Excel beyond quantitative skills and become an actuary suited for today’s business culture.

Columbia University’s Master’s Programs in Actuarial Science ground students in the theory and methods used in the field, giving them the preparation to pass actuarial examinations, while building business sense and skills used to thrive in the workplace.

Taught by some of the most respected analytical minds in the country, the curricula span probability and statistics, business and economics, and actuarial models and methods. Allowing for curricular customization and, for a specialized course of study for advanced students, 30 comprehensive electives focus on topics including property/casualty, pensions, life insurance, and health insurance.

The programs offer great flexibility, with options to pursue a degree on Columbia’s campus in New York City, online, or through a combination of both. Any option may be taken on a part-time or full-time basis.

Who Should Apply

Most of our students are from four groups:

  1. Senior undergraduates or recent graduates, often with backgrounds in math (including teachers and tutors), statistics, physics, economics, computer science, accounting, or banking/finance. A few students have a nonscientific background, such as history, literature, or philosophy.

  2. Entry-level actuaries who want to prepare for their examinations within the context of a structured academic program, as well as those interested in analytical industries in fields such as general financial markets or insurance.

  3. Existing actuaries who wish to advance or accelerate their actuarial career.

  4. Career-changers looking to gain an edge as they transition into the actuarial field.

All must possess strong quantitative skills with knowledge of elementary economics, linear algebra, and multivariate calculus.

Upon successful completion, graduates will be prepared to pass the industry examinations required in the field (Society of Actuaries Exams P, FM, MLC, MFE, and C, and Casualty Actuary Society Exams 1–4) and earn Validation by Educational Experience (VEE) credit in economics, corporate finance, and applied statistical methods. The program also prepares students taking the UK exams through the mutual recognition between the U.S. and the UK actuarial organizations.

Professional and Career Development

Going beyond industry exam preparation, Columbia’s Actuarial Science programs have evolved in response to what employers are seeking:

  • real-world application of actuarial science in health insurance, pension, property/casualty insurance, life insurance, investments, and enterprise risk management

  • instruction in industry-standard software and tools

  • elective courses emphasizing communications and presentation skills

Professional development services available to students in both the on-campus and online M.S. programs include:


Twice weekly during both semesters, you can hear industry representatives address a range of topics in actuarial science, including effective networking and job searches. Attend the sessions in-person or via webcast.

Past Presenters Have Included


Aon Hewitt

AXA Equitable



Guardian Life

Hannover Life


Liberty Mutual



New York Life

Oliver Wyman


Prudential Insurance

Société Générale

Society of Actuaries

Towers Watson

Zurich Insurance


Past Topics Have Included

Getting an Actuarial Job

Interview Preparation

Navigating an Actuarial Career

Being a Health Actuary

Being a Pension Actuary

Being a Life Actuary

Being a P&C Actuary

Executive Compensation

Risk Management


Internship Credit

If you are in an actuarial internship while you’re a student, you can receive program credit by enrolling in ACTU K4995. Internship in Actuarial Science.

Résumé Review and Critique

We’ll review your résumé and cover letter as soon as you’re accepted in the program, and recommend changes and updates to align with industry practices. In addition, we’ll add your résumé to the Columbia résumé book, which is circulated to all major employers.

Executive Career Coaching

You’ll work one-on-one with a professional coach who will provide guidance in planning a path to best fit your career and life goals, and gain strategic, tactical support for your job search.

On-Campus Features

The industry’s epicenter Columbia’s location in Manhattan is the geographic center for roughly a quarter of all actuarial positions in the U.S.

Career events Columbia hosts an annual Actuarial Career Day, produced by the Actuarial Society of Greater New York (ASNY), during which students and graduates have the opportunity to meet, network, and interview with practicing actuaries from major insurance organizations and consulting firms. Other events include the Society of Actuaries Career Fair, leadership growth workshops, interview workshops, and networking events with actuaries and alumni.

Online access On-campus students have access to online courses and the option to combine them with their on-campus study to expedite degree completion. However, among those enrolled in the on-campus program, international students studying on an F1 visa may take no more than one course per semester online.

OPT Opportunities Optional Practical Training (OPT) is available for international students.

International students studying on an F-1 visa who have completed or have been pursuing their degrees for more than nine months are permitted by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services to work for, at most, one year on a student visa towards getting practical training to complement their field of studies. If you wish to qualify for this Optional Practical Training (OPT), you must enroll full-time for two consecutive semesters on campus at Columbia. If your intent is to become eligible for OPT standing, the first 24 points taken online do not count toward OPT eligibility. However, if you migrate from the online to on-campus program, you will qualify for OPT if, upon completing your online coursework, you enroll full-time for two consecutive semesters on-campus at Columbia. To do this, you would be required to add 12 points of related coursework in Actuarial Science to the 36-point core program. This option would qualify you for OPT but also increase the overall cost of the program.

Online Features

Flexibility Pursue your degree without leaving home.

An interactive experience Live lecture sessions are delivered through Adobe Connect, a sophisticated web-conferencing tool that allows participants to connect through video and audio. The platform is rich with features that foster an in-person classroom experience, with Q&A, simulations, and tests. Online students also have private, one-on-one access to Faculty, Program Administrators, and Advisors, via Adobe Connect or Skype.

A social environment Between live sessions, students access course readings, videos, and problem sets, and communicate with one another through a networked learning platform. Most courses are designed with highly social elements, including collaborative problem-solving activities, discussion forums, blog activities, team projects, and simulations.

Revisit live sessions All live sessions are recorded to review at your convenience. (As with traditional on-campus classes, attending online classes is mandatory and a critical component of the learning experience.)


Additional program option in Actuarial Science

Online Certification of Professional Achievement in Actuarial Science

In as few as two semesters, build and expand your knowledge of actuarial science and provide a foundation to successfully enter the field.

Learn More >


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