FAQs: What's the Best Degree for Artificial Intelligence?

Updated December 9, 2022

Professionals working in artificial intelligence develop algorithms that program computers to make decisions and solve problems using data. With an increasing demand for these jobs, many students who earn a degree related to the field can expect to find employment after graduation. If you want to work in this field, you may want to learn more about the best degrees for artificial intelligence that can prepare you for a successful career. In this article, we define artificial intelligence, summarize the different degree options in this field and answer some other frequently asked questions about the industry.

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What is artificial intelligence?

Artificial intelligence (AI) is an area of computer science that uses algorithms to enable computers to perform tasks by simulating human intelligence. It refers to machines that can learn from experiences to adapt to various scenarios. Professionals in AI develop applications that can mimic human behavior, such as voice recognition or language translation. They create algorithms that allow computers to analyze large amounts of data to find patterns, which gives the machines the ability to make decisions and solve problems. For example, professionals can use AI to create personalized recommendations for people who shop for a product online.

Read more: What Is Artificial Intelligence?

What's the best degree for artificial intelligence jobs?

Many people can get jobs in artificial intelligence with a bachelor's degree, though some high-level research and development positions may require a master's degree. Here are some common degrees for AI jobs that you can receive at both the undergraduate and graduate levels:

Artificial intelligence

Some schools offer programs specifically in AI, though this major is more uncommon than some other technology degrees. In these programs, students learn about many parts of artificial intelligence, such as cognitive systems, natural language processing, pattern recognition, game theory, analysis of algorithms and data structures. Some schools combine this degree with machine learning, which is a related concept that refers to using statistical models that program machines to learn progressively by referencing data. Compared with other related majors, an AI program typically has more emphasis on learning concepts to develop these types of applications.

Computer science

A computer science degree is a common choice for students who want to work in artificial intelligence. Many schools offer computer science programs with a track in AI or machine learning. This specialization allows students to take various classes in AI to help prepare them for careers in this field. For example, students completing a computer science program with an artificial intelligence specialization may take classes such as robotics, database systems, visual computing and cognitive science. This coursework can provide students with comprehensive knowledge of the computer systems used in AI.

Related: Is a Computer Science Degree for You? Top Majors and Jobs

Data science

A data science program teaches students how to write code for computers that can access, manage and manipulate information in a database, which is a collection of data. Because AI relies on data for computers to perform tasks, this degree can be an excellent option for students who want to work in these jobs. Students completing a degree in data science may take a variety of courses, such as statistics, data analysis, mathematics and information science. Typically, these programs also offer classes related to artificial intelligence, such as data mining, machine learning and statistical computing.


Artificial intelligence draws heavily on mathematical concepts, which makes this degree helpful for students who want to have a career in this field. While working toward this degree, students typically take courses in applied mathematics, which may include computational methods and algorithms. It's helpful for mathematics students to take some technology courses, such as programming, and related classes in AI or machine learning to learn about these techniques. Some schools combine a mathematics and data science degree, which can be a good choice for those who want to work in AI.


This degree can provide students with knowledge of the statistical models that artificial intelligence uses to develop applications that simulate human behavior. A degree in statistics can be particularly helpful for jobs in machine learning, which uses statistical methods to program computers to make accurate predictions. A statistics degree can also be beneficial for students who want to work in AI research, which involves studying statistical models to create new applications. Many students choose to major in both statistics and computer science, so they can also take courses to learn more about computer systems.

What careers are there for artificial intelligence majors?

Here are some common career paths for professionals who major in artificial intelligence or a related area:

Data scientist

Data scientists collect and organize data and analyze this information to make predictions. They develop algorithms to create artificial intelligence systems that can use data to perform tasks. These professionals may also study the outcomes of these applications to generate insights and make modifications to improve their performance. Businesses in many industries, such as information technology and finance, hire data scientists who can help them analyze data to identify opportunities for growth. Data scientists earn an average of $116,654 per year.

Machine learning engineer

Machine learning engineers are responsible for creating programs that allow computers to respond and react to various situations without programming. They create and write code for machines to apply predictive models based on statistical methods. With these algorithms, computers gradually become more proficient in making recommendations. For example, a machine learning engineer may develop voice recognition software that becomes more responsive to a person's voice. These professionals can work in various industries, including automotive, finance and supply chain management. They make $140,250 per year on average.

Read more: Machine Learning Engineers: What Do They Do and How To Become One

Computer engineer

Computer engineers create, develop and test computer software and hardware systems. They design hardware components, such as processors or routers, and write software programs for computers. These professionals ensure the hardware and software systems function correctly together. Many of these professionals choose to specialize in AI. For example, a computer engineer may be responsible for building a robotics system that can automate certain tasks. Computer engineers can find jobs in many areas, such as aeronautics, research and technology. These professionals make an average base salary of $52,489 per year.

Robotics engineer

Robotics engineers use their computer science and engineering skills to design, build and test robotic devices. Robotics is a branch of AI that focuses on programming devices to interact in a real-world environment. These devices require special hardware that robotics engineers develop and test for efficiency. They also create the electrical components that allow the robotic device to function physically. For example, a robotics engineer may develop a robot that can perform medical procedures. These professionals can work in areas such as manufacturing, health care and transportation. They make $90,701 per year on average.

Software engineer

Software engineers design, develop and maintain computer software using their analysis and computer science skills. They work closely with developers to explain the software functionalities so they can write code for the program. These professionals make recommendations for software upgrades and perform regular maintenance to keep the software working correctly. Many software engineers specialize in machine learning, where they create software that enables computers to identify patterns in data to make decisions and automate processes. They often work in the technology or research industries. On average, software engineers make $99,002 per year.

Read more: Learn About Being a Software Engineer

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What's the job outlook for artificial intelligence majors?

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) expects the job outlook for computer and information research scientists, which includes AI professionals, to grow 22% by 2030, which is much faster than the rate of average occupations in the workforce. The agency attributes the expected growth to increasing demand for new ideas that can lead to improved technology. BLS also cites an increase in business needs for data-mining services, which AI professionals can provide to write algorithms that help computers translate data, make predictions and solve problems.

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