Having a Master’s in Actuarial Science can open the door to a very lucrative career. Actuaries can find employment in a wide variety of industries. Individuals who have a passion for numbers and enjoy solving complex problems can find success in this field. An actuary’s primary job is to collect data and look for patterns that can indicate various levels of risk. By using mathematical and statistical models, the actuary can review all of the numbers and formulate a solution that not only lowers the potential risk but also improve the overall odds of success.
Graduates who enter the workforce with an Associate’s or Bachelor’s degree in Actuarial Sciences are able to use what they learn and gain much-needed experience. Once they have established themselves, they can return to school to earn their Masters in Actuarial Sciences. If they have been certified as an actuary, they will need to enroll in a specific number of continuing education classes to keep their certification active and in good standing. Enrolling in a Master’s degree program at an accredited college or university will help to meet that requirement.
Methodology: Ranking the Best Actuarial Science Graduate Programs
To rank the best actuarial science master’s degree programs, Great Business Schools editors sought out accredited, reputable colleges and universities known for quality programs. From there, we ranked programs according to three factors: Tuition Cost, Student Reviews, and Salary Potential, based on data from IPEDS, College Scorecard, and Niche.
1. Georgia State University
Georgia State University’s actuarial science MS is a deeply analytical and highly challenging program. This program gets results. It gets students ready for high-paying careers. Not only does this program impart the skills that its students need, it also helps them make important connections in their field to help build their careers. GSU’s actuarial program is highly recognized in the STEM world. As a result, it’s one of the best graduate schools for actuarial science.
GSU consistently earns awards and recognitions for its teaching, innovation, and much more. It’s a challenging and dynamic school that helps students reach their next steps, whatever those steps may be. Located in Atlanta, it provides a prime locations for students to network and gain internship opportunities. The GSU name also looks great on a resume, so it makes a good choice for students looking to gain an edge.
Highlight: GSU’s Master of actuarial science program is ranked #1 in North America and #4 in the world for research productivity.
Degree: Actuarial Science, MS
2. Yale University
It’s no surprise that Yale University has a great actuarial sciences program for master’s level students. This program focuses specifically on systemic risk analysis, helping students dive deeply into ways that they can manage those risks. This yearlong program is the first of its kind, and it’s designed for those who already work for banks and other regulatory agencies. The program teaches these students the best methods for analysis and risk reduction, helping them become even bigger assets to their teams. For these students especially, Yale has one of the best actuarial science graduate programs.
Yale University is well-known for its challenging academics and career preparation. Those with the Yale name on their resumes will certainly stand out among the competition. This school inspires lifelong curiosity, blending deep tradition with cutting-edge innovation. Students here learn how to examine ideas from all different angles as they get an education that is both deep and wide-reaching.
Highlight: Yale University was the first college to award a PhD in the United States.
Degree: Masters of Management Studies in Systemic Risk
3. Columbia University
Columbia University’s actuarial science MS acknowledges that the statistics world is changing all the time. Because of the rapidly-changing nature of this work, those who enter it need to learn quickly, adapt to changing environments, and stand out as leaders in the field. This program helps its students achieve all of these things. As a result, it has become one of the best graduate schools for actuarial science. Furthermore, because of its New York City location, it puts students right at the heart of the best job and networking opportunities.
Columbia University is one of the most highly-regarded research centers in the world. As such, it carries a reputation for innovation and cutting-edge learning. Columbia students get to witness firsthand the difference that Columbia makes, and they get to take advantage of these education innovations for themselves. This challenging university has no shortage of opportunity or support for students who want to take their careers to a new level.
Highlight: Columbia University is the oldest higher learning institution in New York.
Degree: Actuarial Science, MS
4. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
The University of Illinois has a strong actuarial science MS program. It’s widely recognized among actuarial employers, and with good reason. The program covers advanced mathematical concepts. At the same time, it delves deeply into professional studies. UI stands out as one of the best actuarial science programs because it gives students an excellent balance of both. With this combination, students learn the best ways to predict and prevent financial catastrophe.
UI has high standards for itself and its students. This public university values its research and innovation. It doesn’t simply educate students in a bubble. Rather, it focuses on the issues that actually impact the world today, and it prepares students to face those issues, too. As a result, students get a relevant and focused education, learning how to apply their passions to the broader world.
Highlight: UI’s actuarial science program won the first Casualty Actuarial Society University Award.
Degree: Actuarial Science, MS
5. University of California, San Diego
The University of California, San Diego’s applied mathematics program is designed both as a terminal degree for some and a pathway to a PhD for others. In either case, the program teaches complex theories as well as probability and statistics. It’s a challenging program that demands a lot from its students, but students find it fulfilling as it prepares them for even the most taxing mathematical careers. As a result, it’s counted among the best graduate schools for actuarial science.
UC San Diego is known for its commitment to innovation, collaboration, and global change. This school fosters a culture of curiousity. Students here are encouraged to ask the “what if” questions that bring growth and change. This school also values collaboration, encouraging faculty and students to work together to come up with solutions.
Highlight: As a part of the broader UC system, UC San Diego has no shortage of challenge and opportunity.
Degree: Applied Mathematics, MA
6. University of Chicago
The University of Chicago’s financial mathematics program brings together math, computer science, statistics, and similar subjects for a multi-level academic approach. Students start their first quarter with math concepts. As they progress through their degrees, they learn more and more about how those concepts interact with businesses and other real-world entities. For those who enjoy the building-block approach, this program is among the best actuarial science graduate programs in the US today.
The University of Chicago is an industrius school that encourages students to ask the big questions. AT UC, students know that their ideas are valued, and faculty members make sure that students feel heard. Choosing UC makes a lot of sense for students who want to take big career steps. The challenging academics prepare them for new career heights, and the urban location provides lots of job opportunity, networking, and internships.
Highlight: Students, alumni, and faculty from UC have earned numerous awards, including Guggenheim Fellowships, Pulitzers Prizes, Turing Awards, and much more.
Degree: Financial Mathematics, MS
7. University of Wisconsin – Madison
The University of Wisconsin-Madison offers an MBA in risk management and insurance. This program prepares students for high-paying careers. It combines core concepts with higher-level business and analytics strategies. Students in this program develop excellent critical thinking skills as well as leadership abilities, making them highly competitive in the workforce. Furthermore, this program introduces students to real-world business leaders and opportunities, making UW Madison one of the best graduate schools for actuarial science.
UW Madison is deeply focused on helping students find career success. Its commitment to research and service also make this school a boon to Wisconsin and the world as a whole. Students here pursue new ideas, make important connections with career-minded peers, and learn where their passions intersect with the world’s biggest needs. UW Madison is constantly moving foward, and it helps its students find the tools they need to do the same.
Highlight: UW Madison is both the oldest and the largest public university in Wisconsin.
Degree: Risk Management and Insurance, MBA
8. University of Delaware
The University of Delaware’s applied mathematics program is one of the best actuarial science graduate programs in the US. This program opens up pathways, both for students who want to earn a PhD and for those who simply want to open up their salary and career possibilities. The MS in applied mathematics combines broad mathematics with focused statistics, helping students make the most of their business abilities as they take their careers to new levels.
University of Delaware is a focused and committed research organization with a passion for innovation. It’s a challenging school that helps students reach their fullest potential. As a matter of fact, many students here learn that they were far more capable than they had previously realized. Not only do students get plenty of academic challenge, they also get lots of opportunity to make connections and grow their careers.
Highlight: US News and World Report has ranked 18 University of Delaware programs among the best graduate programs in the nation.
Degree: Applied Mathematics, MS
9. Michigan State University
Michigan State University has one of the best actuarial science graduate programs for those who want to study health communication. This program is specific to those who are interested in health and risk, and it trains students to communicate effectively on those subjects. The program offers two tracks, one leading toward theory and the other toward practice. Either way, students learn a diverse range of health and statistical subjects that lead them in the right direction.
MSU thrives in a lot of areas, especially when it comes to math, science, and research. This school stays on the cutting edge of innovation, and students here benefit from this innovation every day. They receive a relevant, focused education that takes advantage of the latest technology. MSU is a large school that lets students take advantage of all of the resources and connections they need to move forward. For career-seekers and theoretical researchers alike, MSU is a great place to make the most of educational opportunities.
Highlight: MSU has 34 programs that rank among the top 25 in the US.
Degree: Health and Risk Communication, MA
10. Stevens Institute of Technology
Stevens Institute of Technology has a very focused actuarial sciences program. In this program, students get comfortable with risk management, communication, and recognizing potential problems before they happen. As a result, students who graduate from this program become invaluable to their employers. This program puts students right at the intersection of math, science, technology, and business concepts. It also sharpens the critical thinking stills that students will need to blend these concepts and apply them to their day to lives. This is why SIT is, for many, one of the best graduate schools for actuarial science.
SIT is a thriving private university that prepares smart students for career success. Located in a bustling city, this school also opens students to a world of networking and job opportunities. SIT is know.n for its STEM programs, and it excels at the intersection of science and business. Students also benefit from some of the best academic technology available. On the whole, this school makes a great choice for business-focused students who want to take their skills as far as possible.
Highlight: Forbes has ranked SIT #2 among colleges with the smallest gender pay gap for its graduates.
Degree: Actuarial Mathematics & Quantitative Risk, MS
11. University of Texas at Dallas
The actuarial science program at University of Texas at Dallas is designed to help students become leaders in the business world. The program instills important skills while connecting students to the avenues where they can make the most use of those skills. Because this program is well known and well connected, it’s become one of the best actuarial science programs for students who want to make the most of their salary potential.
UT Dallas is a fast-growing university, both in square footage and in student population size. It is one of the most widely recognized schools in Texas, and it has a reputation for great academics, which means that employers recognize and respect its name when they see it on a resume.
Highlight: According to Forbes, UT Dallas is the #1 best value public universities in Texas.
Degree: Actuarial Science, MS
12. University of Miami
The University of Miami’s MS in mathematical finance deepens students’ understanding of highly complex math concepts. It focuses especially on statistics, and of course, how those statistics apply to business and finance. Those who graduate from this program are prepared to take on challenging and high-paying roles in the business world.
The University of Miami is a private research school with a diverse population. Over the years, it has grown to become one of the top research institutions in the US. This school values research and innovation, using its discoveries to impact Florida and the world. UM is particularly strong in medicine and STEM fields, making it a top choice for students who want to pursue those areas. Finally, as part of a thriving city, UM opens students up to a world of connection and opportunity for their futures.
Highlight: The University of Miami has been ranked among the top 100 universities in the United States.
Degree: Mathematical Finance, MS
13. Claremont Graduate University
Claremont Graduate University’s statistical sciences program helps students stand out among the competition in the job market. After completing this program, Claremont students are prepared to handle a range of careers. This program helps them succeed in all areas of statistics, helping students move on to work with all sorts of industrial data. For those who want to dive deeply into statistics but still want a well-rounded approach to their graduate degree, Claremont Graduate University is one of the best graduate schools for actuarial science.
Claremont Graduate University is a research-focused, cross-disciplinary school that helps students sharpen their skills all across the board. While students do focus deeply on their own field of study, they also get a unique view on how these different fields interact with and influence one another. As a result, they excel in their own fields while maintaining excellent communication with people in others. This challenging university focuses entirely on graduate education, which means that grad students always know that they’re the priority here.
Highlight: Claremont Graduate University is one of the top grad schools for mathematics in the US.
Degree: Statistical Sciences, MS
14. University of Connecticut
The University of Connecticut’s Financial Risk Management program is designed for students who already have a career in the actuarial sciences. Combining both theory and practice, this program helps students go deeper into their careers and expand their salary potential. The program teaches about all of the factors that influence statistics, including technology and human choices. Overall, it’s one of the best actuarial science graduate programs, especially for those who want to surround themselves with fellow professionals.
UCONN is a highly ranked research school. It employs top researchers who make innovations in science, medicine, and more. Students participate in and benefit from this research, using innovative technologies in their classes. Classes are challenging and designed to get students ready for highly competitive careers. As a result, students can feel confident when they graduate and move into competitive work areas.
Highlight: UCONN is one of the top 25 public universities in the United States.
Degree: Financial Risk Management, MS
15. Towson University
Towson University offers an MS in actuarial science and predictive analytics. This program recognizes that plenty of sectors have added risk management to their repertoires. As a matter of fact, analytics careers are growing quickly. The program aims to help students fill that need. No matter where students end up with with analytical skills, they can develop the confidence that they need to succeed in their careers. The degree is challenging but flexible, so it’s one of the best actuarial science graduate programs for those who have to focus on current responsibilities while enhancing their skills at school.
Towson University is a career-focused school with more than 80 thriving graduate programs. In fact, this school has developed a reputation as a great place to earn a graduate degree. This diverse school helps students expand their limits, but it also provides enough flexibility for those with jobs and families. For example, students may take their classes on campus, online, or in a combination of both.
Highlight: Towson University is one of the nation’s top 100 public universities.
Degree: Actuarial Science & Predictive Analytics, M.S.
16. Ball State University
Ball State Univeersity’s Actuarial Science program provides the most up to date education possible for students in this field. It keeps up with the latest technology and innovations, and it prepares students to analyze and solve specific business issues. BSU actuarial students can also tailor their degrees to fit their own goals, choosing electives that line up with their passions. For a lot of students, this customization makes Ball State one of the best graduate schools for actuarial science.
Ball State University is a top-ranked school that takes an innovative approach to education. Students pursue their subjects from various angles, gaining mastery of some difficult subjects. They also heighten their leadership and critical thinking skills so that they can apply their knowledge to their careers. BSU’s graduate programs in particular are designed to help students boost their careers and gain even deeper knowledge over the subjects that they love.
Highlight: BSU is located in one of the most affordable college towns.
Degree: Actuarial Science, MS
17. Temple University
Temple University has a great actuarial science program. This graduate program combines statistics knowledge with leadership skills, communication skills, and critical thinking skills. While students learn all about how statistics impact the business world, they also learn what they need to know about the business world itself, including how to manage teams and communicate clearly across the board. It’s a balanced and well-rounded approach that makes this program one of the best actuarial science graduate programs.
Temple University is a top destination for a lot of goal-focused students. Students learn the skills that they need to turn their passions into thrilling and satisfying careers. This diverse school has a well-respected focus on research, and students here benefit from that research with classroom innovation and cutting-edge learning. Education here is focused enough to help students succeed in their careers but broad enough to give students a well-rounded view of the world.
Highlight: Temple University’s Fox School of Business is ranked among the top 100 in the US.
Degree: Actuarial Science, MS
18. Illinois State University
Illinois State University offers an actuarial science masters that dives deeply into statistics. It’s a highly focused program that many consider to be among the best actuarial science graduate programs in the country. While students study business and statistics, they can also take advantage of opportunities to learn about economics, insurance, law, and similar topics. This way, they can broaden their knowledge and get the most out of their educations. This award-winning program is a top choice among graduate students in the US.
ISU prides itself on being a “large school with a small school vibe.” In other words, while it has all of the tools and resources that large school have to offer, it also has a tight-knit community that makes it feel like a small school. Students can find plenty of opportunities to fit in while they pursue their careers and tackle academic challenges. This school is deeply committed to excellence in learning, so students know that they’ll reach their highest potential by the time they graduate.
Highlight: ISU was awarded the Casualty Actuarial Society University Award in 2016.
Degree: Mathematics – Actuarial Science, MS
19. St. John’s University
St John’s University has a strong and highly-regarded actuarial science program. While many schools offer actuarial studies through their math centers or business centers, this program comes from St John’s School of Risk Management. In other words, it has a laser focus on the actuarial sciences, which makes it one of the best actuarial science graduate programs. This intense focus puts students on a path to career success with insurance companies and other businesses. While challenging, the program is worthwhile and enriching to those who want to broaden their statistical skills.
St. John’s University is a dynamic Catholic school. Because of its New York location, St John’s University connects students with lots of opportunity for career growth. While students here pursue their education and explore their faith, they can also find chances to serve their communities. For many, this school provides the best of all worlds.
Highlight: The Chronicle of Higher Education ranked St John’s #1 on their list of colleges with high student mobility rates.
Degree: Actuarial Science, MS
20. Maryville University
Maryville University’s actuarial science MS is a UCAP-AC program. Designed for working professionals and recent bachelor graduates alike, this program is challenging and fulfilling. The program emphasizes statistics, and it connects students to internship opportunities so that they can grow their careers from the ground up if necessary. Because of its dedication to career growth, Maryville University has become one of the best graduate schools for actuarial science.
Maryville University is a forward-thinking school that has dedicated itself to student success. This school uses some of the latest and best technologies in its educational approach so that students get the most relevant education possible. With all of these resources at their fingertips, students can access their own unique pathways into fulfilling careers.
Highlight: Maryville also partners with leaders and institutions that help students gain real-world learning.
Degree: Actuarial Science, MS
21. Ohio State University
Ohio State University has a dynamic MAQRM program. This program combines contemporary math knowledge with business and statistics knowledge, helping students become sought-after company assets. As a result, these students can stand out among other job seekers as they make the most of their skills. Those who have already graduated from this program have found employment with top-level industry leaders. That’s why OSU is one of the best graduate schools for actuarial science career seekers.
OSU is a highly recognized university, both because of its size and its commitment to excellence. OSU’s research and engagement makes a big difference in the broader community. Much of this school’s research centers around business, making it a great place for statistics students interested in innovation. Overall, this school has plenty of resources for students who want to broaden their horizons and pursue their goals.
Highlight: Ohio State ranks among the top 100 national universities, according to US News and World Report.
Degree: Master of Actuarial and Quantitative Risk Management
22. Pace University
Pace University’s financial risk management program prepares students to earn their FRM certification, the top recognized certification for risk managers. More than that, though, this program is one of the best actuarial science graduate programs because it prepares students to succeed in a highly rewarding career. Students gain the skills that they need to analyze and reduce business risks, both for financial and non-financial companies. The program’s NYC location also puts students in a great spot for career mobility.
Pace University is a fast-moving university that challenges its students every day. With its city-based programs, Pace University helps students find their path to career success. Its focused classes help students take one step after another down that path. Pace students are hardworking, open to challenges, and ready to move foward. This school helps them gain the tools they need to make their dreams come to life.
Highlight: Pace University is the #1 private college for upward economic mobility in the US.
Degree: Financial Risk Management, MS
23. Roosevelt University
Roosevelt University has a strong actuarial science program. As a matter of fact, it’s one of the best actuarial science graduate programs. This MS degree helps students master probability theory and apply it to careers in the insurance world. Students in this program become empowered to make short term and long term business plans based on their statistical knowledge. The program also connects students to leaders in the field so that they can get as much real-world knowledge and experience as possible.
Roosevelt University is a highly challenging, highly diverse university that helps students make the most of their career plans. The school’s Chicago location puts students right at the center of some top career-building opportunities. Roosevelt University thrives in math, science, and business, and it imparts leadership skills as well as academic skills.
Highlight: Networking plays a big role in the business world, and Roosevelt lets students make the most of it.
Degree: Actuarial Science, MS
24. Duquesne University
Duquesne University offers a comprehensive actuarial science program. This occupational math and statistics MS is a carefully-designed interdisciplinary STEM program. As such, it covers all of the most important skills that actuarial experts must know for the job, including computer science, statistics, and much more. It’s a flexible program with both full-time and part-time options. The multidisciplinary approach combined with this flexibility is what makes it one of the best actuarial science graduate programs.
Duquesne University is a small, Catholic research institution that prioritizes ethical learning. Faculty members here are some of the best in their fields, and they bring real-world expertise to their teaching methods. The academics at Duquesne are challenging because faculty members hold their students to high standards. For students who value research, deep education, and a chance to explore the Catholic faith, Duquesne makes an appealing choice.
Highlight: Duquesne is one of the top Catholic universities in the United States.
Degree: Computational Mathematics and Statistics M.S.
25. Illinois Institute of Technology
The Illinois Institute of Technology has a strong applied mathematics program that many people count among the best actuarial science programs in the US. This program goes beyond theory and statistics. It shows students how to apply their knowledge to real-world problems. Those who have these skills are more and more valuable to the business world today, which makes those who graduate from this program highly competitive in their job searches. Students learn how to blend science, math, and technology for a broad overview of business knowledge that sets them apart from the rest.
The Illinois Institute of Technology thrives in STEM fields and business, so those who graduate from this school can move on to become high earners. IIT combines teaching excellence with technological innovation. It blends intelligence with curiousity to create lifelong learning communities and make a difference in the wider world. As one of the top STEM schools in the nation, IIT helps students earn an excellent ROI on their school experience.
Highlight: IIT is ranked #1 in its region for occupational earning power.
Degree: Applied Mathematics, MAS
How Do I Choose a School for an Actuarial Science Masters?
Students who are looking for a graduate school for Actuarial Science need to understand what their goals and needs are. Affordability is one of the first things most students look at when returning to school to earn a Master’s degree in Actuarial Sciences. Cheaper is not always better. Research schools thoroughly to find out what is included in the costs. Some of the costs can be taken care of by utilizing available grants and scholarships. If the student is already working, their employer may offer to defray some of the costs as well.
The next decision to be made is what time of learning environment is best. For some, a traditional classroom offers both structure and accountability. Many returning students are working a full-time job and may need flexibility when it comes to studying. While most colleges and universities offer both traditional classroom learning and online course work, others tend to focus on one or the other. Be aware of what type of class you want to attend and start looking for a school that offers both. This way you have a choice and can choose which one fits your schedule at the time.
Students who want to complete their degree in as short a time as possible may choose to pursue an accelerated degree program. Traditional Master’s in Actuarial Science degree programs can take as much as two years to complete. An accelerated degree program can take as little as 18 months to complete and will provide the same coursework as the traditional degree program only in condensed form. Accelerated programs or Certification programs provide additional skills and resources in a fraction of the time as a traditional degree program. These two options are excellent choices for individuals who need continuing education credit to maintain their current credentials.
Is a Master’s in Actuarial Science Worth It?
Any step a student takes toward bettering themselves through education is worth it. Money and time are valuable commodities. When spent wisely, the rate of return will be well worth your efforts. Students who are willing to spend their time in a classroom or online and work as hard as they can to learn everything they will need to do to perform their duties will reap the rewards of those efforts over time. This includes a higher than average pay rate as well as opportunities for advancement they may not have qualified for without the Masters in Actuarial Science degree.
Completing a Master’s in Actuarial Science degree is a great accomplishment. Not only does it increase your value as an employee, it also increases your own self-worth. Actuaries are considered to be the elite in the mathematics world due to the intense level of accuracy and precision that is required to do their job. Actuaries are highly trained and exhibit advanced skills that allow them to rank at the top of the pay scale. Due to the nature of their work, they rank extremely high when it comes to protecting the assets of the business and keeping it functioning efficiently.
The weight and responsibility that an actuary carries as part of their job is intense. This is just one of the reasons that they receive a higher than average wage. These highly educated individuals are at the core of almost every business decision. For large businesses to be successful, actuaries must always provide accurate and concise information dealing with risk potential and possible outcomes. Even considering the fast-paced and sometimes stressful nature of the position, actuaries who take their job seriously and love what they do can enjoy a long and successful career.
If you are looking for a degree that will allow you to achieve your goals and earn the type of pay you want, then a Master’s in Actuarial Science should be one of your first choices. An Actuarial Science degree is an excellent choice for anyone who has a passion for numbers and loves to solve problems. Another benefit of this type of career is that actuaries are in high demand and individuals who have graduated with a Master’s in Actuarial Science degree are eligible for advancement early in their career.