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.

Admission


1. How can I get into the Actuarial Science program at SFU?

There is no direct admission into the Actuarial Science program. Typically students who would like to pursue an undergraduate degree in Actuarial Science apply initially to a major in the Faculty of Science—notably the Statistics major, with Actuarial Science major intended. However, if a student applies and is accepted into a different Faculty (e.g., if they do not meet the admission requirements for the Faculty of Science), it will still be possible to be admitted to the Actuarial Science program (please consult with the Actuarial Science Advisor for details). Please visit the Admissions page for instructions on how to apply to SFU.

For those who are currently in a program outside of Faculty of Science at SFU and are interested in getting into the Actuarial Science program, please consult with the Actuarial Science Advisor.

Admission Criteria

Once at SFU, prospective Actuarial Science students must meet the admission criteria for the Actuarial Science program. Admission is competitive and based on performance at SFU (and, if applicable, other institutions). Particular attention is given to STAT 270, MATH 152, and ACMA 210. Students are normally required to have a grade of B- or better in all of MATH 152, STAT 270 and ACMA 210, and to maintain a 3.00 CGPA at SFU.

Because STAT 285 is a pre-requisite for many upper division ACMA and STAT courses, students are required to take STAT 285 before applying for admission to the Actuarial Science program.

Students transferring from an Actuarial Science (or related) program at another post-secondary institution are typically treated as special cases. Such students should consult with the Actuarial Science Faculty Advisor, Barbara Sanders (bsanders@sfu.ca), about admission into the Actuarial Science program.

2. When can I apply for admission?

Admission to the Actuarial Science program occurs only once a year: at the end of the semester in which ACMA 210 is offered. For ACMA 210 offerings, please refer to #4 below.

3. How can I apply for the Actuarial Science program as a second undergraduate degree?

If you are interested in applying for a second undergraduate degree in Actuarial Science, we recommend that you first consult with the Actuarial Science Advisor. Also, please see the "Second Degree Students" section below for further details about completing a second degree in Actuarial Science.   

For those who completed their first degree at SFU:

You can simply apply for reactivation by completing the form on this page. Choose "Science" as the faculty when completing the form. If approved by the faculty, you will initially be labelled a "non-degree seeking student".

For those who completed their first degree elsewhere:

As a university graduate (degree holder), you will need to apply initially as a "non-degree seeking student" in the Faculty of Science.

Please refer to the Admission Criteria in #1 above. Instructions on how to apply can be found here.

Course Enrolment/Scheduling


4. When is ACMA 210 offered?

ACMA 210 will next be offered in Fall 2019.

5. Do I have to complete all lower division requirements for the Actuarial Science major before I take ACMA 210?

No. You can take ACMA 210 as soon as you meet the prerequisite (MATH 152; or MATH 155 or MATH 158 with a grade of at least B).

6. Where can I get advice regarding the scheduling of my courses?

Please visit this page to find suggested course enrolments. However, please be advised that the availability of courses is subject to change.

Because ACMA courses tend to be offered only once a year (sometimes only once every two years), it is recommended that you consult with the Actuarial Science Advisor to plan ahead for future semesters.

7. Where can I find the schedule of future course offerings in Statistics and Actuarial Science?

You can find the link to future STAT and ACMA course offerings here.

8. Where can I find the schedule of future course offerings in Math?

You can find projected course offerings for MATH courses here.

9. Where can I find the schedule for future course offerings in Business?

Projected course offerings for BUS courses can be found here.

10. Do Actuarial Science students have equal access to certain BUS courses with Business students?

Yes. This applies to the Business courses listed under the requirements of the Actuarial Science Major or Honours. Please see the program requirements in the University Calendar.

11. Can I take other ACMA courses if I am not an approved Actuarial Science student?

Yes, if you meet the admission requirements of the Actuarial Science program and have the necessary course prerequisites. You must request approval from the Actuarial Science Faculty Advisor, Barbara Sanders (bsanders@sfu.ca).

12. What should I take/do in summer semesters?

There are no required ACMA courses available in Summer semesters, so this can be a good time to take required/elective courses in other subject areas (e.g., ECON, BUS, MATH, STAT, CMPT, ENGL/PHIL). Another option is to complete co-op work terms in Summer semesters. However, keep in mind that the Summer semester is the most competitive semester for securing co-op positions because this is when most Actuarial Science students want to do co-op work terms. Please see the Co-op section below for more details.

Program Requirements


13. What are the requirements for a BSc in Actuarial Science?

It depends on your “requirement term”. A requirement term is generally the semester in which you were admitted to a program. You can find your requirement term on your advising transcript.

The middle two numbers indicate the year. The last number indicates the semester (1=Spring, 4=Summer, 7=Fall). So, for example, 1187 is the semester code for Fall 2018.

To find the requirements for your requirement term, go to the Academic Calendar listing for the Actuarial Science major (or Actuarial Science honours, if applicable). In the URL, change the year and semester to match your requirement term.

In certain cases, you may be allowed to follow the requirements of a newer requirement term, if you choose. For details, please consult with the Actuarial Science Advisor. Please note that following requirements other than those of your requirement term will likely affect the accuracy of your Academic Progress Report (APR).

14. A course that is listed as required for my program is no longer offered (e.g., ACMA 315, ACMA 335, ACMA 445). What should I do?

Please consult with the Actuarial Science Faculty Advisor, Barbara Sanders (bsanders@sfu.ca).

15. What is the minimum continuation GPA and the minimum graduation GPA?

To continue in the Actuarial Science (or Statistics) program, students must maintain a GPA of at least 2.25 in courses labeled MATH, STAT, or ACMA. Actuarial Science majors must achieve a CGPA of 2.5 or better to graduate.

16. Can I take MATH 154 or 157 instead of MATH 150/151?

MATH 154 or MATH 157, with a grade of at least B, can be accepted in place of MATH 150/151.

17. Can I take MATH 155 or 158 instead of MATH 152?

MATH 155 or MATH 158, with a grade of at least B, is accepted as an equivalent pre-requisite for ACMA 210, and for satisfying the lower division requirements of the Actuarial Science Program.

18. Can upper division courses that I complete for the Actuarial Science Major/Honours Program be used towards a Business, Economics, Mathematics, or Statistics minor/major?

No. Upper division courses can only be applied to one major/honours/minor. 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.

19. How do I plan my courses if I intend to double major in Actuarial Science and Statistics?

Each upper division course can be counted toward only one of the two majors. In the case of STAT 330 (which is required for both majors), you will need to take an additional upper division course as a substitute. Please consult with the Statistics Faculty Advisor Dr. Rachel Altman (rachel_altman@sfu.ca) early in your degree to discuss the most appropriate course substitution in your case.

20. The program requirements state to choose two of ACMA 425, 440, and 455. Which are recommended?

In addition to the core required courses (ACMA 320, ACMA 340, ACMA 355, and STAT 330), it is recommended that Actuarial Science students take all three of ACMA 425, 440, and 455 for Exams IFM, LTAM and STAM. The main reason for requiring two out of three courses from ACMA 425, 440, and 455 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.

Second Degree Students


21. What are the requirements for completing a second degree in Actuarial Science?

Second degree students need to complete all required upper division courses for the Actuarial Science major or honours. In addition, students must complete any lower division courses that are prerequisites for upper division required courses (if they do not have credit for these courses, or their equivalents, from their first degree). This will likely include ACMA 210 and STAT 285. For questions about course equivalency, please email the transcript from your first degree and detailed course outlines to the Actuarial Science Faculty Advisor, Barbara Sanders (bsanders@sfu.ca).

22. How long will it take to complete a second undergraduate degree in Actuarial Science?

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 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, or due to completing co-op work terms. Some students choose to take more than the minimum number of courses required for the Major in order to assist them in their preparation for the professional exams and the Validation by Educational Experience (VEE) requirements.

23. 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 the prerequisites for upper division courses in these areas?

Once a degree has been completed, you cannot transfer credits to a different degree/institution. However, you may be able to use credits completed in your first degree to get a course waiver or substitution. Please consult with the Actuarial Science Faculty Advisor, Barbara Sanders (bsanders@sfu.ca).

Co-op


24. Is Co-op available to Actuarial Science students?

Yes, co-op is available to all SFU students (including second degree students). Most Actuarial Science students participate in the co-op program. Please consult with Natalie Erickson (natalie_erickson@sfu.ca), the Co-op Coordinator for the Actuarial Science program.

25. What is the best time to start in the Co-op Program?

Ideally, you should contact the Co-op Coordinator, Natalie Erickson (natalie_erickson@sfu.ca), as you approach 30 credit hours (otherwise, as soon as possible after that). Transfer students (from a different post-secondary institution) should consult with Natalie Erickson as early as possible once they have started at SFU.

Students generally complete a co-op work term as early as two semesters after the semester in which they apply (e.g., apply in the Fall semester and complete their first work term the following Summer semester).

26. What courses should I try to take before starting Co-op?

It is very helpful towards landing that first placement to have completion of ACMA 320 and to know calculations in Excel spreadsheets and Visual Basic. Good communication skills are also of paramount importance.

27. In which semester is it best to complete Co-op work terms?

There are no ACMA courses available in Summer semesters, so this is generally a good time to complete co-op work terms. But please note that this makes Summer semesters the most competitive time to secure co-op positions. If you are unable to get a co-op job for a Summer semester, it is recommended that you try for other semesters. Due to course availability, this may push back your graduation date. However, keep in mind that doing co-op work terms is a great way to make connections and gain experience in the field. Many of our graduates have gone on to work for their co-op employers after graduation.

Accreditation and Careers


28. Which SFU courses help with the Professional Exams?

The list can be found below. However, at least for SOA Exams P, FM, IFM, LTAM, STAM, and SRM, 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.

Exam P STAT 270 and STAT 330
Exam FM ACMA 210
Exam IFM ACMA 340 and ACMA 440
Exam LTAM ACMA 320 and ACMA 425
Exam STAM ACMA 355 and ACMA 455
Exam SRM STAT 452 and STAT 475

SFU is one of the accredited Canadian universities by Canadian Institute of Actuaries (CIA). For CIA’s University Accreditation Program (UAP), see information provided here.

29. Where can I find more information regarding the Actuarial Profession and the Examination requirements for the Profession?

Information regarding the profession, syllabi for the examinations, examination schedules, examination application forms and job opportunities can be found at:

30. What do employers look for when hiring long-term employees?

The four most important factors that they look at are:

  • Good performance in university
  • Progress with the professional examinations (2 to 4 exams)
  • Computing skills
  • Communication skills (extremely important!!)


For FAQs about the Statistics program, please see here.