The Most Innovative MBA Programs for AI

As interest about artificial intelligence surges among prospective business students, several universities are integrating the technology into their master of business administration (MBA) programs.
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Published on January 9, 2024
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  • A variety of universities are integrating AI into their MBA programs.
  • AI interest has surged among prospective MBA students in recent years.
  • Schools are taking a varied approach to teaching students about using AI in business, including computer science training and big-picture courses.

Artificial intelligence (AI) is a top interest for prospective master of business administration (MBA) students — and some universities are already integrating the developing technology into their curriculum.

AI took the joint top spot for topics that prospective students want to see in their MBA program alongside the "always well-performing generic course 'Business and Financial Environment,'" according to the Tomorrow's MBA report released in 2023 by the firm CarringtonCrisp. AI took the second spot in 2022’s report, reflecting a growing interest in the rapidly advancing technology.

AI is already making waves in business education: ChatGPT was able to pass the final MBA exam given by a professor at the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School, according to research published earlier in 2023.

And that exam-passing chatbot was a prior iteration of OpenAI's GPT program, with the company releasing the significantly more advanced GPT-4 in March.

The AI global market size was valued at more than $136.55 billion in 2022, according to the market intelligence firm Grand View Research, and is expected to continue its already meteoric growth at a compound annual growth rate of 37.3% from 2023-2030.

The fastest-growing jobs in artificial intelligence include data scientists and machine learning engineers, BestColleges previously reported, and business schools are increasingly embracing emerging technologies.

Data and technology are increasingly highlighted in business school curricula. Tulane University recently announced plans to revamp its curriculum starting this fall to focus on data-driven decision-making and preparing students for the future of business, BestColleges reported.

Some universities have more explicitly highlighted AI in their MBA programs. Here's an overview of some moves business schools are making to teach students about AI:

Northwestern University

Northwestern puts a heavy emphasis on machine learning and artificial intelligence as part of a program it has branded "MBAi" through a unique partnership between two of its high-power schools.

Northwestern University's Kellogg School of Management partnered with the McCormick School of Engineering to create the MBAi program, which "integrates both business strategy and analytic technologies throughout the curriculum," according to the university's website.

The five-quarter program, which includes a full-time summer internship program and an "optional Silicon Valley industry immersion experience," requires some combination of 2-6 years of work experience, technical work experience as a product owner, data scientist, or an undergraduate science, technology, engineering, math (STEM) degree.

Villanova University

Villanova University offers an AI and machine learning (ML) specialization to MBA students, according to the school's website, noting that both fields "have become increasingly important technologies across all business disciplines."

Courses that are part of the AI and machine learning specialization focus on automating business processes and the ethical concerns around AI. The coursework also highlights the way AI is affecting a wide variety of industries.

"Many companies are investing in technologies and collecting data, but few are putting this information to good use," the Villanova School of Business website reads. "With a specialization in AI/ML, you will have the tools to harness this data into actionable business practices."

Villanova's AI coursework lays out the foundations of AI and its impact on the business world — and looks at the ways students can apply AI and machine learning to their eventual jobs.

Northeastern University

Northeastern University puts an emphasis on accessibility for its "MBA x Artificial Intelligence" concentration: Students who don't have a degree in computer science start with 16 credits of "computer science bridge courses."

Courses in Northeastern's AI concentration include a foundational course on the inner-workings of AI, a machine learning-focused course, and a course that focuses on making AI work with human language.

Ball State University

Ball State University includes AI among its possible concentrations for Miller College of Business MBA students. That concentration factors in courses focusing on machine learning, information systems, and communication technologies.

That coursework covers the "foundations of artificial intelligence including approaches, algorithms, platforms, and uses for AI," and covers how to adopt and oversee artificial intelligence in a business environment.