Actuarial Studies

The actuarial studies certificate, supervised by Katherine Grzesik (chair) and Joseph Ciminelli from statistics, and Carl Mueller from math, is administered through the Multidisciplinary Studies Center. Interested students should apply by spring semester of their junior year.

At graduation, students successfully completing the actuarial studies program will receive a certificate along with their diploma.

What Is an Actuary?

Actuaries manage risk through the use of mathematics, statistics, and financial theory. While the majority of actuaries work for insurance companies, opportunities also exist within consulting firms, employee benefits departments, banks and investment firms, hospitals, government, and other organizations.

There are two professional organizations for actuaries: the Society of Actuaries and the Casualty Actuarial Society. The Society of Actuaries (SOA) deals with life, health, and pensions. The Casualty Actuarial Society (CAS) deals with property, casualty liability, and data breaches.

To learn more about what an actuary is and how to get started, see the Be an Actuary Website.


For certification, students must complete course requirements with a GPA of at least 2.5. None of the certificate courses may be taken satisfactory/fail.

Please note: Course substitutions may be possible with the program advisor’s approval.

Core Courses 

All three of the following:

  • MATH/STAT 201: Introduction to Probability
  • MATH/STAT 203: Introduction to Mathematical Statistics
  • MATH 165: Linear Algebra with Differential Equations

Plus one of the following:

  • STAT 212: Applied Statistics I
  • ECON 231: Econometrics

Plus one of the following:

  • FIN 205: Financial Management
  • MATH 210: Introduction to Financial Mathematics
  • MATH 210H: Introduction to Financial Mathematics Honors

Additional Courses

Two of the following:

  • MATH 202: Introduction to Stochastic Processes
  • MATH 208: Operations Research I
  • MATH 209: Operations Resarch II
  • MATH/STAT 280: Introduction to Numerical Analysis
  • STAT 216: Applied Statistical Methods II
  • STAT 221: Sampling Techniques

Plus one from either the list below or the list directly above:

  • ECON 236: Health Economics
  • Independent Study*

*Requires approval from the certificate program advisor.

Computer Language Proficiency

In addition, some proficiency in a high-level computer language is required. Examples of courses that may be used to satisfy the computing requirement include:

  • CSC 161: Introduction to Programming
  • STAT 277: Introduction to Statistical Software I

Actuarial Society Requirements

Each of the two societies has a series of requirements.

To become an associate member of the Society of Actuaries, the preliminary exams and Validation by Educational Experience requirements are the starting points for an actuarial career. Other requirements include an online course, a proctored project assessment, and a professionalism seminar. Please see this link for additional information, series of examinations.

The Casualty Actuarial Society (CAS) has a different set of exams from the SOA, although the first few exams are similar to those taken for the SOA. 

Some or all of these can be taken while employed, or after college graduation; some can be taken while still a student. We encourage certificate students to take the first two examinations before graduation. The exams are given several times a year. 


Insurance companies (including Travelers, Liberty Mutual Group, MetLife, Unum, Cigna, Excellus BCBS) and some consulting firms (such as Towers Watson, Mercer, and Harbridge Consulting Group) offer summer internship programs. These opportunities are competitive, typically require a minimum 3.2 GPA and completion of at least one exam, and begin recruiting as early as mid-fall.

Make an appointment with a career and internship center counselor to discuss resources and strategies for finding actuarial internships. A counselor can help you learn about the profession, identify firms of interest, navigate CareerLink and NIC internship posting databases, and connect with individuals (including Rochester alumni) working in the field.