AI for Business: USC Marshall and USC Viterbi Announce Joint Undergraduate Degree

Julie Tilsner | September 9, 2022

Degree will combine curricular expertise from the two schools for digital expertise in a rapidly changing world

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The USC Marshall School of Business and the USC Viterbi School of Engineering are launching a new joint undergraduate degree, Artificial Intelligence for Business. This innovative degree brings together the expertise of two of the top business and engineering schools in the country to provide a unique education for students matriculating in Fall 2023.

“We knew there was a tremendous need in the marketplace and throughout society for students who are trained in business, but also understand how AI works, what machine learning means, and are willing to take on the ethical implications of these technologies,” said Ramandeep Randhawa, vice dean for undergraduate programs and professor of data sciences and operations. High demand for talent with these skills is clear from recruiters and senior leaders across different industries, Randhawa said.

Kimon Drakopoulos, Robert R. Dockson Assistant Professor in Business Administration and assistant professor of data sciences and operations, is expected to be the inaugural director of the program. He shared that timing is critical, “The current challenge for AI is wide adoption. To achieve that, in a socially beneficial way, well-rounded and skilled leaders are desperately needed.”

AI expert, Yolanda Gil who was president of the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence (AAAI), and who is USC Viterbi’s Director of New Initiatives in AI and Data Science and a Research Professor in Computer Science, will co-direct the program.

“This is a pioneering and forward-looking interdisciplinary program,” Gil said, “To our knowledge, it is the first in the world of its kind at this important intersection of AI and Business. It dovetails with our school’s emphasis on what we call ‘Engineering+’. We believe that engineering is an enabling discipline. With this program, we will empower business and organizational leaders to understand the possibilities, as well as the limitations, of AI technologies and to help them better understand the people they serve, predict trends and improve decision-making processes. The graduates will have unique abilities to assess the potential of emerging ideas in AI and how to leverage them in an effective and responsible manner.”

The joint AI for Business degree is the first that USC Viterbi will offer with two school names in the diploma, reflecting the true interdisciplinary nature of the program.  It will be a four-year, 128-unit curriculum with courses at both Marshall and Viterbi. For example, students will take both core business courses at Marshall and AI-focused classes at Viterbi with additional new integrative courses.

USC Viterbi coursework will cover machine learning, human interactions, robotics, and programming in Python. As part of the degree requirements, students will also study Security and Privacy and Ethics for Engineers at USC Viterbi.

The integrative classes to be developed will provide a larger context for making business decisions in the AI age. These four courses, created within Marshall specifically for the joint degree, include a semester-long program for first-year students, as well as classes in digital transformation, AI and smart contracts, technology strategy, and a program that will offer students real-life experiences in the AI sector.

“We have reached a point where AI tools and techniques are extremely accurate, but real-world, high-impact applications are very limited,” said Drakopoulos. “The new AI for Business degree is designed to mold leaders who fill this void—impact-driven professionals who will be exposed to a unique blend of business, technical, ethics and leadership courses and who will be able to pose the right questions as well as generate the right answers. We will be one of only a handful of universities around the globe where students have the opportunity to develop their technical, business and leadership skills to pursue careers in one of the fastest-growing parts of the tech sector.”

“By offering unique partnerships with other forward-focused USC schools, Marshall is increasing its value, breaking down silos and unlocking true collaborative and multidisciplinary learning. This degree best exemplifies our drive at Marshall to innovate and to build cutting-edge curriculum,” said Randhawa.

The new degree in AI for Business is one of a suite of interdisciplinary data science degree programs offered by USC Viterbi. Indeed, the school has joint data science programs with the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, the Price School for Public Policy, and the Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences. The new degree will also complement an existing Viterbi and Marshall combined undergraduate degree on Computer Science and Business Administration.

Published on September 9th, 2022

Last updated on May 16th, 2024

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