Actuarial Studies at UNC-Chapel Hill

You probably already know that “Actuary” has consistently been rated one of the best jobs in America, and that students who have passed one or two actuarial exams have been offered starting salaries of about $55,000-$65,000. You may not know that UNC-Chapel Hill has been in the business of educating actuaries for more than three decades. In honor of Professor W. Robert Mann, the founder of actuarial studies in the Mathematics Department and an influential advisor to many future actuaries, an award is given annually to an outstanding actuarial science student by the Mathematical Decision Sciences program.

Actuarial studies is an informal concentration rather than an independent major and is therefore open to students in any major. In the Society of Actuaries classification of worldwide actuarial programs, it qualifies as one of only about 90 Advanced Undergraduate programs, thus providing a thorough preparation for entering an actuarial career.

Most students pursue actuarial studies at UNC-CH by majoring or minoring in Mathematical Decision Sciences, an undergraduate program administered by the Department of Statistics and Operations Research. Courses offered by this program include:

STOR 455/456 (Statistical Methods I and II), which have been accepted by the Society of Actuaries and the Casualty Actuarial Society for validating knowledge of applied statistical methods.

STOR 435 (Intro to Probability), which lays the foundation for the first actuarial examination.

STOR 471 (Long-Term Actuarial Models) and STOR 472 (Short-Term Actuarial Models), which expose the student to the kinds of models that life insurance, pension, and casualty actuaries develop on the job, and

STOR 555 (Mathematical Statistics), which provides the statistical background prerequisite to the study of constructing and evaluating actuarial models.

Students who complete these STOR courses, ECON 410/420 and BUSI 408 (Corporate Finance) and pass at least two actuarial examinations can compete well for actuarial jobs. Students completing additional courses in computer science, economics, and business would be even more competitive.

Actuarial Credentials

Actuaries in the U.S. and Canada achieve professional status by completing the requirements prescribed by the Casualty Actuarial Society (CAS) or the Society of Actuaries (SOA).  As a precursor to more advanced studies, students pass five preliminary examinations and complete college courses in economics, corporate finance and applied statistics. The web sites of the SOA and the CAS contain detailed information about the education and examination system for the Preliminary Actuarial Examinations, including the material to be covered for each examination, instructions, schedules, and applications.

Click here to link to the Syllabus of Basic Education on the CAS web site

Click here to link to the SOA’s education requirements

Click here to link to Professor Dunn’s handout on earning actuarial credentials.

It All Begins with Probability

The Probability Exam is a 3-hour computer-based exam, with a fee of $200.   It tests your knowledge of the fundamental probability tools for quantitatively assessing risk.  CASO owns various study books and manuals that are available to students.  In addition to this, Professor Kelly may hold weekly study sessions for students, given that there is enough interest. If you are planning on taking the Probability Exam, and would like CASO’s study assistance, please contact Professor Dunn ( or Jonah Yearick (

Click here to link to How to Best Prepare for Your First Actuarial Exam

Click here to link to Learning Outcomes and Suggested Texts for the Probability Exam

Click here to link to Computer-Based Testing Rules and Procedures

Exam Fee Reimbursements and Reductions

Diversity students – African American, Hispanic, or Native North American – who pass the Probability exam and/or the Financial Mathematics exam will be reimbursed for the fees for the passed exams.  Reduced examination fees are also available to eligible candidates of qualified countries.

Click here to link to information on the Diversity Exam Reimbursement Program.

Click here to link to information on the Exam Fee Discount in Qualified Countries.

For undergraduate MDS majors who pass Exam P but do not qualify as a Diversity student, the UNC Statistics and Operations Research Department will reimburse your exam fee in the amount of $100.

Validation by Educational Experience (VEE) Information

Click here to link to the Directory of Approved VEE Courses

Students may request approval for any course by submitting an application.

Applying to Take an Exam

You can now submit application forms online!

Click here to link to registration information

If you have any questions regarding the exam system, please come to one of the CASO meetings or email one of the officers.