I always get tons of questions about which schools have the best actuarial science programs. Well, I’ve got some long overdue answers for you!
The thing is, you don’t need to get an actuarial science degree to become an actuary. In fact, it’s not necessarily your best option; you can learn why here.
However, tons of future actuaries ask me for advice on choosing an actuarial science program and many students end up in programs that don’t teach them everything they need to know. So if you’re planning to take that route, you should be in a program that will really help you become an actuary!
If you’re looking for an actuarial science degree, here are my top 20 picks for schools in the US and Canada.
My goal was to find schools that will prepare you for real actuarial work, while providing tons of extra support for your journey.
Keep in mind that this list isn’t a ranking. It’s just a collection of my top picks based on factors I value. Your top choices might be different
In general, you want to find a school that:
- Helps you build technical skills, like Excel and a programming language
- Teaches you about insurance terminology
- Helps you prepare for actuarial exams
- Has actuarial groups to support you, like a club or association
- Is recognized by the Society of Actuaries (SOA) or by the Casualty Actuarial Society (CAS)
- Is CIA accredited (in Canada only)
- Offers financial aid and internships to actuarial students
There are a few key subjects that all actuaries need to know, and those are the classes you want to look for in your program guide. This blog post goes into more detail about them!
Ideally, your program will teach you everything you’ll need, but that might not always be the case. If your core classes won’t be teaching you all of those skills, try to take them as electives or learn them another way.
You also want to look for recognized SOA and CAS schools. This will show you if the school’s curriculum is relevant to actuarial work and matches up with the exams. These schools will have the Center of Actuarial Excellence (CAE) accreditation from SOA, or they’ll be a CAS University Award winner. You can check the CAS and SOA websites to get a full list of the qualifying schools.
For a school to be CAE accredited, it must meet requirements for the type of program offered, curriculum, and graduate count. It also needs to have high-quality graduates, connections in the actuarial industry, and a good background in other areas of study. Plus, in late 2022, students will be able to earn credit for certain SOA exams at CAE schools. That’s something to look out for!
The CAS University Award Program also requires schools to meet certain requirements in order to receive the award. However, instead of providing accreditation to schools or their programs, it issues an award to 3-4 top schools every year. It doesn’t provide any exam credits right now.
It honestly doesn’t matter which qualification the school has, since you probably don’t know which route you’re going yet. If a school has either one of these accreditations, you’ll know it has a solid program. If it has both, even better!
There’s also the Canadian Institute of Actuaries, which recognizes top actuarial schools in Canada using the University Accreditation Program (UAP). Like the others, UAP assesses schools based on the quality of their actuarial program. It allows students in accredited Canadian universities to get credit for early exams through school. Right now, qualifying students can get exemptions from FM/2, IFM/3F, LTAM, and STAM by getting high enough grades in specific university courses. So, if a Canadian school is CIA accredited, you’ll have a chance to get out of some actuarial exams.
Having all these qualifications doesn’t necessarily mean a school will be the right one for you, but it does mean that it has a high-quality actuarial program.
That’s a good place to start! You can use the other factors I cover to determine the best program for you.
Before diving into each school individually, take a look at the chart below to narrow down the schools on your radar. You can see the type of accreditation they have and the cost of tuition. You can also see which schools have an internship program specifically for actuaries. Keep in mind that most schools still have internships available to help you get actuarial experience, even without an actuarial internship program.
|CAS Award Winner
|Tuition (USD) – Domestic
|Tuition (USD) – International
|Actuarial Internship Option
|University of Toronto
|SOA & CIA
|University of Waterloo
|SOA & CIA
|SOA & CIA
|SOA & CIA
|University of Michigan
|Pennsylvania State University
|University of Nebraska – Lincoln
|University of St. Thomas
|University of Illinois
|University of Texas at Dallas
|University of Manitoba
|SOA & CIA
|Brigham Young University
|University of Calgary
|SOA & CIA
|St. John’s University
|Georgia State University
|Simon Fraser University
|University of Connecticut
Here are a few key areas that you’ll want to know about in more detail.
The most important factor you’re probably worried about is price. So, before you get your heart set on a school, take a look at the cost of the actuarial programs on my list.
I’ve collected options from different price ranges, with awesome schools at both ends of the spectrum. All of these schools offer scholarships and financial aid, and some even have scholarships just for actuarial students. If a program catches your eye, check to see if they offer any scholarships or financial aid that you could qualify for.
The cost of a program can vary dramatically based on whether you’re attending a local school or an international one. You’ll also have to consider accommodation costs alongside your tuition. Plus, most schools charge higher fees for international students!
You might be reconsidering studying out-of-state or out-of-province after looking at those numbers. But don’t lose hope! International tuition is definitely more expensive, but there are also some extra support systems in place for international students. For example, Western University offers lower fees for international students over the course of their degree. You’ll have access to different scholarship options too!
All of the schools on the list offer actuarial science programs that can be completed in 4 years. However, taking an internship extends the length of certain programs up to 5 years. Check your program to see if an internship will change your graduation date!
Now, you’ll probably want to know what options you’ll have at each school. Some schools offer multiple actuarial degree programs, including different types of Bachelor’s degrees, Master’s and PhD options.
Keep in mind that you definitely don’t need to get a Master’s or PhD to become an actuary. It’s an extra step that you’re free to take if you want to, but your time might be better spent elsewhere. Check out this blog post to read more about that!
Some schools offer Actuarial Science as an Arts or Science degree, while others offer Business Administration or Math degrees. One isn’t necessarily better than the other, they just focus on different areas.
Actuarial science minors aren’t offered at every school, so you’ll need to find one that offers the combination you’re looking for. Some schools offer only an actuarial science major, while others offer both.
You might even opt for an entirely different degree. Many students decide to major in finance, business, or computer science with an actuarial science minor. This could help you round out your actuarial science knowledge with insight into other areas. The business or programming skills you pick up will probably be handy in your actuarial job!
Want to stay close to home (or go as far away as possible)? No problem. Take a look at this chart to see how close each one is to you.
Are any schools standing out to you yet?
I’ll dig into the details so you can decide which program is right for you. In no particular order, here are 20 schools with great actuarial science programs to help make your journey easier.
University of Toronto (Toronto, Ontario, CA)
The University of Toronto is the 2019 CAS University Award winner and home to the Professional Experience Program and an actuarial science club. The school also has Master’s and PhD program options.
The Professional Experience Program helps new actuarial students in the school’s Specialist program to prepare for their actuarial career. It has two main components: a professional experience course and an internship. One thing to note is that the program doesn’t provide students with internships, so you’re responsible for finding your own through the school’s internship and job search database.
The University of Toronto’s actuarial science club is a student-run organization that prepares students to succeed in the program and the industry. It holds career seminars to educate students on the actuarial profession and events to help future actuaries connect with each other.
University of Waterloo (Waterloo, Ontario, CA)
This is the school that I went to!
The University of Waterloo offers a unique actuarial science club, plus internship opportunities. It also offers a Master’s and PhD program. If you want to take an internship, keep in mind that it will extend this program from four years to five.
What makes this school special is its actuarial science club. It offers a mentorship program and lends out SOA exam study materials. Borrowing these exam materials could save you so much money in the long run! The mentorship program is also great, because it will pair you with someone who has internship experience and multiple exams passed. It’s a great way to learn from someone who is further along on their actuarial journey!
Western University (London, Ontario, CA)
This school has a Bachelor of Mathematics in Actuarial Science, but does not offer a Master’s or PhD. However, actuarial internships are available. It also has an actuarial science club called the Actuarial and Statistical Undergraduate Association, which organizes seminars, study groups, and social events.
This school offers decreasing tuition for international students over the course of their degree, making the program more accessible to non-residents. Plus, it has Western Job Connect, a resource to help students and alumni find employment.
Concordia University (Montreal, Quebec, CA)
Concordia University offers two actuarial science programs: an honors degree and a specialization. You can also choose between a Bachelor of Arts or Sciences. There are many ways to combine your program with other coursework, like finance, or computer science. This is a great way to add value to your degree! It offers full-time work terms starting in September, January, or May. If you do decide to take an internship, your degree will take 5 years instead of 4. There are Master’s and PhD options too.
Plus, you don’t have to worry about taking your classes in French because you’re studying in Quebec. Concordia is an English school and classes will be taught in English. No worries there!
University of Michigan (Ann Arbor, Michigan, US)
The University of Michigan offers a Bachelors in Actuarial Science for math majors. Summer internships are available and the school recommends all students get an internship before finishing their junior year. A Master’s program is also available if you want to go that route.
The schools’ actuarial club is called the Student Actuaries at Michigan and helps students with networking, exam support, and the job recruitment process. It also offers a mentorship program!
Pennsylvania State University (Pennsylvania, US)
Penn State offers a Bachelor’s Actuarial Science option and has an active actuarial club. It hosts career-building events, including Excel and VBA training alongside a mentorship program. It also holds career fairs to help students obtain actuarial internships. I would definitely recommend this actuarial club! However, you would need to go elsewhere for a Master’s or PhD.
University of Nebraska (Lincoln, Nebraska, US)
The University of Nebraska offers multiple actuarial science options in the arts, science, and business departments as well as a Master’s degree.
The school boasts the World Class Actuarial Science Fund, which helps the actuarial department support students and provide high quality actuarial science education. Meanwhile, its actuarial science club connects students with other future actuaries and helps them to prepare for actuarial exams.
While there is no actuarial career fair, the school does have an internship job bank where students can find relevant internships, including actuarial ones. Plus, you’ll be reimbursed for every actuarial exam you pass while in school.
Drake University (Des Moines, Iowa, US)
This school offers a Bachelor of Actuarial Science as a major or double major with another program in the College of Business and Public Administration (CBPA).
The CBPA holds a yearly actuarial science fair to help connect actuarial science students with internships and full-time jobs. It also has a dedicated space for actuarial students called the Adam Bowers Actuarial Education Center, where students can borrow study materials for their actuarial exams. It’s not just textbooks, either: They have study guides, textbooks, and DVD study materials.
It even has two student organizations: the Drake Actuarial Student Society (DASS) and Gamma Iota Sigma, an actuarial science fraternity.
Gamma Iota Sigma promotes student interest in actuarial science, risk management, and insurance. It encourages academic achievement in these fields and helps students with networking and research opportunities.
On the other hand, DASS provides exam advice and presentations to help students prepare for the actuarial field.
Towson University (Towson, Maryland, US)
Towson University offers a Bachelor’s in Actuarial Science and Risk Management as a concentration within the math major program, with a Master’s option. It’s home to the Actuarial Science and Risk Management Club, which supports students academically and arranges networking opportunities.
To be admitted into the Actuarial concentration, you have to either pass an actuarial exam or complete two of your early math classes with a B grade or higher on the first attempt. Important stuff to know before you take those courses!
It’s the only actuarial science program offered in Maryland, so it’s a great option if you’re in the area and looking to stay local. Although the school doesn’t have a dedicated actuarial internship program, it offers general internship opportunities to all students.
University of St. Thomas (Saint Paul, Minnesota, US)
This school offers an actuarial science major and minor as part of a Bachelor of Science. Internships are available, though there is no specific resource for actuarial internships. There is no Master’s or PhD option.
This degree requires some interesting components, including a public speaking class. As miserable as that might sound, it’s a great learning opportunity. Better to get used to it now than during your first work presentation!
St. Thomas has a business fraternity that promotes student interest and success in insurance by hosting professional development and networking events.
It’s also home to the Mathematics Resource Center (MaRC), which offers free math tutoring for students. That includes tutoring on the courses specific to the actuarial exams, which could be a great study resource!
University of Illinois (Champaign County, Illinois, US)
The University of Illinois offers a BSc in Actuarial Science. It has scholarships and financial aid for actuarial students, plus Master’s and PhD program options.
This school is the founding member of the Annual Midwest Actuarial Student Conference (MASC) which helps students to network with their peers and employers. It also holds a “Meet the Firms” event to help students network with companies they might want to work with in the future. It’s a great way to figure out which employers mesh well with your values. You’ll also get reimbursed for all the exams you pass while attending at $150 per exam. Nice!
And, the school offers two mentorship programs. In the Milliman Mentorship Program, students of underrepresented minorities are partnered with practicing actuaries from Milliman and can even receive financial aid. There’s also an Alumni mentorship program, where recent grads are paired with current students to help them prepare for actuarial work.
University of Texas at Dallas (Dallas, Texas, US)
The University of Texas at Dallas allows you to take actuarial coursework outside of your degree, so you can choose to major in Math with a focus in Actuarial Science, or take actuarial coursework in a business or economics degree. It was the CAS University Award winner in 2018, and also offers a Master’s degree.
It has an active actuarial science club and offers scholarships and financial aid specific to actuarial students. It also has a business fraternity that connects actuarial students to industry professionals, which could help you find work in the field.
The University of Texas at Dallas has two other actuarial components: a case competition and a newsletter. The student-run newsletter is called “Risky Business” and it educates other students on the actuarial field. It also provides information on upcoming networking and professional development events.
The case competition is an event that mimics real-world actuarial work, where students solve real actuarial problems to practice their presentation skills and apply their knowledge. This would be a great thing to put on your resume!
University of Manitoba (Winnipeg, Manitoba, CA)
The University of Manitoba offers a Bachelor of Science and Bachelor of Commerce in Actuarial Mathematics. A Master’s program is also available if that’s what you’re looking for.
This school has scholarships specifically for actuarial students, an active actuarial club, and relevant internship opportunities including bookkeeping and two insurance company options.
Brigham Young University (Provo, Utah, US)
Winner of the CAS University Award program in 2021, Brigham Young is also a top pick. It offers a Bachelor of Science in Actuarial Science with no Master’s or PhD options and requires you to pass at least one actuarial exam before declaring your major.
I don’t necessarily agree with this approach, because it encourages future actuaries to start their journey with an exam (watch this video to learn more). However, it will definitely ensure that students are only going into the actuarial science program if they know it’s right for them!
This school offers actuarial internships and has an active actuarial club focused on helping students build their resumes.
One thing to note is that this is a religious school that requires related coursework. Its fees differ depending on whether or not you are a member of the LDS church. If you aren’t, you’ll be paying almost double the tuition. It made this list because it has a great actuarial program with lower fees to begin with, but feel free to skip this one if it doesn’t suit you!
University of Calgary (Calgary, AB, Canada)
The University of Calgary is a research focused school, so it’s a great pick if you’d like to get experience with data analysis or coding through research opportunities! It offers Master’s and PhD actuarial programs, and relevant internships are available. While there are no specific actuarial scholarships, actuarial students can qualify for math and statistics scholarships.
The University of Calgary is home to the UofC Actuarial Society, a club which helps students prepare for the actuarial career through networking, events, and mentorship opportunities.
St. John’s University (Queens, New York, US)
St. John’s University was the CAS University Award winner in 2017. Their actuarial program is a BSc in Actuarial Science offering actuarial internship opportunities and relevant scholarships. You also have the option of taking a Master’s program.
It has a student-run fraternity and faculty-run organization for actuarial students, helping them find work terms as students and full-time jobs after graduation. It also provides scholarships specific to actuarial students.
This school is also the most expensive. It’s a private university with the highest domestic tuition on this list, so that’s something to keep in mind. If you do want to attend this school, make sure you apply for scholarships!
Georgia State University (Atlanta, Georgia, US)
Georgia State was the CAS University Award Winner in 2021 and their actuarial program is a Bachelor of Business Administration in Actuarial Science. The program requires some unique and helpful courses, including “New Technology in Insurance Markets” and “Commercial Insurance Underwriting”.
This actuarial program is supported by the Georgia State Risk Management Foundation, which supports the student-run actuarial club, provides actuarial scholarships, and connects students with mentors and industry opportunities. It even provides reimbursement for actuarial exams that you pass during school!
Simon Fraser University (Burnaby, BC, Canada)
Simon Fraser University offers a Bachelor of Science in Actuarial Science and Master’s and PhD programs are available. It has relevant internships for actuarial students and is home to the Statistics and Actuarial Science Student Association (SASSA). This organization gives students access to past course exams to help them practice and learn the material, including courses relevant to actuarial exams. This could be a great studying option!
University of Connecticut (Mansfield, Connecticut, US)
This school is a two-time CAS University Award winner, offering a Bachelor of Science in Actuarial Science with an optional focus in finance. You also have Master’s and PhD program options.
The UConn Actuarial Science Program provides scholarships to actuarial students and holds an actuarial career fair every fall. There is also an actuarial science fraternity, although it is not currently holding events due to the pandemic.
Temple University (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, US)
Temple University also made my list. It offers a Bachelor of Business Administration in Actuarial Science and was the CAS University Award winner in 2020. Master’s and PhD programs are available too.
Courses are connected with exams and you can choose between classes on health insurance versus property insurance. This is great if you already have an idea which route you want to take. Otherwise, it will help you learn more about your options.
Internships and scholarships are generally available, but there are no specific actuarial ones. There’s also no actuarial club or association right now (but you can always start one!)
So, if you’re looking to take an actuarial science degree, these are some of your best options! When it comes down to it, your education is a personal choice. If there’s another school on your mind, check the SOA and CAS websites to see how it compares with other actuarial programs. You can also go through the course listing to check for classes on insurance terms, computer programming, and Excel.
And if you’re looking for some extra help building your actuarial skills, don’t worry! You can still get support with all the actuarial skills you aren’t learning in school. Just join the Actuary Accelerator Community (AAC)!
In the AAC, you can brush up on your math and Excel skills, try practice exam problems, and learn a programming language. There are even workshops on LinkedIn networking, resume building, and interview preparation to help you get your first actuarial job.
Check out everything it has to offer here!