Why Get an Artificial Intelligence Degree?

Created by Henry Steele

By Henry Steele - May 14, 2018
Reading Time: 7 minutes
Reading Time: 7 minutes

In recent years, artificial intelligence or AI has become more popular. But for many people, AI is only in the realm of science fiction television and films. But AI is being used more in the real world every day. These days, there are machines and robots that do some of the work of human beings so we do not need to work in a dangerous environment. In the automobile market, autonomous vehicles are being developed.

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All of the technology being developed that uses AI means there will be more need in the coming years for professionals who are experts in AI engineering. They will be needed to develop the artificial ‘brain’ and thought processes that drive these machines. That is where it could be advantageous to obtain a degree in artificial intelligence or artificial intelligence engineering.

A degree in AI is essentially a different type of computer science degree that focuses on the creation of computer systems that perform chores that normally require human decision making and intelligence. AI programs can teach students how to program AI that includes visual perception, making logical decisions, translating and even recognizing speech.

What Is Artificial Intelligence?

Artificial intelligence or AI, is essentially simulated intelligence in computers and machines. Machines are being programmed to ‘think’ as a human would and imitate the way a person would act, speak and respond in many situations. Artificial intelligence is based upon the concept that human intelligence can be defined in ways that machines can imitate. The purpose of AI is for machines to be able to learn, reason and perceive as people do.

Artificial Intelligence Opportunity

One of the biggest reasons you may want to get your AI degree is you can make a lot of money. In the recent past, the only major options for making $1 million per year or more was to be a banker, celebrity, athlete or corporate executive. Today, it is becoming possible to earn seven figures with an AI degree.

According to Bloomberg.com, Google, Facebook, Amazon, Uber and others are offering huge pay packages to lure professionals with master’s in computer science and Ph.Ds in computer science and AI to work on teams that are developing self driving vehicles, digital assistants and facial recognition. The website reports that new graduates with an artificial intelligence degree can command salaries of at least $300,000.

Designing solid AI systems requires professionals and academics that have a blend of skills that are difficult to find: high level mathematics, statistical knowledge, data science and computer program skills and a lot of intuition.

It appears there is a serious shortage of workers who have these skills.

According to Element AI, a startup in Montreal that helps companies design machine learning systems, there are only about 22,000 computer scientists in the world who can currently build AI systems. Of those, just 3,000 or so are looking for work. It is estimated there are at least 10,000 AI positions open in the US.

Element AI has searched Linkedin recently looking for people who have skills in subjects such as natural language processing, computer vision, Python, and TensorFlow, which are computer languages needed for most AI software. There are very few people who have these much needed skills. So, the need for people with an AI degree is very strong.

Artificial Intelligence Career Paths

Jobs for people with skills in artificial intelligence programming are still in development, but one of the most common job paths for people in this field is software developer. It is expected that job demand for software developers generally will rise by 24% by 2026, much faster than average. At least some of these professionals will be working in various AI applications. See also 2018 Business Jobs Index for America.

As of 2016, there were 831,000 jobs in software development in the United States in these industries:

  • Computer systems design and related services: 35%
  • Software publishers: 10%
  • Finance and insurance: 10%
  • Manufacturing: 7%
  • Management of companies and enterprises: 5%

Some of the related positions where you may work with an artificial intelligence degree are:

  • Database administrator
  • Computer systems analyst
  • Network and computer systems administrator
  • Web developer
  • Computer support specialist
  • Computer programmer

Artificial Intelligence Salaries

According to Indeed.com, there are many six figure jobs available for people who work in artificial intelligence:

  • Business intelligence developer: $107,300
  • Machine learning engineer: $151,000
  • Research scientist: $120,000
  • R&D engineer: $120,500
  • Network engineer: $110,000
  • Software engineer: $126,000

Payscale.com reports the following wages in AI-related fields:

  • Software engineer: $100,057
  • Research scientist: $110,100
  • Data scientist: $116,000
  • Senior software engineer: $127,600
  • Solutions architect: $132,000
  • Senior product manager: $169,000

People who work in the following cities tend to see the highest salaries in the field of software development and software engineering:

  • Seattle WA: $105,700
  • San Jose CA: $100,900
  • San Francisco CA: $99,700
  • Madison WI: $97,200
  • Raleigh NC: $94,100
  • Austin TX: $91,200
  • Boston MA: $90,100
  • Sacramento CA: $89,600
  • Portland OR: $89,300

Artificial Intelligence Employers

With your artificial intelligence degree, you will be able to find employment in countless computer and software development companies.

Here are some of the best and largest as of 2017:

  • Oracle
  • Apple
  • Sonsoft, Inc.
  • SAP
  • IBM
  • Google
  • Intel
  • Facebook
  • Yahoo
  • Amazon
  • Boeing
  • PwC

Artificial Intelligence Online Degree Options

If you are considering an AI degree, it is recommended to review some of the options below.

Some of these programs are computer science degree or information technology degrees offering concentrations in artificial intelligence subjects.

University of Southern California

USC offers a Master of Science in Computer Science with coursework on AI and related topics. This is a computer science degree with a concentration degree in computer security. This is a unique degree program that has courses that are critical to the practice of computer security research, deployment and development, and the secure operation of all types of computer systems.

Topics include cryptography and statistical analysis of cyber attacks; development of systems that encourage and enforce security; management of systems that depend upon robust security technologies. Required courses include:

  • Security Systems
  • Applied Cryptography
  • Computer Networking
  • Advanced Operations Systems
  • Introduction to Cryptography
  • Internetworking and Distributed Systems Laboratory
  • Foundations to Artificial Intelligence
  • Brain Theory and A.I.
  • Analysis of Algorithms
  • Web Technologies
  • Advanced Artificial Intelligence
  • Computer Vision

Georgia Tech

Georgia Tech offers an online Master of Science in Computer Science that is being offered collaboratively by the university, Udacity and AT&T that can be earned entirely through the massive online format and is a fraction of the cost of a regular master’s program.

This online master’s in computer science, with an available AI concentration, has brought together leaders in education, massive online open courses (MOOCs) and the computer science industry to apply modern technology to widen the pipeline of highly educated computer science professionals.

In only two years of existence, the program received almost 8,000 applications and enrolled 3,000 students. All of them are earning the same, high quality Master of Science in Computer Science that their counterparts on campus are earning.

This two year, online program features both an artificial intelligence and machine learning specialty. The AI speciality features these courses:

  • Software Development Process
  • Computability, Algorithms and Complexity
  • Artificial Intelligence Systems
  • Knowledge Based AI
  • Machine Learning
  • Case Based Reasoning
  • Electives include Health Informatics, Educational Technology, Computational Journalism and Game AI

The machine learning concentration has courses that include Design and Analysis of Algorithms; Graph Algorithms; Computational Complexity Theory; and Computational Science and Engineering Algorithms.

Artificial Intelligence Bachelor’s Degree

More programs in artificial intelligence are available at the master’s level, with many earning that degree after getting their bachelor’s in computer science. But Carnegie Mellon is starting a Bachelor of Science in Artificial Intelligence that will be heavy on math and statistics, computer science, AI, science and engineering, and also humanities and the arts.

Artificial Intelligence Master’s Degree

Computer science and artificial intelligence work collaboratively to create AI systems that drive new technology. Students who are interested in learning about machine intelligence need to study in graduate programs that focus somewhat on computer science, including subjects such as computational language and algorithms. More graduate schools see where the technology is going and are starting to offer master’s degrees in artificial intelligence and related topics.

Northwestern University offers a campus-based Master of Science in Artificial Intelligence that is a good illustration of what is covered in this relatively new type of degree. The goals of the 15 month program include:

  • Understanding the breadth and depth of all of the major technologies of artificial intelligence
  • Identify opportunities where AI technologies can be applied in technology today
  • Be able to design and deploy systems to work in environments with humans and also with business workflow
  • Lead teams in designing and developing new AI products and technologies

Subjects that are studies include introduction to AI; frameworks for AI; machine learning; introduction to databases; natural language processing; deep learning foundations; human computer interaction and cognitive modeling.

Artificial Intelligence Admission Requirements

All universities can set their own requirements for entering an artificial intelligence degree program. See a number of computer science programs listed in the report listing 160 best online master’s degrees with no GRE requirements.

At the master’s level, you should expect these types of requirements:

  • High GPA of 3.0 or higher
  • Official college transcripts
  • Bachelor’s degree in computer science highly preferred
  • GRE scores
  • 3 letters of recommendation
  • Work experience in computer science and/or artificial intelligence
  • Writing sample

Artificial Intelligence Curriculum

Each university will have a curriculum that is heavily focused on AI, machine learning, computer and software programming, etc. Some of the coursework you may see in a bachelor’s level program are math foundations of computer science; integral calculus; approximation and integration; linear transformations and matrices; machine learning; natural language processing; principles of functional programming; introduction to computer systems; imperative computation; and modern regression.

Artificial Intelligence Financial Assistance

Finishing a degree in artificial intelligence takes a lot of work, and it also can be expensive. You will need to concern yourself with the cost of tuition, books, fees etc, and also will need to continue to work in many cases. But there is a lot of financial assistance out there because the demand for these computer and software skills are so high. Some of the available scholarships and grants you can consider are:

  • Betty Stevens Frecknall Scholarship — $2000 for undergraduates majoring in computer science and related fields.
  • Microsoft General Scholarships — Various amounts for students in undergraduate and graduate programs in computer science, artificial intelligence or STEM majors.
  • Richard E. Merwin Student Scholarship — For undergraduates and graduate students in various amounts who are studying computer science or engineering.
  • Unisys Corporation Scholarship — For students who are earning a bachelor’s degree in computer science or artificial intelligence in various amounts.
  • Women Techmakers Scholars Program — For women around the world who are studying computer science, informatics or a related field. Amounts are up to $10,000.

Artificial Intelligence Certifications

If you want to accelerate your artificial intelligence or computer science career, you could consider earning some of these possible certifications and credentials:

  • Artificial Intelligence Certification by Columbia University
  • Introduction to Artificial Intelligence Certification by Microsoft
  • Artificial Intelligence Graduate Certificate – Stanford University
  • Certificate in Machine Learning – University of Washington
  • MCITP – Microsoft Certified IT Professional
  • MCTS – Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist

Artificial Intelligence Associations

Professionals who want to get the most out of their artificial intelligence degree may consider checking out the following associations for educational and networking purposes:

If you want to make a lot of money and find yourself in very high demand, earning an artificial intelligence degree as soon as possible is a very good idea.


Henry Steele
Managing Editor
Henry is Managing Editor of BusinessStudent.com. He is a seasoned business professional who regularly consults with local business's throughout Southern California. Henry pursued his undergrad in Business and Economics at the University of San Diego and gained valuable life changing experience through a unique internship upon graduation.

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