What is an actuary? An actuary is an analyst who determines the likelihood of risks. These individuals are crucial to the insurance field, as they evaluate the risks associated with your home, car and life and use those findings to determine the cost of your premiums.
For example, an actuary would determine the risk of insuring your home by taking into account your home’s location, its characteristics and your insurance history. Do you live in an area prone to break-ins? Do you own an older home? Have you filed several claims in the last few years? These questions—along with many others—allow actuaries to accurately determine a reasonable premium for you by using statistics to calculate how risky it is to insure your property.
Homeinsurance.com compiled this list by comparing the 24-year median pay for high school graduates against the 20-year median pay for college graduates with a bachelor’s degree, minus college costs, for U.S. colleges with actuarial programs. The following are our findings.
1. Wabash College
Located in Crawfordsville, Indiana, Wabash College was founded in 1832 and has about 900 undergraduates. Wabash is one of three remaining liberal arts colleges in the nation that maintains an all-male student body. It offers 25 majors of which the mathematics major can be focused on statistics to lead to a career as an actuary. CBS Moneywatch compiled a list of the 25 colleges with the best professors, and Wabash is the only higher education institution in Indiana to score a slot on the list. The school prides itself on changing the lives of its students and was featured in Loren Pope’s 1996 book “Colleges That Change Lives”.
Sampling of available Validation by Educational Experience (VEE) courses:MATH355 Regression Models, ECON291 Intermediate Microeconomics; ECON292 Intermediate Macroeconomics; ECON361 Corporate Finance
2. Kettering University
Kettering University is situated in Flint, Michigan, and caters to more than 1,600 undergraduates. The institution was established in 1919 as an automotive trade school, and it has since expanded to offer 14 undergraduate and five graduate degrees. In the Applied Mathematics degree program, Actuarial Science is one of four options for specialization. CNN Money researched the top private universities in the nation that offered the greatest return on investment in 2015, and Kettering was ranked No. 10. It also secured the No. 12 spot nationally on Payscale.com’s 2015 Return on Investment Rankings, making it the top school in the Midwest in that category.
Sampling of available VEE courses: MATH448 Time Series; EOCON53 Micro/Macro Concepts & Applications; BUSN331 Financial management
3. University of Notre Dame
Widely renowned for its football and basketball programs, the University of Notre Dame also is one of the top schools for actuarial education. Notre Dame is nestled in South Bend, Indiana, and has an undergraduate population of more than 8,300. The university was founded in 1842 and offers 75 degrees for undergraduates, including a mathematics degree through its College of Science, which allows students to pursue a career as an actuary. Notre Dame has earned plenty of accolades, including a No. 18 ranking on U.S. News & World Report’s Best Colleges 2016 publication and No. 13 on Forbes.com’s America’s Top Colleges publication in 2015, making it the top-ranked school in the Midwest.
Sampling of available VEE courses: ACMS40842 Time Series Analysis; ACMS30600 Statistical Methods and Data Analysis I; FIN360 Managerial Economics-micro; FIN361 Business Conditions Analysis-macro; BASC20150 Corporate Financial Management; FIN30400 Advanced Corporate Finance
4. Bentley University
Bentley University was established in 1917 as a school focusing on accounting and finance. Since its founding, the school has grown to more than 4,200 undergraduates each year. Bentley has a 14:1 student-to-faculty ratio, which allows its students to study any of its 23 majors in small classroom settings. Of the wide array of majors, students can choose to study actuarial science through the mathematical science program. The institution is located in Waltham, Massachusetts. Bentley was ranked No. 3 in the North category, Best Regional Universities, in U.S. News & World Report’s 2016 edition of Best Colleges.
Sampling of available VEE courses: EC361 Introduction to Econometrics; EC111 Principles of Microeconomics; FI306 Financial Markets II; FI305 Principles of Accounting and Finance
5. New Jersey Institute of Technology
The New Jersey Institute of Technology offers 125 undergraduate and graduate degree fields, including Mathematics of Finance and Actuarial Science. NJIT is located in Newark, New Jersey, and has a total enrollment of more than 11,300 students. The institution was founded in 1881, and according to U.S. News & World Report, consistently places on the list of the 10 most ethnically diverse colleges in the country, with about 20 percent of its population composed of international students.
Sampling of available VEE courses: MATH447 Time Series Analysis; MATH344 Regression Analysis; ECON265 Microeconomics; ECON266 Macroeconomics; FIN315 Principles of Financial Management
6. Brigham Young University
Founded in 1875, Brigham Young University is an institution with more than 26,600 undergraduate students studying in 194 bachelor’s degree programs. Students selecting the study of actuarial science are educated in classes offered through the department of statistics. The university is located in Provo, Utah. BYU placed No. 19 on U.S. News & World Report’s 2007 Great Schools, Great Prices list, as well as No. 12 for schools with the lowest amount of debt incurred by its students.
Sampling of available VEE courses: MATH513R Advanced Topics in Applied Mathematics; ECON380 Intermediate Price Theory I; Intermediate Micro; BUSM201 Financial Management
7. Texas A&M University
Located in College Station, Texas, and known for its consistently solid football program, Texas A&M University has an undergraduate student enrollment of more than 49,500. Texas A&M was established in 1876 as the state’s first public institution for higher education, focusing on agriculture and mechanical arts. It has since expanded to offer more than 130 undergraduate degree programs, including the study of actuarial science through the department of mathematics. In 2010, The Wall Street Journal ranked Texas A&M second in the U.S. among institutions that are “most likely to help students land a job in … areas that are growing, pay well and offer high levels of satisfaction.”
Sampling of available VEE courses: ECMT463 Introduction to Econometrics; ECMT475 Economic Forecasting; ECON311 Money and Banking; ECON323 Microeconomic Theory; FINC632 Investment Management
8. Baruch College
Situated in New York City, New York, Baruch College has an enrollment of more than 13,750 undergraduate students. The institution was founded in 1968 as part of the City University of New York system and offers an alternative for higher learning for students who can’t afford to attend private colleges. Its department of mathematics and strong actuary focus lands Baruch College in our top eight. Accolades for Baruch College include a No. 14 ranking by Forbes for Best Value Schools throughout the nation in 2015.
Sampling of available VEE courses: ECO4000 Statistical Analysis for Econ and Finance; STA9700 Modern Regression Analysis; ECO4200 Advanced Macroeconomics; FIN3610 Corporate Finance
9. Bradley University
Bradley University, founded in 1897 in Peoria, Illinois, is a private institution with about 4,400 undergraduate students. Its 12:1 student-to-teacher ratio makes the average class size 21 students. Bradley offers more than 100 undergraduate programs, and students pursuing careers as actuaries receive their degrees through the department of finance and quantitative methods. U.S. News & World Report ranked Bradley No. 4 among the Best Colleges in the Midwest and the No. 1 school of its kind (private, coed college) in the state.
Sampling of available VEE courses: MTH427 Applied Statistics; ECON221 Principles of Microeconomics; ECON222 Principles of Macroeconomics; FIN425 Portfolio Theory and Management
10. University of Florida
The University of Florida was founded in 1853. The institution is located in Gainesville, Florida, and has more than 32,700 undergraduate students and more than 100 undergraduate programs. At Florida, students choosing the actuary focus are educated in the department of mathematics. Florida gives students plenty of reasons to have school pride, as the Gators have won eight conference and three national championships for football, as well as seven conference and two national championships for basketball. In 2016, UF was ranked No. 14 among the best public universities in the nation by U.S. News & World Report and No. 47 overall when private universities were factored in.
Sampling of available VEE courses: QMB3250 Statistics for Business Decisions; STA4210 Regression Analysis; STA6857 Applied Time Series Analysis; ECO3203 Intermediate Macroeconomics; ECO3101 Intermediate Microeconomics
11. University of Texas at Dallas
Richardson, Texas, is home to the University of Texas at Dallas, which has more than 14,300 undergraduate students. The institution was established in 1961 as the Graduate Center of the Southwest, a research center for Texas Instruments. Just eight years after its founding, it became the University of Texas at Dallas. The university now offers more than 137 undergraduate and graduate majors and is home to more than 50 research centers. Students take actuarial classes through the department of mathematical science. The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching ranked the University of Texas at Dallas among the highest research activity institutions in 2015, meaning that it’s a leading institution for the amount of research activity and policy analysis.
Sampling of available VEE courses: MAS6V08 Quantitative Methods for Business Decision Making; STAT3355 Data Analysis for Statisticians and Actuaries; STAT4382 Stochastic Processes; FIN6325 Macroeconomics and Financial Markets; FIN3320 Business Finance
12. DePaul University
DePaul University is a private institution in Chicago, Illinois. More than 15,900 undergraduate students attend DePaul, which offers 300 undergraduate and graduate majors. Actuary students study courses within the college of science and health, with a focus on mathematical sciences. DePaul was established in 1898 and is one of the 12 largest private universities in the nation. In 2015, DePaul was ranked among the country’s most innovative schools – referencing “innovative improvements in terms of curriculum, faculty, students, campus life, technology or facilities” – by U.S. News & World Report.
Sampling of available VEE courses: CSC324 Data Analysis & Statistical Software II; MAT358 Applied Time Series and Forecasting; ECO555 Economic for Decision-Making-micro; ECO509 Business Conditions Analysis-macro; FIN310 Principles of Corporate Finance
13. Drake University
Drake University has an undergraduate enrollment of more than 3,300 students. The institution was founded in 1881 and is located in Des Moines, Iowa. Students are able to choose from more than 70 programs of study among six colleges. Undergraduate students interested in becoming actuaries take courses in the college of business and public administration. Drake placed 145th among Forbes’ 2015 list of America’s Best Colleges.
Sampling of available VEE courses: ECON107 Introduction to Econometrics; ECON174 Intermediate Macroeconomic Analysis; ECON173 Intermediate Microeconomic Analysis; FIN102 Advanced Corporate Finance
14. Rochester Institute of Technology
The Rochester Institute of Technology stands in Henrietta, New York, and has more than 15,400 undergraduate students. Founded in 1829, RIT is a leader in preparing deaf individuals for technical and professional careers through its National Technical Institute for the Deaf, one of the institution’s nine colleges. The school of mathematical sciences educates the actuarial students. The Rochester Institute of Technology earned spots among Princeton Review’s Best 380 Colleges and Best Northeastern Colleges lists.
Sampling of available VEE courses: STAT335 Introduction to Time Series; ECON403 Econometrics I; ECON401 Intermediate Microeconomic Theory; ECON402 Intermediate Macroeconomic Theory; FINC220 Corporate Finance
15. Louisiana State University
The final school on our list of top actuarial programs is Louisiana State University. LSU is located in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and was established in 1860. More than 26,100 undergraduates attend the university to study one of 235 offered majors. And if you’re choosing the actuary path, your education stems from courses offered through the department of mathematics. The institution’s mascot is a live Bengal tiger named “Mike the Tiger” that has been on the sidelines for all three of the school’s national football championship wins. U.S. News & World Report’s 2015 ranking of public colleges in the country placed LSU at No. 63.
Sampling of available VEE courses: EXST7005 Statistical Techniques I; MATH4056 Mathematical Statistics; ECON2030 Economic Principles; FIN3716 Financial Management
Actuaries and Insurance
Insurance companies employ actuaries to help estimate the risk of potential and current policyholders Their analysis helps to determine premium costs.
Standard home insurance policies can protect the structure of your home and its contents from a variety of perils, including fire, theft and wind, and may cover you for situations in which you’re liable for an injury. Similarly, typical car insurance policies may provide coverage for property damage and bodily injury liability, damage caused by uninsured/underinsured motorists and damage caused by events such as hail and fire. All protections are capped at your policy’s limits and subject to any noted exclusions.
If you take steps to reduce your risks, you may qualify for discounts. For example, if you live in an area with a high crime rate and invest in a home security system, your premium payments may be reduced.
HomeInsurance.com analysts compiled a list of actuarial programs in the United States that maintain course coverage for at least two actuarial exams and have approved courses for at least one Validation by Educational Experience (VEE) topic as set by the Society of Actuaries (SOA). We factored in the 20-year net return on investment (ROI) by looking at the difference between 20-year median pay for a college graduate with a bachelor’s degree and 24-year median pay for a high school grad, minus the total four-year cost of attending college. The average loan amount was determined by taking loans received by full-time, first-time degree-seeking undergrads for the 2012-2013 school year, and multiplying to calculate the total amount over four years. This includes Title IV, institutionally sponsored and private student loans. Finally, the percentage of grant money received is the percentage of full-time, first-time degree-seeking undergrads who received local, state, federal or institutional grant aid in the 2012-2013 school year. The 20-year ROI, average loan amount and percentage of grant money statistics were found from Payscale.com.
Our findings include only schools that have actuarial programs at the bachelor’s level, with on-campus housing, that maintain course coverage for at least two actuarial exams and that have approved courses for at least one VEE topic. The ROI figures were determined based on out-of-state costs.