There is no debating whether you can get a master’s in actuarial science online or not, you can! However, it may prove to be more than a bit tricky getting the right actuarial science master’s degree program online. The difficulty will mostly arise in school accreditation, cost of the program and the kind of program. We will help you navigate through this difficulty in this post, so hang on.
Actuarial sciences go beyond mathematics. It encroaches into statistics, finance, and even economics; the combined knowledge of which you will apply to minimize financial risk. The vastness of the program makes students consider a master’s degree program even though it is not required.
So, in this post, we will show you the schools in the USA where you can get a quality master’s in actuarial science online. But before then, we will do a refresher on what actuarial sciences degree really is. The career path you can take with an actuarial science degree, and what it will take you to become an actuary. Let’s start with the first.
- What is Actuarial Science?
- Which Career Path is Available to Actuaries?
- What is the Salary and Job Outlook for Actuaries?
- What Type of Education Do Actuaries Need?
- How do I go About Professional Actuary Certification?
- Why a Master’s Degree in Actuarial Science?
- Where to get an Online Actuarial Science Online Master’s Degree
- LHU’s PSM in Actuarial Science
- UW MSc in Applied Mathematics
- Columbia University Online Actuarial Science Certification
- How do I Start my Actuary Career?
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What is Actuarial Science?
Actuarial science is a discipline that deals with the minimization of financial risks through the use of mathematical and statistical methods. A working professional with an actuarial science degree is an actuary. This professional is a part super-hero, part fortune-teller, and part trusted advisor because of the nature of their job.
With their knowledge of mathematics, statistics, economics, and finance, the actuary determines risk and the likely outcome of risks. Thus, they are risk analysts whose expertise is needed across multiple industries including insurance companies, banks, and government agencies.
Furthermore, actuarial science is a discipline that gathers knowledge from other disciplines. It embodies mathematics, probability theory, finance, economics, statistics, and computer science.
1. Evaluate the likelihood of future events using numbers;
2. Develop creative ways to minimize the likelihood of undesirable events; and
3. Reduce the effect of undesirable events when they occur.
Which Career Path is Available to Actuaries?
The actuary’s major work environment is insurance companies. There, they develop policies to minimize the risk of life and property uncertainties. In this environment, the actuary can become any of the following:
However, actuaries are increasingly finding employment in other business environments. They now take job opportunities in Professional, scientific, and technical services; Large Companies and Enterprises, and Government Agencies. A small fraction of actuaries go on to start up their own businesses to become self-employed workers.
Generally, whether you choose to work in an insurance company or other actuary work environment, your degree qualifies you to become any of the following:
What is the Salary and Job Outlook for Actuaries?
The Actuary job is one of the best jobs out there. US News and World Report rank the actuary job as the 6th Best Business Jobs, 14th Best STEM Jobs, and the 23rd best Paying Jobs.
With an average median pay of $102,880 per year, according to BLS 2018 statistics, actuaries earn a rewarding salary for their work. This reflects how important the actuary is to a country’s economy.
The pay can only get better with your advancement in education and the company you’re working with. According to Glassdoor, the average salary of actuaries in the USA $105,031 per year, with MetLife paying up to $134,682 per year and AIG paying up to $129,317 per year.
Furthermore, the Bureau of Labor Statistics forecasts job growth for Actuaries to grow by 20% between 2018 and 2028. And with 25,000 jobs available for actuaries in 2018, actuaries are almost sure of getting employed on graduation.
What Type of Education Do Actuaries Need?
The minimum entry requirement for Actuaries is a baccalaureate degree. If you find a direct-path actuarial science undergraduate degree, it takes three years to complete in most cases. However, students who wish to become actuaries can also come in through degrees in mathematics, statistics, or a business-related degree. Meanwhile, any of these degrees will take you four years to complete.
The Actuary career is a very diverse career, of which virtually every interdisciplinary knowledge is important. Some companies prefer to pick actuaries with a more diversified educational background as they feel these kinds of actuaries produce solutions that are out-of-the-box.
In this light, you should understand that to become an actuary, you need to pass actuary exams. These exams are more important than the kind of degree you hold, such that an employer will pick a candidate with an arts degree who have passed two or more actuary exams than you who have an undergraduate actuarial science degree and have passed no actuary exam. Passing the exams provides you a professional certification that certifies you as an actuary.
Also, on your journey to becoming an actuary, you would do yourself a lot of good to learn advanced computer skills. This is because the actuary career needs a lot of computing of formulas and powerful mathematical software to assist.
How do I go About Professional Actuary Certification?
There are two professional bodies that provide actuary certification. They are:
SOA provides professional actuary certificates in life insurance, health insurance, retirement benefits, investments, and finance. On the other hand, CAS provides actuary certificates in the property and casualty field. This includes automobiles, homeowners, medical malpractice, and workers’ compensation insurance.
These professional bodies provide certification at the Associates and Fellowship level, any of which you need to take seven tests to earn certification.
The table below from Education Connection best summarizes the professional actuary certification.
|Organization||Types of Actuaries||Types of Certification||Number of Tests to Earn Certification||Number of Years to Earn (Estimated)|
|Society Of Actuaries||Life Insurance, Health Insurance, Retirement Benefits, Investments, Finance||Associated||7||4-7|
|Society Of Actuaries||Life Insurance, Health Insurance, Retirement Benefits, Investments, Finance||Fellowship||7||6-10|
|Casualty Actuarial Science||Property And Casualty Field (Automobile, Homeowners, Medical Malpractice, Workers’ Compensation Insurance)||Associate||7||4 – 7|
|Casualty Actuarial Science||Property And Casualty Field (Automobile, Homeowners, Medical Malpractice, Workers’ Compensation Insurance)||Fellowship||7||6-10|
How Difficult is the Professional Actuary Certification?
The actuary exam is so difficult that the standard time it takes to study for an hour of the exam time is 100 hours. That is to say that if you have an exam that would last for three hours, you’ll need to read for 300 hours. Even this doesn’t guarantee that you will pass the exam.
Several actuaries who graduated from “difficult majors” have failed the actuary exam at one point. It is rare to successfully complete all your actuary exams on the first attempt, so you shouldn’t beat yourself when you fail an actuary exam. It is the norm and these failures do no ruin your job prospects.
Why a Master’s Degree in Actuarial Science?
Since actuary exams are compulsory to becoming an actuary and these exams take a long time to complete, many students don’t consider a master’s degree.
However, a reasonable number of actuarial master’s degrees exist. This goes to show that even though it is not recommended to take a master’s degree in actuarial science, there are some accruing benefits that come with a Master’s in Actuarial science.
Here are some of the reasons why actuaries still consider a master’s in actuarial science:
Are there online Masters in Actuarial Science Degree Programs?
Permit us to mention again that a master’s degree program in actuarial science is not an educational path many students are taking. Hence, there is more bachelor’s degree program in actuarial science than master’s and lesser online master’s programs than on-campus programs.
While an online degree program in actuarial science will profer you with a degree of flexibility in your study, it is not very popular. A quick search on Google will give you a confirmation.
You will get better success on your search if you decide to check for online master’s in mathematics than in actuarial science. And of course, a mathematics degree will still set you well on your way to becoming an actuary.
Despite this little disappointment, there are still some online actuarial sciences master’s degree program you can enroll in if you want to take the direct path.
Where to get an Online Actuarial Science Online Master’s Degree
There is actually just one college that offers an online master’s degree program in actuarial science. This college is Lock Haven University. However, two other colleges in the United States comes close to an online actuarial science program. They are Columbia University in New York City and The University of Washington in Seattle.
Columbia University in New York’s online is a professional certificate program in actuarial science which you can take a hundred percent online. The University of Washington in Seattle’s online actuarial science degree is a master’s in applied mathematics with a concentration in actuarial science.
We will proceed to explain these schools in detail here.
Lock Haven University
LHU’s PSM in Actuarial Science
Lock Haven University (LHU) offers the only online Master’s Degree Program in Actuarial Science. Its program is the Professional Science Masters (PSM) in Actuarial Science. It is one of the three PSM programs in Actuarial Science in the United States. The program takes a year to complete – two 7-week courses per semester, and one full semester course per semester.
The program builds graduates with the foundational skills they need to conduct financial analysis and manage risks. At the end of this program, students will be prepared to take actuarial exams sponsored by the Society of Actuaries (SOA).
Additionally, while the program is a 100% online program, it provides students personal, one-to-one mentoring and supervisory relationships with the faculty while maintaining an active learning community. You will also be required to complete a three-credit internship program during this program, which will go a long way to improve your employability.
The University of Washington in Seattle
UW MSc in Applied Mathematics
Through the University of Washington’s (UW) Professional and Continuing Education, the university offers online master’s degree programs for professionals.
Although UW does not offer a direct Master’s degree program in actuarial science, its Master’s in Applied Science lists Actuarial Science as one of the job opportunities available to you on completion of the program.
UW’s Master of Science in Applied Mathematics is a wholly online program that takes one to three years to complete. The program teaches you the methods of applying mathematics to diverse work fields.
Also, just like Lock Haven’s online master’s degree program, UW’s online master’s in applied mathematics provides internship opportunities for you through its UW Career & Internship Center.
Columbia University in New York City
Columbia University Online Actuarial Science Certification
The major focus of Columbia University’s online Actuarial Science Certification is to equip you with the foundational knowledge you need to enter the actuarial science field. By doing this, the program expands your knowledge on the field.
Although it is not an online master’s degree program, you will be able to matriculate into the Master of Science in Actuarial Science with this certificate program. All you have to do is complete an additional 24 points.
Meanwhile, Columbia University’s professional certification program comprises four courses, each of which is worth three points toward the 12 point certification total. This Professional Achievement in Actuarial Science is a 100% online program you will take on a part-time basis.
Additionally, the biggest perk of this Actuarial Science Certification Program is that it will provide you the platform to network with leading actuaries. These leaders include Columbia’s faculty, alumni network in the fields such as life insurance, property and casualty insurance, etc.
Also, there is nothing more interesting than the fact that you can earn a recognized professional certificate in Actuarial Science in less than one year.
How do I Start my Actuary Career?
To start your career as an Actuary, first, complete an undergraduate degree.
Next, begin your process of acquiring a professional certification with either SOA or CAS, depending on the field you would like to specialize in actuarial science.
We highly encourage you to start taking actuary exams on time. The good thing is that there is no requirement stipulating that you must be in school or must have completed an undergraduate degree before you take the exam.
All you need to do is study the required courses for the exams and go sit for the exam.
The more exams you pass, the juicier you become for employers. So, the earlier you start bagging success, the better.
Is a masters in actuarial science worth it?
A master’s in Actuarial Science will position you to pass the actuary exam as well as make you more employable. However, what matters most in the actuary career is the number of actuary exams you have passed, Therefore, you may have to concentrate more on taking more actuary exams than enrolling for a master’s degree program in actuarial science.
What degree do I need to be an actuary?
To be an actuary, you need an undergraduate degree in actuarial science, mathematics, economics, finance, and other business-related degrees. However, employers are beginning to find graduates from a variety of educational background such as engineering, operation research, and physics attractive. They believe they bring in a fresh perspective to the job.
How long does it take to become an actuary?
Becoming an actuary is such an educational journey. It will take you between six and nine years to become a fully certified actuary at the fellowship level. This is a result of your four years of undergraduate degree and an additional four years and above writing actuary exams.
What schools have actuarial science?
A good number of schools have actuarial science degree in the united state at both undergraduate and graduate level. Some popular schools offering actuarial science degree programs include:
George Mason University
Illinois State University
Georgia State University
Kent State University
Can you become an actuary with an economics degree?
Yes, you can become an actuary with an economics degree. It is one of the educational paths to take to become an actuary, but you will have to get professional certification before you actually become an actuary.
Can you be an actuary without a degree?
Yes, you can become an actuary without a degree. The educational path for actuaries is tricky. While a degree will give you the foundational knowledge required to work as an actuary, what you actually need to become an actuary is to get professional certification. Hence, as much actuary exams as you can pass qualifies you to become an actuary. It is even more so as there is no educational requirement you must meet before you are qualified to sit for the actuary exam.
How many tests do I take to become an actuary?
You will have to take at least seven tests to become an actuary in either the United States or Canada. The number of tests you’ll take also depends on the field of actuary you’re specializing in. Also, you should factor in the fact that you will have to retake some tests because there is hardly anyone who passed all his tests in one sitting.
How can I become a certified actuary?
To become a certified actuary, you will have to first complete an undergraduate degree in actuarial science or other related disciplines the pass professional certification exams by either the Society of Actuaries (SOA) or Casualty Actuarial Science (CAS).
There is currently just one school where you can get an online master’s degree program in actuarial science. This is Lock Haven University. However, you can also get online programs at Columbia University in New York City and the University of Washington in Seattle, only that they are not clear path online master’s in actuarial science. But programs leading to actuarial science education, nonetheless. Meanwhile, whatever your reasons are for taking an online master’s in actuarial science, you will need to pass more exams to climb higher in your career.
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