Courses in artificial intelligence at Farmingdale State College will start in the fall, making the school the first in the SUNY system to offer a bachelor’s degree in AI. Credit: Newsday

Farmingdale State College is the first of the SUNY system’s 64 campuses to offer a bachelor’s degree in artificial intelligence, with courses set to begin in the fall, a SUNY official confirmed to Newsday.

The degree program in AI management has been three years in the making, with faculty from the business school and computer science department collaborating on a curriculum of 12 required courses for a total of 36 credits.

All the courses will be taught virtually to accommodate workers from the metropolitan area and elsewhere who are continuing their education in hopes of a promotion or landing a better job, according to Nanda Viswanathan, who proposed the degree program and serves as an assistant dean in the business school.

“We initially designed the program for working adults. … The [computer] programmer in industry that wants to get some idea of what artificial intelligence can do and the business aspects of it, or the business analyst that wants to gain an understanding of the technical aspects [of AI] and earn a formal credential that could help them advance in the workplace.”

WHAT TO KNOW

  • Farmingdale State College plans to offer a bachelor's degree in artificial intelligence management, a first in the SUNY system, officials said.
  • Classes will start in the fall and provide instruction in both business and computer science.
  • Nationwide, the number of bachelor's degrees in AI has increased about 120% since 2011, according to a Georgetown University study.

The program will also appeal to students from other colleges who have earned associate degrees in either business or computer science.

Laura Joseph, provost of Farmingdale State, said, “We tailored our new AI program to meet the unique needs of transfer students from Long Island community colleges and the Greater New York region.”

Farmingdale State joins a growing list of higher education institutions that offer AI instruction.

The University of Pennsylvania plans to start a bachelor’s degree program in the fall. In addition, Carnegie Mellon University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Long Island University, Rutgers and the University of California at San Diego and Berkeley either have or plan to have undergraduate programs.

Among SUNY institutions, Stony Brook University offers a master’s degree in engineering AI and the University at Albany has an advanced certificate in geospatial AI and big data. Finger Lakes Community College is proposing to confer an associate degree in AI and machine learning, according to SUNY spokesman Lane Filler. 

Nationwide, the number of AI degrees — both bachelor’s and master’s — conferred on students has increased about 120% from 2011, based on research by Georgetown University’s Center for Security and Emerging Technology.

Among those with bachelor’s programs in AI, Western Governors University gave out the most degrees between 2015 and 2021: 14,192. 

Purdue University was No. 2 with 8,893 degrees conferred on its main campus, followed by Georgia Institute of Technology, 8,849 on its main campus, according to the center.

For Farmingdale State, offering an undergraduate AI degree makes sense because of the technology’s increasing impact on daily life, said college president John Nader.

“We are already seeing that AI is having a massive impact on our world. This degree will position graduates to understand and manage the power of AI in the workplace,” he said.

The Farmingdale State program began several years ago with Viswanathan reading the book “Homo Deus” by Israeli historian Yuval Noah Harari.

“One of the things that [Harari] was talking about was the potential impact of artificial intelligence on humanity itself. … It struck a chord in me,” recalled Viswanathan, whose research focuses on marketing. “There really had not been much talk about the impact of AI on business or management. I thought this was an idea worth pursuing.”

He and five others formed a campus committee that put forward the degree program to Farmingdale State administrators and then to SUNY and state education officials. It was approved last year.

Viswanathan and others said degree candidates must have first completed SUNY’s General Education curriculum and have taken computer science and/or business courses. Applications are now being accepted and more information may be found at https://www.farmingdale.edu/curriculum/bs-aim.shtml.

“There's going to be millions of AI-related jobs that are created,” Viswanathan said. “Hopefully, we can help people get into this exciting field.”

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