College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
Department of Math & Actuarial Science

Why Study Actuarial Science at Butler?

  • One of only a few schools in Indiana to offer a degree in actuarial science
  • Actuarial Science/Management program with both an actuarial science degree and an MBA degree
  • Active student club in actuarial science

Professional

  • Board of Visitors for actuarial science offers advice for the program and helps students find internships and jobs
  • Professional actuaries teach some upper-level actuarial science classes
  • Program prepares students to take 3-4 actuarial science examinations while at Butler

Degrees

  • B.A. or B.S. in Actuarial
  • Science Minor in Actuarial Science

Actuarial Science Program Student Learning Outcomes

  • Demonstrate a working knowledge of the basic concepts and theory of actuarial science as defined by the first five exams given by the Society of Actuaries: Probability (P), Financial Mathematics (FM), Actuarial Models (MLC and MFE), and Construction and Evaluation of Actuarial Models (C).
  • Solve insurance and financial problems related to risk assessment and perform related calculations by applying standard actuarial methods.
  • Communicate quantitative analyses clearly to various audiences, both in writing and orally.

What do actuaries do?

While actuaries work on all sorts of projects in diverse business environments, they have one thing in common:  They use quantitative skills to analyze and plan for future financial situations.
Using these skills, actuaries may be involved in projects as varied as:

  • Placing a price on a company about to merge with another business.
  • Estimating the impact of seat-belt laws in automobile losses and determining appropriate rate discounts.
  • Projecting Social Security benefits so money can be collected to pay workers planning to retire in 20 years.
  • Determining why malpractice insurance costs for doctors are skyrocketing.
  • Projecting what the AIDS epidemic will cost life and health insurance companies in five, ten and twenty years.
  • Determining the price for a liability policy. Collecting and investing enough money so that an insurance company can pay claims.
  • Designing a new retirement program for a company.
  • Calculating the price to charge for insuring a satellite launch.
  • Estimating the benefit costs for a labor union contract.
  • Answering questions like "What risks are insurable," and "How much and where should companies invest money?"

Check out the interview with an actuary  - a "hot job".

Where do actuaries work?

Insurance companies:  About two-thirds of all actuaries work for life, health, and property/casualty insurance companies, which heavily rely on the actuary's judgment to ensure their financial security.  For example, before a company insures the health of one individual or a corporation's 5,000 employees, or before it issues a policy on a family car or a fleet of trucks, the actuary helps determine the risks of sickness or accidents that will result in claims.  The actuary then makes sure the insurance company charges a fair price to assume the risk, has enough money available to pay claims and operates profitably as a business.

Consulting firms:  An increasing number of actuaries work as independent consultants.  Some operate their own offices, while others work for large, nationwide actuarial consulting firms.  They consult not only on the purely technical aspects of an insurance risk, but also on many of the complex financial workings of virtually every industry in existence.  Consulting actuaries work with and advise chief financial officers, chief operating officers and often chief executive officers, especially in the financial services risk management and health care fields. Another important field is pension consulting.  It has grown substantially since 1974, when government regulators required actuarial review of all tax-deductible pension contributions.

Fueled by the liability crisis of the mid-1980s, an increasing trend toward self-insurance among corporations, governments, and hospitals has also created a need for property/casualty consultants to evaluate liabilities and assets for these organizations.

Other areas:  Actuaries also find significant and rewarding opportunities in government and education, with many serving as university professors or as senior officials with the U.S. Social Security Administration, the Health Care Financing Administration, the Canadian Department of Insurance, and other government bodies, such as state and provincial insurance departments. Actuaries also are key financial people in many other organizations, including insurance rating bureaus, public accounting firms, large industrial corporations, labor unions, and fraternal organizations.

Who should be an actuary and how important is mathematical aptitude?

Most actuaries were first attracted to the profession as a way to use their mathematical ability.  While mathematics is the basic building block of an actuarial career, actuaries are, first of all, business men and women who needbroad-based business skills. To find out whether your aptitudes and interests make you a good candidate for an actuarial career, take this short quiz:

  • Are you an above-average student, and do you excel in your mathematics courses?
  • Are you curious and do you like solving complicated problems?
  • Do you like writing?  Do you like talking with people?
  • Are you interested in historical, social, legislative and political issues?
  • Would you describe yourself as a self-motivated achiever) who gets results?

If your answers are yes, consider becoming an actuary. 

If you have a question about the Mathematics and Actuarial Science program at Butler University, contact:

Dr. William W. Johnston, Chair
Department of Mathematics and Actuarial Science
Phone:  317-940-8498
E-mail:  bwjohnst@butler.edu

Revised May 2011