Actuarial Science

What is Actuarial Science?
Actuaries, sometimes called “risk architects,” specialize in the evaluation of risk and are a vital part of the insurance and financial industries. Their work is intellectually challenging and they are very well-paid. In a fast-changing world, with new risks and the need for ever-more creative ways to tackle them, there are constant opportunities for personal and professional growth in an actuarial career. Most actuaries work in a pleasant environment, alongside other professionals and they are key players in the management team of the companies that employ them. Using their broad knowledge of statistics, mathematics and finance, actuaries help design insurance policies, pension plans, and other financial strategies in a manner that will help ensure that the plans are maintained on a sound financial basis and risks are minimized.

The Department of Statistics and Applied Probability for the major of Actuarial Science hosts the only advanced undergraduate actuarial program in California. The department offers a comprehensive collection of actuarial courses, supplemented with numerous probability/statistics courses. Actuaries in the U.S. and Canada achieve professional status by passing a set of examinations and other requirements prescribed by the Casualty Actuarial Society (CAS) or the Society of Actuaries (SOA). UCSB’s course offerings cover material of the first five examinations, as well as all the SOA VEE (Validation by Educational Experience) requirements. In addition, students take a special tutorial course intended to help them to prepare for the exams. Many students graduate with three to four exams already passed and full VEE credit.


General Major Information

How Can I Tell If I Would Like Actuarial Science?
Students majoring in Actuarial Science typically have strong abilities in the fields of math and science. They enjoy work that has low physical activity. Additionally, students who enjoy math theory and interpretation of numerical data should enjoy this field.

What Are Potential Topics Within This Major?
Although the following list can provide students with topics that may be covered in this major, look at the UCSB catalog and consult with the undergraduate advisor for more detailed information about requirements and course offerings.

  • Nonparametric Methods
  • Probability and Statistics
  • Regression Analysis
  • Applied Stochastic Processes
  • Mathematical Finance
  • Risk Theory
  • Actuarial Statistics
  • Survival Analysis

To learn more about whether you might enjoy this major, check with a peer in the Career Resource Room for details on:

- Focus 2 to explore college majors and careers.

- The Strong Interest Inventory®, an assessment that compares your interests against six broad categories of work. This assessment helps match your interests and suggests potential careers to explore.

What Can I Do To Make My Major More Marketable?

  • Pursue relevant work, internship, volunteer, and/or research experience.
  • Choose a complementary minor.
  • Specialize in an area; take courses in related fields.
  • Develop your computer skills.
  • Learn a foreign language.
  • Study abroad.
  • Join professional associations.
  • Get involved in student clubs.
  • Participate in community organizations.
  • Seek out leadership positions.
  • Research specific prerequisites for different positions.
  • Network with others in fields that interest you.

General Career Information

What Are Some Possible Career Options?
Note: On its own, your major does not dictate what your job will be.  The following list provides only a handful of possibilities.  Actuarial Science majors with strong liberal arts background may pursue career options in many fields.  Depending on experience, specialized coursework, and possible graduate study options include:

  • Actuary
  • Data Analyst
  • Simulation Modeler
  • Financial Analyst
  • Risk Management Analyst
  • Underwriter

To learn more about these and other occupations, please visit:

O*Net Online
Occupational Outlook Handbook

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See what other UCSB alumni are doing with their major on LinkedIn

O*Net describes the knowledge, skills, and work activities of an actuary.

What is an Actuary?
Describes the career paths of actuaries, and the rewards of being an actuary.

Be an Actuary
Find information on what an actuary is, actuarial exams, and diversity programs.

What Do Actuaries Do?
Learn about the actuary exams, salary and benefits, and preparation to become an actuary.


Graduate and Professional Schools

Exams & Admissions
Defines exams and admissions for candidates such as Exams 1, 2, 3F and 4.

Exams & Requirements
Explains the difference between Associate of the Society of Actuaries (ASA), Charted Enterprise Risk Analyst (CERA) and Fellow of the Society of Actuaries (FSA) requirements.

VEE Requirements
Explains the Validation by Educational Experience (VEE) requirements.

Schools with Actuarial Degrees
Provides a listing of schools with actuary graduate degrees throughout the U.S.

Actuarial School
Use this guide to find the right actuarial training school for you.
This is a comprehensive website that provides information about where graduate programs are offered throughout the nation.

This is a database to help find where graduate programs are offered throughout the U.S.

Experience Search Strategies

Get Experience
Build your qualifications by exploring various opportunities to get experience in your field of interest.

Job Listings
Find ctuarial Jobs, Career and Employment Resources for Casualty, Consulting, Health, Investments, Life and Pensions.

Society of Actuaries
Search Job Center.

Casualty Actuarial Society
Browse through Career Center.

Actuarial Jobs
Search for actuary jobs throughout the nation.

Actuary Jobs
Browse actuarial positions.

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UCSB Career Services “Job Links” section 
Check out job links in the following categories: Local/CA, National, International, Industry Specific, UCSB Careers By Majors and Diversity.

Professional Associations

Casualty Actuarial Society
The purposes of the Casualty Actuarial Society (CAS) are to advance the body of knowledge of actuarial science applied to property, casualty and similar risk exposures, to establish and maintain standards of qualification for membership, to promote and maintain high standards of conduct and competence for the members, and to increase the awareness of actuarial science.

Society of Actuaries
The Society of Actuaries’ (SOA) vision is for actuaries to be the leading professionals in the measurement and management of risk.

American Academy of Actuaries
The American Academy of Actuaries serves the public on behalf of the U.S. actuarial profession. Uniting actuaries from all practice areas, the Academy is the voice of the profession on public policy and professionalism issues.

International Actuarial Association
The International Actuarial Association (IAA) is the worldwide association of professional actuarial associations, with a number of special interest sections for individual actuaries.

UCSB Resources

UCSB Actuarial Science Program
The Department of Applied Probability and Statistics at UCSB hosts an exceptional Actuarial Program, the only one of its kind in California and only one of two on the entire USA West Coast.

Statistics Departmental Web Page

UCSB Library Statistics Subject Homepage

UCSB Campus Organizations
Check out Actuarial Association

UCSB General Catalog

UCSB Minors

Career Resource Room