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Artificial intelligence is a fast-growing field with job opportunities spanning a range of industries. The educational options for AI are also expanding, with more schools offering undergraduate and graduate degrees and certificates in AI and related fields.

Whether you’re considering a bachelor’s, master’s, or certificate in AI, there’s likely a school that offers a program to fit your needs. To help you sort through the many available options, evaluated dozens of schools with AI degree programs and created this list of the best schools for AI for 2024.

Additionally, this article provides guidance for selecting a school for AI, what to expect in an AI degree program, the career outlook for AI, and answers to frequently asked questions about cost, curriculum, and program duration.

What Students Should Know About AI Degree Programs

Artificial intelligence (AI) refers to computer software that enables machines to mimic human cognitive functions, including decision-making, language translation, and real-time data to adjust responses and performance. Because of AI’s interdisciplinary nature, students don’t specifically need to major in AI to pursue a career in the field, although that’s one option. Other common majors for aspiring AI professionals include computer science, mathematics, data science, and machine learning.

The right major for you will depend on your educational level and career goals. At the undergraduate level, students typically earn a general computer science or AI degree that focuses on foundational knowledge. Master’s and doctoral programs tend to concentrate on more specific AI sub-fields, like machine learning, data science, or robotics, preparing students for research or advanced roles in the industry.

Given AI’s rapid evolution, when selecting a school, it’s important to consider how the program’s curriculum keeps up with new developments and discoveries in the field. Many of the schools on this list are research institutions responsible for advances in AI technology. Still, students should find out what access they’ll have to labs, research projects, and the latest AI technology.

A student’s experience will also vary based on whether they enroll in an on-campus or online program. Traditional in-person programs will give students the most interactive experience and hands-on learning opportunities. Familiarity with a traditional classroom setting may also help students transition into their degree program.

However, online programs may be more accessible and convenient for students who are working full-time, caring for family members, or are unable to relocate to school. Students can opt for synchronous programs with virtual classes at predetermined times or asynchronous programs, allowing students to complete lessons and assignments independently.

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

  • Intro to AI:  Teaches AI fundamentals and key ideas behind the design of intelligent agents for real-world problems, including search, games, machine learning, and constraint satisfaction. Exposes students to AI and machine learning applications in business, retail, healthcare, and manufacturing.
  • Algorithms and Machine Learning: Focuses on designing and analyzing algorithms and developing supervised learning techniques for regression and classification on real-world data sets.
  • Neural Networks and Deep Learning: Explores the invention, history, and development of aspects of neural networks and deep learning models, describes their relationship to machine learning, and identifies the ways they can be used to solve a variety of industry and business problems.
  • Natural Language Processing and Speech: Provides an introduction to the field of natural language processing (NLP) and how to create systems that can analyze, understand, and produce language.

Best 50 Accredited Schools for Artificial Intelligence

Best Schools for Artificial Intelligence badge

Carnegie Mellon University

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Stanford University

UC Berkeley Executive Education

Cornell University

University of Washington

Georgia Institute of Technology

University of Illinois at Urbana - Champaign

University of Michigan - Dearborn

Columbia University in the City of New York

The University of Texas at Austin

University of Maryland

University of California San Diego

UCLA Samueli School of Engineering

Harvard Extension School

UMass Dartmouth

UPenn GRASP Laboratory

USC Viterbi School of Engineering

NYU School of Professional Studies

Duke University

University of Wisconsin at Madison

Northwestern McCormick School of Engineering

UGA Institute for Artificial Intelligence

SMU Lyle School of Engineering

Purdue University

University of San Diego

Colorado State University Global

Oregon State University

Lewis University

Indiana University Bloomington

The University of Tennessee, Knoxville

Penn State World Campus

University of Rochester

Colorado State University

Northeastern University

University of Pittsburgh

University of Cincinnati

University of Arizona

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

South Dakota School of Mines and Technology

Boston University

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How we rank schools

This list features some of the best schools for artificial intelligence in the U.S. All institutions are nonprofit and accredited, with a high standard of academic quality for post-secondary institutions. The list includes public and private institutions.

We evaluated each school on tuition costs, admission, retention and graduation rates, 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 the 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 I Do With an Artificial Intelligence Degree?

Individuals who study AI can pursue many career paths, as the field encompasses a wide range of positions and responsibilities.

One way students can determine the educational path that’s best for them is by considering what type of role within AI they would like after graduation. For example, software engineers develop and maintain software for AI applications, while business intelligence analysts use business data and AI programs to predict future business trends. Many AI professionals focus on the various types of engineering under the umbrella of AI, including robotics and machine learning.

Students may also want to consider the industry in which they want to work, as nearly every sector is exploring ways to use this new technology. Key industries adopting AI include healthcare, finance, marketing, and transportation.

When considering what you want to do with an AI degree, review the minimum level of education needed, to ensure you select the right degree or certificate program. Most entry-level positions will be available to those with bachelor’s degrees or post-secondary certificates, while advanced positions, including leadership roles, may require a master’s degree.

Career Outlook

  • Computer and information research scientists — Design innovative uses for new and existing technology by studying and solving complex problems in computing for business, science, medicine, and other fields.
    • Median annual salary: $145,080
    • Projected employment growth (through 2032): 23%
    • New jobs projected: 3,400 per year
  • Data scientists — Use analytical tools and techniques to extract meaningful insights from data.
    • Median annual salary: $108,020
    • Projected employment growth (through 2032): 35%
    • New jobs projected: 17,700 per year
  • Mathematicians and statisticians — Analyze data and apply computational techniques to solve problems.
    • Median annual salary: $116,440
    • Project employment growth (through 2032): 30%
    • New jobs projected: 3,500 per year

How To Choose the School for AI That’s Right for You

Step 1: Choose your area of study

Before you start researching schools and AI degree programs, take some time to reflect on what you want and need from your AI education.

There are several major options available, so consider whether you want a general AI or computer science degree or if you want to focus on a specific sub-field, such as machine learning, data science, or mathematics.

Consider what you want from the school as well. Will you be attending in person or online? Do you want a public or private institution? Do you prefer a small, medium, or large university?

The more clarity you can have on what you’re looking for before you start digging into schools and programs, the easier it will be to find an institution that meets your needs.

Step 2: Research schools and programs

Once you know your parameters, you can research schools offering AI programs.

A key thing to check during research is a school’s accreditation status. There are two types of accreditation for post-secondary institutions in the U.S.: regional and national. Regional accreditation is the more widely accepted of the two, as it has more rigorous standards for academic quality. Students who plan to transfer between schools or pursue an advanced degree should seek out programs at regionally accredited schools to ensure the transfer of credits and degrees. A school’s accreditation can also affect financial aid eligibility and future employment opportunities.

Some schools may have AI programs accredited by ABET, a nonprofit agency that accredits computing, engineering, and other tech-related programs. This accreditation is an additional confirmation that the program meets quality educational standards.

As you conduct your research, asking the following questions can help you identify if a school is right for you:

  • Does this school offer the type of learning experience you seek (in-person, online, full-time, or part-time)?
  • What types of AI degrees do they offer?
  • What does the AI 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?
  • What is the culture of the AI department and overall institution like?
  • What academic, career, and health support services are available?

There are numerous ways to research schools and programs, including visiting their websites, contacting program representatives and admissions counselors, attending in-person or virtual open houses, and following on social media.

Step 3: Prepare for applications and tests

During your research phase, you should also review the eligibility requirements, application processes, and deadlines for any schools that interest you. This research will help ensure you select schools and programs you qualify for and keep your applications on schedule. Using a spreadsheet or calendar can help you keep track of this information if you’re considering multiple schools.

Each institution sets its own admissions requirements and procedures, but in general, an application to an AI degree program will consist of the following:

  • Application form
  • Official transcripts (high school transcripts for first-time freshmen, college transcripts for transfer and graduate students)
  • Letter(s) of recommendation
  • Personal statement
  • Standardized test scores (SAT or ACT for first-time freshmen, GRE for graduate students)

For undergraduate students, many schools are increasingly moving toward test-optional or test-blind policies for standardized tests. Before taking the SAT or ACT, confirm whether any of the schools you’re applying to require them.

Meanwhile, for graduate students, there are usually additional requirements or criteria, including a specific undergraduate major or coursework, a minimum undergraduate GPA, or professional experience. Students may be asked to submit a resume or participate in an interview as part of the application process.

Step 4: Submit applications

Once you’ve considered all your options, select the school or schools you want to apply to. There’s no magic number of applications to submit. Some students will submit applications to multiple institutions to increase their chances of acceptance, while others select one or two programs based on a specific concentration or other parameters.

Be mindful of deadlines, especially if the program only enrolls new students once or twice a year or is competitive. Missing due dates can result in delays in starting your AI education.

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

Another part of your research should be learning about the costs associated with the schools you’re considering, including tuition, fees, and room and board if you live on campus. You should also find out what kind of financial aid the school offers, such as scholarships, grants, fellowships, military discounts, and work-study.

If you still need to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) for the upcoming academic year, now is a good time. Schools use the information from the FAFSA to determine your eligibility for federal student loans and institutional aid. Undergraduate and graduate students can complete the FAFSA.

In addition to student loans, there are various alternative ways to fund your degree. These include applying for scholarships and grants from professional organizations, nonprofits, and community or religious groups. If you plan on working while enrolled in your degree program, find out if your employer offers tuition assistance benefits, which can help subsidize the cost of your education.

Frequently Asked Questions About Schools for AI

How much does an AI degree cost?

DataUSA reports that for AI degree programs, the median annual tuition is $10,037 for in-state students at public universities and $55,651 for private universities. However, this doesn’t specify if this is for undergraduate or graduate degree programs, which can impact cost.

Other factors that can influence the cost of an AI degree include whether the student is attending a public or private university and, if the school is public, whether the student pays in-state or out-of-state tuition.

Tuition at public universities tends to be lower, particularly for state residents. The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) reports that in the 2020-21 academic year, average tuition and fees for four-year undergraduate degrees was $9,375 for in-state students at public universities. Meanwhile, private school tuition for the same year averaged $32,825 at private schools. Non-resident, public university students paid an average of $27,091 for tuition and fees.

Because of these variables, students should always speak to a financial aid counselor to understand tuition and other program costs.

How long does it take to complete an AI degree?

Most AI bachelor’s degrees are 120 credits and can be completed in a minimum of four years of full-time study. Students who enroll part-time may take longer to complete their degree.

Master’s degrees in AI typically range from 30-60 credits and may take 1-3 years to complete. Again, this is also dependent upon enrollment status.

For students who are planning to earn both a bachelor’s and master’s in AI, some schools may offer “4+1” programs. In these programs, students begin taking graduate-level classes as undergrads, allowing them to earn both a bachelor’s and master’s in five years total.

To plan accordingly, students should confirm the expected program duration with their school before enrolling.

What should I major in for an AI career?

Aspiring AI professionals have multiple options regarding their area of study.

An obvious choice is an artificial intelligence major. This major is more common at the graduate level, although schools are also beginning to offer bachelor’s degrees in AI. An AI major will typically cover a variety of concepts underneath the AI umbrella, including cognitive systems, natural language processing, machine learning, analysis of algorithms, game theory, and more.

Computer science is another popular major for students interested in AI. This major will expose students to concepts and skills in AI and other computing areas, like software, hardware, programming, and more.

Because of AI’s heavy reliance on mathematics, a major in this subject can also prepare students for an AI career. Mathematics majors study many of the concepts used in AI, like linear algebra, algorithms, and computational methods.

Students interested in the data analysis side of AI may want to consider a major in data science. This area of study teaches students different methods for collecting, managing, and analyzing data, which AI uses to perform tasks.

Ultimately, the best AI degree is the one that gives you the skills and knowledge you need to pursue the jobs and experiences you want. You can learn more about what employers seek by reviewing AI job postings.

What types of classes will I take in an AI degree program?

The type of classes will vary based on the specific major and degree level you’re pursuing.

At the undergraduate level, classes are more foundational. The curriculum introduces students to essential AI theories as well as programming, mathematics, data analysis, and ethical concerns related to AI.

For graduate students, classes will dive deeper into advanced AI concepts and skills. The program may specialize in a sub-field like machine learning, robotics, or data science. Depending on the type of degree, students may have to complete a research thesis or a capstone project.

Is a degree in AI worth it?

From a career outlook standpoint, an AI degree is a solid investment, as it can prepare students for many high-paying, in-demand jobs, including roles like artificial intelligence engineer, computer and information research scientist, and data scientist.

While some employers value experience over education, many entry- to mid-level jobs require a minimum of a bachelor’s degree. More complex roles and leadership positions may require a master’s or doctoral degree.

Earning a degree in AI demonstrates to employers that you have the necessary skills and knowledge a job demands. Students in AI programs also get access to hands-on learning opportunities like research projects, labs, and internships that may otherwise be unavailable.

Students enrolled in an AI degree program also have the opportunity to build their professional network by connecting with professors, classmates, and others in the AI community. These connections will be helpful when finding employment, mentorship, and professional development opportunities.

How hard is an AI degree?

AI is a complex field that requires understanding concepts related to computer science, mathematics, data analysis, engineering, and more. A student’s background and aptitude for these subjects will play a significant role in how challenging an AI degree program is for them.

In terms of curriculum, undergraduate degree programs will introduce the basics of AI and related subjects, while graduate programs will explore more advanced concepts and skills. Master’s and doctoral programs may have more research components, which can also present new student challenges.

Students who are successful in AI degree programs have strong math, computer science, programming, and analytical skills and a strong affinity for AI and its applications.

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