MiraCosta College Launches First-in-the-State AI Associate Degree

The associate in science degree in artificial intelligence will include three AI-focused courses at the community college.
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Updated on March 5, 2024
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  • MiraCosta College is launching California's first AI-focused associate degree.
  • The program aims to equip students for AI careers amid growing demand.
  • AI-focused education is gaining momentum across the country, including at the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Southern California.

MiraCosta College will offer an associate in science degree in artificial intelligence (AI) this year, California's first AI-dedicated two-year program.

The program was developed by the Computer Studies and Information Technology Department at the community college. The curriculum will include three AI-specific courses, the first one being “Artificial Intelligence Concepts,” according to Professor Rick White, the architect behind the class.

This course demystifies how AI functions and why it's capable of generating responses, providing students with a solid foundation in one of the most transformative and groundbreaking technological fields in human history, White said in a press release.

The California Community Colleges Chancellor's Office approved the program, along with its two additional courses, “Artificial Intelligence Application” and “Artificial Intelligence Strategies and Solutions,” scheduled to be introduced next year.

The new degree offering will prepare students to pursue a career using artificial intelligence. An overwhelming 93% of employers said in a 2023 Access Partnership survey for Amazon Web Services that they expect to use generative AI in the workplace in five years, with 45% indicating they expect to be using it significantly across a wide variety of work functions.

In California alone, we're seeing predictions of over 10,000 annual job openings in high-level AI positions through 2025, with median hourly wages reaching up to $55.67, White said.

MiraCosta College joins the ranks of institutions like the University of Southern California, the University of Pennsylvania, and Purdue University that have announced AI-focused programs. Arizona State University recently announced its partnership with OpenAI, giving the university access to the company's AI capabilities including ChatGPT Enterprise.

A 2023 BestColleges survey of 1,000 current undergraduate and graduate students found that 43% of college students have used ChatGPT or a similar AI application, and 61% think AI tools like ChatGPT will become the new normal. Of those who have used AI tools, 50% said they have used them to help complete assignments or exams.

AI is also an important topic of study for students pursuing a master of business administration (MBA) degree, BestColleges previously reported. Business schools have responded in the last year, integrating AI technology into their curriculum.

Beyond the classroom, AI technology is also poised to impact college admissions, student retention strategies, and administrative efficiency.