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As the field of AI continues to grow, more and more postsecondary institutions are adding degree programs in AI. While this is good news, considering employment of AI professionals is expected to increase by 21% through 2031, it can take time to determine which program is right for you.

To help, evaluated online AI certificates and bachelor’s, master’s, and doctorate programs from reputable U.S. schools and created this list of the best online AI degree and certificate programs for 2023.

Because AI is a multidisciplinary field, this list includes degrees and certificates in various areas besides AI, such as computer science, machine learning, and data science.

For additional help in finding the right AI program, there are resources for what to expect in an AI degree program, including coursework, the career outlook for AI, and FAQs about the cost, duration, and benefits of an AI degree.

What Can I Expect from an Online Artificial Intelligence Degree Program?

Artificial intelligence (AI) refers to computer software that enables machines to mimic human cognitive functions, including decision-making, language translation, and using real-time data to adjust responses and performance. The term is also a catch-all for the technology’s many sub-fields, such as machine learning, data science, natural language processing, and more.

In general, students in AI degree programs can expect their coursework and learning experiences to reflect the field’s interdisciplinary nature, with classes in computer science, AI, data science, mathematics, statistics, and more.

The degree level often dictates what students expect from their AI degree program. Undergraduate degrees typically offer more breadth, covering AI’s basic and intermediate foundations and subfields. Master’s degrees provide more advanced, focused study, typically on a specific branch of AI. Graduate programs usually have more rigorous admission criteria, such as prior work experience or a solid undergraduate academic record.

The type of online program you choose can also impact what to expect. Students who enroll in synchronous programs can expect scheduled sessions in virtual classrooms that allow for real-time interaction with faculty and classmates. Meanwhile, in asynchronous programs, there are no designated class meetings. Students learn via reading assignments, pre-recorded lectures, and videos and may have limited interaction with faculty and fellow students.

Students should also note the differences between degree and certificate programs. Degree programs generally take longer but cover a wider range of concepts and skills. Certificates, meanwhile, usually focus on a specific skill or topic and are designed for continued professional development.

Best Accredited Online Artificial Intelligence Degree Programs

Best Online Artificial Intelligence Degrees badge

Stanford University

Colorado State University Global

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

University of Colorado Boulder

Johns Hopkins Engineering for Professionals

Columbia University in the City of New York

UC Berkeley Executive Education

Duke University

Lewis University

Davenport University

Illinois Institute of Technology

Northeastern University

Northwestern University

SMU Lyle School of Engineering

USC Viterbi School of Engineering

Wayne Community College

University of San Diego

Drexel University

Colorado State University

Worcester Polytechnic University

University of Wisconsin at Whitewater

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How we rank schools

This list features some of the best artificial intelligence 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 institutions.

We evaluated each degree program 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 Courses Will I Take in an Online Artificial Intelligence Degree?

Specific courses for AI degree programs vary by degree level, program, and school. However, AI programs generally include courses related to the following subjects.

Computer science

AI is based on computer science concepts such as sets, functions, relations, sequences, summations, logic, proofs, number representations, and algorithm analysis. Undergraduate degrees will cover these topics at a foundational level, while master’s programs will help students advance their skills in these areas.


In addition to technical coursework, classes in the ethical components of AI are also very standard in AI curriculums. These courses help students understand their professional and ethical responsibilities in national, international, and cross-cultural environments and develop sustainable, ethical frameworks for handling such duties.


Most AI degree programs, particularly those at the undergraduate level, will include classes covering basic AI principles. Topics in these general AI courses may include introducing heuristic methods, problem representation and search methods, classic AI techniques, and reviewing the controversial issues of the AI paradigm of cognition as computation.

Machine learning

Understanding the sub-field of machine learning is another component of an AI degree curriculum. Courses in machine learning typically cover the design and function of systems that learn from data and improve with experience, as well as methods for teaching such as supervised learning and predictive modeling, decision trees, rule induction, nearest neighbors, and more.

What Can I Do With an Online Artificial Intelligence Degree?

Career outlook

The use of AI technology is expected to expand in the next decade, leading to rapid growth in the field. According to the BLS, which categorizes AI professionals as computer and information research scientists, roughly 7,000 new AI jobs will become available through 2031, an increase of 21%. Jobs for data scientists, another popular AI career, will increase by 36% in the same period, with an estimated 40,500 new positions projected.

Career paths

AI is a multi-faceted, interdisciplinary field that offers students many potential career paths. AI professionals work across industries, including transportation, healthcare, banking and finance, defense, education, and more.

Below are some examples of typical jobs related to AI.

  • Machine learning engineers teach AI models to process data
  • Software engineers develop and maintain software for AI applications
  • Data scientists collect and analyze data to extract meaning from it
  • Business intelligence analysts use data and AI programs to predict future business trends
  • Robotics engineers create machines that use AI to perform tasks

Students who hold bachelor’s degrees typically start in entry-level jobs. To qualify for advanced or leadership roles, students may need a master’s degree or a bachelor’s degree with a minimum level of experience.

Associate software engineer

Earning Potential: $90,950 – $123,050 per year

Education: Bachelor, Master, or Doctorate of Science degree from an accredited course of study in Computer Engineering, Software Engineering, Computer Science, Mathematics, Physics, or other technical degrees

This position will involve creating software for world-class, next-generation disruptive systems and technologies. The selected candidate will work with the Disruptive Computing & Networks (DC&N) product team focused on the concept, requirements, architecture, design, and development of a future system. Qualifications include two or more years of experience designing and developing software for a real-time or non-real-time system, experience with entire software development lifecycles, and automating software builds, unit tests, integration tests, deployment, and installations using a DevOps toolchain (for example, GitLab, Jenkins, Nexus, Artifactory).

Conversational AI/NLP Engineer

Earning Potential:  $130,000 per year

Education: Bachelor’s degree in computer science, electrical engineering, computational linguistics, or related field

The Conversational AI/NLP Engineer will work on a multi-disciplinary team of content developers, artists, software engineers, and QA specialists to develop educational and training products that utilize conversational AI simulations with avatars. This individual will lead the development and integration of new NLP capabilities into Alelo’s eLearning platform and use them to create new conversational learning experiences.

Data scientist, product analytics

Earning Potential:  $134,000-$194,000 per year

Education: Bachelor’s degree in Mathematics, Statistics, a relevant technical field, or equivalent practical experience.

This position will work with large and complex data sets to solve a wide array of challenging problems using different analytical and statistical approaches and apply technical expertise to quantitative analysis, experimentation, data mining, and the presentation of data to develop strategies for Meta’s products.

Read more about How to Become an Artificial Intelligence Engineer.

How to Choose the Online Artificial Intelligence Degree That’s Right for You

Step 1: Choose your area of study

For a smooth college application process, a critical first step is getting clarity on what you want from your AI degree program based on your needs, wants, and career goals. From there, you can focus your search on programs that meet your specific criteria, such as curriculum, specialization options, internships, networking connections, and more.

Now is also the right time to reflect on your logistical needs for an online degree program. Do you need an asynchronous program that will provide maximum flexibility or synchronous classes to maintain interaction and accountability? Will you enroll full-time or part-time? Do you want a fully remote or hybrid program?

With so many options available, getting specific about what you want at the start will help make the next steps easier.

Step 2: Research schools and programs

Now is where you’ll start looking for schools and programs that meet the criteria you established in Step 1 and do in-depth research.

Besides ensuring the schools and programs offer what you want, you’ll also want to confirm that any schools you’re considering are accredited. In the U.S., schools can have either regional or national accreditation. Both are valid, but regional accreditation is the more widely accepted due to its higher quality standards. Students who intend to transfer between schools or pursue graduate study are best served by attending a regionally accredited institution to ensure other schools will accept their credits and degrees.

Individuals looking at AI programs may also want to check for ABET accreditation. ABET is a nonprofit agency accrediting computing programs and other tech and engineering degrees. While not a requirement for employment, attending an ABET-accredited program denotes that the curriculum met the highest quality standards in the field.

Here are some questions you can ask during the research process to help you determine if the school is a good fit:

  • What’s in the curriculum, and how does that align with your interests and goals?
  • Who are the faculty, and what are their AI areas of expertise?
  • What kind of in-person learning requirements does the program include, if any?
  • How do online students communicate with each other, faculty, and staff?
  • What resources are available for online students, including academic and tech support?
  • What’s the overall culture of the department and institution like?

To get answers to these questions, visit the school’s and program’s website or contact the admissions office. You can also follow schools, programs, and faculty on social media, attend virtual open houses, and request digital or print marketing materials.

Step 3: Prepare for applications and tests

As you’re researching schools, pay attention to application requirements and deadlines. Keeping track of this information on a spreadsheet or calendar can be helpful if you’re considering multiple schools. Many online programs offer several start terms each academic year, while others only accept new students once or twice yearly.

The specific materials you’ll need for your applications will vary between schools, but in general, applications 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)

It’s worth noting that schools are increasingly moving toward test-optional or test-blind procedures for standardized tests. Before taking these exams, confirm any requirements of the schools to which you’re applying.

There are often additional requirements for students applying to graduate programs, which may include a specific undergraduate major, coursework, or professional experience. Many graduate programs also have minimums for undergraduate GPAs. Verify that you meet the minimum eligibility requirements for a program before applying.

Step 4: Select your program

At this point, you should clearly know the programs to which you want to apply. There’s no “right” number of AI degree programs to apply to. Some students focus on one or two schools, especially if they’re looking for a specific concentration or curriculum, while others cast a wide net to improve their chances of admission.

Be mindful of application deadlines to ensure all materials are submitted and received by due dates. Particularly for competitive programs, failing to meet deadlines can harm your chances for admission.

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

Cost is something you should be thinking about throughout your research process. Find out the costs of attending your online AI program, including tuition and fees, and what type of financial aid your school offers. You can learn more from the school’s financial aid department regarding costs and opportunities for scholarships, grants, discounts, and more.

At this point, if you still need to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), you should do so. Schools use the FAFSA to determine eligibility for federal student loans and other types of aid. Completing the FAFSA will help students and families get clarity on how much financial assistance they can expect.

Students should also research ways to get discounted or subsidized tuition. For example, many schools offer discounts to active-duty or veteran service members and their families. Individuals who plan to work while earning their degree can check if their company provides tuition assistance benefits. Many tech companies, including Amazon, Apple, and Oracle, offer tuition assistance to students studying relevant subjects.

Frequently Asked Questions About Online Artificial Intelligence Degree Programs

What are the admissions requirements for an online AI degree program?

Each AI degree program sets admissions requirements, so students should always check with a specific school or program to verify their eligibility. Additionally, admissions requirements vary by degree level. Associate and bachelor’s programs typically have fewer thresholds than graduate degrees, which may expect students to have specific coursework or professional experiences.

Generally speaking, to succeed in an AI degree program, students should have the following:

  • 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
  • Time management and organization skills
  • Interest in collaboration
  • Communication skills

What is the average cost of an online AI degree program?

The cost of an AI degree program depends on a few factors. For online students, the cost typically consists of tuition, school fees, technology (reliable computer and internet access), and books.

When it comes to tuition, the key factor is whether a school is public or private and, if attending a public school, whether the student resides in-state or out-of-state.

Tuition is typically lower at public universities, especially for in-state students. 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.  According to DataUSA, the median annual tuition for AI degrees is $10,037 for in-state students at public universities and $55,651 for private universities. However, this doesn’t indicate whether these are undergraduate or master’s degrees, which can also impact the cost of the degree.

How long does it take to complete an online AI degree?

Different degrees take different lengths of time to complete. For example, a bachelor’s degree, which requires a minimum of 120 credits, usually takes four years of full-time study. Meanwhile, master’s degrees, typically between 30-60 credits, can take 1-3 years to finish when enrolled full-time.

Students who enroll in programs part-time usually take longer to finish. Conversely, because of the flexibility of remote learning, many schools offer accelerated online programs. These programs compress coursework into a shorter timeline, allowing students to graduate faster. Another option is “4+1” programs that enable bachelor’s students to begin earning credit towards a master’s degree while still an undergraduate, which impacts the time it takes to complete multiple degrees.

How difficult is a degree in AI?

AI is a complex field that requires hard skills in computer science, mathematics, probability and statistics, and programming, as well as soft skills like analytical thinking, problem-solving, and communication. A student’s aptitude in these areas and commitment to their studies will determine how hard it is to earn an AI degree.

Online students, particularly those entering an online learning environment for the first time, should also be aware of challenges specific to remote learning. To succeed in an online program, students must be self-motivated, disciplined, organized, and comfortable taking the initiative if they struggle. Not having systems in place to stay on track with classes and assignments can add obstacles to successfully earning an online AI degree.

Is an online degree in AI worth it?

For students willing and ready to invest time and energy into their education, an online AI degree can have many benefits.

Earning an AI degree will prepare students for various career opportunities, including entry-level and senior positions, by equipping them with the skills and knowledge employers seek. Many in-demand, high-paying jobs, including artificial intelligence engineers, computer and information research scientists, and data scientists, require a bachelor’s or master’s degree.

Another benefit of online learning is that it makes earning a degree more accessible. With the number of AI degree programs in the U.S. still somewhat limited, attending an in-person program might mean being forced to move to a different location. However, with an online AI degree, students can participate from anywhere without disrupting their current lives.

Employers are increasingly accepting online degrees, particularly in light of shifts to online classes during the pandemic. Many AI jobs are remote. In these situations, students can use their educational experience to their advantage by demonstrating their self-motivation, time management, organization, and familiarity with remote work software.

Which degree is best for AI?

Students should seek an AI degree program based on their specific interests and what skills and experience they need for the career path they want to pursue.

Individuals entering the AI field may want to seek out a general AI or computer science degree program that will introduce them to foundational AI concepts and skills. These programs also offer exposure to a range of AI subfields that students may choose to pursue.

At the graduate level, programs are more focused, specializing in machine learning, robotics and automation, data science, and more. These programs are appropriate for students who have a more targeted idea of the type of AI work they want to do.

It can be helpful to review job postings in this field to understand what degrees and experience employers seek in AI job candidates.

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