Actuarial Science Degree Helps Meet Pressing Need

Program to Equip Undergraduates with Skills to Evaluate and Manage Risk

Feb. 10, 2009

Responding to a vacuum of career professionals who analyze risk for insurance, finance and investment companies, the Department of Mathematical Sciences created a new bachelor’s degree in Actuarial Science.

The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board approved the department’s proposal, allowing the degree program to accept students in fall 2009. The new program is expected to boost UT Dallas’ existing relationship with local insurance companies and large actuarial firms.

“The current crisis in the economic markets impresses on us the importance of understanding and managing risk,” said Dr. Myron Salamon, dean of the School of Natural Sciences and Mathematics. “We are excited by the approval of our new degree, which will train students in the science of risk assessment and management and prepare them for the rigid requirements of actuarial licensure. We anticipate that graduates will find careers awaiting them in insurance, banking and other businesses in which risk assessment is critical.”

Although often associated with insurance companies, actuarial professionals are increasingly in demand to evaluate investment risk for retirement systems, health benefit systems and other fields.

“Until now, there has been no public university in the Metroplex that prepares future actuaries,” said Dr. Sam Efromovich, professor of Mathematical Sciences. “There is a huge demand for actuaries. In the Dallas/Fort Worth area alone there are more than 70 organizations that have at least one senior actuary.”

Efromovich, who prepared the degree proposal with Associate Professor Pankaj Choudhary, said the effort to create the new program was a collaboration between the Department of Mathematical Sciences, the School of Economic, Political and Policy Sciences and the School of Management. The latter began offering the “Insurance and Risk Management” (BA 4354) course in the spring as a requirement for the new degree.

“Graduates will get a solid knowledge in mathematics, probability, statistics, finance and economics, and will get three required ‘validation of educational experience’ (or VEE) credits,” Efromovich said. “Several local companies, including BlueCross BlueShield of Texas, have expressed interest in the program. We are discussing a possibility of regular summer internships for our students.”

Dr. Larry Ammann, professor of statistics and program head, said the degree proposal culminated from an increasing number of requests to study in the actuarial field, which is consistently ranked among the nation’s top jobs by The Wall Street Journal.

“We responded to these inquiries by creating an actuarial science emphasis within the Mathematical Science degree program,” Ammann said. “The success of this emphasis in attracting students and the strong job market for such students led to our application for a separate degree.”

Efromovich said the program will prepare students to take two of the professional actuarial exams and provide a solid foundation for the remaining exams necessary in the field. Work is already under way to create a comprehensive graduate program in actuarial science.

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Actuarial Science: A Hot Field

Employment of actuaries is expected to increase by about 24 percent from 2006 to 2016, which is much faster than the average for all other occupations.

Sam Efromovich“There is a huge demand for actuaries. In the Dallas/Fort Worth area alone there are more than 70 organizations that have at least one senior actuary.”

Dr. Sam Efromovich, professor
of mathematical sciences


Highly Rated Career
  Of 200 jobs studied, the job of actuary was rated No. 2 in a survey of the following factors: work environment, income, employment outlook, physical demands and stress.

  1. Mathematician  
  2. Actuary  
  3. Statistician  
  4. Biologist  
  5. Software Engineer  
The Wall Street Journal, Jan. 26, 2009

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June 28, 2017