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College of Science

Actuarial Science

The interdisciplinary actuarial science major is administered jointly by the Department of Mathematics and the Department of Statistics. The purpose of the program is to provide the broad quantitative background in mathematics, statistics and related areas that is necessary for success in the actuarial profession and to provide the academic background needed to pass the first five actuarial exams.

Actuaries use mathematics, statistics and financial theory to study uncertain future events, especially those of concern to insurance and pension programs. Actuaries may work for insurance companies, consulting firms, government, employee benefits departments of large corporations, hospitals, banks and investment firms or, more generally, in businesses that need to assess the financial consequences of risk.

A career as an actuary is better described as a "business" career with a technical basis than as a "technical" career. Actuaries assess their work as challenging and interesting and generally enjoy a good working environment. Actuaries are well paid, and, according to several studies, the profession is more open than others to women and members of underrepresented minority groups. As might be expected, entry into the profession is very competitive, and success in the field demands commitment and hard work during college and the few years after graduation when the actuarial exams continue to be taken.

To become an actuary, one must become an associate, and ultimately a fellow, of one of the professional societies — the Society of Actuaries (SOA) or the Casualty Actuarial Society (CAS) — by passing examinations administered by the societies, completing required coursework and satisfying additional requirements.

The Purdue actuarial science program provides preparation for the first five examinations as well as fulfilling the economics, finance and applied statistical methods requirements of SOA/CAS. Students who wish to pursue actuarial careers should coordinate their actuarial exam schedules with their academic plans of study and may begin taking exams in their first year.

For current information on the academic program, as well as more career information, see our website at www.math.purdue.edu/actuary.

In meeting the following requirements, a student will also automatically fulfill the College of Science graduation requirements.

In addition to courses required for graduation, students should carefully consider electives that will coordinate with an actuarial career. In particular, additional courses from Krannert School of Management or courses in writing and communication are very helpful. Most actuarial majors also obtain a statistics degree and a management minor.

Actuarial Science Requirements

Actuarial Science Core 38 credits
ECON 25100 (Microeconomics) (3 cr.)
and ECON 25200 (Macroeconomics) (3 cr.)
6 cr.
MA 37300 (Financial Mathematics) (4 cr.) 4 cr.
MGMT 20000 (Introductory Accounting) (3 cr.);
MGMT 20100 (Management Accounting I) (3 cr.);
MGMT 31000 (Financial Management) (3 cr.)
9 cr.
STAT 49000 (Actuarial Models)
and STAT 47300 (Actuarial Models II) (7 cr.);
STAT 51200 (Applied Regression Analysis) (3 cr.);
MA/STAT 41600 (Probability) (3 cr.);
STAT 41700 (Statistical Theory) (3 cr.);
STAT 42000 (Time Series Analysis) (3 cr.)
19 cr.
Mathematics Requirements 19-22 credits
MA 16100 (Plane Analytic Geometry and Calculus I) (5 cr.);
or MA 16500 (Analytic Geometry and Calculus I) (4 cr.)
4-5 cr.
One of: MA 16200 (Plane Analytic Geometry and Calculus II) (5 cr.);
MA 16600 (Analytic Geometry and Calculus II) (4 cr.);
MA 17300 (Calculus and Analytic Geometry II) (5 cr.);
MA 18100 (Honors Calculus I) (5 cr.)
4-5 cr.
One of: MA 26100 (Multivariate Calculus) (4 cr.);
MA 17400 (Multivariable Calculus) (4 cr.);
MA 18200 (Honors Calculus II) (5 cr.);
MA 27100 (Several Variable Calculus) (5 cr.)
4-5 cr.
MA 35100 (Elementary Linear Algebra) (3 cr.)
or MA 35000 (Elementary Linear Algebra: Honors) (3 cr.)
3 cr.
MA 36600 (Ordinary Differential Equations) (4 cr.) 4 cr.

Free Electives 21-31 credits

Free electives can be selected from any department of Purdue University. Students are encouraged to use free electives to broaden their knowledge. However, free elective credit is not allowed for courses that significantly overlap courses taken to fulfill departmental degree requirements. This excludes, in particular, introductory courses. Students must take at least as many free electives as is needed to bring the credit hour total to 124.

Grade Requirements

All actuarial science majors must have a graduation index of at least 2.5 in MA 35100, MA 36600 and all courses required for the actuarial science core.

Honors Program

Students who successfully complete the requirements for this program are certified at the time of graduation as having graduated "with honors in actuarial science." The honors class STAT 47900 completes the material required for the fifth actuarial exam, Exam C. Students may enter the program at any time. Entering the honors program indicates an intention to meet the more rigorous requirements of graduation "with honors" as outlined in the following text. There is no penalty if a student later changes plans.

In addition to the general degree requirements, students must satisfy the following requirements: (a) obtain a GPA of at least 3.3 overall; (b) obtain at least a "B-" in each of ECON 25100 (or 34000), ECON 25200 (or 35200), MGMT 31000, 41100; (c) take STAT 47900 (Honors Loss Models); (d) obtain an average GPA of at least 3.5 in the following set of classes: STAT 41700, 47300, 47900, 49000; (e) obtain grades of "A" or "B" in all of the mathematics and statistics classes required for the actuarial science degree; (f) provide documentation of having passed two of the Society of Actuaries (SOA) or Casualty Actuarial Society (CAS) actuarial exams prior to the end of classes in the semester of graduation.

Special Programs and Opportunities

The Actuary Club coordinates a very active summer internship program. The majority of internship opportunities are for juniors, although a number of sophomores and even first-year students participate in the program.