New Courses, Certificate Offered in Artificial Intelligence, with Real-World Benefits

Faculty; Public Health; Research; Social Work

The Brown School is offering new classes and labs on artificial intelligence beginning with the spring semester. Those who complete the two courses and two skill labs will earn the Artificial Intelligence and Big Data Analytics for Public Health (AIBDA) Certificate. The program is available free of charge to all Brown School students who have completed an introductory course in statistics or biostatistics.

“Data are now available in a way and quantity that has never existed before, presenting unprecedented opportunities for advancing research and practices through state-of-the-art data analytics,” said Ruopeng An, associate professor at the Brown School and the Certificate’s Chair. “AI has become increasingly recognized as an indispensable tool in health and social sciences, with relevant applications expanding from disease outbreak prediction to medical imaging and patient communication to behavioral modification.”

An said there is a surging demand in the job market for social, behavioral, policy, and health scientists with modern data science skills. The current average annual salary for a data scientist in the U.S. is about $120,000, and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that those jobs will increase by nearly 30 percent through 2026. On the other hand, social and health science programs rarely provide systematic research and training opportunities on AI and big data analytics. Traditionally, they have been only available in statistics or computer science programs, focusing primarily on theories, algorithms, software development, or engineering-oriented applications. Social, behavioral, and health students interested in AI applications must take courses in a statistics or computer science department. The training they receive is often less relevant or applicable to their own professions and real-world tasks. The new Brown School certificate program aims to fill that gap with rigorous training explicitly designed for students and scholars in social, behavioral, policy, and health sciences.

“The Brown School’s highly interdisciplinary programs in public health, social work and social policy, its strength in quantitative modeling, and extensive real-world research opportunities harbor a rich environment for students to learn and apply modern data skills to tackle some of the most perplexing social and public health problems of our time,” he said. 

Those who are awarded certificates will have mastered Python programming for data science and learned state-of-the-art machine learning and ethical applications to become highly competitive for jobs demanding sophisticated data analytic skills, he added. Students may take individual courses as electives without enrolling to obtain the certificate.

The two required courses are Applied Machine Learning Using Health Data and Applied Deep Learning Using Health Data, both taught by An. The two required skill labs pertain to data ethics and Python programming.

For more information and details about the certificate and required courses and skill labs, go to the AIBDA Certificate webpage.