Mathematics and Finance

Are you fascinated by the seemingly random movement of stock prices? Have you ever wondered if such movements could be modelled and simulated? Would a mathematical model allow us to make conclusions about the risk of trading strategies? If you are intrigued by such questions, one of our programs in Mathematics and Finance is the right choice for you. Our programs provide you with the background in mathematics and finance needed to study these questions. Since this is an interdisciplinary area whose understanding requires a broad education, the programs also include courses from statistics, economics, accounting, and operations management.

Careers for Financial Mathematicians

A degree in Mathematics and Finance provides a solid foundation for careers in the financial industry and graduate studies in financial engineering and mathematical finance. Graduates of our program can apply mathematical and statistical techniques to analyze financial products and manage financial risk. They find employment in all areas where quantitative skills combined with financial understanding are required, for example at banks and investment firms in areas such as development of trading strategies, portfolio analysis, and risk management.

Graduates of our program also are well positioned to:

  • earn the Chartered Financial Analyst® (CFA) designation,
  • become accredited as a professional actuary,
  • or to acquire professional certification in risk management.

More information on these certifications can be found below.

Degree Options in Mathematics and Finance

Students can enter one of our programs in Mathematics and Finance in their second or third year. These are quota programs, meaning that only a limited number of students can be registered in these programs, and, therefore, admission is competitive.

Honors in Mathematics and Finance:

Specialization in Mathematics and Finance:

Chartered Financial Analyst® (CFA)

Chartered Financial Analyst® (CFA) is a credential for finance and investment professionals offered by the CFA Institute. The CFA® is a globally recognized standard for competence and integrity of financial analysts.

To become a CFA® charterholder, a candidate must pass three CFA® Program exams and have four years of qualified investment work experience. You may write the first exam as early as your final year of your Bachelor's degree.

The following University of Alberta courses are useful for exam preparation:


University of Alberta Courses

Theory of interest MATH 253
Quantitative analysis STAT 265, ECON 399 or STAT 378
Economics ECON 281, 282
Mathematical finance MATH 356, 357
Accounting ACCTG 311, 412
Finance FIN 301, 412, 413, 418

For further details, visit the CFA® Program pages of the CFA Institute.

There is an annual CFA® Night at the University of Alberta, where charterholders speak about the CFA® program and their careers. For more information on this event, see the Facebook page of the Business Finance Association, which hosts this event.

Actuarial Science

Actuarial science is about assessing risk, mainly used in the insurance industry. While we do not offer a degree program in actuarial science, a good preparation in actuarial science can be achieved through one of our Mathematics and Finance programs or our Honors Statistics program.

Actuaries are accredited by the Society of Actuaries. The first level of accreditation is the Associate of the Society of Actuaries (ASA), which includes passing five actuarial exam modules and obtaining validation of educational experience (VEE) in three areas.

It is possible for students to take some of the exam modules while completing their degree. The following courses at the University of Alberta are helpful in preparing for the exam modules:

Exam Module

University of Alberta Courses

Probability STAT 265, 266
Financial Mathematics MATH 253, FIN 301
Investment and Financial Markets MATH 356, 357, FIN 301
Long-Term Actuarial Mathematics STAT 353, 432, and a significant portion of topics through self-study
Short-Term Actuarial Mathematics STAT 453, and a significant portion of topics through self-study
Statistics for Risk Modeling STAT 378, 479, and a significant portion of topics through self-study
Predictive Analytics MGTSC 405, and a significant portion of topics through self-study

VEE qualifications can be achieved by obtaining a minimum of a grade of B- in specific courses, as follows:

VEE Area

University of Alberta Courses

Economics ECON 101 (or 281) and ECON 102 (or 282)
Accounting and Finance ACCTG 311 (or 300 or 501) and FIN 301 (or 501)
Mathematical Statistics STAT 266 and STAT 372

For more information on the requirements to obtain the Associate of the Society of Actuaries (ASA) designation, visit the ASA pages of the Society of Actuaries website.

For more information about the actuarial profession in general, visit the Be an Actuary website.

Professional Certifications in Risk Management

There are several international professional certifications in risk management:

  • Energy Risk Professional (ERP), offered by the Global Association of Risk Professionals
  • Financial Risk Manager (FRM), offered by the Global Association of Risk Professionals
  • Professional Risk Manager (PRM), offered by the Professional Risk Managers' International Association

The Energy Risk Professional (ERP) certification is for professionals with careers in the oil, coal, natural gas, and alternative energy industries to manage risk in a real-world energy environment.

The Financial Risk Manager (FRM) and Professional Risk Manager (PRM) certifications are for professionals with careers in financial risk management. Compared to the Certified Financial Analyst® (CFA) designation, these certifications are focused more on financial risk management and less on other topics, and therefore are intended specifically for careers in financial risk management.

For more information on these certifications, visit the Global Associate of Risk Professionals (GARP) website and the Professional Risk Managers' International Association (PRMIA) website.

The Edmonton Chapter of PRMIA regularly organizes events on topics surrounding risk management. In particular, they organize an annual finance and risk management career conference at the University of Alberta, usually around November (students registered in one of our degree programs will receive a notice via the departmental student mailing lists; other students should contact us).