MS in Actuarial Science

The Illinois Actuarial Science program is highly regarded with industry-wide recognition. It is among the very few university programs that are both designated as a Center of Actuarial Excellence (CAE) by the Society of Actuaries (SOA) and also a winner of the inaugural Casualty Actuarial Society (CAS) University Award.

The Master of Science in Actuarial Science prepares students with quantitative undergraduate degrees for actuarial professional careers. The program offers a unique blend of coursework for both professional training and advanced techniques and opportunities for experiential learning.

The program is designed to provide two tracks of course plans to suit students’ individual needs.

Fast track professional training

Admission to this track does not require an undergraduate degree in actuarial science. The program provides background for much of the material on the basic professional actuarial examinations. Students who have not already passed the first actuarial exam (probability theory) should be prepared to sit for it during their first semester.

A student successfully finishing the program will typically have mastered the material covered on most or all of the basic actuarial exams (Exams P, FM, IFM, SRM, LTAM, STAM, and PA), and will have had an opportunity to study some finance, economics, or other areas of potential application to actuarial work. Some more advanced actuarial courses have some correspondence with the Society of Actuaries fellowship level exams.

Elite education with advanced actuarial analytics

This track is designed to attract candidates with an undergraduate degree in Actuarial Science or those who are self-taught through one or more professional exams. Students in this track are expected to take more advanced course work in actuarial science, mathematics, statistics and finance. Specially, the program offers in-depth coverage on the following subjects:

  • Financial mathematics
  • Extreme value theory and catastrophe modeling
  • Loss data analytics and credibility
  • Life insurance and pension mathematics
  • Quantitative risk management
  • Statistics for risk modeling
  • Predictive Analytics

Advanced students have the option to pursue research with faculty members via a thesis option. The Illinois Risk Lab offers a variety of theoretical and practical research projects in the areas of actuarial science, quantitative risk management and advanced analytics.

For detailed degree requirements, please see the Guide for Graduate Students in Mathematics. For information on actuarial science courses, faculty, and social and networking activities organized by students, see the Actuarial Science Program page.


In addition to basic admission requirements for all other MS programs, the entering students for the actuarial program are  required to have taken the calculus sequence and expected to have taken at least one course in probability or statistics. Some training in computer programming and exposure to economics or finance are also helpful. The GRE general test is strongly recommended but not required.

Frequently asked Questions

1. Does the program offer financial aid?

Financial aid is normally not available. However, a very small number of students who are native speakers of English or who have satisfied the English Proficiency Requirement for International Teaching Assistants (link?) may be offered a teaching assistantship, which provides a full tuition waiver (regardless of student’s residency classification), partial fee waiver, and a stipend sufficient for living expenses in Champaign-Urbana. There is no need to apply separately for financial aid.

2. Can graduates from this program compete for jobs in the financial industry?

Finance is a strong part of our curriculum and many of our students go on to financial careers (as opposed to insurance). The actuarial curriculum provides a rigorous foundation for financial and risk management.

3. How is your program different from other CAE schools?

The CAE designation is awarded by the SOA, one of two actuarial credentialing bodies. We also won an award presented by the CAS, the other credentialing organization. The SOA credentials Life and Health actuaries. The CAS credentials Property & Casualty actuaries. Our commitment to both career paths distinguishes us from other programs and opens up more opportunities to our students.

4. How long does it take to complete the program?

The program requires 32 credit hours and can normally be completed in 18 months. There have been cases where students complete all requirements within two semesters. Students may begin the program in either the Fall or the Spring semester.

5. If I have completed the undergraduate program in actuarial science at the University of Illinois, can I apply for this Master’s program?

Students graduated from our own undergraduate program are also welcome to apply. The revamped graduate curriculum provides a comprehensive coverage of cutting-edge actuarial knowledge suitable for career options with higher expectation of advanced modeling skills. Illinois students will be subject to the same application procedures, admission requirements, and review criterion as all other applicants.