From Troops to Tech Leaders: National University Paves the Way for Service Members to Transition into AI and Data Science Careers

With prestigious National Science Foundation grant, Veteran-founded National University announces new bachelor’s degree helping active-duty military and Veterans up- and reskill for careers in data science and AI

SAN DIEGO, CA (December 21, 2023)National University, a nonprofit and Veteran-founded Minority Serving Institution that serves 50,000 degree-seeking students and 80,000 workforce and professional development students annually, today announced the development of a new B.S. Data Science degree aimed at helping military service members and Veterans transition into the in-demand fields of data science and artificial intelligence (AI) technology. This effort is made possible through a $500,000 grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) and will play a vital role in addressing the growing demand for professionals in these rapidly evolving sectors.

“Even as we grapple with understanding the vast and still emerging capabilities of artificial intelligence, we face an equally important obligation to ensure that this new AI and technology-driven economy is accessible for every learner and worker, including those who have served our nation in uniform,” said Dr. Jodi Reeves, National University department chair of data science and the associate director for education, diversity, and outreach for TILOS. “The U.S. armed services have long been at the forefront of artificial intelligence and data innovation, so we have a profound opportunity to align the talents of dedicated service members in transition and Veterans to meet the needs of a fast-changing—and increasingly tech-driven—economy where these same technologies will play an outsized role.”

Every year, approximately 500,000 members of the U.S. military depart active duty and begin the transition to the civilian workforce. The initiative comes as a response to the escalating demand for skilled individuals in data science and AI technology, with data science being the most in-demand job in the industry. As these fields continue to shape industries across the globe, the demand for experts in this domain is at an all-time high. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, data scientist roles are projected to grow 35% between 2022 and 2032, at a much faster rate than the average for all other occupations.

In 2021, National University was selected to be part of a prestigious team awarded a $20 million grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) for its contribution to The Institute for Learning-enabled Optimization at Scale (TILOS), an AI institute led by the University of California, San Diego, alongside partners such as Yale University, MIT, the University of Pennsylvania, and the University of Texas at Austin. Through the grant, National University will receive $100,000 annually for five years to support faculty members developing new curriculum, in order to help the university serve its diverse student demographics, including working adults and members of the military community.

The AI reskilling program is one of several programs and initiatives created by National University in response to the growing demand for skilled workers who are passionate about the field of data science and AI technology. Since the AI institute’s inception, the AI specialization of M.S. Data Science has grown to be the largest specialization at National University, with 56% of the students being military affiliated. The new B.S. of Data Science degree will include concentrations in AI and machine learning, cybersecurity analytics, and bioinformatics. New courses begin in February 2024.

“To make good on our commitment to serving military and Veteran students to the best of our ability, we need to continuously find ways to bridge the divide between civilian systems of education and employment and our modern military we must evolve the programs we offer, and the ways in which we serve this unique population of learners,” said Meg O’Grady, Senior Vice President, Military and Government Programs at National University.  “This is about creating inclusive pathways to careers in data, technology and artificial intelligence for Veterans and service members in transition—and finding new ways to align military skills and credentials with the needs of the emerging AI economy.”

Throughout its 50-year history, National University has established a strong reputation for its focus on serving military-connected students and Veterans. Today, its student population reflects the shifting — and highly diverse — demographics of higher education today. Approximately 70 percent of its students take the majority of their classes online. More than 25 percent identify as Hispanic, and 10 percent identify as Black. More than 80 percent of undergraduates are transfer students. The average age of its students is 33. And about 1 in 4 students are active-duty service members or Veterans.

Established in 1971 by retired U.S. Navy Capt. David Chigos, the university also has a rich history of commitment to military personnel. Recognized as a 2022-2023 Military Friendly School and a participant in the Yellow Ribbon Program, National University proudly offers over 190 degree programs, tailored to meet the needs of active-duty military members, Veterans, and their dependents.

National University’s four-week course structure is designed to accommodate the unique demands of military life, enabling students to pursue their degrees without disrupting training, service and deployment schedules. In addition, the university’s Veteran Center assists in the transition from military to civilian life, offering guidance and support services. National University also utilizes transfer-friendly policies that enable students to leverage previously earned college credits, professional certifications, and military training.

To learn more about National University’s offerings, visit our website at

About National University
National University, a Veteran-founded nonprofit, has been dedicated to meeting the needs of hard-working adults by providing accessible, affordable higher education opportunities since 1971. As San Diego’s largest private nonprofit university, NU offers over 190+ online and on-campus programs with flexible four-week and eight-week classes and one-to-one graduate education models designed to help students reach their goals while balancing busy lives. Since its founding, the NU community has grown to 130,000 learners served per year—50,000 degree-seeking students and 80,000 workforce and professional development students—and 230,000 alumni around the globe, many of whom serve in helping industries such as business, education, health care, cybersecurity, and law and criminal justice. To learn more about National University’s new possibilities in education including next-generation education, credential-rich education, and whole human education, visit

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