Actuarial Science FAQ
Actuarial Science is concerned with the evaluation of financial risk associated with uncertain future events. That risk may be associated with life insurance, casualty insurance, health insurance, disability, pensions, compensation packages, financial markets or even currency exchange.
Actuaries are professionals who are highly trained in mathematics, statistics, economics and finance and who make it their business to solve financial problems involving future uncertainty, as in the areas mentioned above. One way to describe their work is that they "put a price on risk".
According to The Jobs Related Almanac, actuary is consistently rated as one of the best jobs when salary, work environment, stress career outlook, security, and physical demands are jointly taken into consideration.
Our Actuarial Science program at SFU is an elite program that gives students an excellent training in mathematics, statistics and finance and prepares students for the professional exams.
Q1. Can I apply for graduate studies in Actuarial Science at Simon Fraser University?
Ans 1. An MSc program in Actuarial Science is offered by our Department
Q2. How do I apply for admission to the Certificate program in Actuarial Mathematics, the Major program in Actuarial Science or the Honours program in Actuarial Science?
Ans 2. The admission process for all three programs is the same. It is a two-step process.
The second step occurs after you have taken some courses at Simon Fraser University, generally in the semester in which you take the two basic courses STAT 285 Applied Probability Models and ACMA 210 Mathematics of Compound Interest. ACMA 210 is only offered in the Fall semester of each year. The students in ACMA 210 are invited to apply for admission to one of the Actuarial Science programs. The deadline is usually December 1. See application for admission for more details. Admission is competitive and based on performance at Simon Fraser University and other institutions. Particular attention is given to STAT 285 and ACMA 210. Students are required to have an average grade of B or better in all MATH, STAT and ACMA courses and to maintain a 3.00 CGPA (cumulative grade point average).
Q3. Are the admission requirements for the Certificate program in Actuarial Mathematics, the Major and Honours programs in Actuarial Science, for first and second degree students all the same?
Ans 3. YES.
Q4. Can I apply for admission to the Actuarial programs at any other time of the year besides the semester in which I take ACMA 210?
Ans 4. Only in exceptional circumstances. For example, it might be that you took ACMA 210 some time ago but were not planning on taking an Actuarial Science major at the time.
Q5. Where can I find the details of the Certificate program in Actuarial Mathematics, the Major or Honours programs in Actuarial Science?
Q6. What are the requirements for a student pursuing an Actuarial Science Major/Honors as a second degree?
Ans 6. A second degree student must satisfy all the upper division requirements for the degree. Most students will also need to take lower division courses to meet the prerequisite requirements. These commonly include ACMA 210 and STAT 285. These lower division courses can be waived if taken in a first degree.
Q7. I have a degree and would like to take the Certificate Program. How long will it take to complete?
Ans 7. Assuming that your first degree included calculus (MATH 151, 152, 251), linear algebra (MATH 232), and a first course in probability (STAT 270), it will take about two years of part time study. This is due to the prerequisite structure between the courses and the fact that some of the courses are only offered every second year. Some students choose to take more than the minimum number of courses required for the Certificate in order to assist them in their preparation for the professional exams and the Validation by Educational Experience (VEE) requirements.
Q8. I have a degree and would like to take a second degree (major) in Actuarial Science. How long will it take to complete?
Ans 8. Two years of full time study, assuming that your first degree included calculus (MATH 151, 152, 251), linear algebra (MATH 232) and a first course in probability (STAT 270).
Q9. I took some introductory Economics (or Business, or Mathematics or Statistics courses) in my first degree. Can I get transfer credit or a waiver for the degree requirements or for the prerequisites for upper division courses in these areas?
Ans 9. You cannot get transfer credits, but you may get a waiver or a substitution. Please, read about the Second Bachelor's Degree under "Programs offered" in the University Calendar.
Q10. Must I complete all the lower division requirements for the major before I can take ACMA 210.
Ans 10. NO. You can take ACMA 210 as soon as you have completed all the prerequisite courses and feel ready.
Q11. Can I take other ACMA courses if I am not an approved Act. Sci. student?
Ans. 11. Yes, if you meet the admission requirements of the Act. Sci. program and have the necessary course prerequisites. You must request approval from the Department.
Q12. Can I take MATH 150, MATH 154 or 157 instead of MATH 151?
Ans 12. MATH 150 and MATH 154 can be used to substitute for MATH 151. MATH 157, with a grade of at least B can also be used in place of MATH 151.
Q13. Can I take MATH 155 or 158 instead of MATH 152?
Ans 13. MATH 155 and MATH 158 are accepted as equivalent pre-requisites for Acma-210 and for satisfying the lower division requirements of the Actuarial Science Program.
Q14. Where can I find a schedule of future course offerings in STAT. and ACT. SCI.?
Ans 14. At http://www.stat.sfu.ca/teaching/twoyear.pdf.
Q15. Where can I find a schedule of future course offerings in MATH?
Ans 15. At http://www.math.sfu.ca/. Follow the links to "courses" and "courses offering templates".
Q16. Is it true that approved ACT. SCI. students are allowed to take certain BUSINESS courses on an equal basis with Business students?
Ans. 16. Yes. This applies to the Business courses listed under the requirements of the Actuarial Science Major or Honors and possibly a few others. See the program requirements in the University Calendar or contact the Co-ordinator for the Program in Actuarial Science.
Q17. Where can I find the schedule for future course offerings in Business?
Ans 17. Consult the Faculty of Business Administration.
Q18. Can the courses that I take in the Certificate Program be counted towards a major in other subjects (e.g.. Mathematics, Statistics, Business)?
Ans 18. Yes.
Q19. Can the lower division courses that I take in the Major/Honours Program in Actuarial Science be used towards another degree, such as in Business, Economics, Mathematics or Statistics?
Ans 19. Yes. You only need to take lower division requirements once to satisfy the requirements of any of the degrees.
Q20. Can the upper division courses that I take to satisfy the requirements for the Major/Honours Program in Actuarial Science be used towards a Business, Economics, Mathematics or Statistics Major/Honours degree?
Ans 20. NO. If, for instance, you wish to take BUS 312 to satisfy the requirements for a Business Major, then you cannot use it to satisfy the specific course requirements for the Actuarial Science Major. However, the specific course requirements for the Actuarial Science Major only add up to about 36 upper division credit hours while the Faculty of Science requirement for a Major is 44 hours of upper division course credits. So, for example, you could use BUS 312 - 3 to satisfy the requirement of a Business Major and use the same 3 credit hours to help meet the gap between the 36 upper division hours required by the Actuarial Science Major and the 44 hours required by the Faculty of Science.
Q21. Is there a Co-op Program in Actuarial Science?
Ans 21. Yes. For information, contact Natalie Erickson
Q22. What is the best time to start in the Co-op Program?
Ans 22. Ideally, you should contact the Co-op Co-ordinator, Natalie Erickson, as you approach 30 credit hours. Otherwise, as soon as possible after that. It will still be a semester or more after that first contact before you have an actual placement.
Q23. What courses should I try to take before starting on Co-op?
Ans 23. It is very helpful towards landing that first placement to have experience with MS-Access for data base management, calculations in Excel spreadsheets and object oriented programming (e.g. C++). Good communication skills are of paramount importance.
Q24. Can Certificate students and second degree students participate in the Co-op Program?
Ans 24. Yes. However, it is unlikely that they would be able to get the full number of Co-op semesters and benefit from the full Co-op experience.
Q25. Where can I find more information regarding the Actuarial Profession and the Examination requirements for the Profession?
Ans 25. Information regarding the profession, syllabi for the examinations, examination schedules, examination application forms and job opportunities can be found at:
Q26. Which SFU courses help with the Professional Exams?
Ans 26. Here is a list. However, at least for SOA Exams P, FM, M and C, if you are able to do a bit of self-study, then you should not necessarily wait until you have completed all the courses listed before taking the corresponding exam.
STAT 270, 285, 330
BUS 312, 315, 316
ACMA 320, 425
BUS 316, 419 and others
ACMA 315, 335, 445
FAP Exam 1 and 2:
FAP modules partly covered in 400 levels BUS and ACMA courses
Q27. Where can I get advice regarding the scheduling of my courses?
Ans 27. You can visit this page There you will find some suggested programs of courses that can be taken semester by semester. Of course, these are only suggestions and there is quite a bit of flexibility. In addition, the actual course offerings vary from time to time and may change in the future. But this will give you some ideas.
Q28. What do employers look for when hiring long-term employees.
Ans 28. The four most important factors that they look at are (1) Good performance in university, (2) Progress with the professional examinations (2 to 4 exams), (3) Communication skills, (4) Communication skills !!
Q29. How do I plan my courses if I intend to double major in Actuarial Science and Statistics?
Ans 29. Courses that are required by both programs will be counted towards one of the two Majors. Normally, STAT 330, 350 and 450, will be counted for a Major in Statistics. Please see Dr. Cary Tsai, the Actuarial Science Program Coordinator, early in your planning stage to discuss the most appropriate course substitutions in your case.
Q30. What are the minimum continuation GPA and the minimum graduation GPA?
Ans 30. To continue in the actuarial science or statistics programs, students must maintain a GPA of at least 2.25 on courses labeled MATH, STAT or ACMA. Actuarial science majors must achieve a cumulative grade point average (CGPA) of 2.50 or better to graduate.
Q31. Where can I get information about the M.Sc. and Ph.D. program in Statistics and Actuarial Science?
Q32. Which courses of the List 1 of the Upper Division Requirements are most recommended?
Ans 32. Students are strongly encouraged to take all five courses. The main reason for requiring 4 out of 5 courses is to allow students to graduate in a reasonable time if they cannot take some of the courses when offered. This can happen when students go on co-op terms for example.
Q33. I have a question that you did not anticipate, where can I go for further information?
Ans 33. Actuarial Science Program Coordinator: Dr. Cary Tsai firstname.lastname@example.org.
General Advising: Sadika Jungic mailto:email@example.com, Departmental Assistant, STATS and ACT. SCI.