Author: Sarah Wyland

Board of Trustees Approves Three CECS Degree Programs

March 1, 2024

We are thrilled to announce that the Board of Trustees approved three new CECS Bachelor of Science degrees during their winter meeting. The Applied Artificial Intelligence degree, Data Science degree, and Innovative Transdisciplinary Sciences degree are designed to equip students with in-demand and sought-after skills needed to excel in careers of the future and fill the widening talent gap faced by organizations today. Since launching in July 2023, CECS has demonstrated our ability to be fast and agile through the development and approval process of these cross-cutting, mission-critical degree programs which are directly in line with the University of Tennessee’s commitment to providing students from diverse backgrounds with a path to gainful employment.

“CECS is on the forefront of changing higher education by breaking down traditional academic silos and providing students with the opportunity to forge their own path towards rewarding careers in emerging fields,” Interim Vice Provost of Academic Affairs and Dean Ozlem Kilic says. “The Board of Trustees approval of these three inaugural degrees is a landmark occasion for CECS. We want to express our immense gratitude to our campus leadership, including Chancellor Donde Plowman, Provost John Zomchick, and Vice Chancellor of Research, Innovation, and Economic Development Deb Crawford, as well as the collaborative spirit of all college deans, the faculty partners across campus who work closely with us in developing new collaborative courses, and our dedicated curriculum committee members representing each college on campus. We are looking forward to welcoming our first students this fall and continuing to be a catalyst for innovation and collaboration at the University of Tennessee.”

The CECS Applied Artificial Intelligence degree meets the growing need for skilled workers in AI and teaches students core AI principles such as algorithms and models, develops computing skills via no-code AI tools, and helps them understand concepts in areas such as machine learning, natural language processing, and computer vision. This degree will teach the ethical and privacy concerns of AI and curriculum will continuously adapt to evolving AI trends to ensure students graduate with the most current knowledge and skills. 

The Data Science degree allows students to gain an interdisciplinary perspective in applications of data and its use in various fields. Graduates will enter the workforce with the ability to build and assess data-based models, visualize and conceptualize data, and share their findings with an audience. Students will also demonstrate skills in data wrangling and data management, as well as an understanding of the ethical and privacy aspects of data usage and data storage.

The CECS signature Innovative Transdisciplinary Studies is a fully customizable degree program designed to enable students the flexibility to forge their own paths through the future-looking stackable certificates and minors. Student interests across disciplines will be facilitated by an innovative curriculum that offers a cohort experience while enabling personalized education. The current list of stackable certificates, pending faculty senate approval, include:

  • Applied Artificial Intelligence
  • Artificial Intelligence Integration in Music
  • Artificial Intelligence and Medicine
  • Applied Cybersecurity
  • Data Science
  • Game Craft
  • Sustainable Development
  • Literacy on Emerging Topics

The three Bachelor of Science degrees will be presented to the Tennessee Higher Education Commission for final approval in May and CECS will welcome our first class of students in Fall 2024. For more information on CECS, email

CECS Announces ‘AI in Higher Ed: Transforming the Teaching and Learning Experience’

August 15, 2023

The College of Emerging and Collaborative Studies (CECS) in partnership with the Office of Innovative Technologies, High Performance & Scientific Computing will host AI in Higher Ed: Transforming the Teaching and Learning Experience on September 22, 2023. This virtual event brings together educators, students, researchers, administrators, and industry experts to discuss the cutting-edge applications, challenges, and opportunities that AI offers in shaping the future of learning.

Topics covered will include AI-focused educational programs, collaborations with industry and other universities, AI community engagement, AI ethics and policy, AI tools for the classroom, infrastructure and computing resources, and public policy and advocacy. The symposium will serve as a platform to exchange ideas, share best practices, and foster collaborations in integrating AI technologies into higher education environments.

With AI revolutionizing various industries, it is crucial for higher education institutions to adapt and harness its potential to enhance teaching, learning, and student success. CECS meets the increasing need from students to customize their academic journey and align their education with careers of the future by offering multidisciplinary courses, programs, and degrees on emerging topics such as AI for both undergraduate and graduate students.

Beginning in fall 2023, CECS will offer courses in artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, and data science. AI 101: Introduction to the World of AI will serve as an introduction to foundational concepts, techniques, and applications of AI relevant to all disciplines while Cybersecurity 101 will provide foundational knowledge and training in cybersecurity concepts. CECS also offers a data science minor with courses in Data Knowledge and Discovery, Data Management and Visualization, Data Stewardship and Ethics, and Analytical Methods of Data Science. Additional course offerings, majors, and minors are being developed for Spring 2024 and beyond.

“CECS is at the forefront of education where disciplines collide and emerge,” said Dr. Ozlem Kilic, Interim Vice Provost for Academic Affairs, and Dean of CECS. “By leveraging campus expertise and strengths on emerging topics such as AI and cybersecurity and weaving these into our curriculum, our students will graduate ready to meet the needs of the future workforce.”

To learn more about CECS, email To learn more about AI in Higher Ed: Transforming the Teaching and Learning Experience, visit the event page.