Frequently Asked Questions

We have put together a short list of answers to commonly asked questions about actuarial science. Some of these answers summarize information that's available elsewhere (for example, at Be An Actuary, or the Actuarial Outpost). Other inquiries are unique to DePaul. If you have a question that hasn't been answered below, do not hesitate to contact us.

  • What is an actuary? What do they do?

    An actuary is a business professional whose job is to quantify uncertain future events and to help companies price, manage, exploit, and communicate risk.

  • How do I become an actuary?

    Starting an actuarial career usually involves passing one or more actuarial exams, earning a bachelor's degree, and getting an internship. While in college, it is recommended to take courses that will prepare you for the actuarial examinations (passing two or three actuarial exams is ideal) as well as courses that can be used for VEE credit. It is also crucial to secure an internship before graduation. Internship positions generally ask for candidates who have at least one exam passed and are still in school.

  • Is actuarial science for me?

    Actuarial science is not for everyone. While credentialed actuaries enjoy high salaries, great working environment, and no unemployment, to become an actuary, one needs to be good at math and be willing to devote countless hours outside of school to prepare for exams. And this doesn't stop with graduation – most actuaries need at least a few years of hard study post-graduation to finish their exams and earn their "letters".

    Students who have a "change of heart" after starting out as actuarial science majors have a wide variety of options. They could switch into a data science, math, finance or accounting major, or they could pursue risk and insurance if they would like to stay within the same industry.

  • Do I need to major in actuarial science?

    Not really. Anyone can take actuarial exams and apply for internships or full-time actuarial jobs, but having majored in science, business, or another technical field certainly helps. Whatever your major, make sure you sign up for courses that will assist you in passing exams, getting VEE credit and learning about actuarial science. Pay special attention to courses that cover:

    Single-variable and multi-variable Calculus Probability & Statistics Regression and Time Series Statistical (Machine) Learning Financial Mathematics
    Life Contingencies Loss Models Accounting Micro- and Macroeconomics Corporate Finance Risk Management

    Computer programming skills and data analytic skills are becoming more and more important. Familiarity with Excel/VBA or Tableau, and R or SAS is expected from most entry-level applicants. Knowledge of SQL is a big plus.

  • How is the actuarial field changing/evolving?

    In recent years, data science has had a huge impact in traditional areas of actuarial science. The more data science you know, the better positioned you will be for the actuarial roles of the future.


    What is the correct sequencing of courses/exams for actuarial science majors?

    Although there is no formula that works for everyone (especially when one considers students who transfer from another university or those who change their major midway through), the following graphic may give you a rough idea.


    How do I sign up for exams? How important are exams?

    For most of the preliminary exams, you can sign up at the SOA website. You'll make a login account, and can then register for exams. You will be shown all available times for each location near you. The SOA website has a general information page under their education and exam link that includes exam dates, fees, and information on registration.

    It's hard to overstate the importance of taking and passing actuarial exams. Exams passed is the first thing employers look at in a resume, and they lead to salary increases once hired.


    Why study actuarial science at DePaul?

    A few facts that make DePaul a great choice for someone pursuing an actuarial career:

    • Superb curriculum – DePaul has the most comprehensive actuarial program in Chicago. You will be best positioned to take actuarial exams, secure internships and start your career.
    • Extensive alumni network – DePaul alumni are well-represented in insurance companies and consulting firms in the area and many of them participate in career fairs or give presentations at DePaul.
    • Actuarial club – Our club is among the most active on campus! From recruiting events to resume and interviewing workshops to study groups, you will be supported every step of the way.
    • Expert instruction and career advice – DePaul actuarial faculty include dedicated teachers, industry experts and accomplished academicians. In terms of actuarial credentials, Professor Edwalds is a Fellow of the SOA, an Associate of the CAS, and a member of the American Academy of Actuaries, while Professor Orfanos is a Fellow of the SOA and a Certified Enterprise Risk Analyst.
    • Exam reimbursement – Get reimbursed for each actuarial exam passed. DePaul rewards your achievements.