Diversity Initiative

Motivation

Actuaries are business professionals who identify risks, and then quantify the financial consequences associated with a decision.  It is a challenging and financially rewarding STEM career option for quantitatively talented individuals. However, only about 2% of credentialed actuaries are Black, and approximately 2% are Latino. These groups are substantially underrepresented in the actuarial profession versus their representation in the general US population. According to the 2020 Census, Blacks account for 12.4% of all people living in the US, and Latinos account for 18.7%. Commonly encountered barriers that Blacks and Latinos are more likely to face than other more represented groups in the actuarial profession include:

  • Little to no awareness of the profession

  • Preference to other STEM careers such as data science

  • Insufficient support to take and pass actuarial exams

  • Difficulties in obtaining actuarial employment due to not having passed a minimum number of actuarial exams, or the lack of an “insider” advantage due to not being a student in an actuarial program

Goals and Benefits of Participation in the Initiative

The UW-Madison actuarial program is looking to partner with schools that have large populations of Black and Latino students to enroll interested and qualified students in our actuarial courses virtually. These include, but are not limited to, Historically Black Colleges and Universities and Hispanic Serving Institutions. 

We want to help ultimately increase representation of Black and Latino individuals within the actuarial profession by raising awareness of actuarial science as a viable STEM career option for these groups and providing interested and qualified individuals with the necessary support to pursue an actuarial career.

What we are offering is the following:

 

1. Classes offered by the UW-Madison actuarial science program will be made available and recorded on the student’s home official transcript:​​​​

a. A detailed listing of available courses, with noted course pre-requisites, is available here.

b. We will update the list when the course offerings at UW-Madison change.

 

2. Students registering for UW-Madison actuarial courses will be assessed a tuition rate equivalent to that of an in-state resident:

a. Dr. Paul Johnson (paul.johnson@wisc.edu) serves as the point of initial contact to register for courses.

b. Students will register as visiting special students at UW-Madison.

c. Students will be given a scholarship to reduce out-of-state tuition to in-state tuition.

 

3. Students have access to resources that prepare them to enter the actuarial career:

a. Be advised as to when to take classes and when to sit for professional exams.

b. Learn how to navigate the interview process.

c. Connect with support organizations (International Association of Black Actuaries & Organization of Latino Actuaries).

d. Virtually attend actuarial club meetings to hear employer presentations about facets of an actuarial career, and to network with potential employers and fellow students.

 

4. Other support:

a. Dr. Paul Johnson facilitates the student experience.

b. Faculty in the actuarial program provide added course support and advising.

c. Students in the actuarial program support with tutoring, advising, and networking.

UW-Madison Actuarial Courses

Here is a document describing current UW-Madison actuarial course offerings.

Two UW-Madison online actuarial courses that might be of particular interest are described below: Act Sci 300 and Act Sci 365.  Feel free to distribute this information to potentially interested and qualified individuals:

Act Sci 300: Actuarial Science Methods I

The University of Wisconsin-Madison actuarial science program's ACT SCI 300: Actuarial Science Methods I is a one-credit, structured virtual class to support you in passing CAS/SOA Exam 1/P.  This course reviews your probability material by taking a sequential approach of completing warm-up, core, and advanced problems on various topics.  Practice questions are like those as tested on the professional exam.

If you have already earned a grade of at least a B in a calculus-based probability course, consider taking Act Sci 300.  This course is offered every spring, summer, and fall at UW-Madison.

Please contact Dr. Paul Johnson at paul.johnson@wisc.edu with any questions about this course or a career as an actuary.

Act Sci 365: Foundations of Actuarial Applications (a.k.a. Act Sci 101)

This is a new three-credit course, offered in an asynchronous, virtual format, for students interested in a career as an actuary. The only course pre-requisite is completing the first semester of calculus.

Course Learning Outcomes:

 

  1. Analyze logarithmic and exponential functions, probability and simulation that are used in actuarial practice.

  2. Evaluate facets of various actuarial practice, whether in property/casualty, life, health, or benefits.

  3. Develop critical thinking skills in solving real-world problems.

  4. Examine actuarial career pathways through video interviews of practicing actuaries.

  5. Demonstrate effective oral and written communication skills needed by actuaries.

 

Please contact Dr. Paul Johnson at paul.johnson@wisc.edu with any questions about this course or a career as an actuary.

Acknowledgement

We acknowledge the founding members of the diversity initiative that helped us start this initiative, including providing financial support:

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We acknowledge these organizations for endorsing the diversity initiative:

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How Can I Support This Initiative?

The diversity initiative is still in its infancy.  We greatly appreciate additional financial support to build and sustain relationships with schools that have high populations of underrepresented groups in the actuarial profession, such as Historically Black Colleges and Universities and Hispanic Serving Institutions, as well as financial support for additional sections of UW-Madison actuarial course sections and time allocated toward advising and mentoring students in the initiative.  We also welcome meeting with faculty in math departments or business schools at other institutions regarding a partnership with the UW-Madison actuarial program, as well as with alumni of Historically Black Colleges and Universities and Hispanic Serving Institutions.

If you are interested, please contact Dr. Paul Johnson at paul.johnson@wisc.edu.  Thank you!