Best Master’s Degrees in Actuarial Science for 2022

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Updated September 27, 2022

Looking to advance your accounting and business career? Review the best actuarial science colleges to get your master's degree.

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An actuarial science master's degree explores the advanced mathematical and statistical models for analyzing risk in the finance and insurance industries. Actuarial science professionals help create health insurance and long-term care policies, develop life insurance policies, and evaluate pension and retirement plans.

Actuarial science combines mathematics, statistics, economics, and computer science. This discipline dates back to the late 17th century, corresponding to the growing demand for long-term insurance.

Master's in actuarial science graduates can apply for various roles in accounting and business. Potential careers include actuaries, data scientists, risk managers, and actuarial consultants. Actuarial science requires advanced training, making master's degree-holders desirable job candidates for organizations seeking experts in risk management.

Keep reading to learn more about earning a master's in actuarial science. Explore our ranked list of the best actuarial science colleges for 2022.

Why Get An Actuarial Science Master's Degree?

  • Increase Skills: A master's in actuarial science program can develop expertise in technical aspects of mathematics, financial theory, and statistics. Students typically gain improved communication, decision-making, analytical, and problem-solving skills. A degree also prepares graduates to take the actuarial certification exam.
  • Boost Earning Potential: Actuarial science master's graduates can qualify for promotions or pursue better-paying jobs. Payscale reports that MS in actuarial science graduated earned an average of $73,000 per year as of March 2022. In contrast, those with a BS in actuarial science earned $70,000 annually.
  • Establish Credibility: Earning a graduate degree demonstrates expertise and professional commitment to the field. Employers may hold graduates with master's degrees in actuarial science in higher regard, which may lead to more advanced job opportunities.

What To Expect From Actuarial Science Accredited Universities

Actuarial science programs draw from business, statistics, economics, and mathematics, focusing on risk analysis and management. Students analyze the economic risks of potential events to lower costs for organizations. Coursework typically explores probability, statistics, financial risk, and mathematics.

The best actuarial science colleges develop critical thinking, problem-solving, communication, and technical mathematical skills. A typical master's in actuarial science requires 30-43 credits and takes 1.5-3 years to complete.

Actuarial science master's programs prepare graduates to take the associate actuarial certification examinations with the Casualty Actuarial Society (CAS) or the Society of Actuaries (SOA). Actuarial science accredited universities help students apply for work as actuaries, actuarial consultants, and risk managers.

Degree and Concentration Options

Master's in actuarial science programs offer various degree types. Most schools offer an MS in actuarial science. MS programs focus on scientific and technical subjects, while MA programs emphasize the humanities.

Some schools offer risk management or systemic risk master's degrees. Some MBA programs offer risk management specializations for individuals who want to study general business principles.

Schools may offer master's in actuarial science degrees in online, in-person, or hybrid formats. Online programs may include asynchronous or synchronous courses or a combination.

Program length is another key factor to consider. Depending on the school you choose, you may find accelerated one-year options, extended timelines for part-time students, and five-year bachelor's-to-master's programs.

Should You Get An Actuarial Science Master's Or A General Accounting Master's?

Master's in actuarial science and accounting master's degrees share some similarities. It makes sense that prospective students may be unsure which program to pursue.

A prospective actuary should consider a master's in actuarial science. Students wanting to take the Certified Public Accountant (CPA) exam or pursue an accounting career may enroll in a master's in accounting program. The table below compares key factors of these graduate programs to help you decide which degree to pursue.

Comparing Master's in Actuarial Science and Accounting
Key Factor Master's in Actuarial Science Master's in Accounting
Focus Mathematics, statistics, financial risk Accounting principles and practices, CPA exam prep, financial decision-making
Types of Classes Probability and random variables, mathematics of finance, actuarial statistics Advanced financial accounting, accounting ethics, advanced auditing and assurance services
Typical Admission Requirements Bachelor's degree from an accredited institution, mathematics prerequisites, GMAT or GRE scores, minimum GPA of 2.75-3.0 Bachelor's degree from an accredited institution, accounting prerequisites, GMAT or GRE scores, minimum 3.0 GPA
Goal Preparation for actuarial science careers in banking and investment, government, consulting, and insurance Preparation for the CPA exam and careers in public accounting, government accounting, auditing, and forensic accounting
Course Load 30-43 credits 30 credits

Admissions Process

To apply to an actuarial science master's program, applicants need at least a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution. Students may need undergraduate mathematics prerequisites in calculus, statistics, and algebra. The best schools for actuarial science typically require a minimum 2.75 GPA.

Most actuarial science master's programs do not require professional experience, but this may increase your chances of acceptance. Applicants may need to submit college transcripts, letters of recommendation, a resume, and GMAT or GRE scores. Typically, programs require an application fee and allow students to apply online.

Top Online Programs

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Popular Actuarial Science Graduate Courses

Actuarial science accredited universities generally offer core, elective, and project/capstone/thesis courses. Classes vary by program. Popular courses explore probability, statistics, and mathematics of finance.

Learn about some popular actuarial science courses and how they can prepare you for an actuarial science career below.

  • Probability and Random Variables: This class requires a strong calculus background. Students explore density and distribution functions, sampling distributions, and probability set functions. Other coursework covers marginal and conditional distributions, limiting distributions, and random variables.
  • Mathematics of Finance: Students explore compound interest, annuities, amortization, and market derivatives to become fluent in depreciation, force of interest, yield rates, and equations of value.
  • Actuarial Statistics: Topics include severity loss and frequency loss models for claims, aggregate models, deductibles, and claim limits. Enrollees learn to use statistics principles in actuarial modeling and models. The class can help prepare learners to take SOA or CAS exams.
  • Mathematics of Compound Interest: This class examines the role of interest in financial theory. Students learn about interest calculations in relation to mortgages, bonds, annuities, and other financial instruments. The course can help prepare learners to sit for SOA or CAS exams.

How Much Do Actuarial Science Master's Programs Cost?

The cost of earning a master's degree in actuarial science varies by program. Factors affecting the price include the school type, program format, and residency status.

The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) reports that the average graduate tuition at a public institution was $19,792 for the 2019-2022 school year.

Attending a public university where you can pay in-state tuition typically offers the most affordable option. Along with tuition, enrollees typically incur other costs related to books, technology fees, room and board, and travel.

The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) reports that the average graduate tuition at a public institution was $19,792 for the 2019-2022 school year.

Actuarial science master's students can pursue college financing options, including fellowships, scholarships, grants, and loans. Check out the links below for more information about financial aid and paying for your degree.

Should You Get Your Actuarial Science Degree Online?

Online education is increasingly popular. Some of the best actuarial science colleges offer online degrees. Earning an accounting degree online offers convenience and flexibility compared to a traditional on-campus program.

Online actuarial science programs feature mostly asynchronous classes, making it easier for students to continue working and tending to other responsibilities while in school. Instead of going to a physical classroom at a specific time, learners can complete coursework at home whenever it fits into their schedules. Other potential benefits include added affordability and the chance to graduate more quickly.

Actuarial Science Jobs and Salaries

Earning an actuarial science degree can prepare students to apply for jobs in various industries, such as banking and investment, insurance, and government. Potential careers include actuaries, data scientists, risk managers, and actuarial consultants.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that actuaries earn a median annual salary of $111,030, much higher than the national average for all jobs. BLS projections also indicate a 24% employment growth rate (much faster than average) for this career from 2020-2030.

Below, learn what to expect from jobs in actuarial science. We cover typical salaries, required education, and job outlook.

Actuaries

Actuaries analyze the economic risks of uncertainty and risk. They may specialize in healthcare, life insurance, enterprise risk management, or the public sector. An actuary usually needs a bachelor's degree in actuarial science or a related analytical field. A master's degree demonstrates advanced knowledge and can open the door to higher-level careers.
Required Education: Bachelor's degree
Job Outlook (2020-30): +24%
Median Annual Salary: $111,030

Data Scientists

Data scientists manage and analyze large data sets. They help organizations make sense of information. Data scientists need programming, data visualization, analytical, and forecasting skills to communicate results to stakeholders and management.
Required Education: Master's degree
Average Annual Salary: $97,160

Risk Managers

Risk managers help organizations analyze and minimize financial or material risks. Typical duties include making policy recommendations, offering training, researching risks, and forecasting potential events. Risk managers need communication, teamwork, computer, and analytical skills. Risk managers can often advance to roles like risk management director or senior risk manager. Some risk management jobs require certification.
Required Education: Bachelor's degree
Average Annual Salary: $89,910

Actuarial Consultants

Actuarial consultants use forecasting, data analysis, and models to advise clients on insurance, investments, and pensions. They help clients manage risk, choose appropriate plans, and minimize costs. This career requires at least a bachelor's degree, but a master's can help actuarial consultants advance in their field.
Required Education: Bachelor's degree
Average Annual Salary: $94,280

Selecting the Right Graduate Program

Prospective students should consider many factors when researching the best actuarial science accredited universities. Below, we explore key elements to consider before selecting a master's program.

  • Competitiveness: Make sure to research admission criteria before applying. Keep in mind that the more competitive the program, the less likely it may be that you will receive an admission offer.
  • University Resources: In addition to the faculty and curriculum, research the student support options offered by your prospective program. Examples include a career development center, tutoring services, or study abroad opportunities.
  • Cost/Financial Aid: The cost of master's in actuarial science degrees can vary significantly. Find out the estimated cost of attendance for each school and make sure to ask about financial aid opportunities.

Best Actuarial Science Colleges

Searching for the best actuarial science graduate programs? The ranking below features five of the top actuarial science colleges offering master's degrees in the field in 2022. To learn about our ranking methodology, explore the link below.

#1 Best Master’s Degrees in Actuarial Science for 2022

Boston University

  • Boston, MA
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

With a home campus located along the Charles River, Boston University serves a student body of over 33,500 students in more than 300 academic programs. BU offers undergraduate, graduate, and professional programs with flexible learning options.

Master of Science in Actuarial Science

Housed within Boston University's Metropolitan College (MET), this on-campus MS in actuarial science empowers students with the skills they need to become actuaries. The 43-credit hour program takes 21-36 months to complete, with both full-time and part-time enrollment track options. The program includes four core courses and seven elective courses. Students may take two courses outside of the actuarial department to supplement their electives.

As the only master's degree in actuarial science offered at a college in northern New England, the program's success tracks back 25 years. Students benefit from hands-on experiential learning, exceptional student support, and a large network of alumni. 

Applying to BU

Students must submit a formal application, a current resume, two letters of recommendation, a personal statement, and an $85 application fee. No GRE or GMAT are required, and students may apply to enroll in any semester. 

Program at a Glance

  • School Type: Private
  • Accreditation: New England Commission on Higher Education (NECHE)
  • Tuition: $29,280 per semester, full-time
  • Required Credits: 43 credits
  • Program Length: 21-36 months
  • Delivery Format: on campus
Average Tuition
In-state
$54,720
Out-of-state
$54,720
Retention Rate
94%
Admission Rate
19%
Students Enrolled
33,720
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
10% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes New England Commission on Higher Education

#2 Best Master’s Degrees in Actuarial Science for 2022

University of California-Santa Barbara

  • Santa Barbara, CA
  • 4 years
  • Campus

Situated just blocked from the Pacific coast, the University of California-Santa Barbara offers over 200 academic programs. With a diverse student body of more than 26,000, UC Santa Barbara sits fifth overall in the U.S. News and World Report ranking of public colleges. 

Master of Arts in Statistics

UCSB offers multiple graduate pathways for actuarial studies, including an MA in statistics with emphasis options in both mathematical and applied statistics, and a BS to MA track in actuarial science. These master's programs, housed in UC Santa Barbara's Department of Statistics and Applied Probability, provide students with skills and foundational knowledge in probability and statistics and mathematical finance.

Statistics and actuarial students at UC Santa Barbara benefit from the university's Statistical Laboratory (StatLab) as a resource for hands-on experience and learning.

The BS/MA program requires 91 credits, including 39 within the master's track. Students in the MA in statistics program must pass a qualifying examination and complete a master's thesis project as capstone requirements.

Applying to UC Santa Barbara

Applicants must submit a statement of purpose, official transcripts from undergraduate study, three letters of recommendation, and GRE scores. Applicants to the statistics and actuarial programs must show proof of completing prerequisite course requirements.

Program at a Glance

  • School Type: Public
  • Accreditation: Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission (WSCUC)
  • Tuition: $4,528/ semester (in-state); $9,562/ semester (out-of state)
  • Required Credits: 91 credits (BS/MA); 42 credits (MA)
  • Program Length: 2-3 years
  • Delivery Format:  on campus
Average Tuition
In-state
$11,442
Out-of-state
$41,196
Retention Rate
92%
Admission Rate
30%
Students Enrolled
26,314
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
2% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission

#3 Best Master’s Degrees in Actuarial Science for 2022

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

  • Champaign, IL
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign originally opened in 1867 as one of the original 37 land grant institutions created by President Lincoln. Situated a few hours outside Chicago, U of I serves over 33,000 students in more than 150 academic programs.

Master of Science in Actuarial Science

Designed to prepare students for professional examinations, U of I's MS in actuarial science provides the skills students need to excel in the field. Students without a bachelor's in actuarial science must sit for and pass the first professional exam during their first semester of the program.

The 32-credit program emphasizes studies in financial mathematics, risk management practices and regulations, and applied statistics. Students complete a minimum of 20 credit hours in actuarial science and risk management, and the additional 12 required credits in approved elective courses.

Students wishing to pursue a doctoral degree at U of I following graduation must complete a master's thesis.

Applying to U of I

Applicants must hold an undergraduate degree with a minimum 3.0 GPA. All students must submit official transcripts, three letters of recommendation, official GRE scores, a statement of purpose or goals, and a $70 application fee.

Program at a Glance

  • School Type: Public
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
  • Tuition: $6,588/semester (in-state, full-time); $14,232/semester (out-of-state, full-time)
  • Required Credits: 32 credits
  • Program Length: 18 months
  • Delivery Format:  on campus
Average Tuition
In-state
$14,188
Out-of-state
$33,127
Retention Rate
93%
Admission Rate
59%
Students Enrolled
51,605
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
39% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission

#4 Best Master’s Degrees in Actuarial Science for 2022

CUNY Queens College

  • Queens, NY
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Nestled just outside New York City, Queen's College offers undergraduate, graduate, and professional degrees to a student body of more than 20,000. QC's scenic, 80-acre, tree-lined campus sits before the backdrop of the Manhattan skyline, offering learners the best of both worlds. 

Master of Science in Risk Management

QC offers multiple graduate study pathways for students seeking a career in risk management, including an MS in risk management with a concentration in actuarial studies. The program explores key topics in accounting, risk assessment and measurement, finance, and financial modeling. 

The 30-credit program,delivered full- or part-time via on-campus evening classes, best suits students with strong backgrounds in analysis and communication skills. Students take courses in topics like financial econometrics, probability, and corporate finance.

For students seeking a short-term option in place of a full graduate program, QC offers a 12-credit advanced certificate program in risk management.

Applying to QC

Applicants to QC must submit an official application, official transcripts from all prior institutions, a current resume, GMAT or equivalent scores, a 500-word essay regarding program goals, and two letters of recommendation.

Program at a Glance

  • School Type: Public
  • Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE)
  • Tuition: $5545 / semester for in-state students
  • Required Credits: 30 credits (MS); 12 credits (certificate)
  • Program Length: 1-2 years
  • Delivery Format: on campus
Average Tuition
In-state
$6,930
Out-of-state
$14,880
Retention Rate
82%
Admission Rate
49%
Students Enrolled
19,923
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
3% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Middle States Commission on Higher Education

#5 Best Master’s Degrees in Actuarial Science for 2022

The University of Texas at Dallas

  • Richardson, TX
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Originally founded as a mathematical research center in 1961, The University of Texas at Dallas now serves over 29,000 students enrolled in more than 140 unique academic programs. UT Dallas hosts a diverse student body representing more than 100 countries.

Master of Science in Actuarial Science

Led by the renowned faculty of UT Dallas' School of Natural Sciences and Mathematics, the MS in actuarial science program prepares students to pursue leadership roles in the field. The program, designed to prepare students to sit for required professional examinations, emphasizes studies in actuarial theory and probability models. Students complete a core curriculum covering topics in probability and statistics, investment and financial markets, and actuarial mathematics.

Students benefit from a sprawling home campus with a 300,000 square foot research facility for students in the 36-credit program. UT Dallas' proximity to the city center allows for abundant internship and career opportunities, and a wide network of alumni.

Applying to UT Dallas

Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution. Test scores are optional, and UT Dallas does not have a minimum GPA requirement. Students must submit an official application and three letters of recommendation.

Program at a Glance

  • School Type: Public
  • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)
  • Tuition: $1,651/ credit hour (in-state); $2,437/ credit hour (out-of-state)
  • Required Credits: 36 credits 
  • Program Length: 1-2 years
  • Delivery Format:  on campus
Average Tuition
In-state
$13,442
Out-of-state
$38,168
Retention Rate
89%
Admission Rate
79%
Students Enrolled
29,543
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
19% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

Common Questions About Actuarial Science Master's Degrees

What can you do with an actuarial science master's?

true An actuarial science degree prepares graduates to apply for careers like actuary, actuarial consultant, risk manager, or data scientist. Potential industries for actuarial science professionals include finance, insurance, and the government.

How much does an actuarial science master's program cost?

true The cost of an actuarial science degree varies depending on your state residency status, along with the type of school and program format. One year of public graduate school tuition and fees for the 2019-2020 school year cost an average of $19,792.

Can you get an actuarial science master's degree online?

Yes. You can get an actuarial science master's degree online. Many colleges and universities offer actuarial science programs completely or partially online.

What is the best degree for an actuary?

An actuary needs at least a bachelor's degree, but a master's degree in actuarial science helps students develop high-level expertise in the field. Actuaries may also earn degrees in business, mathematics, and other analytical fields.

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