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News @ Minnesota State University Moorhead

Analyzing risks

Posted on March 21, 2014

Actuarial science program prepares students for global internships

Actuary is the number one career in America according to careercast.com. Actuaries analyze financial costs of risk and uncertainty, and use mathematics, statistics and financial theory to assess the risk that an event will occur to help businesses and clients develop policies that minimize the cost of that risk.

Students at Minnesota State University Moorhead can receive their degree in mathematics with an emphasis in actuarial science. One of the many perks to studying actuarial science at MSUM is 100 percent job placement after graduation.

According to bls.gov, “employment of actuaries is expected to grow 27 percent between now and 2020. Students with internship experience who have passed at least one actuarial exam while in school should have the best prospects for entry-level positions.”

MSUM prepares students on topics for the first three actuarial exams, making them highly desirable job candidates.

“Our program combines traditional mathematics and statistics courses with a solid foundation in economics, accounting and finance,” Professor Aggie Chadraa said. “This provides students with a professional advantage and will set them apart from graduates of many other actuarial science programs.”

A group of MSUM students started the Actuarial Science Club last year, and in the same year MSUM posted its program under the category of Advanced-Undergraduate on the SOA’s Actuarial College Listing (ACL). The ACL is a resource tool where universities self-report their program’s offerings to those seeking institutions with actuarial and/or actuarial-related offerings.

Holly Sullivan

In its short existence, the Actuarial Science Club has made an impact by securing $585 in funding to purchase exam study materials to prepare for the first two actuarial exams. The exam pass rate of MSUM actuarial students is higher than the national average.

The club also secured funds for eight students and Professor Chadraa to attend the Actuarial Science and Financial Mathematics Career Fair in Minneapolis in October. As a direct result from attending the fair, one student has been hired full-time, and two students received internships for the summer.

Holly Sullivan, a mathematics major with an actuarial science and computation emphasis and finance minor, secured a summer internship at Mercer Consulting, one of the largest human resources and financial services consulting firms in the world.

“They were hiring one to two interns for the summer and told me they hire almost every intern on as entry-level actuaries upon graduation, so I am thrilled to be in the position I’m in now,” Sullivan said. “I was chosen for the internship because of my strong problem-solving and mathematical skills. Moreover, my ability to communicate effectively about actuarial models to non-actuaries, such as industrial professionals and clients.”

Dustin Holmes, a mathematics major with a computational emphasis, has passed three actuarial exams and received multiple offers – an internship offer from Allianz Life Insurance, the leading provider of annuities and life insurance in North America, and an employment offer from Milliman, one of the world’s largest providers of actuarial and related products.

Dustin Holmes

“I think what set me apart from other candidates is my programming background and passing the actuarial exams. The exams usually take about three months of studying each and have very low pass rates, so being able to pass three while working and going to school set me apart from most students.”

Holmes credited the community at MSUM in preparing him for success.

“I feel the close knit community between Professor Chadraa and the other actuary students has been the biggest help to preparing for this opportunity. Several of us have formed study groups around test times and everyone is very encouraging when it is easy to become overwhelmed,” Holmes said. “I feel very fortunate that I attend a school that has a professor that is as involved as Professor Chadraa.”

Additional student successes:

  • Andrew Nelson, math major with actuarial emphasis, secured an internship position at BMS Group. He will be working as a catastrophe modeler. BMS is a specialist insurance group built around teams of experts in the fields of Wholesale, Reinsurance, Direct Insurance and Underwriting. The company is headquartered in the City of London, the financial district in the heart of London, UK, and has offices in Australia, Bermuda and throughout North America.
  • Wesley Teo, a physics graduate who came back to get his actuarial emphasis, successfully passed Exam 1 (Probability).

To learn more about MSUM’s program, visit www.mnstate.edu/math.


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