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why go to grad school?

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  • why go to grad school?

    Hello,
    I am graduating from Cal this year with a degree in economics. I have recently decided to become an actuary, and I would like to hear reasons why people have chosen to go to get a master's in actuarial science rather than finding a job and then studying for the exams.
    DS

    Also, if a person is "very good" at math and statistics is there more reason to lean one way versus the other?

  • #2
    Why not? That's my answer. With that being said however, you can still acquire a job without a graduate degree. As a "sub" Associate (with 6 exam credits, no APC) I can tell you that if you have the talent to pass exam P and FM you can self study the higher level mathematics and statistics found in the next 4 exams. A graduate degree in statistics or actuarical math will lessen the amount of self studying/learning you will need to do.

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    • #3
      I'm interested in becoming an actuary because I want a strong career and don't like school. Going to grad school would be like the worst decision ever.
      Whether you are the lion or the gazelle, when the sun comes up, you better be running.

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      • #4
        I am with Ken on that one.

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        • #5
          managuense's response doesn't make much sense to me. Why would you go to grad school? It doesn't improve your chances of finding a job and the time you spend in grad school could be spent on the job, where they pay you to study and take exams. I actually love school and considered grad school briefly, but I couldn't justify it. I figured I could stay in school, pay more for graduate level courses and pass a few exams; or I could go to work, get paid, get experience, and still pass a few exams in the same amount of time. I decided to go to work, and I'm glad I did. I've learned more about "real-world" actuarial science from my coworkers and the projects I've worked on than I would have ever learned in school.

          PS. I work with an FSA that has a PhD in Mathematics and he gets no more consideration or respect than the 26yr old FSA that I work with also.

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          • #6
            I went to grad school for an act sci degree. It was always my desire to get a masters degree, so that was part of my entire education plan. Trojan is right, you don't get more consideration (or more money) just because of the advanced degree. However, here's what I did get in addition to the extra sheepskin:
            • Contact with other actuarial students (my undergrad degree was someplace with no program)
            • A chance to take the business classes that were not offered as part of my undergraduate program
            • Access to actuarial firm on-campus visits
            • Formal education in subjects that lead directly to actuarial exams (back then, we had 10 or so exams to become an ASA (Pre-1995 days).
            • A much better football team than I had before


            In the end I'm still glad I did it. Would I recommend it? Depends on what your long-term goals are. It can give you an edge that you didn't have before, or it can put you back. If you're clever, you can fashion your undergraduate degree to give you all the tools you would need to pass exams and learn the business tools you will need later on.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Trojan_Horse
              managuense's response doesn't make much sense to me. Why would you go to grad school? It doesn't improve your chances of finding a job and the time you spend in grad school could be spent on the job, where they pay you to study and take exams. I actually love school and considered grad school briefly, but I couldn't justify it. I figured I could stay in school, pay more for graduate level courses and pass a few exams; or I could go to work, get paid, get experience, and still pass a few exams in the same amount of time. I decided to go to work, and I'm glad I did. I've learned more about "real-world" actuarial science from my coworkers and the projects I've worked on than I would have ever learned in school.

              PS. I work with an FSA that has a PhD in Mathematics and he gets no more consideration or respect than the 26yr old FSA that I work with also.
              What don't you get?

              Someone without a mathematical or statistical background is at a great disadvantage in passing exams. Being "good at math" doesn't cut it, in this industry that's just shooting par. These days two exams on a resume means zilch. Recent graduates with no exams are still looking at one to two years minimum to even be considered.

              I really find the devaluation of a graduate degree on this board disgusting. What's with this trend? ''''' it, why did I even go to a four year school?
              I should have just gone to a two year auto body program, at least then I could fix the dings on my car.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by managuense
                What don't you get?

                Someone without a mathematical or statistical background is at a great disadvantage in passing exams. Being "good at math" doesn't cut it, in this industry that's just shooting par. These days two exams on a resume means zilch. Recent graduates with no exams are still looking at one to two years minimum to even be considered.

                I really find the devaluation of a graduate degree on this board disgusting. What's with this trend? ''''' it, why did I even go to a four year school?
                I should have just gone to a two year auto body program, at least then I could fix the dings on my car.
                Someone in economics has a good understanding of the market and of the financial sector that actuaries should be concerned with, or at least, that's what the SOA's Image Campaign would have us believe. I would say that having an economics degree (like the original poster has) is a very good start.

                For many higher level positions, it's almost essential to have a graduate degree. I've noticed that statisticians generally require a master's/Ph.D degree as a requirement.

                You don't need a graduate degree in order to work in an actuarial position. In fact, I'd say you'd be getting farther and farther away from the business aspect as you delve further into a graduate actuarial program.

                Only way to know if you can pass exams is to actually take them. You don't actually have to major in math or actuarial science in order to take these exams. I know at least two people who have progressed through the exams with peculiar situations - one was an English major, who is currently an ASA and just sat for 8M, and one just graduated high school this past May, but got a 10 on Exam M in Spring 2005 and finished Courses 1 & 2 while in high school.

                So does a graduate degree help one get a job or progress further in the profession? Maybe, but in ways that FSA described in his post earlier. You could have gotten an associate's degree in auto mechanics - as long as you can understand life contingencies and loss models, you'll be fine. Except I think most employers require a 4-year degree for an actuarial position.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by managuense
                  These days two exams on a resume means zilch. Recent graduates with no exams are still looking at one to two years minimum to even be considered.
                  Tell me a job where it's easy to get in the door. Two exams is a pretty big step unless you're not in the US. The obvious solution to this problem is passing more exams.


                  Originally posted by managuense
                  I really find the devaluation of a graduate degree on this board disgusting. What's with this trend? ''''' it, why did I even go to a four year school?
                  I should have just gone to a two year auto body program, at least then I could fix the dings on my car.
                  We aren't saying that a graduate degree is worthless. We're saying there's very little salary increase because of a graduate degree. If you're looking at getting a grad degree because you want a higher future salary, you'll find that you're wasting your time. However, a lot of these jobs do require that you have a bachelors degree even if it's in an unrelated field such as Linguistics.
                  Whether you are the lion or the gazelle, when the sun comes up, you better be running.

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                  • #10
                    X = random variable for salary as an actuary
                    A = bachelor's degree
                    B = graduate degree

                    E(X|A')=0
                    E(X|A&B')=c
                    E(X|A&B)=c+.001

                    ::hides::

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                    • #11
                      what about someone who doesn't have an undergraduate degree in math/econ/finance/etc??

                      if said person could pass only Exam 1/P from prior mathematical knowledge and studying, do you think grad school is a good idea?

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                      • #12
                        As I recent college graduate I am also considering whether to go to graduate school for an actuarial science degree. Will going to graduate school fulfill the VEE requirements? Or are those courses that you can just apply outside of a degree program? Are how many tests do most of these actuarial programs help you prepare for? I recently passed Exam P and am wondering like many others what I should do now.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Sunless View Post
                          As I recent college graduate I am also considering whether to go to graduate school for an actuarial science degree. Will going to graduate school fulfill the VEE requirements? Or are those courses that you can just apply outside of a degree program? Are how many tests do most of these actuarial programs help you prepare for? I recently passed Exam P and am wondering like many others what I should do now.
                          Going to grad school to fulfill VEE requirements is like squishing a grape with a bulldozer.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Kenneth View Post
                            Going to grad school to fulfill VEE requirements is like squishing a grape with a bulldozer.
                            nicely said :laugh:

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                            • #15
                              So all I've been reading from this forum is that grad school is useless. The reason I ask is because I did not major in an area close to actuarial science and have take only very basic classes in stats/prob and econ, so I am wondering if graduate school would give me more background in more advanced classes like finance etc (or do you people think I could learn that stuff by myself?). I also don't have any internship experience in this field so I'm wondering if grad school would help me get that footing for getting into the profession. I would greatly appreciate some advice so to which path I should take, thanks.

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