Penn Becomes First Ivy League University to Offer Undergraduate Major in Artificial Intelligence

As AI continues to progress in its understanding of humans, individuals are also keeping up with the advancements.

Starting this autumn, students at the University of Pennsylvania will have the opportunity to major in AI. In a recent press release, the university announced its plans to become the first Ivy League institution to offer an undergraduate degree that focuses on AI.

The Bachelor of Science in Engineering in Artificial Intelligence degree will provide students with a comprehensive understanding of the principles of AI and how to ethically and responsibly utilize its capabilities. Students will explore the significant impact of generative AI on various aspects of life, including health, energy, transportation, commerce, and national security.

“This groundbreaking degree program marks an immense step forward for Penn engineers, who will spearhead the development and implementation of these powerful technologies in service to humanity,” stated Interim President J. Larry Jameson in the press release.

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What it means to major in AI

Students pursuing the B.S.E degree will engage in advanced courses covering topics such as computing algorithms, machine learning, data analytics, and advanced robotics, as mentioned by the university.

Introductory courses include “Introduction to Artificial Intelligence” and “Data, Systems, Decisions,” while other mandatory classes consist of “Control for Autonomous Robots,” “Natural Language Processing,” and “Signal and Information Processing.”

The major also provides elective courses such as “Trustworthy AI,” “Machine Perception,” and “Brain Computer Interfaces.” For a complete list of the curriculum and available courses, click here.

Based on their specific interests, students can select from the following concentrations:

  • Robotics
  • Vision/Language
  • Machine Learning
  • Data/Society
  • Health/Systems

Students will learn how to build ‘trustworthy AI’

Penn’s program acknowledges that AI has become an independent academic discipline, according to Zachary Ives, Chair of the Computer and Information Science Department.

“This recognition stems not only from the incredible capabilities of AI but also from the imperative to address fundamental questions about intelligence and learning, aligning AI with our societal values, and constructing AI systems that are trustworthy,” Ives explained in the press release.

Vijay Kumar, a dean at Penn Engineering, emphasized that the program will equip the next generation of engineers with the knowledge of how to utilize AI as both a tool and a “fundamental force for good.”

“Realizing the potential of AI for positive social impact presents one of the most significant challenges for engineering,” stated George J. Pappas, who will lead the program.

The program will officially launch in the fall semester of 2024. Applications for current Penn students seeking to transfer into the 2024 cohort will be available in the upcoming autumn, and prospective students can apply for the Fall 2025 cohort during the same period.

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