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Federal Agency Funds AI Graduate Programs at Five Schools

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has earmarked $9 million for new master’s degree programs in West Virginia, Arizona, Florida and South Dakota. The programs will launch in the fall of 2025.

A small paper graduation cap resting on top of a stack of coins surrounded by more coins.
Five U.S. universities will launch collaborative master’s degree programs in artificial intelligence and practical machine learning in 2025 under a $9 million federal grant from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, officials announced earlier this month.

The selected schools include West Virginia University (WVU), Marshall University (MU) in West Virginia, Florida International University (FIU), Dakota State University (DSU) in South Dakota, and Arizona State University (ASU). This is a collaborative program in which WVU, MU and FIU will focus on developing reliable AI in robots and utility grids, while DSU and ASU will focus on leveraging the technology for cybersecurity, according to a Nov. 2 news release from West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin, who chairs the Senate Armed Services Cybersecurity Subcommittee. Specific course offerings have not been announced.

“AI is changing the world as we know it, and West Virginia must be at the forefront of these new technologies to protect our competitive advantage over China and Russia and allow us to better support our allies around the world,” Manchin said in a public statement. “This all starts with education, and I look forward to working with DARPA and our university partners, which include WVU and Marshall, to establish these cutting-edge programs.”

The programs will include online course options in hopes of reaching thousands of students in the first year, according to the news release.

The five schools listed in Manchin’s announcement already have computer science or related majors for graduate-level students, and Dakota State University has an AI specialization component within its computer science major, according to the institution’s website.

In West Virginia, these new programs are expected to elevate the state “as a hub for innovation, as well as position our students at the forefront of these transformative technologies,” David Dampier, Marshall University’s interim director of the MU Institute for Cybersecurity, said in a public statement.

According to its website, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) works with university, corporate and governmental partners to create tactical options and strategic opportunities for the U.S. Department of Defense.

“DARPA’s work spans the spectrum from basic research to applied research to operational applications — a range of activity that offers numerous opportunities for academic engagement,” the website says.