Tennessee Higher Education Commission Approves Three CECS Degrees

May 20, 2024
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We are pleased to announce that the Tennessee Higher Education Commission (THEC) voted to approve three new CECS Bachelor of Science degrees during their Spring 2024 THEC Commission Meeting. THEC’s vote of approval marks the final step of approval to officially make these innovative degrees available for students at the University of Tennessee – Knoxville. 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.

“THEC vote of approval marks another landmark occasion for the College of Emerging and Collaborative Studies,” Interim Vice Provost of Academic Affairs and Founding Dean Ozlem Kilic says. “CECS is dedicated to giving students the opportunity to forge their own path and customize their educational journey to meet their needs and interests as well as the needs of the future workforce and we are grateful to THEC for supporting this vision. We would also like express our 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 who have helped make these degrees possible and bring the CECS vision to life through their support of innovative approaches to higher ed.”  

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 degree 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 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

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. We are looking forward to welcoming our first class of students in the fall and are already in the development process of additional degrees and certificates to continue to meet student demand and industry needs.

For more information on CECS, email cecsinfo@utk.edu.