By CVO Staff
Published January 2016

Welcome to our ranking of the top 30 best value actuarial science degrees. This best value ranking is comprised of the 30 best value actuarial science programs from among more than 70 schools listed as offering an actuary degree in the College Navigator database, which is operated by the National Center for Education Statistics.

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Actuarial science is an interdisciplinary profession that uses the principles of mathematics, statistics, economics, finance, and business to tackle some of the most pressing issues of risk across multiple industries. Insurance companies, banks, investment banks, pension management companies, and many arms of the government use actuaries for a variety of purposes. At their core, actuaries are risk analysts. They use complex methods to determine risk and likely outcomes in whichever area of the profession they choose to work.

Becoming an actuary is difficult. Advancement in the field is contingent upon the ability to pass the notoriously difficult actuary examinations administered by the Society of Actuaries (SOA). There are eight professional exams in all, and it can take upwards of ten years to complete all of them. For this reason, the best schools help prepare students for as many of the exams as possible. Many actuarial degree programs require students to actually pass one exam before being admitted into the major. Another consideration for students is Validation by Educational Experience (VEE) credits. There are three VEE categories that ca n be fulfilled by an undergraduate program: corporate finance, applied statistics, and economics. Only certain courses will fulfill the curriculum requirements for VEE, so it’s important that an actuarial science degree cover as many of these as possible. Finally, while many actuarial science graduates do go on to become actuaries, that is certainly not the only profession open to them. Many undergraduate actuarial science majors pursue graduate school and go into other areas of business or economics, using the rigorous and thorough bachelor’s in actuarial science program to set themselves up for success.

Actuary is commonly rated as one of the top jobs to have in the United States. The Jobs Rated Almanac ranks mathematician, statistician, and actuary as the top three jobs. All three of those jobs have been in the top five for around 15 years, and actuarial science majors are qualified for all three. Even actuaries just starting out with a degree and one exam credential earn $50,000 per year or more. Earnings only go up from there as actuaries gain experience and pass more exams. Top earners in the field often earn over $180,000 per year according the the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The mean wage across the industry is $93,680 per year. The employment growth rate of the profession, according to the BLS, is 26% from 2012-2022, a rate almost ⅓ greater than mathematics and computer industries. All this is to say that earning a quality degree from one of the best actuarial science programs can start you on one of the best career paths available in the modern economy.

Details on our ranking methodology and sources are available at the end of the article.

#30. Concordia University-Wisconsin

Mequon, Wisconsin
BS in Actuarial Science

Concordia University-Mequon
Website
Rating: 7

Actuarial science students at Concordia University can minor in finance, accounting, or mathematics. This actuary degree is designed to prepare students for jobs in banking and investments, enterprise risk management, environmental science, insurance, and consulting. Concordia’s actuarial degree prepares students for the SOA financial mathematics exam. This degree in actuarial science offers courses on corporate law, principles of insurance, and investing.

Tuition: $26,160
Average 20 yr. ROI: $218,600
Number of Students Receiving Financial Aid: 99%
Exam Preparation: 1

#29. Indiana University-South Bend

South Bend, Indiana
BS in Actuarial Science

Indiana University-South Bend
Website
Rating: 8

Students graduating from this program will be prepared for the first two SOA professional exams. Indiana University offers students two courses that meet VEE requirements. This actuary degree is designed both for students who want to become actuaries and those who want a strong basis for further study in business or economics. Some of the courses available to students in this actuarial degree program are numerical analysis, applied regression analysis, forecasting, financial management, and legal environment of business.

Tuition: $6,905
Average 20 yr. ROI: $109,300
Number of Students Receiving Financial Aid: 86%
Exam Preparation: 2

#28. Aurora University

Aurora, Illinois
BS in Actuarial Science

Aurora University
Website
Rating: 8

Aurora University offers an actuarial science degree designed to prepare students for the first two actuarial exams offered by the SOA. Potential careers for graduates of this program include FBI or CIA analyst, research analyst, claims adjustor, risk manager, pension analyst, and insurance underwriter. Students will take courses like managerial accounting, advanced corporate finance, introduction to computer science, and introduction to computer programming.

Tuition:$21,320
Average 20 yr. ROI: $197,300
Number of Students Receiving Financial Aid: 100%
Exam Preparation: 2

#27. Ohio University

Athens, Ohio
BS in Actuarial Science

Ohio University
Website
Rating: 8

The Ohio University actuarial science degree prepares students to take the first SOA professional exam before graduation. Actuary degree students can also choose to minor in mathematics or to use their electives to delve further into business or computer science. Some of the courses available to students are decision making with accounting, foundations of financial management, programming in C, statistical computing, and discrete mathematics.

Tuition: $10,602
Average 20 yr. ROI: $350,500
Number of Students Receiving Financial Aid: 87%
Exam Preparation: 1

#26. Appalachian State University

Boone, North Carolina
BS in Actuarial Science

Appalachian State University
Website
Rating: 9

Appalachian State University’s actuarial science degree prepares students to take the SOA exams on probability, financial mathematics, and models for life contingencies. The coursework also satisfies the VEE requirements for corporate finance, applied statistics, and economics. Some of the courses students will take include financial management, derivatives and financial risk, investments, actuarial models, and time series and forecasting.

Tuition:$6,553
Average 20 yr. ROI: $226,100
Number of Students Receiving Financial Aid: 70%
Exam Preparation: 3

#25. Oakland University

Rochester Hills, Michigan
BS in Actuarial Science

Oakland University
Website
Rating: 9

Oakland University’s degree in actuarial science prepares students to complete the SOA’s probability and financial mathematics exams. Because of the program’s interdisciplinary nature, students will be prepared to either enter the profession of actuarial science, or earn a graduate degree in economics, mathematics, statistics, or business administration. Some of the courses in actuarial science students will take are financial reporting and analysis, business writing, managerial finance, investment analysis, managerial economics, and econometrics.

Tuition: $10,613
Average 20 yr. ROI: $395,200
Number of Students Receiving Financial Aid: 88%
Exam Preparation: 2

#24. Roosevelt University

Chicago, Illinois
BS in Actuarial Science

Roosevelt University
Website
Rating: 10

Roosevelt University prepares students for the SOA exams on probability, financial mathematics, models for financial economics, and models for life contingencies. The actuarial degree also meets the requirements to satisfy all three validation by educational experience topics. Students earning a bachelor’s in actuarial science at Roosevelt are required to take at least one professional exam before graduating. The degree requires two minors, one in finance, and another of the student’s choosing outside of math (the school recommends computer science).

Tuition:$26,900
Average 20 yr. ROI: $210,800
Number of Students Receiving Financial Aid: 95%
Exam Preparation: 4

#23. Indiana University-Northwest

Gary, Indiana
BS in Actuarial Science

Indiana University-Northwest
Website
Rating: 10

Indiana University-Northwest prepares students for four SOA actuarial exams. The bachelor’s in actuarial science offers courses that satisfy all three VEE category requirements. The school’s close proximity to Chicago gives students access to internship opportunities at insurance companies, consulting firms, and government departments headquartered in the city. Many courses offered in the program are designed to prepare students for specific exams.

Tuition: $6,854
Average 20 yr. ROI: $224,200
Number of Students Receiving Financial Aid: 75%
Exam Preparation: 4

#22. Eastern Michigan University

Ypsilanti, Michigan
BA or BS in Actuarial Science and Economics

Eastern Michigan University
Website
Rating: 10

Eastern Michigan University’s degree in actuarial science and economics is a joint program between the two departments and prepares students to take two of the professional examinations. The specific courses responsible for this preparation are problems in actuarial studies I and II. Other classes required for students are economic fluctuations and forecasting, cost-benefit analysis, money and banking, and macroeconomic analysis.

Tuition: $9,663
Average 20 yr. ROI: $241,300
Number of Students Receiving Financial Aid: 97%
Exam Preparation: 2

#21. Central Michigan University

Mount Pleasant, Michigan
BS in Actuarial Science

Central Michigan University
Website
Rating: 10

Central Michigan University’s bachelor’s in actuarial science prepares students to take the SOA probability, financial mathematics, and life contingencies exams. Graduates of this actuary degree program are working at companies like Liberty Mutual, Allstate, Towers Watson, Auto-Owners Insurance, Hagerty Insurance, The Hanover Insurance Group, and Blue Cross Blue Shield. Students will take classes like managerial finance, economic forecasting, and statistical programming for data management and analysis.

Tuition: $11,550
Average 20 yr. ROI: $243,100
Number of Students Receiving Financial Aid: 92%
Exam Preparation: 3

#20. University of Texas at San Antonio

San Antonio, Texas
BBA in Actuarial Science

University of Texas San Antonio
Website
Rating: 10

The actuarial science degree at UTSA is offered through the Department of Management Science and Statistics. Students take two full classes devoted to actuarial science exam preparation and are fully prepared for as many as three professional exams by this program. Students take a combination of mathematics and business classes, including business law, principles of accounting, microeconomics, calculus, statistical mathematics, business analytics, and time series analysis.

Tuition: $7,457
Average 20 yr. ROI: $321,200
Number of Students Receiving Financial Aid: 78%
Exam Preparation: 3

#19. University of Central Missouri

Warrensburg, Missouri
BS in Actuarial Science and Statistics

University of Central Missouri
Website
Rating: 11

The actuarial science degree University of Central Missouri is listed as an undergraduate-advanced program by the SOA. The program prepares students for jobs in insurance, consulting, banking, labor unions, and state and federal governments. Students will be prepared for at least four of the SOA’s professional exams, and will take courses like discrete mathematics, probability models, mathematics of finance, managing financial derivatives, SAS programming, and statistical aspects of experimental design.

Tuition: $7,265
Average 20 yr. ROI: $179,100
Number of Students Receiving Financial Aid: 94%
Exam Preparation: 4

#18. Maryville University of Saint Louis

Saint Louis, Missouri
BS in Actuarial Science

Maryville University
Website
Rating: 11

Maryville University of St. Louis prepares students for five SOA actuarial exams and meets the curriculum requirements to satisfy the SOA’s three VEE categories. The school’s reputation and local actuarial alumni afford students the opportunity to work as paid interns with many local St. Louis firms. The University has formed professional partnerships with Rawlings, Mercy, St. Louis Public Schools, St. Louis Cardinals, Northwestern Mutual, and Maritz, among many other local organizations and businesses.

Tuition: $25,002
Average 20 yr. ROI: $207,600
Number of Students Receiving Financial Aid: 99%
Exam Preparation: 5

#17. Georgia State University

Atlanta, Georgia
BBA in Actuarial Science

Georgia State University
Website
Rating: 11

Successful students enrolled in the actuarial science degree at GSU will be prepared for the SOA exams on probability, financial management, financial economics, life contingencies, and construction and evaluation of actuarial models. The actuarial science BBA is offered through the Department of Risk Management and Insurance, allowing actuarial science students to minor in risk management and insurance. Some of this program’s distinguished alumni have become president of both U.S. actuarial societies.

Tuition: $8,618
Average 20 yr. ROI: $299,800
Number of Students Receiving Financial Aid: 92%
Exam Preparation: 5

#16. University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Bachelor’s in Actuarial Science

Univesity of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
Website
Rating: 11

The actuarial science degree at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee prepares students to take three professional examinations and to fulfill at least two validation by educational experience credits. This actuary science degree will prepare students for jobs with insurance companies, consulting firms, financial companies, transportation firms, the government, and other industries. Students will take classes like regression analysis, probability models, financial economics, and fitting of loss models.

Tuition: $9,391
Average 20 yr. ROI: $307,700
Number of Students Receiving Financial Aid: 82%
Exam Preparation: 3

#15. Temple University

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
BBA in Actuarial Science

Temple University
Website
Rating: 11

Temple University is SOA certified as a Center of Actuarial Excellence. While many actuarial science degrees are housed in the mathematics department of universities, Temple offers their program through the AACSB-accredited Fox School of Business. Students will take classes like international risk management, casualty contingencies, actuarial probability and statistics, integrative business applications, global business policies, and corporate finance for actuarial science.

Tuition: $14,096
Average 20 yr. ROI: $355,000
Number of Students Receiving Financial Aid: 90%
Exam Preparation: 3

#14. University of Wisconsin-Madison

Madison, Wisconsin
BBA in Actuarial Science

University of Wisconsin-Madison
Website
Rating: 11

The University of Wisconsin is designated as a Center for Actuarial Excellence by the SOA. While courses specific to actuarial science are rarely offered in the study abroad program, UW strives to give AS students the opportunity to take advantage of their study abroad program. This actuarial science degree is designed to prepare students for five of the SOA professional exams and to begin credentialing while enrolled in the program. Students will encounter courses like loss models, regression and time series for actuaries, and theory of interest and life insurance.

Tuition: $10,410
Average 20 yr. ROI: $404,700
Number of Students Receiving Financial Aid: 66%
Exam Preparation: 5

#13. CUNY Bernard M. Baruch College

New York, New York
Bachelor’s in Actuarial Science

CUNY-Baruch College
Website
Rating: 11

The CUNY Baruch College actuarial science degree fully prepares students for the first three professional exams of the Society of Actuaries. Some of the courses available to students are introduction to stochastic processes, computational methods in probability, numerical methods for differential equations in finance, stochastic calculus for finance, mathematical finance, and algorithms, computers, and programming I. Baruch College’s actuarial science degree also covers all three areas of SOA’s validation by educational experience categories.

Tuition:$6,561
Average 20 yr. ROI: $519,500
Number of Students Receiving Financial Aid: 68%
Exam Preparation: 3

#12. Ball State University

Muncie, Indiana
BS in Actuarial Science

Ball State University
Website
Rating: 12

Ball State University has five dedicated actuarial science faculty members, three of which are SOA Fellows, the highest designation within the actuarial science field. Actuary science degree students who choose to minor in foundations of business for actuarial science and mathematics majors will fulfill all Validation by Educational Experience requirements. The degree in actuarial science also prepares students for five of the professional examinations, and most students will have passed at least one exam before graduation.

Tuition:$9,344
Average 20 yr. ROI: $205,100
Number of Students Receiving Financial Aid: 89%
Exam Preparation: 5

#11. Robert Morris University

Moon Township, Pennsylvania
BS in Actuarial Science

Robert Morris University
Website
Rating: 12

Robert Morris University was one of the original ten schools to be designated a Center of Actuarial Excellence by the SOA. RMU prepares students for the first five professional actuarial exams. One of the best resources for students is the school’s actuarial science career day which attracts companies like Aetna, Cheiron Consulting, Cigna, Nationwide, Northwestern Mutual, and Progressive. The degree includes 24 credits of open electives which allows students the option to take many of the minors at the University, including economics, finance, and business.

Tuition: $26,054
Average 20 yr. ROI: $328,300
Number of Students Receiving Financial Aid: 100%
Exam Preparation: 5

#10. Ohio State University

Columbus, Ohio
Bachelor’s in Actuarial Science

Ohio State University
Website
Rating: 12

In order to declare actuarial science as a major at Ohio State University, students must either earn a B or better in probability, introduction to mathematical statistics, and honors probability, or take and pass one of the SOA exams. This is to ensure that the student will be successful in the pursuit of the degree and an actuarial science career. VEE requirements for economics, corporate finance, and applied statistical methods are met through courses like principles of microeconomics, business finance, investments, applied regression analysis, and econometrics.

Tuition: $10,037
Average 20 yr. ROI: $394,500
Number of Students Receiving Financial Aid: 86%
Exam Preparation: 5

#9. University of Michigan-Ann Arbor

Ann Arbor, Michigan
BS in Actuarial Mathematics

University of Michigan Ann Arbor
Website
Rating: 12

The University of Michigan is listed as a Center of Actuarial Excellence by the SOA and prepares students for five of the organization’s professional exams. In order to be eligible for this particular actuary science degree program, students must acquire a working understanding of a high level computer programming language like C or C++. Actuarial mathematics students choose electives from a select list that covers subjects like finance, sociology, philosophy, economics, accounting, and mathematics.

Tuition: $13,486
Average 20 yr. ROI: $541,500
Number of Students Receiving Financial Aid: 63%
Exam Preparation: 5

#8. Morgan State University

Baltimore, Maryland
Bachelor’s in Actuarial Science

Morgan State University
Website
Rating: 13

Morgan State University’s actuarial science degree prepares students for the SOA professional exams on probability, financial mathematics, financial economics, life contingencies, and construction and evaluation of actuarial models. For students who want to complete exams before they finish their degree, Morgan State covers the cost for the first attempt of each exam. Students are also paid for each exam they pass while enrolled in the program. Actuarial science majors at Morgan State are also eligible to receive a $100-$600 textbook stipend.

Tuition: $7,378
Average 20 yr. ROI: $268,300
Number of Students Receiving Financial Aid: 94%
Exam Preparation: 5

#7. Florida State University

Tallahassee, Florida
BS in Actuarial Science

Florida State University
Website
Rating: 13

FSU has a credit course called Actuarial Applications, a tutorial course designed specifically to prepare students for their actuarial examinations. Some of the other courses students will take are security analysis and portfolio management, econometrics, time series, and mathematical economics. The school is located in close proximity to the State of Florida Department of Insurance and other departments with actuarial positions where students often intern and sometimes find employment after graduation. The summer internship program offers opportunities nationwide.

Tuition: $6,507
Average 20 yr. ROI: $319,500
Number of Students Receiving Financial Aid: 95%
Exam Preparation: 4

#6. University of Iowa

Iowa City, Iowa
BS in Actuarial Science

University of Iowa
Website
Rating: 13

The actuarial science degree at the University of Iowa is over 100 years old, one of the two oldest in the country, and was one of the first to be CAE-certified by the Society of Actuaries. It’s possible for ambitious actuarial science majors to double major in mathematics. The actuarial science degree prepares students to take the first five actuarial science professional exams, and the material needed for a sixth is 90% covered by the program. The major also meets the validation by educational experience requirements for economics, corporate finance, and applied statistical models.

Tuition: $8,079
Average 20 yr. ROI: $380,400
Number of Students Receiving Financial Aid: 83%
Exam Preparation: 5

#5. University of Texas at Dallas

Richardson, Texas
BS in Actuarial Science

UT Dallas
Website
Rating: 13

The actuarial science degree at UT Dallas will prepare students for jobs in corporate and consulting services, security and commodity brokerage, government, and insurance. This bachelor’s in actuarial science degree is designed to prepare students for the first four SOA professional exams. Some of the classes that cover exam material and validation by educational experience are probability, corporate finance, applied statistical methods, and economics. The distinguished faculty of the School of Natural Sciences and Mathematics includes a Nobel Prize-winner and a member of the National Academy of Engineering.

Tuition: $10,864
Average 20 yr. ROI: $506,500
Number of Students Receiving Financial Aid: 84%
Exam Preparation: 4

#4. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Champaign, Illinois
BS in Actuarial Science

UIUC
Website
Rating: 13

The University of Illinois at Urbana/Champaign is a Center for Actuarial Excellence, and its program is the largest in the United States. The program at UIUC not only prepares students for four of the actuarial science professional examinations, but students may earn departmental distinction by passing two or three of those exams before graduation. Some of the classes students will take include casualty actuarial mathematics, linear algebra and financial apps, managing financial risk for insurers, and employee benefit plans.

Tuition: $15,020
Average 20 yr. ROI: $601,200
Number of Students Receiving Financial Aid: 65%
Exam Preparation: 4

#3. Brigham Young University

Provo, Utah
BS in Actuarial Science

BYU
Website
Rating: 13

BYU’s bachelor’s in actuarial science will prepare students for the first four professional actuarial examinations. Classes designed to prepare students for those exams include theory of interest, actuarial problems, life contingencies, and statistical distributions for actuarial modeling and data analytics. Students have found internships with companies like Utah Retirement Systems, Select Health, Great-West Financial, and Northwestern Mutual. Some of the companies that advertise jobs available to BYU graduates are GRS and Company, Blue Cross of Idaho, American National, and Intermountain Healthcare.

Tuition: $5,000
Average 20 yr. ROI: $633,100
Number of Students Receiving Financial Aid: 68%
Exam Preparation: 4

#2. Purdue University

West Lafayette, Indiana
Purdue University

Website
Rating: 13

Purdue offers an actuarial science degree that fully prepares students to take the first five professional actuarial science examinations. Students graduating from this interdisciplinary program receive both an actuarial science degree and statistics degree, with a minor in management. Some of the unique and interesting courses students will take include financial management, management accounting, and introduction to arbitrage-free pricing of financial derivatives.

Tuition: $10,002
Average 20 yr. ROI: $635,300
Number of Students Receiving Financial Aid: 67%
Exam Preparation: 5

#1. University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Lincoln, Nebraska
Bachelor’s in Actuarial Science

University of Nebraska Lincoln
Website
Rating: 14

Topping our list of the best actuarial science programs is the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, where students will be prepared for the SOA exams on probability, financial mathematics, actuarial models-financial economics, actuarial models-life contingencies, and construction and evaluation of actuarial models. Students will have access to a minor in finance and will take courses like life contingencies, actuarial applications in practices, principles of corporate risk management, linear algebra, and interest theory.

Tuition: $8,170
Average 20 yr. ROI: $356,600
Number of Students Receiving Financial Aid: 93%
Exam Preparation: 5

Methodology

Our ranking system for determining the best value undergraduate actuarial science degrees in the United States was simple. We awarded points based on four categories. Low tuition, high return on investment, a high percentage of students receiving financial aid, and the total number of SOA exams for which students are prepared by the program. Each of these categories contributes to the value of a program.

Tuition: Up-front cost is one of two major factors in student borrowing. With student debt at an all time high, many students are looking for ways to graduate with as little debt as possible. Low tuition can drastically reduce student debt.

Financial Aid: The higher the percentage of students receiving financial aid, the more likely any individual student will be to receive some form of financial aid. A high likelihood of receiving financial aid, combined with a low tuition, works to reduce overall expenses.

Return on Investment: These figures give a rough guide as to the success of students graduating from the school over the following 20 years of their life. The return on investment figures listed here are equal to the amount of money graduates from the school earn on average over and above the average earnings of people with no college degree. The ROI figures are from Payscale, for which we have included a link at the bottom of the article. You can find out more information about how they determine ROI on their website. ROI was used to break ties in our ranking, with the better ranking going to the school with the higher ROI.

Exam Preparation: In the actuarial field, the number of exams you have passed is a major influence on your earning potential. Based on your exam credentials, you either will or won’t be qualified for certain jobs within the industry. Programs that prepare students for more exams, support students as they take exams, and strive to help students pass as many exams as possible before graduation provide these students with major competitive advantages.

Below is the outline of our ranking system detailing how points were awarded to schools.

Tuition Points:

Under $10,000: 3 Points
Under $20,000: 2 Points
Under $30,000: 1 Point

Students Receiving Financial Aid:

60%: 1 Point
70%: 2 Points
80%: 3 Points
90%: 4 Points

20 Year Average Net Return on Investment Points:

$200,000: 1 Point
$300,000: 2 Points
$400,000: 3 Points
$500,000: 4 Points
$600,000: 5 Points

Minors, Concentrations, and Emphases Points:

One point per exam for which the actuarial science degree program prepares the student.

Sources and Information Links

The return on investment figures were sourced from Payscale.com

The tuition and financial aid information was sourced from The National Center for Education Statistics College Navigator Database

Bureau of Labor Statistics

Society of Actuaries

This concludes our ranking of the 30 best value actuarial science programs.

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