FAQs about Actuarial Program

The FAQs listed below will answer inquiries about the goals of the Actuarial Science program, requirements for attaining the ASA and ACAS designations, coursework and examination preparation for the SOA/CAS examinations, summer internships, and coursework needed to satisfy the Society of Actuaries' Validation by Educational Experience (VEE) requirements, as well as provide contact information at UNI. 

Actuarial Science at University of Northern Iowa: FAQ

Question 1. What are the goals and objectives of the Actuarial Science Program at University of Northern Iowa?

We provide the education, training, and mentoring to help our students achieve the following goals:

  1. Pass at least two of the examinations administered by the Society of Actuaries (SOA http://www.soa.org) or the Casualty Actuarial Society (CAS http://www.casact.org) while an undergraduate at the University of Northern Iowa (UNI http://www.uni.edu).
  2. Complete at least one summer internship at an actuarial company before starting the fall semester of the senior year.
  3. Complete the courses required by SOA/CAS for Validation by Educational Experience (VEE).
  4. Complete at least 21 hours of coursework (at least a minor, preferably a second major) in Business at UNI. We recommend the following courses: Principles of Financial Accounting, Principles of Macroeconomics, Principles of Microeconomics, Corporation Finance, Principles of Investments, Risk Management and Introduction to Information Systems.
  5. Develop good communication skills (Writing and speaking English;  ability to explain technical material to non-technical audiences, underwriters, managers and peers; ability to make persuasive arguments and defend one’s position)
  6. Develop good programming skills (at least one computer language (such as Visual Basic, Python, and C++) and skills in business information systems (at least Microsoft Excel).
  7. Develop good leadership skills (people skills, project management, teamwork, time management, conflict resolution, volunteer work, citizenship skills, UNI Actuarial Science Club).
  8. Develop the ability to learn independently. This is absolutely necessary because no student can possibly pass all the actuarial exams while in college. Typically, students will pass some exams while in college and take other exams when employed. The insurance companies expect their actuarial employees to attain the FSA/FCAS (or at least the ASA/ACAS) designation within a few years of joining the company. See below for some information about these designations.

Question 2. What are the requirements for attaining the ASA and ACAS designations?

The following are the current requirements for attaining the ASA (Associate of the Society of Actuaries) designation: Exam P-Probability, Exam FM-Financial Mathematics, Exam MFE-Models for Financial Economics, Exam MLC-Models for Life Contingencies, Exam C-Construction and Evaluation of Actuarial Models, VEE Economics, VEE Corporate Finance, VEE Applied Statistics, Fundamentals of Actuarial Practice (FAP) e-learning course, and Associateship Professionalism Course (APC). Universities do not offer coursework for FAP and APC which can only be completed while employed at an insurance company.

The following are the current requirements for attaining the ACAS (Associate of the Casualty Actuarial Society) designation: Exam 1-Probability (same as SOA’s Exam P), Exam 2-Financial Mathematics (same as SOA’s Exam FM), Exam 3F-Models for Financial Economics (same as SOA’s Exam MFE), Exam 4-Construction and Evaluation of Actuarial Models (same as SOA’s Exam C), Exam S-Statistics and Probabilistic Models, Exam 5-Basic Techniques for Ratemaking and Estimating Claim Liabilities, Exam 6- Regulation and Financial Reporting (nation-Specific), and Course on Professionalism.

Visit SOA and CAS websites to see requirements for CERA (Chartered Enterprise Analyst), FSA (Fellow of the Society of Actuaries), and FCAS (Fellow of the Casualty Actuarial Society).

CERA designation and Fellowship designations require all Associateship requirements plus some additional requirements.

Question 3. Do you offer coursework and examination preparation help for the SOA/CAS examinations? If so, what courses do you recommend and in what order should those courses be taken?

We offer coursework for Exams P/1, FM/2, MFE/3F, MLC, C/4, S, and for VEE Applied Statistics. More than one course is needed for MLC, C/4, and S. In addition, we offer regularly scheduled classes for ‘Actuarial Examination Preparation’ for Exams P/1 and FM/2. For the other exams, actuarial examination preparation courses are arranged on an individual basis.

The following is the list of courses for actuarial exams and their preferred sequence (assuming pre-requisites are satisfied):

MATH 3780 Mathematics of Finance: Freshman Spring

ACT SCI 3731 Actuarial Examination Preparation (Exam FM/2): Sophomore Fall

MATH 3752 Introduction to Probability: Sophomore Fall

ACT SCI 3731 Actuarial Examination Preparation (Exam P/1): Sophomore Spring

STAT 3775 Introduction to Mathematical Statistics: Sophomore Spring

ACT SCI 4735 Actuarial Mathematics: Junior Fall or Senior Fall

ACT SCI 4739 Topics in Actuarial Science (generally continuation of ACT SCI 4735): Spring semester following ACT SCI 4735

ACT SCI 4785 Introduction to Financial Engineering: Junior Spring or Senior Spring

ACT SCI 4788 Loss Models: Junior Fall or Senior Fall

STAT 3776 Regression Analysis: Junior Fall or Senior Fall

We strongly encourage our students to take our MATH 3780 (Mathematics of Finance) course in the spring semester of their freshman year and attempt Exam FM/2 soon after. Most of the students, however, take the course ‘Actuarial Examination Preparation’ for Exam FM/2 (prerequisite: MATH 3780) in the fall semester of their sophomore year and then take Exam FM/2 in December (of their sophomore year). The only pre-requisite for MATH 3780 is MATH 1420 (Calculus I).

Similarly, students are strongly encouraged to take MATH 3752 (Introduction to Probability, prerequisite: MATH 1421 (Calculus II)) in the fall semester of their sophomore year. This course is followed by ‘Actuarial Examination Preparation’ for Exam P/1 in the spring semester and students are encouraged to take Exam P/1 soon after. Some students do attempt (and pass) Exam P/1 right after taking MATH/STAT 3752 in which case they do not have to take the Exam P/1 Actuarial Examination Preparation course.

Further courses in Actuarial Science all have MATH 3752 (Introduction to Probability) as a prerequisite.

However, it is possible for all students to take at least 4 of the Exams P/1, FM/2, MFE/3F, MLC (for those who are interested in life insurance), C/4, and S (for those who are interested in Property & Casualty insurance) by the end of the spring semester of their senior year. Our best students generally pass four or five of these exams before graduating.

Question 4. How difficult is it to secure a summer internship? Do you provide any help to students in this connection?

It is easier to secure a summer internship if a candidate has already passed at least one actuarial exam and has already taken courses like Mathematics of Finance, Visual Basic (or some other programming language), and Introduction to Information Systems (mainly for Microsoft Excel and Access).

Representatives from insurance companies visit our Actuarial Science Club every fall semester to give presentations about their companies and recruit students for summer internships and full-time positions. Representatives from the following insurance companies visited the UNI Actuarial Science Club in Fall 2015: Transamerica, Athene, Ameriprise, CUNA Mutual, Travelers, Global Atlantic, Sammons, Northwestern Mutual, Nationwide Insurance and Principal Financial. Those companies which do not visit campus, accept resumes from students, conduct phone interviews, and then ask (selected) students to visit company campus.

Our students have secured summer internships and/or full-time employment in Allstate Insurance, American Family Insurance, Ameriprise Financial, Athene, Blue Cross Blue Shield, CUNA Mutual, EMC Insurance, Global Atlantic, The Hartford, Liberty Mutual Insurance, Milliman, Mercer, Nationwide Insurance, Principal Financial, Prudential, State Farm, Sun Life, Transamerica, The Travelers, and Zurich Insurance. This list is not complete.

Question 5. Do you provide the coursework for students to satisfy the Society of Actuaries’ Validation by Educational Experience (VEE) requirements?

Our students complete the VEE requirements by taking the following courses:

VEE Economics: ECON 1041 Principles of Macroeconomics, ECON 1051 Principles of Microeconomics (in the College of Business Administration)

VEE Finance: FIN 3130 Corporation Finance, FIN 3160 Principles of Investments (in the College of Business Administration)

VEE Applied Statistics: STAT 3776 Regression Analysis (in the Department of Mathematics)

For additional information or questions, please contact: Dr. Syed Kirmani, Professor of Mathematics, Department of Mathematics, University of Northern Iowa, Cedar Falls, Iowa 50614-0506, USA. E-Mail: kirmani@math.uni.edu, syed.kirmani@uni.edu.