Actuarial Science

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Successful PhD applicants typically have a bachelor's degree in actuarial science and a master's in statistics or a master's in mathematics with strong evidence of interest in actuarial science.

A student with only a bachelor's degree usually cannot be admitted to our PhD program, but rather must first enter the master's program, either first completing the master's or applying for transfer to the doctorate program after one year.

If you do not have a bachelor's or master's degree in actuarial science or statistics, and have only had a few courses in statistics or actuarial science, your application to the PhD program will not be successful.

For admission to the PhD program, the admissions committee requires the following, in addition to the requirements for admission to the master's program.

  • A course in life contingencies
  • A course in mathematical statistics
  • Courses in rigorous mathematics (advanced linear algebra, advanced calculus, differential equations, analysis, etc.)
  • At least three courses in theoretical or applied statistics and/or probability at the graduate level.

The following background will be highly preferred:

  • Courses in real analysis, and possibly measure theory, advanced probability (limit theorems, sigma fields)
  • A broad range of courses in statistical methods (statistical computing, Bayesian statistics, generalized linear models, time series, multivariate statistics)
  • Undergraduate or graduate computer science courses
  • Research or work experience relevant to actuarial science or statistics
  • Solid programming experience (e.g., C, C++, Fortran, Python, R, SAS, Matlab)
  • Rohana Ambagaspitiya: Renewal risk processes, statistics, probability theory and stochastic processes
  • Alexandru Badescu: Mathematical finance, actuarial science
  • Jinniao Qiu: Actuarial science, analysis and partial differential equations, stochastic calculus; mathematical finance, portfolio optimization; stochastic optimal control, etc.
  • David Scollnik: Actuarial science, Bayesian statistics and computation, Markov chain Monte Carlo and related simulation methods, mathematical finance

The course requirements for a doctorate are determined on an individual basis and must include eight half courses in the student’s combined master's and doctorate program in addition to actuarial science 600 seminar course which must be taken in the first or second year of the program.

Performance level:

The student should maintain a minimum cumulative Grade Point Average (GPA) of 3.00 (calculated on a four-point scale) at the end of each registration year and attain at least a B- on each course taken for credit.

Course selection:

  • ACSC 600 Research Seminar (this course is not one of the eight required courses).
  • STAT 721
  • At least one additional course from List C
  • At least two courses from List D
  1. List C courses

    STAT 701 Theory of Probability I 
    STAT 721 Statistical Inference 
    STAT 631 Computational Statistics 
    STAT 635 Generalized Linear Models 
    STAT 641 Statistical Learning

  2. List D courses

    ACSC 611 Generalized Linear Models for Actuaries 
    ACSC 617 Estimating Unpaid Claims in General Insurance 
    ACSC 619 Quantitative Financial Risk Management 
    ACSC 627 Advanced Life Contingencies 
    ACSC 637 Credibility Theory 
    ACSC 639 Conference Course in Actuarial Modelling

Our doctorate program is a full-time degree with an expected completion time of four years. The maximum time allowed is six years.

  • Supervisors will decide with their students on what courses the students have to take, and what preliminary exams the students have to write. 
  • A supervisory committee must be established within three months of the program starting. The supervisory committee includes a supervisor (and a co-supervisor if there is one) and two supervisory committee members.
  • The supervisory committee should meet with the student regularly to provide guidance through the program.

Written preliminary exams

Actuarial science PhD students must pass two written preliminary examinations on material for two courses from List C or D usually during first year but no later than eighteen months from the beginning of their doctoral programs.

Written candidacy proposal and oral candidacy exam

  • Program course work and examination requirements completed (prior to candidacy oral examination)
  • Written proposal submitted to supervisory committee (recommended six months, minimum four months in advance of expected oral examination date)
  • Reading list approved by the graduate program director (at least three months prior to scheduling oral examination)
  • Written research proposal approved (at least two months prior to scheduling oral examination)
  • The oral candidacy examination must be taken no later than 28 months from the start of the doctoral program. Prior to the oral examination, the student must have completed all the course work and the written preliminary examinations
  • The oral candidacy exam must be scheduled at least four weeks before the intended date.
  • The exam committee contains a supervisor, a co-supervisor (if applicable), supervisory committee members (usually two), and two examiners (outside of student’s program, within the department or within the university)

More information can be found under the following links:

Faculty of Graduate Studies candidacy regulations

Departmental guidelines for candidacy examinations

Thesis and thesis oral examination

The student must complete a thesis on a topic to be agreed to by the student and their supervisor.

  • After completion of the thesis, the student must pass a thesis oral examination
  • A thesis oral exam committee contains a supervisor, a co-supervisor (if applicable), supervisory committee members (usually two), an examiner (outside of student’s program, within the department or within the university) and an external examiner (from outside of the university)
  • The external examiner must be applied for approval from Faculty of Graduate Studies six weeks prior the intended examination date
  • The exam must be scheduled at least four weeks prior to date of oral exam
  • Examiners must have a copy of the thesis at least three weeks prior to the date of oral exam
  • Final thesis oral examinations are open

More information can be found on the Faculty of Graduate Studies website under examinations.