Possessing strong mathematical skills provides an enormous advantage in today's business environment. Virtually all of the top careers in the Jobs Rated Almanac involve mathematics, statistics or computer skills.
The actuarial science degree program at Robert Morris University prepares students for careers as actuaries, the second-rated career in the most recent edition of the Jobs Rated Almanac (2002).
The program integrates the mathematical foundations of actuarial science with intensive business education and communications skills. Our mission is to produce enlightened graduates with cultural and civic awareness, as well as the technical proficiency and analytical ability to be productive professionals.
The curriculum integrates a nationally renowned commitment to communications with professional studies in business and mathematics. The major is highly interdisciplinary in content, requiring courses in general mathematics, statistics, actuarial mathematics, business, economics and finance.
Applicants should have a very high aptitude and solid background in mathematics, and an interest in the world of business and finance. An ACT mathematics sub-score of at least 26 or an SAT mathematics sub-score of at least 620 is required for entrance into the program. The admissions review committee will accept students with lower sub-scores on a probationary basis.
What is an Actuary?
Actuaries apply mathematical principles and techniques to solve problems in finance, insurance and related fields. Actuaries are involved with every aspect of the insurance industry and must possess strong mathematical skills and a solid business background to apply their technical knowledge.
Actuaries are responsible for determining rates and premiums on insurance policies (e.g. life, health, home and auto) and forecasting future events affecting the soundness of insurance programs. Some actuaries work with consulting firms as advisors to corporations regarding human resource and pension benefits. Government agencies, such as the Social Security Administration or insurance regulatory boards, also employ actuaries. Actuaries can specialize in life and health insurance, in property and casualty insurance, or in pension benefit programs.
Half of all certified actuaries work for insurance companies, one third for independent consulting companies and the remainder in education and government. For more information about the profession, visit www.beanactuary.org.
The RMU Advantage
- RMU's actuarial science curriculum is specifically designed to prepare students for the first four professional actuarial exams, jointly administered by the Society of Actuaries (SOA) and the Casualty Actuarial Society (CAS). There are fewer than 60 such programs in the United States.
- Classes are small and informal, taught by experienced professors dedicated to undergraduate education. We provide exam preparation seminars and impress upon our students an appreciation for the high level of commitment required to pass these professional exams.
- Training to use technology begins in the freshman year and is integrated throughout the curriculum. Students gain the skills needed to apply technology in the classroom and the workplace.
- Several leading national actuarial employers have offices in Pittsburgh. They include Towers Watson, Mercer Human Resource Consulting, Buck Consultants and Highmark Insurance. Many RMU students attain highly paid summer or school-year internships with these companies.
- RMU has three faculty members whose primary assignment is actuarial science. All three have earned the A.S.A. designation as Associates of the Society of Actuaries. They are active in student recruitment, retention and job placement.
The 126-credit hour curriculum has three components:
- Robert Morris University Core - 40 credits
These are the traditional liberal arts requirements of the University. Studies in humanities and social, behavioral, natural and quantitative sciences are included.
- Major Courses - 59 credits
This component includes courses in accounting, finance, mathematics, statistics, microeconomics, information systems and actuarial science.
- Open Electives - 27 credits
Students may select courses within University offerings to broaden their skills in some area of interest.
Preparing for RMU's Actuarial Science Program
Students seeking to major in actuarial science should take as much high school mathematics as possible. A strong background in all areas of pre-calculus mathematics provides an excellent basis for university work. Students also should have an interest in business and computer science, and in developing management and communications skills. Students planning to transfer college credits to RMU should complete courses in calculus, introductory economics, accounting and other business-related areas.
Actuarial Examination Preparation
RMU's curriculum is expressly designed to prepare students to succeed on the professional actuarial exams. Students take the first exam in the sophomore year and the second exam in the junior year. Senior courses cover material for the next two exams. Students also take courses in economics, finance and applied statistics that are pre-approved by the SOA for fulfillment of additional professional requirements (referred to as Validation by Educational Experience).
Students generally pass several exams while in college, thereby qualifying for attractive employment opportunities. Actuaries continue to take exams while working, eventually attaining professional designations such as Associate and Fellow (the highest designation). Our program lays a solid and substantial foundation for progress toward full certification as a practicing actuary, and many of our students go on to achieve the Fellow designation before the age of 30. For more detailed information concerning the exams, visit http://www.soa.org. or http://www.casact.org.
Actuarial Science as a Career
In the past six editions of the Jobs Rated Almanac, actuary has never been rated lower than fourth. The editors compile statistics on 250 occupations and rank them based on six key criteria: environment, income, employment outlook, physical demands, security and stress. The data comes from government sources, such as the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and the U.S. Census Bureau, as well as studies from trade associations and industry groups.
Compensation depends on experience, employment location and the number of exams passed. A recent survey conducted by D.W. Simpson & Co. found that 80 percent of first-year actuaries with one SOA exam passed were compensated between $42,000 and $53,000 per year (excluding signing bonuses). The salary growth potential for the actuarial profession is one of the highest available. For example, Fellows of the Society of Actuaries with 15 years of experience often earn in excess of $250,000 annually. For more detailed salary and compensation information, visit www.dwsimpson.com/salary.html.
The PPG Industries Career and Leadership Development Center at RMU provides resource and guidance in helping students research and apply for employment and internships. Workshops are offered to help students develop interviewing techniques, resume writing and self-generated job-seeking skills. RMU's actuarial science club offers specialized workshops and invites practicing actuaries to speak about their work.