Leading the AI Revolution: Oklahoma Introduces Groundbreaking Degree Programs

The landscape of higher education in Oklahoma is on the brink of a significant transformation with the introduction of the state’s first undergraduate artificial intelligence (AI) degree programs. This pioneering initiative, approved by the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education, sees Rose State-owned Colleges, Southwestern Oklahoma State University (SWOSU), and the University of Oklahoma leading the way in AI education.

Emphasizing the strategic importance of these new degree programs, Governor Kevin Stitt remarked, “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. 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.”

This sentiment is echoed by Secretary of Education Nellie Sanders, who highlighted the impact of AI on educational personalization, stating, “AI is going to create pathways for every student to have a personalized education. Students deserve a dynamic educational environment where everyone can realize their potential. I’m excited that university students will now have the opportunity to take a deeper look at AI and all of its applications here in Oklahoma.”

The decision to establish these degree programs comes in response to the increasing relevance of AI in various academic and professional arenas. SWOSU and the University of Oklahoma will offer a Bachelor of Science in artificial intelligence, whereas Rose State College will provide an Associate in Science degree in AI and machine learning, with options for traditional and electronic study modes.

State Regents Chair Jack Sherry outlined the importance of adapting to the AI-driven employment landscape, noting, “AI is rapidly emerging as a vital employment sector, given its transformative impact on business operations. New career opportunities in 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.”

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Interest in AI degree programs is spurred by the technology’s broad adoption across several major industries, including healthcare, finance, manufacturing, and aerospace. Currently, in Oklahoma, over 19,000 jobs requiring AI skills are fetching median annual earnings of nearly $106,000, with the expectation of a 21% job growth in this area over the next decade.

Chancellor Allison D. Garrett emphasized the proactive steps taken by Oklahoma’s public higher education system to remain at the forefront of AI education and application. She stated, “AI capabilities and applications in education and business are evolving quickly, and Oklahoma public higher education is at the forefront of this changing landscape. Our system was the first in the nation to establish a statewide committee focused on AI impacts in higher education. The goal is to equip our institutions to remain on the leading edge of the AI field and produce the skilled graduates required to meet our state’s current and future AI workforce needs.”

Garrett’s involvement with the Southern Regional Education Board’s (SREB) Commission on Artificial Intelligence in Education underscores the wider regional and national implications of Oklahoma’s initiative. This commission is tasked with reviewing research and industry data to develop recommendations that will guide SREB states in utilizing AI for enhancing K-12 and postsecondary education levels, developing policies for educational institutions, and preparing students for AI-related careers.

As Oklahoma steps into the future with these pioneering AI degree programs, it sets a precedence for the integration of cutting-edge technology into academia, thereby ensuring its students are not only participants but leaders in the ongoing AI revolution.

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