first given two scores, one by the lowest amount of tuition and the second by the highest graduation rate. Each score set was combined to achieve the total score, to which a weighted total was applied for the final result shown above. The weighted total applied a two-thirds emphasis on the graduation rate over the tuition.
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