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Majors & Degrees

AI degrees coming to DSU

March 30, 2021

Degrees are unique in South Dakota, region

Artificial Intelligence, or AI, is one of the fastest growing -- and most disruptive – technologies that will be faced in the 21st century.

AI has the potential to change the world’s work environment. Predictions are that one-third of the American workforce will need to switch occupations by 2030 due to automation and AI. This change may come even sooner. A report from the World Economic Forum (WEF) predicts that AI will displace 75 million jobs by 2022, but on the other hand, WEF also predicts that AI will create 133 million new roles by 2022.

Because millions of people may need to switch occupations or upgrade skills in the near future, Dakota State will have new degrees for those interested in developing AI skills and careers. The Board of Regents today (March 30) approved a bachelor of science degree in AI at the university and approved an Intent to Plan for a B.S. in AI for Business. Both programs are slated to begin this fall.

“This degree represents an incredibly opportunity for our students and the region,” said Dr. Pat Engebretson, dean of The Beacom College of Computer and Cyber Sciences. “The role of AI in our world is ever-expanding and this degree will give us a chance to be at the forefront of research, development, and implementation. Through this offering, our students, our faculty, and our state will be well prepared to help guide and shape the future.

Engebretson stated that faculty and staff at Dakota State have been building towards this opportunity for several years by adding faculty expertise and AI-specific curriculum.  “Once again, Dakota State and The Beacom College are leading the way.”

Coursework for the B.S. in AI will include computer science and math, but with concerns that automated machines will replace human jobs, the plan of study also includes elements of ethics, societal impacts, cognitive logic, data management and analysis, and computer science. This will prepare students to successfully utilize AI in an ethical manner in a variety of applications. The B.S. in AI will be offered both on campus and online; 80 enrolled students and 20 graduates are anticipated within four years.

Because AI not only relates to technology and research applications, Dakota State’s College of Business and Information Systems is also planning a B.S. in AI specific to business applications (AIB). The demand for business professionals with AI-related skills is growing rapidly, including in banking, financial services, healthcare, and other industries. For example, major employers in Sioux Falls, including First Premier Bank, Sanford Health, and Avera Health, are hiring business analysts with AI and Analytics related skills.

This proposed program would not only train students directly in AI tools, methods, and techniques, but will focus on understanding and using AI technologies to support human activity and decision making within business and organizations. With this knowledge, graduates can utilize AI solutions to solve real-world business problems such as implementing personalized recommendation systems, automating data collection workflows, and optimizing supply chain management processes.

DSU intends to offer the AIB both on campus and through online delivery; they anticipate enrolling 15 students in the first year of the program, with 10-15 new students enrolling in the program each year as it continues.

Many of the jobs these graduates will fill are new enough that they are not listed on the South Dakota Department of Labor website or the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), but potential careers for those with an AI degree could include machine learning engineers, data analysis, data sciences, AI/ML researchers, and software engineers. For those with the AIB degree, career opportunities could include business analyst, computer systems analyst, market analyst, financial analyst, web developer, data analyst, data scientist, project manager, and many more traditional jobs across all industries and business functions.

Currently, there are no artificial intelligence for business undergraduate programs in any public university in South Dakota or the region. The University of Minnesota is the only institution in the region that has a similar AI program.

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