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Several Oklahoma universities, colleges to offer artificial intelligence degree programs

University of Oklahoma students walk to and from class on the Van Vleet Oval in Norman.
Robby Korth
StateImpact Oklahoma
University of Oklahoma students walk to and from class on the Van Vleet Oval in Norman.

As artificial intelligence becomes more important in the workforce, Oklahoma wants to make sure its students don’t fall behind.

The Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education announced last week that students at the University of Oklahoma, Rose State College and Southwestern Oklahoma State University will soon be able to enroll in artificial intelligence undergraduate degree programs.

SWOSU and OU will offer a bachelor’s degree in AI. Rose State will offer an associate’s in AI and machine learning. The degrees will be available through traditionally in-person and online courses.

“These degree programs are a great leap forward in our commitment to innovation in education and will position Oklahoma to be a leader in AI,” Gov. Kevin Stitt wrote in a press release. “AI is reshaping every aspect of our lives, especially academics. I’m proud of the Board of Regents for ensuring Oklahoma’s higher ed students do more than just keep pace, they’ll lead the AI revolution.”

According to the press release, more than 19,000 jobs in Oklahoma currently require AI skills, with median annual earnings of nearly $106,000. Oklahoma expects to add 4,000 AI-related positions over the next decade.

While the programs are the first undergraduate AI degrees offered in Oklahoma, artificial intelligence programs have been around in the United States since 2018. Carnegie Mellon University’s School of Computer Science launched the first undergraduate degree in artificial intelligence, and schools across the country have followed suit.

These undergraduate degrees are part of a greater effort in the state to push artificial intelligence education.

In May, Oklahoma partnered with Google through the Grow with Google initiative to advance digital literacy through skills training. Part of this initiative is a free AI Essentials course, which teaches users how to maximize productivity with responsible use of AI tools.

The growing demand for AI education is fueled by the adoption of artificial intelligence across various industries like healthcare, finance and manufacturing. According to a 2023 Census Bureau survey, more than 50% of companies with more than 5000 employees use AI.

“Given its transformative impact on business operations, AI is rapidly emerging as a vital employment sector,” State Regents Chair Jack Sherry wrote in a press release. “New career opportunities in areas like machine learning, data science, robotics and AI ethics are driving demand for AI expertise, and Oklahoma’s state system colleges and universities are answering the call.”

The Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education have not made clear when the degree programs will be made available to students.

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Anusha Fathepure is a summer intern at KOSU as part of the Inasmuch Foundation's Community Fellowship Class.
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