Majors, minors & more
College of Arts and Sciences
- Offered as:
- Specialization track in Mathematics
Actuarial sciences, an option within the mathematics major, focuses on the study of research, planning, forecasting, and decision making methods for insurance, pension, and retirement programs. Actuaries develop mathematical models that evaluate the current financial implications of future events.
- Strengths of the program
- You can join a math, science, and engineering community residence hall at WSU Pullman—share classes with your neighbors, study together, get free tutoring, and use the hall's computer lab.
- WSU's internship program places students at Boeing Corporation, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, and other national labs and companies.
- The Owen Science and Engineering Library subscribes to more than 200 math journals, and there are 15,000 volumes in the math section of the library.
- Use the department's research-computing stations to assist faculty on research projects ranging from atmospheric science to genetics.
- Gain excellent instruction in analysis/differential equations, computational math, discrete math, mathematical modeling, math education, optimization, probability, and statistics.
- The department maintains strong computing facilities that are readily available to students.
- FREE tutor-assisted study halls are available at times most convenient for students. Check the Department of Mathematics study hall page at the beginning of each semester for locations and times.
- Featured courses
Here's a quick overview of the featured courses in the math program's actuarial science option.
For complete core course requirements and planning guides, see the math department's Mathematics Guide for the Undergraduate (pdf).
Core courses for the major
All math majors take the same set of core courses as a foundation for the degree. A quick overview:
Calculus I & II
Probability and Statistics
Intro to Math Analysis
Here's a quick snapshot of the actuarial sciences specialization.
These courses form the mathematical basis of actuarial science.
Probability and Statistics
Intro to Stochastic Calculus
These electives are recommended because they'll give you useful background information and help prepare you for actuarial exams.
Business and economics
Intro to Financial Accounting
Intro to Managerial Accounting
Fundamentals of Macroeconomics
Fundamentals of Microeconomics
Intro to Financial Management
Risk and Insurance
Special Seminar: Actuarial Exam Prep
NOTE: See the WSU Catalog for degree requirements and talk with your academic advisor about planning and scheduling your courses. All students must meet requirements as outlined in the catalog in order to graduate.
- Scholarships and financial aid
A variety of state, federal, and university-sponsored programs are available to help students with educational costs.
For all students at WSU
Washington State University awards millions of dollars in financial aid and scholarships to students every year based on financial need, academic merit, or a combination of the two.
To get all the financial help WSU can provide, you'll need to start with these two things:
- Complete the University's general scholarship application so you can be eligible for scholarship consideration.
- Complete the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) so WSU can consider you for aid (scholarships, grants, loans, etc.) based on financial need.
More about scholarships and financial aid
For math majors
Endowed scholarship funds are available to math majors through the Department of Mathematics and the College of Arts and Sciences. For more information, please visit the Department of Mathematics scholarship page.
- Campus organizations and activities
WSU offers hundreds of student clubs and organizations. Whatever your interests are, you can find someone here to share them with.
Here are some of the groups and activities that cater to math majors:
- Math Club: A support group for math students that sponsors speakers, films, and other activities
- The Washington State University national math modeling team
- The national Putnam mathematics competition
- Suggested strengths, interests, and preparation
Students planning to major in mathematics at WSU should take four years of mathematics in high school through at least pre-calculus. Most mathematics majors begin with first or second semester calculus (Math 171 or 172).
Good communication skills are essential, as actuaries often must explain complex concepts.
- Careers in actuarial science
Most actuaries are employed by insurance companies. They also perform research planning, forecasting, and decision making for pension and retirement programs.
Professional advancement and income depend on an actuary’s progression through a series of tests. Those who pass six actuarial exams become associates in the Society of Actuaries (SOA). After eight tests and 50 hours of professional development courses, they become Fellows of the SOA.
The actuary field is ranked among the best jobs in the nation in terms of factors such as income, security, and working environment. Job opportunities are growing steadily, and the profession has the advantage of being resistant to recessions.