Penn State’s actuarial science major was founded in 1973 by Dr. Arnold Shapiro in the Department of Mathematics. By 1990, the degree had expanded to have an actuarial science major within the Insurance Department of the College of Business Administration (today, this is the Risk Department in the Smeal College of Business). The two majors had over 90 juniors and seniors between them!
Early on, a great deal of emphasis in the actuarial courses was placed on communication, stressing particularly the conceptualization of mathematical and statistical concepts. This excellence in teaching continued through the turn of the millennium, and Penn State was rewarded with the distinction of a “Center of Actuarial Excellence” in 2011, becoming just the 21st school to receive such a designation. The distinction officially recognizes actuarial science programs for their degree curriculum, graduate count and quality, faculty composition, appropriate integration of courses, connection to industry, and research and scholarship.