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View Full Version : Actuarial Science Major w/ Math, Stat minors - what are my fallback options?


pma501
06-16-2008, 09:02 AM
I'm a rising college sophomore majoring in Actuarial Science at Penn State. We have two choices at PSU - math major with an actuarial option (focus) or business school's actuarial science major. The business school is ranked pretty high at PSU (top 20 nationally I think), and I got into an accelerated program for business students, so I went with the business school actuarial science major and never thought twice about it. Now I'm wondering if I might be smart to change into the college of science and do the math route when I still have time left to do that without losing too many credits of now-useless business classes. For what it's worth, I should mention I'm minoring in math and statistics with the business degree.

What can I fall back on with my actuarial science degree if I decide I don't want to be an actuary? What would I gain from having the broader math major? Do you perceive any advantage to the actuarial science major aside from the accelerated program? If I decided I wanted to teach (say, high school), what would I need to do to be certified in either case?

I'm very confident that I will follow through and be an actuary, but it worries me a little to put all my eggs in one basket anyway.

Jack
06-16-2008, 09:10 AM
Lot's of guys working on the street have math or physics degrees. Any idiot can get a business degree a math degree opens more doors if you don't like working in actuarial science.

DW Simpson
06-16-2008, 09:38 AM
What can I fall back on with my actuarial science degree if I decide I don't want to be an actuary?

http://www.actuarialoutpost.com/actuarial_discussion_forum/showpost.php?p=830113&postcount=8

Darkness Falls
06-16-2008, 09:54 AM
I'm in a somewhat similar situation where I am majoring in actuarial math, yet also doing a business minor. Honestly though except for the VEE credits I'm getting for corporate finance the business classes are utterly useless. Hell when I'm done I'll probably have gone to less than 25% of all my finance courses, but still have A+ in each.

All of that was just to say that the math degree will be more helpful in the long run. It should be more difficult, however you'll stand out more even if you decide to go into business later.

ConfusedNY
06-16-2008, 10:25 AM
I'm a rising college sophomore majoring in Actuarial Science at Penn State. We have two choices at PSU - math major with an actuarial option (focus) or business school's actuarial science major. The business school is ranked pretty high at PSU (top 20 nationally I think), and I got into an accelerated program for business students, so I went with the business school actuarial science major and never thought twice about it. Now I'm wondering if I might be smart to change into the college of science and do the math route when I still have time left to do that without losing too many credits of now-useless business classes. For what it's worth, I should mention I'm minoring in math and statistics with the business degree.

What can I fall back on with my actuarial science degree if I decide I don't want to be an actuary? What would I gain from having the broader math major? Do you perceive any advantage to the actuarial science major aside from the accelerated program? If I decided I wanted to teach (say, high school), what would I need to do to be certified in either case?

I'm very confident that I will follow through and be an actuary, but it worries me a little to put all my eggs in one basket anyway.

I majored in Act Sci and my experience was, I attempted to get non-actuarial jobs.... the only place that woudl call me were insurance companies. I think it is difficult when you apply for jobs and your major is Act Sci, most people have no idea what this is. The insurance companies felt comfortable with it and interview me.

Ilyak1986
06-16-2008, 10:52 AM
@ OP: This is why I didn't go to Temple, but to Lehigh University instead. There's always finance/wall street, but any moron can get a business degree. Show that you're good with numbers, and you got better chances.

MooBeay
06-16-2008, 10:55 AM
Lot's of guys working on the street have math or physics degrees. Any idiot can get a business degree a math degree opens more doors if you don't like working in actuarial science.

Not sure about the math degree opening more doors, but then again i'm just an idiot with a business degree.

Could you back that claim up please.

Ilyak1986
06-16-2008, 10:58 AM
Not sure about the math degree opening more doors, but then again i'm just an idiot with a business degree.

Could you back that claim up please.

Find the proportion of math majors to business majors in any reasonably-sized college. I'm willing to bet it's at least 1:10.

MooBeay
06-16-2008, 11:02 AM
Find the proportion of math majors to business majors in any reasonably-sized college. I'm willing to bet it's at least 1:10.

looks to me the math major is proving to be the moron...the claim to be backed up was to prove it opens more doors. a 1:10 ratio doesn't prove that.

Ilyak1986
06-16-2008, 11:21 AM
Well in my university, it's around 1:30 at least. Business majors are a dime a dozen. If everyone can do it, what makes one candidate better than another?

Jack
06-16-2008, 12:18 PM
Not sure about the math degree opening more doors, but then again i'm just an idiot with a business degree.

Could you back that claim up please.

Just take a walk to your company's investment dept. Ask them what their undergraduate degrees were in. You'll see how many did their undergrad in math, physics, or engineering.

MooBeay
06-16-2008, 12:42 PM
Just take a walk to your company's investment dept. Ask them what their undergraduate degrees were in. You'll see how many did their undergrad in math, physics, or engineering.

That sounds like one door...I bet if I go to accounting, finance, marketing, underwriting the answer is different.

STLIrish
06-16-2008, 05:10 PM
Find the proportion of math majors to business majors in any reasonably-sized college. I'm willing to bet it's at least 1:10.


At my university Business majors outnumbered anthropology majors 10:1. Does that make Anthro majors better than business majors?

The math majors at my school had far fewer options than finance or accounting majors. The investment division at my company is all finance and accounting majors with a master's in finance, an MBA, or a CPA.

BondGirl
06-16-2008, 05:28 PM
I majored in math...I actually wish I had taken more business classes like accounting, finance, entrepreneurship, etc. Math isn't that useful in the business world. Most business majors are good with numbers too. That's not math

MY$.02
06-16-2008, 05:37 PM
I did math major business minor.. I think its whatever

sw1ndl3r
06-16-2008, 05:52 PM
In my experience undergraduate business classes are more or less common sense. You can easily just read one of the textbooks and say "OK, that makes sense."

MY$.02
06-16-2008, 05:53 PM
yep maybe some basic terminology thrown in

pma501
06-16-2008, 06:24 PM
Yeah, my first year was a lot of basic business classes, gen eds, and some foundation math courses (calc 2, 3). The business classes are pretty much a complete joke - the only thing that was really mentally challenging all year was calc.

I'm hearing a lot of negativity about the actuarial science degree - do the math/stat minors offset that a little bit or are they pretty much irrelevant?

MY$.02
06-16-2008, 06:42 PM
I dont get the negative of being an Act Sci major when what you want to be is an actuary. Besides mine is a BS in Math with a focus on Act. Sci its not a BS in Act Sci. I thought is would be the most productive education I could get. Take all my vee's prepare for prelim exams, and the rest is business, finance, math, stat. Whatever the name its an education and I thought it would be a good one .

ElDucky
06-16-2008, 11:52 PM
At my university Business majors outnumbered anthropology majors 10:1. Does that make Anthro majors better than business majors?

The math majors at my school had far fewer options than finance or accounting majors. The investment division at my company is all finance and accounting majors with a master's in finance, an MBA, or a CPA.

Actually, based on the students I've known in anthro vs business I would take the anthro students unless I was looking for an accountant.

piano
06-19-2008, 02:56 AM
I think finance major with a math minor would be the best, or a finance/math double major. The problem is if you just have an undergrad in math with no application. Although you know how to think (and the American Mathematical Society flaunts this fact), it does not show where you will APPLY that knowledge.

And the other side of the argument is that the finance/accounting/business major is too easy from the math people. But I think you need to take classes, even if it is common sense, to show the employer(s) that THIS is the area of application you are interested in.

This is among the same reason why PhD's in pure math have a very hard time finding industry job (if you do not consider the NSA, or very specialized places like that), while the PhD in statistics (especially from an applied school such as Iowa State or NC State) can easily find jobs in either the finance or pharmaceutical sector.

Just something to think about.

However, I firmly believe that a masters in mathematical finance with an MBA a few years later OR a PhD in statistics/biostatistics is the very best route to go (mathwise), if one is not going to be an actuary. Remember, you can major in anything quantitative, as long as you can pass the exams, you can be hired as an actuary. I think an "actuarial science" major is bad, unless you go to a big name school like Penn State, Iowa, Georgia State, or Waterloo, where that department's connections will open a lot more doors to you.

Hence, I do not think it is that bad when someone (even when they can pass the exams) goes and enrolls in MS in act sci at Iowa or at Waterloo. They can have better connections to interns in the summer after the first year, and hence more doors open to them at the end of the MS, and they can have the prelims and VEE's out of the way too, and have more time to study than if they were working full time.

Just my thoughts. Feel free to agree or disagree.

sw1ndl3r
06-19-2008, 09:19 AM
The Act Sci major at UCF is a very well rounded program. It is probably the only way to take several math courses, statistics, finance, economics and get to work on applied projects. If you can relay this information in a resume or in an interview, I don't see it being that big of a deal.

I don't understand how getting a masters in actuarial science is very helpful since the programs usually revolve around the exams. You should be fine working and studying the next exam whilst not going farther into debt through school. If you live near those schools, you can always stop by for any of their presentations, join some of their clubs and gain information and network through that.

psp-fifa-fan
12-11-2010, 03:22 AM
I'm currently majoring in Actuarial Science, but wondering if I should get a minor in Business. Do you guys think if a Business minor will be helpful in the actuarial career in terms of impressing HR and getting more interviews, and understanding more of the business concepts and theories for this career?

Because knowledge-wise, I only need to take 2 more business administration classes to get the minor: Management and Organizational Behavior and Principles of Marketing.
Are these 2 classes even helpful when working as an actuary in the future?

Thanks.

Arthur Kade
12-11-2010, 08:53 AM
Management & Organizational Behavior and Marketing are probably useful things to know anywhere in the business world (not just actuarial work). However, you won't learn anything about them in college classes on the topics.

A business minor is meh, but it can't really hurt. Unless you have better things to use those credits for, like completee VEEs.

psp-fifa-fan
12-11-2010, 12:42 PM
Thanks for the reply.

But would employers care if you have a business minor or not?

TrueCaleb
12-11-2010, 12:52 PM
I don't think they would care too much. Since you are majoring in actuarial science they will probably guess you didn't have to take too many more classes to get the minor.

The minor will help, but only a little.

vertigo40
12-11-2010, 01:05 PM
I honestly think if you want to have flexibility outside of actuarial work when you graduate then the business major route is by far better. I come from a similar type of school in the southeast that has great placement for undergraduates. I went the Statistics w/ Actuarial and Business minor route, which is great if you know you want to pursue actuarial work. Many of my business major buddies had no problem finding jobs though because so many companies recruit our campus. I think Penn State would be very similar and the opportunities in finance, investments, risk management, etc greatly outnumber those for actuaries. Like i said though, if you are certain you want to be actuary, then the math route is just fine then.

Andy06r
12-13-2010, 09:12 PM
(as a math, act sci double major) my impression is that a math 'major' won't open many doors by itself. All the math majors at my university (and it's a CAE) are either going to graduate school or are unemployed. A stat emphasis is helpful because that at least shows you can do applied math.

I have however found that a mathstat/act sci double was useful, as I learned a lot of the theory behind some of the more advanced topics on the exams and it even came up as useful background knowledge when I was punching in holes in various studies the company I interned at had considered using

Your best backup plan might be to consider statistics graduate school and start shifting your math courses towards applied work in stochastic, operations, and avoid the proofy stuff.

PhildeTruth
12-13-2010, 09:42 PM
(as a math, act sci double major) my impression is that a math 'major' won't open many doors by itself. All the math majors at my university (and it's a CAE) are either going to graduate school or are unemployed. A stat emphasis is helpful because that at least shows you can do applied math.

I have however found that a mathstat/act sci double was useful, as I learned a lot of the theory behind some of the more advanced topics on the exams and it even came up as useful background knowledge when I was punching in holes in various studies the company I interned at had considered using

Your best backup plan might be to consider statistics graduate school and start shifting your math courses towards applied work in stochastic, operations, and avoid the proofy stuff.

Math major >>> act sci major. A simple business minor and you are in the game, anywhere.

"Exit opps" for act sci major are slim to none cept for an actuarial science job.

oofta
12-13-2010, 09:53 PM
As a math major, I have been told by a few different employers that they are more impressed with my progress as a math major, able to pass an exam without the corresponding classwork, and market myself, then they typically are with act sci majors. I was just offered a P&C job with only 1 exam.

Also, in the case where you may decide not to become an actuary, a math degree with say a business minor would be more marketable then a act sci major (many people have no idea what this is).