UT announces launch of artificial intelligence master’s program

Ireland Blouin, Senior News Reporter

UT announced the launch of the Master of Science in Artificial Intelligence online graduate program on Jan. 26. The school will begin accepting applications on June 1 and will host its first class in spring 2024. 

The announcement comes months after the launch of ChatGPT, a controversial AI tool that can create text responses to a variety of inputs and has become the center of new ethical dilemmas within the academic world.

MSAI is being offered through a partnership between the department of computer science and the Machine Learning Laboratory. The program is fully online and will use pre-recorded lectures to offer students the flexibility to take courses part or full-time around the world.

“The way that you have maximum impact on changing the workforce in the country is to open it up to as many people as possible,” MSAI faculty director Adam Klivans said. “On our on-campus programs, we’re limited by the physical space that we have. We’re not limited by that when we do it online. We can take as many qualified applicants as apply.”

The program intends to teach students the basics of how to create and use AI and will also explore the impact, history and ethics of AI in the modern world.

“It becomes really challenging to immediately be able to get to what is an ethical AI,” said Kenneth Fleischmann, MSAI instructor and founding chair of Good Systems, an AI research group. “In ethics and AI, students will explore a wide range of ethical theories, including feminist and non-western ethical theories.”

The MSAI will function alongside the MS in computer science and MS in data science as online master’s programs offered by the computer science department. 

“It’s a really nice way of enabling people who can’t necessarily come to an on-campus program because they have a career elsewhere, they’re later in life, they have other family obligations, they live in another country (or) whatever to be a part of this,” said Greg Durrett, MSAI instructor and computer science assistant professor.

Although the only technical requirement is a bachelor’s degree, MSAI instructor Joydeep Biswas said students with a computer science degree or a similar background would benefit the most from applying.

“There are people well outside the tech community who are applying tools from AI and machine learning and really need this expertise,” computer science professor Klivans said. “Whether that’s in the pharmaceutical industry or in the education industry or obviously in finance, (there are) just many, many applications.”