At Singularity University, the Future is Now

A non-university in Silicon Valley is fostering the development of awe-inspiring advances in science and technology.

“Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow. The important thing is to not stop questioning.” — Albert Einstein

Located inside NASA Research Park in Silicon Valley, Singularity University is one of the few institutions of higher education that you won’t find profiled here on CollegeXpress. That’s because it isn’t a traditional four-year university. Singularity University is a benefit corporation learning institution whose mission is to “educate, inspire, and empower leaders to apply exponential technologies to address humanity’s grand challenges.” In simpler terms, Singularity University has dedicated itself to solving the world’s problems through innovations in science and technology.

What is “singularity”?

Singularity University was founded in 2009 by Peter Diamandis and Ray Kurzweil. Diamandis founded the XPRIZE Foundation in 1995, a project that led to the development of the first private spaceship to make multiple passenger-carrying flights. Kurzweil is an inventor and entrepreneur and is currently a director of engineering at Google.

In 2006, Diamandis read Kurzweil’s book The Singularity Is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology, which examines the future of humanity and artificial intelligence. In the book, Kurzweil discusses the idea of “technological singularity,” a theoretical moment in time when artificial intelligence will surpass human intelligence, forever changing the face of humanity and the world as we know it. Diamandis was so inspired by Kurzweil’s theories that he approached the author with his initial idea for Singularity University. Together, Diamandis and Kurzweil were able to recruit members of their accomplished circle of friends, including Google CEO Larry Page, to join in the venture, and SU was born.

Ambitious beginnings

Today, just four years after its founding, SU has become a hotbed of technological advancement and innovation. As an educational institution, SU offers the Executive Program for corporate innovators, the Graduate Studies Program for budding leaders and entrepreneurs, FutureMed for physicians and health care executives, and the Innovation Partnership Program, which pairs Fortune 500 companies with Silicon Valley’s best and brightest to achieve technological breakthroughs in business. And the SU Labs accelerator helps start-ups by fostering the development of emergent technologies. SU Labs “provides entrepreneurship programs and space where entrepreneurs can collaborate to build the next great solutions” and is supported by faculty, alumni, corporate partners, mentors, and investors.

Thinking exponentially

Writer Eric Benson attended SU’s March 2013 Executive Program and described his experiences in a recent BuzzFeed article. On the final night of classes, Benson and his fellow students were given pieces of paper with newspaper headlines from a “radical but not-too-distant future.” They were then asked to predict when the various world-changing breakthroughs would become reality. After much discussion and debate, the students arrived at the following conclusions:

Five years from now, a majority of medical doctors will consult with artificial intelligence before making a diagnosis; a genetic-engineering service for fetuses will be an increasingly popular resource for expectant parents; and a synthetically manufactured virus will be found spreading in the wild. Five years after that, 100 million people will have watched the World Cup via virtual reality glasses, and laptops, tablets, and mobile devices will have been abandoned in favor of more immersive computer systems. Jump another half-decade ahead, an AI will be given lead authorship of a scientific paper and a zoo will open that houses 10 species that went extinct more than 15,000 years ago.

Yes. As unbelievable as they may sound, these are the predictions that were made by some of the world’s most intelligent, successful, and forward-thinking individuals. Thinking “exponentially” means seeing the limitless possibilities the future holds and then working to bring them to fruition.

Could Singularity be in your future?

Again, SU is not an accredited four-year university. But don’t let that deter you. The programs offered by SU are meant to supplement a traditional education. Though competition for admission is fierce and fees for the 10-week summer program are considerable, if you truly believe you’re an “exponential thinker,” the Graduate Studies Program may be something to consider.

Exponential Technologies topics include:

  • Artificial Intelligence and Robotics
  • Biotechnology and Bioinformatics
  • Energy and Environmental Systems
  • Medicine and Neuroscience
  • Nanotechnology and Digital Fabrication
  • Networks and Computing Systems
  • Space and Physical Sciences

Global Grand Challenges topics include:

  • Education
  • Energy
  • Environment
  • Food
  • Health
  • Poverty
  • Security
  • Water

Why stand on the shoulders of giants when you yourself may be a giant? If you’d like to use your interest in science and technology to make the world a better place, find a way to do it, whether you participate in a program like those offered at Singularity University or refine your talents in a more traditional setting. In hopes of helping you tap into your potential and exercise the powers of foresight encouraged at places like SU, I’ll leave you with one simple question: what does your future hold?

Like what you’re reading?

Join the CollegeXpress community! Create a free account and we’ll notify you about new articles, scholarship deadlines, and more.

Join Now


About Stephanie Farah

Stephanie Farah

Stephanie Farah is a former writer and senior editor for Carnegie and CollegeXpress. She holds a BA in English from the University of Texas at Austin and a master's in Journalism from the University of North Texas. At various times, she has been an uncertain undergrad, a financial aid recipient, a transfer applicant, and a grad student with an assistantship and a full ride. Stephanie is an avid writer, traveler, cook, and dog owner. 


Join our community of
over 5 million students!

CollegeXpress has everything you need to simplify your college search, get connected to schools, and find your perfect fit.

Join CollegeXpress
Tariq Adam Khatib

Tariq Adam Khatib

High School Class of 2022

CollegeXpress helped me a lot. I am a Tanzania boy who finished my high school studies in Tanzania. I never knew I could get an opportunity to get a scholarship to study abroad. I am happy that now I know how to find the school to study abroad through CollegeXpress.



High School Class of 2022

My mother signed me up for a couple of scholarship contests through CollegeXpress. I was also able to do some research and compare the different schools on my list. I was able to see the graduation rates and different programs that helped me decide on Adelphi University. I will continue looking for some scholarships for my start in September.

Lydia Huth

Lydia Huth

Student, Campbell University; CollegeXpress Student Writer

I discovered CollegeXpress while embarking on my college search journey as an excited—but scared and way confused—high schooler without a counselor or college-bound sibling to give me advice. Let me tell you, I’m so glad that I stumbled on this community! CollegeXpress helped me find potential colleges and keep application deadlines straight. It gave me a great list of scholarships, and the blogs and emails made me feel like I wasn’t going it alone. Almost three years later and with freshman year of college down, I still love the CollegeXpress vibe so much that I’m writing for them. I’d recommend this site to anyone!



High School Class of 2019

My favorite feature of CollegeXpress is the scholarship search. As someone going out of state for college, I needed all the financial help I could get, and CollegeXpress helped me easily find scholarships I could apply for to help fund my education.

Mataya Mann

Mataya Mann

High School Class of 2022

To say that CollegeXpress is a helpful tool would be an understatement as it is much more than that. Before finding CollegeXpress, all I knew was that I wanted to go to college, it was going to be insanely expensive, and I felt lost. CollegeXpress has given me access to resources such as helpful tips for applications and scholarship [opportunities], and helped guide me in a direction where I feel confident moving forward and pursuing a career. CollegeXpress has helped instill a spark in me that makes me want to continue and supports me in doing so.

College Matches

Colleges You May Be Interested In

New York University - Abu Dhabi Campus

Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates