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PhD in Actuarial Studies

A PhD in Actuarial Studies from the Australian National University equips graduates with the skills necessary to undertake independent research and develop knowledge and expertise in a specialised research topic with the field of actuarial studies.

Career options

The Actuarial PhD program at ANU is focused on developing students for a career within academia, government, or industry. Positions in government or industry may include:

  • Researcher or Analyst within the banking, insurance, data analytics, actuarial and management consulting, or financial sectors.
  • Researcher or Policy advisor at institutions including central banks, bank regulators, supranational organisations such as the World Bank, IMF, or OECD, and within government departments such as Treasury, Finance, Health, and Education.

CRICOS #: 048345A

Duration: 2 to 4 years full time (4 to 8 years part time)

Before you Apply

Before you Apply

Find out what you need to do in order to apply for this program.

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Refer to the admission requirements to determine if you meet the minimum qualification requirement for admission.

Identify one or two actuarial studies or statistics academics at ANU as potential supervisors whose research interests are close to your own (useful links:  ANU Researchers Database, RSFAS Actuarial Studies Faculty, RSFAS Statistics Faculty). Note that even though other ANU websites may recommend that you contact potential supervisors before submitting your application, contacting the researchers directly is not required or encouraged for applications with RSFAS – you may list the names of potential supervisors on your application form without contacting them first. Note, potential supervisors cannot guarantee or approve your admission into the PhD program: admission will depend on the strength of your application relative to other applicants in the pool.

Once you have identified one or more researchers you may like to work with, and determined that you meet the admission requirements, please proceed with an online application.

Application Deadlines

The first semester of the ANU academic year starts in February, and the second semester starts in July. All applications for entry in semester one of the following year must be submitted before 31 October. In addition, international applicants who wish to be considered for an ANU scholarship should submit their application before 31 August.

In order for an application to be considered, all supporting documents should be received by the ANU before the respective application deadlines.

Note: If an applicant is currently completing an honours or masters degree, and final transcripts and results are not available before the application submission deadline, you should submit all available documents prior to the deadline, and you will be asked to submit the remaining results before a final decision on admission is made.

Admission Requirements

Admission Requirements

The admission requirements for the Actuarial Studies PhD program reflect the advanced knowledge required and research experience and skills needed to successfully undertake and complete the research thesis.

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The minimum qualification requirement for admission to the program for a Doctor of Philosophy in Actuarial Studies is:

a) An Australian bachelor degree (or equivalent) with first class honours or upper second class honours in actuarial studies (or a related discipline); or

b) another qualification (e.g. a masters degree) with a substantial research thesis component, that the RSFAS HDR committee is satisfied is equivalent or superior to a degree in (a); or

c) a combination of qualifications and professional experience that the RSFAS HDR committee is satisfied is equivalent or superior to a degree in (a).

Please note that there are other admission criteria that students must also satisfy. Admission is highly competitive and only a limited number of students are admitted each year. Meeting the minimum entry requirements is necessary for consideration but does not guarantee a place within the program.

Supporting Documentation

In addition to the standard information required in the online application, the following supporting documents are also required and will need to be provided as part of your application:

  • A one-page statement of purpose outlining your motivation to undertake a PhD in Actuarial Studies at ANU.
  • Copies of written research work: e.g. honours/masters theses, research project, or published works.

The online application also requires submission of a research proposal (3-4 pages, including a list of key references) that outlines your proposed area of research, the questions that you are planning to address, and the major research methods you intend to use as part of your PhD thesis.

The online application also requires submission of a research proposal. The proposal should set out a topic of research that is suitable for PhD studies. You should provide an introduction or background to your research idea, clearly set out the research objectives, data and research methods you expect to use, and explain why your research is important and the contribution it will make to knowledge. Among other things, this will require you to demonstrate an understanding of the key literature in your chosen topic area. As a guide you should aim for between 1500 to 2000 words, including a list of key references. 

The research proposal is used by the RSFAS HDR committee as an indicator to assess the quality and originality of your ideas, your skills in critical thinking, and how your research interests fit within the School’s current research focus and supervision capacity.

Applicants who do not have sufficient research experience for entry into the PhD program may consider applying to the MPhil. If you wish to consider this possible pathway, please contact the RSFAS PhD convenor for more information. 

Offers of Admission

After your application and all its supporting documents are received by the Admissions Office, your file will be forwarded to the PhD convenor. The RSFAS HDR committee will assess all applications received. Short-listed applicants may be required to sit an online interview. Note that since admission is competitive and the number of places offered each year is limited, offers of admission will not be issued until after the relevant application deadlines, irrespective of the date when you submit your application.



Find out what scholarships are available to you.

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Program Structure

Program Structure

Full-time study for the PhD in Actuarial Studies at the ANU Research School of Finance, Actuarial Studies and Statistics normally takes four years, and consists of completion of coursework and a research thesis.

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Candidates may be required to complete up to six semester-length courses during the first year of the program. Required coursework must be completed to a satisfactory level for candidates to progress to the thesis component. Courses may be chosen from a wide range of graduate level courses in actuarial studies, statistics, finance, or suitable advanced courses from other disciplines. The specific coursework requirements will depend on each candidate’s background, and the courses will be chosen in consultation with the PhD Convenor and the candidate’s Chair of Panel.

Throughout their candidature, PhD students are also expected to attend RSFAS Actuarial Studies seminars.

Research Supervision

When a PhD candidate is admitted to the program, a provisional supervisor is appointed. The provisional supervisor has the responsibility of overseeing the student’s candidature until a supervisory panel is chosen. During the first year, it is important that candidates start developing their research topic ideas through consultation with their provisional supervisor and other academic staff within RSFAS.

Either in their first year of study, or soon after completion of their coursework, a supervisory panel will be chosen. The role of the panel is to assist, advise and provide support and encouragement to the student for a timely and successful completion. The PhD Convenor will determine the composition of the supervisory panel in consultation with the student.

Annual progress reviews

It is University policy that each candidate's progress be reviewed periodically.In each year of their candidature, PhD candidates are required to submit a Progress Report/Annual Plan, which summarises progress and identifies any difficulties or changes to the previous research plan and outlines the intended research to be undertaken over the next twelve months. The Progress Report and the Annual Plan form the basis for the Annual Review.

In addition, during the second year, candidates must submit a Thesis Proposal for review (TPR) to their supervisory panel and present their TPR as a seminar to the School. The purpose of the TPR is to assess the originality, significance, adequacy and achievability of the candidate's thesis plan. Successful completion of the TPR (as determined by the Delegated Authority following consultation with the PhD convenor and supervisory panel) is required to continue in the PhD program.

Students are also required to present their research (Oral Presentation) prior to the submission of their thesis for examination.

Please refer to Research Student Milestones for further details. 

Thesis Submission and Examination

The culmination of the PhD is a written thesis which, upon completion, is submitted for examination. The thesis is examined by three examiners who are experts in the relevant field. Information on the process of thesis submission and examination can be found here: Submitting a thesis.

Job Placement

Job Placement

Find out more about the career placements for alumni of the Actuarial Studies PhD program.

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Current PhD candidates

Current PhD candidates

A full list of students undertaking a PhD in Actuarial Studies is available at the Research School of Finance, Actuarial Studies and Statistics

Updated:   23 July 2020 / Responsible Officer:  CBE Communications and Outreach / Page Contact:  College Web Team