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Actuarial Science Major

What You’ll Learn

Use mathematics, statistics, and data analytics tools to make decisions by assessing the risks and financial consequences of future events.

Topics, skills, and concepts

  • Mathematical and statistical methods to analyze data, understand relationships, and solve business problems
  • Risk management, accounting, finance, business law, foundations of pricing and valuation of liabilities for insurance products
  • Basic programming skills and advanced analytics methods like data visualization and machine learning

Named a National Center of Actuarial Excellence
—Society of Actuaries (2009 to present)

Designated a University Earned Credit (UEC) Program
—Society of Actuaries (2022 to present)

Prepare for Your Actuarial Science Career

average starting salary

Key employers

Deloitte logoMilliman logoAon logo
Ernst & Young logo - Building a better working worldUnited Health Group logoHumana logo

Knowledge and abilities

  • Data analysis, information processing, decision- making, problem solving
  • Data analysis software (R, Python), database and query software (SQL, Microsoft Access), financial analysis software (Excel)
  • Collaboration, working in teams, and communication of technical concepts to non-technical audiences

Common job titles

  • Actuarial Analyst
  • Business Analyst
  • Actuarial Assistant

Common Career Paths

Actuarial science is a discipline that applies mathematical and statistical methods to assess the liabilities and risks a company faces when it offers an insurance product or pension plan. Actuaries are experts in evaluating the likelihood of future events, designing creative ways to reduce the likelihood of undesirable events, and decreasing the impact of undesirable events that do occur.

While most actuaries work in the risk management and insurance industry or as consultants related to risk management and insurance, actuarial skills and techniques are also valuable in non-insurance applications – anywhere business analytics can be used to make informed business decisions:

  • Health Insurance: Actuaries help develop health insurance policies for individuals and groups by estimating life expectancy using factors like family history, geographic location, and occupation
  • Life Insurance: Actuaries help develop life insurance policies for individuals and groups by estimating life expectancy using factors like age, gender, and tobacco use
  • Pension and Retirement Benefit: Actuaries evaluate company pension plans to ensure they are appropriately funded in the future. They also help companies develop other retirement benefit plans like healthcare and 401(k)s.
  • Enterprise Risk Management: Actuaries help an organization identify, monitor, and manage its risk to achieve their objectives
  • Predictive Analytics (Big Data): Actuaries analyze large data sets using modeling and data analysis techniques to find predictive patterns and relevant business uses.

Go Beyond the Classroom

A man making a presentation two people

  • Meet employers and hear their stories, learn about actuarial hot topics, actuarial ethics and professionalism, and the actuarial credentialing process.
  • Case competitions, simulations, and summer internships.
  • Be an active participant in our student-led actuarial club. Obtain additional teamwork and leadership skills by participating on a committee to plan events, participate as a mentor or mentee, or volunteer to tutor middle-schoolers in STEM topics.

Join a student org

Why Choose UW–Madison for Actuarial Science?

  • The actuarial science department is housed in the Wisconsin School of Business, which gives UW–Madison actuarial students broad business background along with their actuarial science coursework (the majority of actuarial science programs reside in math or statistics departments at universities).
  • The program is interconnected with UW–Madison’s top-ranked risk management and insurance program.
  • There is a robust faculty team with six full-time faculty focused on actuarial science, most of whom have actuarial industry experience. In addition, there are four full-time faculty in risk management and insurance, multiple adjunct faculty, and two full-time faculty in business analytics. Faculty are highly regarded for their teaching, research and their service to the profession.
  • The Wisconsin School of Business has been designated as a Center of Actuarial Excellence with University Earned Credit (UEC) Status by the Society of Actuaries. One of only thirteen such programs in the world.
  • Learn material directly applicable to the professional actuarial exams. You can earn exam credit for select Society of Actuaries professional actuarial certification exams directly from the courses (University Earned Credit).
  • You learn data analytics.
  • You have access to our Risk and Insurance Career Fair each fall where 70+ companies recruit actuarial science and risk management and insurance students.
  • There’s a student-led actuarial club with 300+ members connecting students to each other and to industry professionals through employer presentations, social events, volunteering events and a mentorship program connecting students in small actuarial mentorship families.

Meet the Actuarial Science Team

Career coach

Use Starfish to make an appointment with your career coach.

Shawn Johnson

Shawn Johnson

Career coach

Pathway consultant

Kirk Peter

Kirk Peter

Faculty Associate