Actuarial Studies

Actuarial Studies Information

The University of Texas at Austin 2017 - 2018

The University of Texas at Austin

Actuarial Careers
The job of actuary has been ranked in every edition of the Wall Street Journal's Jobs Rated Almanac as a top three profession (out of 200) in the United States.  In the 2015 edition, actuary was ranked the number one career.  See  When ranking professions, the Almanac considers factors such as salary, hiring outlook, stress, and work environment. 
So who is an actuary?  Actuaries use mathematical skills to define, analyze and solve business problems involving the cost of possible future events.  Actuaries are employed by insurance companies, financial institutions, consulting firms, industrial corporations, government agencies, universities, accounting firms and labor unions.  Actuarial work includes: projecting how a new auto-safety law will change insurance claims; investigating how life-insurance reserves and future premiums might balance future claims; estimating the benefit cost of a labor contract; analyzing investment risks; or projecting financial costs of an epidemic.  For example, actuaries determine how much you should pay for auto insurance based upon your driving record and habits, location, age, automobile type, and etcetera.  In the near future, actuaries will need to determine how autonomous vehicles are insured and consider emerging risks (e.g. hacking of software).

Professional societies of actuaries administer a series of examinations for persons wishing to qualify as an Associate or a Fellow as proof of their status as an actuary.  While in college, most of our actuarial students take classes that cover the content of five Preliminary Exams, take courses the fulfill three validation by educational experience (VEE) requirements, and successfully pass two or three preliminary actuarial examinations (see our section on Professional Certification).

Any student posessing strong mathematical problem-solving apptitude, a sound work ethic, ability and desire to effectively communicate mathematical and financial applications to clients, and an interest in a business career should consider the actuarial profession.  Self-reported data from 2014-2015 University of Texas at Austin actuarial graduates with two or more exams indicate a sample mean starting salary of $60,500.  For a more comprehensive national salary survey conducted by the D. W. Simpson company, see  

Actuarial Studies at the University of Texas at Austin
The Actuarial Studies Program at The University of Texas at Austin has a long and distinguished history of producing well-prepared students, many of whom have become leaders of the actuarial profession.  In the Society of Actuaries classification of North American actuarial programs, our program qualifies as one of about 70 advanced undergraduate programs and as one of about 30 graduate education or graduate education and research programs - thus providing a thorough preparation for entering an actuarial career.


While there are special actuarial options within the undergraduate and graduate mathematics degrees, actuarial studies is also available as an informal concentration and may be taken by students in any major.  Such students take mathematics courses that cover preliminary examination learning objectives.

Besides calculus, linear algebra, probability and statistics, seven mathematics (M) actuarial courses plus one actuarial foundation (ACF) course anchor the actuarial program.  Students who complete these courses and pass at least two professional examinations can be competitive in the actuarial job market. 

Three additional mathematics actuarial courses, computing courses, economics courses, business courses and public speaking courses compose the remainder of the concentration's core; students completing these will be even more competitive for actuarial jobs.  Additional suggested courses provide further breadth and depth, especially for graduate students.

Because the program requires so much mathematics, many students choose to pursue an undergraduate or graduate degree in mathematics.  Alternatively, students can take these courses as electives and major in any other area.  Many business students have a major in the business school, but still pursue a concentration in actuarial studies. 

Actuarial employers have hired students from the actuarial program that majored in such diverse fields as computer science, psychology, electrical engineering, German, botany, music, physics and art history. 

Students should seek advice from the undergraduate or graduate advisor of any field in which they are considering majoring as well as from Mark Maxwell or Alisa Walch.  Regardless of major, students must meet the requirements of that major in addition to the recommendations for the actuarial concentration.


Professor Maxwell works closely with the actuarial community and the CNS Career Design Center to help graduates obtain entry-level jobs and to help continuing students obtain summer internships.  Approximately 20 actuarial employers will participate at the 2015 CNS Fall Career Expo, which is on Monday September 21st from 1:00 pm - 6:00 pm in the Frank Erwin Center.  About 10 actuarial employers will attend the CNS Spring Career Expo.

The actuarial profession has a long history of supporting our actuarial program with their time (serving on advisory boards, presenting to the student club, providing mock interviews, and recruiting interns and full-time employees) as well as with financial contributions.  We received gifts from about individuals and businesses last year as well as support from the professional organizations Actuaries Club of the Southwest and the Southwest Actuarial Forum.  During the 2011-2012 academic year, 35 students were awarded $53,500 total in scholarships funded from annual donations, $13,000 total in endowed scholarships and $24,600 total in TDI internship/scholarships.  For information on the special financial aid available for continuing actuarial students (scholarships, TDI Internship-Scholarships, and Forgivable Loans), please see the financial aid announcement 2012-2013 (will be updated soon).


As of fall 2015, our program boasts 350 students, graduating about 85 annually.  The vast majority of our students are either seeking a B.S. in Mathematics: Option 1: Actuarial Science or are in the Red McCombs School of Business with a concentration in actuarial studies. 

A few students already hold an undergraduate degree in some area and are not seeking a second degree; rather they enroll in our classes (M362K and M329F) to prepare for some actuarial exams (P, FM and perhaps some VEE coursework) and compete for entry-level actuarial jobs. 

Our four semester master's program typically admits two to four students each fall.  Graduate students study all the material for the five preliminary examinations as well as graduate level mathematics or finance courses.

Actuarial Program Faculty and Advisors

Mark Maxwell, PhD, ASA
Actuarial Program Director, Clinical Professor of Mathematics, Paul V. Montgomery Fellow of Actuarial Mathematics, Principal author of Probability and Statistics with Applications: A Problem Solving Text (approved for SOA Exam P).  Maxwell teaches M362K, M329F, M339U, M339V, M339J, M349P and M349R.
RLM 11.168

Gustavo Cepparo, MS
Lecturer, developed and teaches M349R.
RLM 13.148

Milica Cudina, PhD
Clinical Assistant Professor, developed and regularly teaches M339D and M339W.  Milica also teaches M329F and M362K. 
RLM 13.142

Gary Hamrick, PhD
Emeritus Professor, academic adviser, and former actuary teaches M339U in the fall 
RLM 9.156

Shinko Harper, PhD

Lecturer, teaches M329F, M339U, and M339V. 
RLM 13.160

Alisa (Havens) Walch, MA, FCAS
Actuarial Program Assistant Director, Lecturer, worked as a Property and Casualty (P&C) actuary for three years, teaches M339J, M329F, M339U, M339C (developed) and M349P.
RLM 13.148

Jennifer Mann (Austin), PhD
Undergraduate Mathematics Faculty Advisor, Lecturer, teaches M329F
RLM 11.150

Joel Nibert, PhD
Lecturer, teaches M329F and M339J.
RLM 13.158

The Mathematics, Physics & Astronomy Advising Center

The MPA Advising Center is located in RLM 4.101. Provides advice on course selection, degree requirements, adding or dropping courses, ALEKS placement exams, freshmen and transfer student orientation, and university policy and procedures.  Call 512-471-0900 to set up an appointment.

Susan Brown

Academic Advising Coordinator

Ronda Hall
Senior Academic Advisor

Kristina Graves
Assistant Academic Advisor

Career Design Center

The Career Design Center is located in PAI 5.03.  Meet with a career coach for help with resume writing, interviewing and job searching.  They also provide the opportunity to apply and interview on campus for internships and full-time positions, as well as coordinate two CNS career fairs per year and several workshops on career-related topics.  Call 512-471-6700 to set up an appointment.

Career Coaches

Painter Hall 5.03    (512) 471-6700

University of Texas Actuarial Science Club

The UTASC provides support with SOA exam P and SOA exam FM preparation seminars and mock exams & organizes professional guest speakers and social events for students interested in actuarial science.

Samantha Hart, President

Riddhi Kumar, Vice-President

Trent Dykema, Financial Director

Paul Cessna, Administrative Director

Noah Villalobos, Events Coordinator

David Willis, Risky Business Liason