WORCESTER, Mass. - Worcester Polytechnic Institute recently announced a new master's program where students can earn a degree in artificial intelligence, and the program will focus on how to create a more ethical and equitable future with the technology while setting prospective graduates up for a career. 

What You Need To Know

  • WPI recently announced a master's degree program in artificial intelligence

  • It will prepare students for a future career in the changing technology, while also taking ethics into account
  • Applications are currently being accepted for the Fall 2024 semester

  • Students will have three options to earn credentials in the program

While AI can feel like a relatively new phenomenon because of the rise of programs like ChatGPT, Elke Rundensteiner, founding head of WPI's new program, said research into machines or computers that can mimic our human behavior or perform tasks we'd usually do dates back decades. 

"But we are in a completely new era where AI has been democratized, and you can see it everywhere now in the news," Rundensteiner said. "So, this is the perfect moment to take on AI and to offer this kind of training for our students."

Rundensteiner said AI is changing the way we live, how we enjoy entertainment, our work lives, and the kind of jobs that are available to graduates. A strong background in AI could land graduates with careers in health care, game development, robotics, engineering and a wide range of other fields. 

Currently, however, the technology's growing power with little regulation has governments wrestling with its ethical implications. Rundensteiner wants WPI graduates to consider their own responsibility in using the technology for good. 

"Unfortunately, we are just at the very beginning, and we actually do not know all the implications yet - policymakers are trying to figure them out," Rundensteiner said. "It is imperative for us that as we train students to use and invent AI techniques, they also understand the harm they could be doing. It is part of the responsibility of the AI machine learning expert."

Students will have the option to earn three separate credentials in the program. They could obtain a master's degree by completing 30 credit hours of work including a thesis or capstone project if they have earned a bachelor's degree in a related field.

Students could also pursue a bachelor's in another field and their AI degree at an accelerated pace by double-counting certain courses towards both degrees. Lastly, they could obtain a graduate certificate by completing four thematically related graduate courses in AI. 

Rundensteiner said she is excited about the project-based aspects of the program, which includes the capstone project. 

“Each single student will work in teams with a partner to solve a real world problem," Rundensteiner said. "So, by the time that the students are graduating, they will already be practitioners because they will already have taken all their skills and applied them to this real world problem."