Actuarial Studies at The University of Texas at Austin
What is an actuary? Actuaries use mathematical skills to define, analyze and solve business problems involving the cost of possible future events. Actuaries are employed by insurance companies, financial institutions, consulting firms, industrial corporations, government agencies, universities, accounting firms and labor unions. Actuarial work includes: projecting how a new auto-safety law will change insurance claims; investigating how life-insurance reserves and future premiums might balance future claims; estimating the benefit cost of a labor contract; analyzing investment risks; or projecting financial costs of an epidemic. For example, actuaries determine how much you should pay for auto insurance based upon your driving record and habits, location, age, etc.
The Actuarial Studies Program at The University of Texas at Austin has a long and distinguished history of producing well-prepared students, many of whom have become leaders of the actuarial profession. In the Society of Actuaries classification of north American actuarial programs, our program qualifies as one of only about 70 advanced undergraduate programs and as one of about 30 graduate education or graduate education and research programs - thus providing a thorough preparation for entering an actuarial career.
While there are special actuarial options within the undergraduate and graduate mathematics degrees, actuarial studies is also available as an informal concentration and may be taken by students in any major. Such students take mathematics courses that cover preliminary examination learning objectives.
Besides calculus, linear algebra, probability and statistics, seven mathematics (M) actuarial courses plus one actuarial foundation (ACF) course anchor the actuarial program. Students who complete these courses and pass at least two professional examinations can be competitive in the actuarial job market.
Three additional mathematics actuarial courses, computing courses, economics courses, business courses and public speaking courses compose the remainder of the concentration's core; students completing these will be even more competitive for actuarial jobs. Additional suggested courses provide further breadth and depth, especially for graduate students.
Because the program requires so much mathematics, many students choose to pursue an undergraduate or graduate degree in mathematics. Alternatively, students can take these courses as electives and major in any other area. Many business students have a major in the business school, but still pursue a concentration in actuarial studies.
Actuarial employers have hired students from the actuarial program that majored in such diverse fields as computer science, psychology, electrical engineering, German, botany, music, physics and art history.
Students should seek advice from the undergraduate or graduate advisor of any field in which they are considering majoring as well as from Dr. Maxwell or Dr. Vaaler. Regardless of major, students must meet the requirements of that major in addition to the recommendations for the actuarial concentration.
SupportProfessor Maxwell works closely with the actuarial community and the CNS Career Design Center to help graduates obtain entry-level jobs and to help continuing students obtain summer internships. Approximately 20 actuarial employers will participate at the CNS Fall Career Expo, which is on Sept 24 from 1-6 pm in the Frank Erwin Center. About 10 actuarial employers will attend the CNS Spring Career Expo.
The actuarial profession has a long history of supporting our actuarial program with their time (serving on advisory boards, presenting to the student club, providing mock interviews, and recruiting interns and full-time employees) as well as with financial contributions. We received gifts from about individuals and businesses last year as well as support from the professional organizations Actuaries Club of the Southwest and the Southwest Actuarial Forum. During the 2011-2012 academic year, 35 students were awarded $53,500 total in scholarships funded from annual donations, $13,000 total in endowed scholarships and $24,600 total in TDI internship/scholarships. For information on the special financial aid available for continuing actuarial students (scholarships, TDI Internship-Scholarships, and Forgivable Loans), please see the financial aid announcement 2112-2013 (will be updated soon).
As of fall 2014, our program boasts 350 students, graduating about 85 annually. The vast majority of our students are either seeking a B.S. in Mathematics (actuarial option) or are in the Red McCombs School of Business with a concentration in actuarial studies.
A few students already hold an undergraduate degree in some area and are not seeking a second degree; rather they enroll in our classes to prepare for some actuarial exams (P, FM and perhaps some VEE coursework) and compete for entry-level actuarial jobs.
Our master's program typically admits two to four students each fall. Graduate students study all the material for the five preliminary examinations as well as graduate level mathematics or finance courses.
Actuarial Program Faculty and AdvisorsMark Maxwell, PhD, ASA
Actuarial Program Director
Clinical Professor of Mathematics
Paul V. Montgomery Fellow of Actuarial Mathematics
Principal author of Probability and Statistics with Applications: A Problem Solving Text (approved for Exam P)
Co-editor of the Education and Research section of Expanding Horizons, the newsletter of the Society of Actuaries
Gustavo Cepparo, MS
Milica Cudina, PhD
Clinical Assistant Professor
Gary Hamrick, PhD
Shinko Harper, PhD
Alisa Havens, MA
Jennifer Mann, PhD
The Mathematics, Physics & Astronomy Advising CenterSusan Brown
Academic Advising Coordinator
The MPA Advising Center is located in RLM 4.101. Meet with an advisor to get advice on course selection, degree requirements, adding/dropping courses, ALEKS placement exams, orientation and university policy and procedures. Call 512-471-0900 to set up an appointment.
Career Design CenterKatie Thompson
The Career Design Center is located in PAI 5.03. Meet with a career coach for help with resume writing, interviewing and job searching. They also provide the opportunity to apply and interview on campus for internships and full-time positions, as well as coordinate two CNS career fairs per year and several workshops on career-related topics. Call 512-471-6700 to set up an appointment.
University of Texas Actuarial Science Club Kevin Gregory, President
Alex Shirsat, Vice-President
Trevor VanOsselaer, Financial Director
Jessica Hastings, Administrative Director
Stacy Liu, Events Coordinator
The UTASC provides support with P and FM exam preparation seminars and mock exams & organizes professional guest speakers and social events for students interested in actuarial science.