Actuarial Science

Ferris State University expands Actuarial Science program

On Friday, Oct. 10 the new Bachelor of Science in Actuarial Science was declared. This was the final step in the process of adding the new major.

“The new degree has had to go through both the College of Arts and Sciences and the University curriculum process and then ultimately approved by the Board of Trustees,” Paul Blake, Interim Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs said. Students can officially major in Actuarial Science starting in spring of 2015.

“Actuaries determine how much to charge for automobile, homeowner or life insurance policies by taking in account factors such as age, location and past history,” Kent Sun, coordinator of the Actuarial Science program said. “They help companies create retirement plans and banks manage their assets and liabilities. They design ways to reduce the financial risk for companies. In general, wherever there are risks, actuaries are there to manage those risks. Many actuaries work in the insurance industry, government, hospitals, banks, investment firms, consulting firms, and employee benefits departments.”

Currently, Ferris students interested in actuarial science must major in Applied Mathematics with a concentration in Actuarial Science.

“There is no longer a concentration in Actuarial Science,” Blake said. “The difference would have been in the number of hours required. A concentration usually consists of twelve to eight credits of coursework as opposed to credits of a full major or degree.”

The Board of Trustees believes that the expansion of the concentration into a major will reflect the university’s mission to prepare students for careers and ensure their future employment. “Our revised Actuarial Science degree may support students more than any other actuarial program in Michigan,” Sun said.

The required classes for the major include a number of math and finance classes including Calculus, Linear Algebra and Theory of Interest as well as Micro-and Macroeconomics. While beginning a career in actuarial science does not require any education beyond a Bachelor’s degree, becoming a certified professional means passing a series of five actuarial exams. The course load for this major will teach students valuable math, business, communication and computer skills in order to prepare them for the first two exams, which will hopefully lead to fast employment after graduating. More information about the degree and a full list of required courses can be found Mathematics/programs/actuarial.htm.

“This year, placed actuarial science, along with two other math B.S. degrees that we offer (Applied Mathematics and Applied Mathematics with a Computer Science Concentration) in its list of top ten careers,” Sun said. “In addition, for many years Jobs Rated Almanac has rated actuarial science as one of its top five careers. Even though actuarial science is already the most popular major in the math department with thirty majors, we expect it to grow even more quickly as students become aware of the benefits of becoming an actuary.”

Indeed, the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects employment in the actuarial science field to expand by 27 percent over the next decade. There has also been growing interest in the field here at Ferris. From 2006 to 2013, the number of students enrolled in the actuarial science concentration rose from 2 to 31. The university expects this number to grow even more with the creation of the new major.

“I’ve never met an actuary who regretted going into the field,” Sun said. “It’s a common misconception that the only thing that you can do with a math degree is to teach. The reality is that math is used everywhere and that we have three non-teaching math degrees that are in the top 10 list. If you are considering actuarial science or a different math major, then contact me and we can discuss your options further.”

Students can contact Sun by emailing or calling (231) 591-2565.