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Artificial intelligence (AI) and related fields like machine learning and data science are some of the fastest-growing sectors of the technology industry. Earning a bachelor’s degree in AI or computer science can provide students with a solid foundation for entry-level jobs or graduate study in this rapidly developing field.

The employment outlook for individuals in AI-related positions is strong. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the employment of computer and information research scientists, who earn a median annual salary of $145,080, will grow by 23% through 2032. With further study at the master’s level, individuals can also pursue careers as data scientists, who earn a median annual salary of $108,020. The employment of data scientists is expected to increase by 35% through 2032.

Bachelor’s degrees typically take four years of full-time study, or five to six years of part-time study, to complete. As of the 2022-23 academic year, the average annual tuition for a four-year degree program was $17,709, according to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). Room and board was an additional $13,175 per year.

How to Choose an Artificial Intelligence Degree Program

Step 1: Choose your area of study

Getting clarity on your future goals and what you want from an AI degree program is an essential first step in choosing the right program. The criteria for your search will vary based on your objectives, whether it’s to obtain job training, assess opportunities in a specific industry, or plan for graduate studies.

Now is also an excellent time to reflect on what you need from a degree program regarding schedule and structure. Will you enroll full-time or part-time? Can you attend daytime classes, or do you need evening or weekend classes? Can you commit to an entirely in-person program, or will hybrid courses suit you better?

Step 2: Research schools and programs

With the parameters you set in step one, you can begin in-depth research of AI degree programs.

When exploring schools, be sure to confirm that the programs you’re considering are offered by accredited institutions. U.S. schools have regional or national accreditation, with regional accreditation more widely accepted. Accreditation is essential for students who plan to transfer between schools or pursue an advanced degree, as regionally accredited schools only accept credits and degrees from other institutions with regional accreditation.

Some programs may also have accreditation through ABET, a nonprofit agency that accredits computing programs, among other engineering and tech-related degrees. This accreditation confirms that the program meets quality standards for education in areas like computer science and data science.

As you review your options, the following questions can help you identify if a school is the right fit:

  • What does the curriculum include, and how does it align with your interests and career goals?
  • Who are the faculty, and what are their AI areas of expertise?
  • Does the program have internship or experiential learning components
  • What is the culture of the AI department and the institution overall?
  • What academic, career, and health support services are available?
  • What are the available funding options, including scholarships, grants, and discounts?

You can find answers to most of these questions by visiting the school’s website or contacting the school’s admissions office. Other ways to explore colleges and programs include social media, attending virtual or in-person open houses, and connecting with current students and faculty.

Step 3: Prepare for applications and tests

When reviewing schools, be mindful of their application requirements and deadlines. Keeping track of this information via a spreadsheet or document can be helpful if you’re considering multiple schools.

Application processes vary by school, but generally speaking, an application for an AI degree program will include the following:

  • Application
  • Official transcripts (high school transcripts for first-time freshmen, college transcripts for transfer and graduate students)
  • Letter(s) of recommendation
  • Personal statement
  • SAT or ACT scores (verify a school’s standardized test policies before applying, as some may be test-optional)

Some programs may have specific requirements for GPA or previous coursework. Verify that you meet the minimum eligibility requirements for a program before applying.

Step 4: Select your program

Based on your parameters and eligibility, you should be able to choose the program or programs you want to apply to. There’s no magic number of applications to submit. Some students focus on one or two schools, especially if they have a specific concentration in mind, while others cast a broader net to improve their chances of admission.

Students should be mindful of application deadlines, particularly for competitive programs. Some schools offer multiple start terms, while others only accept new students once a year. Missing deadlines can result in delays in starting your AI education.

Step 5: Determine how you’ll pay for your degree

During the research process, you’ll also want to learn about the school’s tuition, room and board costs, and other fees for on-campus students, as well as financial aid opportunities. Speak to a financial aid counselor at the school to determine what scholarships, grants, discounts, and work opportunities the institution offers.

Most schools use the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to determine eligibility for financial aid, including federal student loans. Students and their families should plan to complete the FAFSA before enrolling to help get a full picture of how much assistance they’ll be receiving.

Students employed during their program should find out if their employer offers tuition assistance benefits, which can offset the cost of a degree. Many tech companies, including Amazon, Apple, and Oracle, offer tuition assistance to students studying relevant subjects.

Best 50 Accredited Artificial Intelligence Degree Programs

Best Artificial Intelligence Degrees badge

Carnegie Mellon University

University of Texas at Austin

Indiana University, Purdue University-Indianapolis

University of Michigan

Purdue University

Illinois Tech

Concordia University Wisconsin

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How we rank schools

This list features some of the best artificial intelligence undergraduate and graduate degree programs in the U.S. All are offered at nonprofit, accredited institutions, either public or private, with a high standard of academic quality for postsecondary education.

We evaluated each degree program on admission, retention, and graduation rates as well as tuition costs, faculty, reputation, and student resources. Then, we calculated the Intelligent Score on a scale of 0 to 100. Read more about our ranking methodology.

Next, we compared our picks to a list of aggregated college rankings from reputable publications like U.S. News & World Report, among others, to simplify a student’s college search. We pored through these rankings so students don’t have to.

What Can You Expect From an Artificial Intelligence Degree Program?

Artificial intelligence (AI) refers to computer software that enables machines to mimic human cognitive functions, including decision-making and language translation, and uses real-time data to adjust responses and performance.

AI is also a catch-all term for the technology’s many specialized sub-fields, such as machine learning, data science, natural language processing, and more.

Because of the breadth of this field, students can opt for a general AI degree program that covers concepts and skills in computer science, math, and statistics, among other subjects, or a more specialized degree focusing on a particular component of AI. For example, students who wish to mine, analyze, and visualize data may want to explore a data science degree program. Students should note that specialized degree programs are more widely available at the master’s and doctoral levels.

For those starting their AI education journey, it’s worth considering whether you’ll pursue a master’s degree when choosing a bachelor’s degree program. Some schools offer dual degree programs that allow students to begin earning graduate credit while still working on their bachelor’s.

Potential courses you’ll take in an artificial intelligence degree program

  • Introduction to Artificial Intelligence: Covers basic problem-solving strategies, heuristic search, problem reduction, knowledge representation, expert systems, generating explanations, uncertainty reasoning, game playing, planning, machine learning, computer vision, and programming systems such as Lisp or Prolog.
  • Computer Science Foundations: Introduces students to computer science topics like logic, proofs, sets, functions, relations, sequences, summations, number representations, counting, and algorithm analysis.
  • Data Structures and Algorithms: Covers running time analysis of algorithms and their implementations, one-dimensional data structures, trees, heaps, additional sorting algorithms, binary search trees, hash tables, graphs, directed graphs, weighted graph algorithms, and more.
  • Data Mining and Machine Learning: Introduces students to the main techniques used in data mining and machine learning, including exploratory data analysis, predictive modeling, descriptive modeling, and evaluation.

Artificial Intelligence Degree Frequently Asked Questions

How do I apply to an artificial intelligence degree program?

Admission requirements and procedures vary depending on the school and program. Students should always confirm admissions procedures and requirements with the school before starting an application.

Students will typically submit their application and supporting materials online through an admissions portal on the school’s website. For bachelor’s degree programs, students may be able to apply to multiple schools using the Common Application.

For an undergraduate degree, students must usually submit, in addition to the application itself, high school or GED transcripts, letters of recommendation, a personal statement, a resume, and SAT or ACT scores. AI degree programs may require that applicants have a minimum GPA or specific high school coursework in order to be eligible.

Programs usually look for the following qualities in AI majors:

  • Strong math skills, particularly in areas of linear algebra, probability, and statistics
  • Familiarity with computer programming
  • Basic understanding of algorithms and frameworks
  • Analytical and critical thinking skills
  • Problem-solving abilities
  • Interest in collaboration
  • Communication skills

How much does an artificial intelligence degree cost?

According to DataUSA, the median annual tuition for AI degree programs is $10,037 for in-state students at public universities and $55,651 for private universities. These prices don’t note whether the programs are bachelor’s or master’s degrees, which can impact the cost of the degree.

Two factors in the cost of an AI degree are whether the student is attending a public or private university and, if it’s public, whether the student pays in-state or out-of-state tuition.

Overall, tuition at public universities tends to be lower, particularly for state residents. The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) reports that in the 2021-22 academic year, average tuition and fees for four-year undergraduate degrees was $9,596 for in-state students at public universities. Non-resident public university students paid an average of $27,457 for tuition and fees. Meanwhile, private school tuition for the same year averaged $32,728 at private schools.

Students should always speak to a financial aid counselor before enrolling to understand their financial aid obligations and options.

How long does it take to earn an artificial intelligence degree?

The completion time mainly depends on the degree a student is earning and their enrollment status. Bachelor’s degrees, which require a minimum of 120 credits, typically take four years to complete if students enroll full-time. Students who attend classes part-time may take five to six years to complete their degree. If students have college coursework from a previously attended program, they can explore degree completion options that allow them to transfer credits to their new program, decreasing their completion time.

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