What is an Artificial Intelligence Degree?

Artificial intelligence (AI) is a branch of computer science concerned with building smart machines capable of performing tasks that normally necessitate human intelligence. In other words, students of AI learn how to develop artificial intelligence applications that are inspired by the ways people learn, reason, and make decisions.

Students study advanced mathematics, engineering, computing, programming, and data structures to envision and create the AI technologies and systems that continue to transform so many areas of our lives – from agriculture, construction, and transportation to healthcare, human resources, manufacturing, marketing, and more.

Once the subject matter of science fiction, artificial intelligence is no longer an alien concept. Today it is commonplace, streamlining business processes and enhancing consumer experiences.

Program Options

Bachelor’s Degree in Artificial Intelligence – Four Year Duration
While they do exist, bachelor’s programs in AI are not all that common, because most jobs in the field call for a master’s. The AI bachelor’s curriculum starts with an introduction to the concepts of artificial intelligence, machine learning, and data analysis. With these foundations, students go on to explore areas of AI research including big data and natural language processing, deep and reinforcement learning, computer vision, decision analysis, and robotics. The final requirement of AI programs offered at the undergrad level is typically a bachelor’s thesis or capstone research project.

Here is an example of a bachelor’s program in artificial intelligence:

  • Introduction to Mathematics and Computer Science
  • Calculus
  • Introduction to Artificial Intelligence
  • Discrete Mathematics
  • Introduction to Programming
  • Introduction to Computing
  • Artificial Life with Cognitive Sciences
  • Linear Algebra
  • Introduction to Probability
  • Computer Architecture with Low-Level Programming
  • Algorithms and Data Structures
  • Operating Systems with Concurrency Programming (with multiple computations happening at the same time)
  • Statistics
  • Information Theory
  • Data Compression Methods (methods to reduce the size of a file by re-encoding the file data to use fewer bits of storage than the original file)
  • Object Programming (makes code organized, reusable, and easy to maintain)
  • Data Base Systems
  • Combinational Optimization
  • Discrete Optimization
  • Software Engineering
  • Computer Networks
  • Machine Learning (an application of AI that provides systems the ability to automatically learn and improve from experience without being explicitly programmed)
  • Elements of Convex Optimization
  • Optimization Methods for Data Analysis
  • Data Mining
  • Data Visualization / Graphics
  • Robotics
  • Deep Learning (an AI function that mimics the workings of the human brain in processing data for use in detecting objects, recognizing speech, translating languages, and making decisions)
  • Internet Applications
  • Operational Research / Industrial Engineering
  • Information Retrieval
  • Problem Classes: Data Analysis and Artificial Intelligence
  • Computer Vision (enables computers to understand the content of images and videos)
  • Signal Processing
  • Natural Language Processing (setting up computers that can understand and process language)
  • Decision Analysis / Decision Support
  • Big Data and Distributed Processing
  • Theory and Practice of Processing Big Data
  • Reinforcement Learning and Multi-Agent Systems
  • Computational Intelligence
  • Problem Classes: Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence
  • Ethics and Research
  • Scientific Writing Methodology
  • Vocational Internship
  • Cybersecurity
  • Semantic Web and Social Networks
  • Man-Machine Interaction
  • Declarative Programming and Expert Systems
  • AI and Games
  • Evolutionary Computation
  • Internet of Things
  • Spiking Neural Networks (a system software or hardware that works similarly to the tasks performed by neurons of the human brain)
  • Preparation for Scientific Research

Master’s Degree in Artificial Intelligence – Two to Three Year Duration
The master’s degree is the most common credential in the field. While the bachelor’s curriculum in artificial intelligence provides a foundation made up of core courses, the master’s program is much more pointed. Students focus on a concentration of their choice and conduct research in that area, leading to their thesis. The AI master’s curriculum often includes an internship. To be admitted to a master’s program in artificial intelligence, students must have completed a bachelor’s degree in AI or a related field such as computer science, robotics, or engineering.

Schools may require that all AI master’s students, regardless of their area of focus, take some basic graduate level courses in the discipline. Here are some examples:

  • Foundations of Logic and Model Theory
  • Statistics for Engineers
  • Fundamentals of Artificial Intelligence
  • Artificial Intelligence – Methods and Applications
  • Advanced Concepts in Machine Learning
  • Design of Interactive Intelligent Systems
  • Advanced Natural Language Processing

After fulfilling compulsory course requirements, grad students proceed to concentrate their studies and research in a particular area. Here are some of the most common focus areas:

  • Reasoning and Decision Making
  • Machine Learning
  • Human-AI Interaction
  • Intelligent Robotics
  • Computational Linguistics / Speech Recognition and Processing
  • Computer Vision

Doctoral Degree in Artificial Intelligence – Two to Three Year Duration
Doctoral degree programs in artificial intelligence are relatively uncommon. Those that exist are aimed at individuals who wish to pursue a career in research and/or teaching at the university level. Ph.D. graduates in the field have deep knowledge in all important areas of theoretical computer science and artificial intelligence, including design and analysis of algorithms and data structures, processing big data, and solving complex problems.

Degrees Similar to Artificial Intelligence

Computer Engineering
This degree field integrates electrical engineering and computer science. It teaches students how to develop computer hardware and software. The curriculum includes course in calculus, physics, computer system architecture and networking, digital-logic design, data structures, and programming languages.

Computer Science
The field of computer science is focused on computer systems and how humans interact with them. Courses cover mathematics for computer science, artificial intelligence, data structures and algorithms, and introduction to program design.

Computer Software Engineering
Degree programs in computer software engineering teach students how to apply engineering principles to software development. Students learn how to design, build, test, implement, and maintain computer operating systems, as well as applications that allow end users to accomplish tasks on their computers, smartphones, and other electronic devices. Most programs begin with core engineering classes like mathematics, chemistry, and physics.

Robotics Engineering
Robotics engineering is focused on designing robots and robotic systems than can perform duties that humans are either unable or prefer not to perform.

Robotics Technology
Degree programs in robotics technology prepare students to work with engineers who design robots and robotic systems that can perform duties that humans are either unable or prefer not to perform.

Simulation Programming
Simulation programmers develop computer simulations that allow us to predict, see, think about, test, and manipulate real-world products, services, systems, processes, conditions, situations, and issues, without taking the risk and incurring the costs of doing so in the real world. Math, engineering, and computer science are the overlapping disciplines that simulation relies on.

Degree programs in the field are made up of courses in these technical and scientific areas, but they are also focused on teaching the skills of abstracting, theorizing, hypothesizing, and intellectualizing. In other words, simulation programming students learn everything they need to conceptualize the world into models that are designed to reach solutions to many of the world’s challenges and problems.

Skills You’ll Learn

Students of artificial intelligence come away from their studies with a considerable set of transferable skills:

  • Adaptability
  • Capacity for ongoing learning and grasping new concepts quickly
  • Communication and Collaboration / Teamwork
  • Conceptualization, Research, and Project Planning
  • Critical Thinking
  • Curiosity and Creativity
  • Judgement and Decision Making
  • Leadership
  • Mentoring
  • Monitoring
  • Perseverance and Patience
  • Self-Motivation and Inspiration
  • Systems Analysis
  • Systems Design
  • Systems Evaluation
  • Time Management
  • Work Ethic

What Can You Do with an Artificial Intelligence Degree?

Graduates of artificial intelligence apply their skills in data analytics, user experience, natural language processing, software engineering, programming, robotics, and machine learning in an ever-growing variety of sectors. Here are some examples of how AI-based systems are being developed for and used in many fields:


  • Use of computer vision and machine learning to detect soil defects and nutrient deficiencies and identify where weeds are growing
  • AI-based drones and tractors
  • Weather monitoring systems
  • Use of AI robots to harvest crops


  • Development of self-driving vehicles – emergency braking, blind-spot monitoring, driver-assist steering
  • Predictive vehicle maintenance


  • Predicting and preventing cost overruns based on project size, contract type, and competence of project managers
  • 3D building information modeling for efficient planning, design, construction, and management of buildings
  • Self-driving construction machinery to perform repetitive tasks such as pouring concrete, bricklaying, and demolition


  • Development of intelligent instruction design and digital platforms that use AI to provide learning, testing, and feedback to students
  • Real-time translation of what a teacher is saying
  • AI-supported tutoring and study programs
  • Automation of administrative tasks


  • Automated financial investing


  • AI-based drones and tractors
  • Creation of smart human-like non-player characters (NPCs) to interact with players
  • Prediction of human behavior leading to better game design and testing


  • Disease detection and mapping in the field of radiology
  • Analysis of chronic conditions
  • Use of medical data to discover new drugs
  • Patient monitoring
  • AI powered robots move and carry goods and clean spaces and equipment

Human Resources

  • Intelligent software to examine applications and resumes based on specific parameters

Manufacturing and Production

  • Automated assembly lines
  • Manufacturing robots
  • AI powered robots move and carry goods and clean spaces and equipment

Marketing / Retail / E-Commerce

  • Personalized shopping recommendation engines connect customers with marketing campaigns, conversational marketing bots, and potential purchases based on their browsing history and interests
  • Natural Language Processing is helping to create human sounding AI-powered virtual shopping assistants and chatbots
  • Fraud prevention – reducing credit card fraud by analyzing usage patterns; identifying fake customer reviews

Security and Surveillance

  • Smart cities are using AI to manage energy usage and reduce crime
  • AI-based face recognition and biometric systems

Social Media

  • AI considers user preferences to match them with posts
  • Automatic translation of posts from different languages
  • Fraud detection
  • Removal of propaganda and hate speech

Supply Chain Management

  • Automated inventory, warehousing, and supply chain management

Transportation / Navigation

  • GPS technology to improve safety
  • AI is detecting open and closed roads and analyzing traffic to optimize routes
  • Aircraft and train scheduling


  • Virtual travel agents

Urban Planning

  • Smart cities are using AI to manage energy usage and reduce crime

These are some common job titles in AI:


Find out what graduates typically earn.

Read about Salary