You know what you want from your education, and you go for it. That’s the reason you want to major in actuarial science, because it offers you the most specialized education to prepare for the actuary career path, not to mention the daunting challenge of attaining professional certification. You can streamline this process even further if you choose one of the fastest schools for a degree in actuarial science. These colleges and universities give you the opportunity to learn what you need to know in record time and get started in your career sooner.
Why a Quick Education Matters for Actuaries
For actuaries, the extra time you gain by earning your degree faster is especially valuable, because your studying doesn’t end when you graduate. Working toward certification can take as long as a decade and can make you put on hold other important events in your life, such as buying your dream home or starting a family. Studying in one of the fastest college programs in actuarial science can help you reclaim some of your valuable time. Of course, earning your degree quickly can also save you money by reducing how much you spend on tuition and allow you to start earning an entry-level actuary salary faster.
Passing just the tests needed to achieve associate-level certification as an actuary takes between four and seven years, and most actuaries take two to three additional years to reach fellowship-level certification, the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics reported.
Three-Year Bachelor’s Degree Options in Actuarial Science
Traditional bachelor’s degrees require students to earn at least 120 college credits, or the equivalent of four years of full-time study during the fall and spring semesters. Actuarial science programs are no different, but there are some schools that make it possible to complete the courses to earn these 120 credits in fewer than four years.
Rider University in New Jersey is one such school. The selective private university offers both four-year and three-year plans of studies in its actuarial science degree program. – The actuarial mathematics degree program at Hartwick College in Oneonta, New York, is also a three-year bachelor’s degree program.
How do schools like Rider University and Hartwick College shave an entire year off of the time it takes to graduate? These colleges don’t shortchange you on your education. Instead, they shorten the time it takes to get your degree by counting alternate forms of education, like AP credits, toward your degree and by implementing an accelerated full-year schedule. Students who choose the three-year program at Rider University have a very full workload. They may take up to 20 credits, or six courses, during the fall and spring semesters. They also work during traditional break times, taking a couple of courses during each summer as well as a class during the short winter session in between fall and spring semesters. Hartwick College students, too, take classes during the January semester, though summer courses are not required.
If you care more about getting the most out of your time in school, not just shortening it, Saint Vincent College’s 3-2 program awards a bachelor’s degree in mathematics and a bachelor’s degree in actuarial science from partner school Robert Morris University.
One-Year Options for Career-Changers
Although you realize now that you want to be an actuary, you might not have known about the career path when you first started school. Graduate school isn’t the only option for students who already have a bachelor’s degree in another field but want to switch careers to the actuary profession. Some schools, such as Florida State University, offer undergraduate study options that can be completed much more quickly than a master’s degree. The second bachelor’s degree option at Florida State University is open to students who previously majored in mathematics but are lacking the specialized actuarial science coursework that will prepare them for certification exams. Students who choose this path can graduate with their Bachelor of Science in Actuarial Science degree in as little as one year.
Students who didn’t major in math or don’t meet other prerequisites can still apply their college credits and coursework toward a second bachelor’s degree, but they may need to take more than 30 hours of coursework and spend over a year finishing the program.
Accelerated Graduate Education for Actuaries
Though a master’s degree is not necessary to be an actuary, many actuaries enjoy the challenge of learning. After all, they aren’t deterred by the notion of spending years studying independently for professional certification exams, so it is no surprise that some actuaries want a master’s degree for their own personal and professional development reasons. If you would like to go to graduate school but you don’t want to waste valuable time out of your career, an accelerated dual-degree master’s program might be the right choice for you. These programs typically take five years to complete but award both a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree, cutting a full year from the time it would normally take to earn these two degrees separately. You can find these 4+1 programs at institutions such as Roosevelt University in Chicago and the Fox School of Business at Temple University in Philadelphia.
Five-year dual-degree master’s programs often work by allowing students to take graduate-level courses during their senior undergraduate year of school and count those credits toward both their bachelor’s and master’s degrees.