Study Actuarial Science in Malaysia

Be a mathematical hero with an actuarial science degree, and have one of the most in-demand jobs in Malaysia
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Actuarial science

If you are great at mathematics, and enjoy calculating probabilities and statistics, actuarial science would be a good major for you. But what is actuarial science, actually? With the word 'science' in it, you might think it is similar to the field of applied and pure sciences, but they are actually very different. Let's briefly cover them below.

What is actuarial science?

According to the Actuarial Society of Malaysia, actuarial science is the "study and application of financial concepts associated mainly with demography (i.e. analysis of population mortality, life expectancy etc.) to real world problems". Those in actuarial science are called actuaries, and they calculate risks. It is through the actuary's analysis that companies know how to price their products. For example, your insurance plan is calculated by an actuary.

Actuarial science is therefore, related to business and finance. It is not like applied and pure sciences, where students study the laws of nature, and go into fields such as zoology, biochemistry and astronomy. If these are jobs that you are more interested in, you might want to check out our Applied and Pure Sciences guide instead.

But, wait! If actuarial science involves calculation and financial matters, what makes it different from accounting or finance courses? Generally, actuaries predict hypothetical situations (such as accidents), and calculate the costs involved in such situations. Accountants however, don't make predictions. They deal with financial matters that are known and have already happened. The table below will give you an idea about differences in other aspects:

Aspect

Actuary

Accountant/Financial Analyst

Job scope

Collect and calculate data

Evaluate investment options

Recommend policies

Assess client's financial strength

Monitor trends and stocks

Manage client's money

Industry

Mainly work in Insurance, Mortgage, Pension

Broad field of work, including Banks, Retail businesses, Government agencies

Average estimated income

RM 4,500 per month

RM4,200 per month

Top 8 notable universities that offer actuarial science degrees in Malaysia

Where are the best places to pursue actuarial studies? These 8 institutions have been categorised either as Very Good, Excellent or Outstanding (the 3 highest ratings) in the latest SETARA-2017 rankings by the Malaysian ministry of education. They are rated in terms teaching and learning quality, research capacity, services and income - so you can be sure these institutions are the best of the best in Malaysia:

  • INTI International University
  • UCSI University
  • Taylor's University
  • Asia Pacific University of Technology & Innovation
  • Sunway University
  • Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman
  • Universiti Malaya
  • Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia

INTI International University

INTI International University

Actuarial Science degree (AUP)

Duration: 4 years

Intakes: January, May, August

Estimated fees: RM 38,800 (for study at INTI campus)

INTI offers Actuarial Science as an American University Program (AUP). This means that students study part of the programme in Malaysia, and then complete their studies at a university in the USA. American universities that students can go to include Drake University and Purdue University, among many others. This type of programme helps students to save costs, and also get international exposure at the same time.

UCSI University

UCSI University

BSc (Hons) Actuarial Science

Duration: 3 years

Intakes: January, May, September

Estimated fees: RM 59,480

UCSI University is recognised by various professional bodies, such as the Society of Actuaries, USA and the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries, UK. In addition to academic knowledge, the university focuses on equipping students with leadership and communication skills, so that they are prepared for the working world.

Taylor's University

Taylor's University

BSc (Hons) Actuarial Studies

Duration: 3 - 4 years

Intakes: March, August

Estimated fees: RM 83,400 - 90,240 depending on duration

Taylor's University ensures students gain practical experience in their studies through short and/or long industrial training programmes at top institutions, such as Maybank, Deloitte and PwC. Some of the programme's core subjects include advanced calculus, enterprise risk management and financial economics.

Asia Pacific University of Technology & Innovation

APU

BSc (Hons) in Actuarial Studies

Duration: 3 years

Intakes: February, April, September

Estimated fees: RM 74,800

The Asia Pacific University of Technology & Innovation (APU) syllabus for actuarial science is very exam-driven, so that students can be confident in their abilities and knowledge when they sit for professional exams during and after their undergraduate studies. Students are also trained in their critical thinking skills and to be effective problem-solvers.

Sunway University

Sunway University

BSc (Hons) in Actuarial Studies

Duration: 3 years

Intakes: January, March, August

Estimated fees: RM 68,300

Sunway University is unique because its programme is not only recognised by actuary bodies, but also by The Malaysian Insurance Institute. This is a big bonus for students who wish to earn a professional insurance qualification and join the Associateship of the Malaysian Insurance Institute (AMII), because they will be exempted from 11 out of 14 AMII modules!

Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman

UTAR

BSc (Hons) in Actuarial Science

Duration: 3 years

Intakes: January, May, October

Estimated fees: RM 40,100

At Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman (UTAR), students get the chance to use the latest industry software, giving them an edge in their learning process. Another highlight is that they have plenty of opportunities to develop themselves through the workshops and seminars that the university arranges for them throughout the year.

Universiti Malaya

UM

Bachelor of Actuarial Science

Duration: 4 years

Intakes: February, September

Estimated fees: RM 9,310

Universiti Malaya (UM) is one of the world's top ranking institutions for the subject of Mathematics, according to QS World University Rankings 2018. Besides its high academic reputation, UM also emphasises managerial and entrepreneurial skills to keep students well rounded in the field. Keep in mind however, that entry to a public university like UM will depend on whether you get selected through the Unit Pengambilan Universiti (UPU) system.

Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia

UKM

BSc (Hons) in Actuarial Studies

Duration: 4 years

Intakes: January, August

Estimated fees: RM 4,800

Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) offers this programme under its faculty of science and technology. Examples of courses that students will learn are financial mathematics, investment analysis and Islamic insurance. Like Universiti Malaya, UKM has low tuition fees and great academic ranking. However, getting a spot there is not easy as you'll need to go through the UPU process.

These 8 are only a few among many other universities that Malaysia is home to. If you want to check out other study options that this country has to offer, check out our Top universities & colleges in Malaysia guide page.

What are the entry requirements?

Usually, the entry requirements for a Bachelor's degree in Actuarial Science are:

  • SPM or O Levels - pass with minimum of 5 credits, and
  • Related Foundation or Diploma - pass with a minimum CGPA of 2.00, or
  • STPM or A Levels - minimum of 2 principal passes, or
  • Any other qualifications that are deemed equivalent by the university

The requirements you need to meet will vary from university to university, so it is important to do extra research on the institutions you want to study at. You can find this information on EasyUni, and even compare courses from different universities.

What to expect when studying actuarial science?

Actuarial science is field that requires a lot of calculations and analysis, as well as a good understanding of Mathematics and statistics. The below are just a few examples of topics you will most likely learn in a Bachelor's degree programme:

  • Calculus
  • Probability models
  • Risk theory
  • Insurance practices
  • Programming
  • Corporate finance

In addition to core subjects, you may also have to complete elective subjects. At the end of your programme, you will most likely have to do a project in actuarial studies as well. Additionally, some universities require you to do internships as part of your studies. Internships are good opportunities for you to gain practical experience in the field, so you may want to look out for university programmes that offer those.

What are the career options for fresh grads?

According to the 2017/2018 Critical Occupations List, actuaries are highly sought-after among employers. One of the reasons actuaries are so in-demand is because there are not many fully qualified actuaries in Malaysia. To be qualified, students have to sit for a series of professional papers, which can be a long and tough process.

The great news is that those who complete these exams have higher chances of being employed and enjoying bigger salaries. Entry-level actuaries earn a monthly income of around RM 3,600 based on PayScale data. The below are some examples of jobs available in this field:

  • Valuation Actuary
  • Financial Risk Analyst
  • Pension Actuarial Analyst
  • Insurance Underwriter
  • Statistician

How to pursue studies in this field?

Finishing your SPM or O Level exams is the first step. For those wondering how to continue from this point, we've put together a simple 5-step guide for you to follow. It should also give you an idea of how your journey to becoming an actuary will look like:

  • Step 1 - Pass SPM. Study hard to get good grades in Mathematics and Additional Mathematics!
  • Step 2 - Study a pre-university programme, such as A-Levels or STPM. You could also go for a relevant Foundation or Diploma programme
  • Step 3 - Study and complete a Bachelor's degree in Actuarial Studies
  • Step 4 - Pass professional exams to be a qualified actuary. You can take these exams from actuarial institutions such as the Society of Actuaries (SOA), Casualty Actuarial Society (CAS), Institute and Faculty of Actuaries (IFoA) and Actuaries Institute. You may also need to fulfil practical experience requirements and attend courses
  • Step 5 - Work or pursue postgraduate education to deepen your understanding of the field. Pursuing a Master's degree or PhD will open up more opportunities for you, especially if you want to teach or become a researcher.

These 5 steps look easy on paper, but to become an actuary takes a lot of studying and patience. Your journey does not end with getting a Bachelor's degree, but after you pass professional exams, which could go on for 3 to 7 years. So be prepared for a long ride when you take up this programme. Keep yourself motivated with your passion and the prospect of great employment opportunities. EasyUni wishes you all the best!

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