Have you noticed how your phone understands your voice better the more you use your mobile voice search? That's because your phone learns the nuances of your voice the more you speak to it through natural language processing. And that's just one of the many examples of artificial intelligence we can see in our daily lives. Science fiction is slowly becoming a reality.
The scientists working on machine learning, intelligent systems, data science and artificial intelligence (AI) are often at the cutting-edge of technology that people thought impossible only a few decades ago. An online artificial intelligence degree program can help individuals interested in the field of computer science explore this exciting new field.
What is artificial intelligence?
Techopedia defines AI as "an area of computer science that emphasizes the creation of intelligent machines that work and react like humans". This means that scientists in the field are looking to develop artificial intelligence programs that can allow computer to possess human abilities like reasoning, planning, perception, and learning among others.
It can be common for people to associate the term artificial intelligence with the humanoid robots we see in science fiction; however, a lot of the AI in use today doesn't have a physical form and is embedded in services like Apple's Siri or Facebook's face recognition software. AI has applications in nearly every industry, from banking and healthcare to retail and social media with each program written for a specialized purpose. And like every industry, it has its own terminology. We've explained some commonly used terms below:
- Human computer interaction: is the field of computer science that focuses on how humans and computers interact and how technology can be designed to facilitate this interaction.
- Natural language processing: is a cross-disciplinary field involving linguistics and computer science allows computers to use and understand human language.
- Machine learning: is a component of artificial intelligence that creates computer programs that can access data and use it to learn and improve their functions by themselves.
- Deep learning: is a type of machine learning that mimics the working of the human brain to learn.
- Neural networks: are based on neurons in the human brain with interconnecting nodes between computer systems.
What do majors in AI and machine learning do?
According to Robert Half, a machine learning engineer's job is somewhat similar to that of a data scientist as they both work with massive data sets. However, unlike data scientists, machine learning engineers design self-running software to automate predictive models using the data sets they handle. Other AI occupations may include working with neural networks and natural language processing among others. With applications to AI across a wide range of industries including healthcare, finance, banking, education, retail and defense to name a few, individuals with an artificial intelligence degree may be able to find work developing intelligent systems in a field that interests them.
According to Indeed.com, the demand for AI specialists is on the rise, especially for machine learning engineers and computer vision engineers. In fact a 2019 report by the Computing Community Consortium (CCC) and Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence (AAAI) expects the already trillion dollar AI industry to quadruple in just 3 years.
How to become a machine learning engineer?
Here are a few steps you can take to become a machine learning engineer:
Step 1: Take as many advanced math classes in high school as you possibly can.
Step 2: Enroll in computer science classes if possible.
Step 3: Learn a programming language like Python if you can.
Step 4: Enroll in a computer science undergraduate degree.
Step 5: Choose an artificial intelligence concentration if available.
Step 6: Gain work experience through internships.
Step 7: Enroll in an artificial intelligence graduate degree program.
Step 8: Obtain relevant professional certifications.
Step 9: Work on personal machine learning projects to build your portfolio.
Step 10: Apply for a job.
Knowing more than one programming language may be an asset while looking for work.
What jobs can I get after earning a degree in AI and machine learning?
The field of AI and machine learning has a tremendous career outlook that can provide high pay, along with the opportunity to work with life-changing technology on a daily basis. For instance, the median annual wage for a machine learning engineer amounts up to $138,647, according to Indeed.com, 2019. Most computer and IT related occupations require a bachelor's degree. The table below lists the occupations related to the field of AI and machine learning.
Featured colleges for AI and machine learning
Have a look at the top colleges that we have ranked for an AI and machine learning degree based on a number of quantifiable factors. These data-driven rankings include schools offering an online or hybrid degree program in the field. Online artificial intelligence degrees at the undergraduate level are rare. While online associate and bachelor's degrees in the field do not currently exist, you may be able to enroll in online computer science, information technology or software engineering degree programs to help you gain some foundational knowledge of the field. A bachelor's degree may often be the minimum educational qualification necessary to obtain work although some employers may prefer candidates with a master's degree or higher.
Online Master's Degrees in AI and machine learning
What can I expect to learn in an online master's degree program?
Students enrolled in online master's degree programs in artificial intelligence can learn how different artificial intelligence programs work, the concepts behind them and their various applications. They may learn to design and build computer systems that learn and act based on their learnings.
Typical duration: Two years of full-time study
General prerequisites: Bachelor's degree in computer science or a related field
Typical coursework: Curricula can vary depending on your online artificial intelligence degree program. However, core topics may cover machine learning, programming languages, computer vision and math among others. Some courses you may take include:
- Advanced Machine Learning
- Computational aspects of robotics
- Introduction to computational learning theory
- Natural language processing
- Research in computer science
Students may also have to complete a master's thesis based on original research.
Possible electives: Computational genomics; biometrics; speech recognition
What kind of jobs can I get after earning a master's in AI and machine learning?
According to research by McKinsey, 70 percent of companies will have adopted at least one type of artificial intelligence technology. Graduates of online AI and machine learning degrees may find employment developing this technology to suit an array of different businesses and functions. Potential occupations include:
- Data scientist
- Machine learning engineer
- Artificial intelligence engineer
- Artificial intelligence architect
Online Graduate Certificates in AI and Machine Learning
Online graduate certificates may help professionals working in the field of AI and machine learning or computer science to expand their knowledge or change their work profiles. As certificate programs are focused on one or more aspects of the field, they can take a shorter time to complete than an online master's degree in artificial intelligence. Certificate programs may work as a solution for those individuals who want some graduate education but do not have the time or financial resources to commit to a full-fledged degree program.
Typical duration: One year of part-time study
General prerequisites: Bachelor's degree in computer science or a related field, some may require work experience
Typical coursework: Students may be able to tailor their courses to suit their interests via electives. Curricula may include courses on big data, ethics, text processing, and graphical modeling systems among others. Some examples of courses are:
- Artificial intelligence: principles and techniques
- Data analytics and visualization
- Foundations of data analysis
- Machine learning for big data and text processing
Possible electives: Natural language understanding; machine learning for healthcare; computer vision: from 3d reconstruction to recognition
Online Doctoral Degrees in AI and Machine Learning
There are currently no online doctoral degree programs in artificial intelligence. However, you may be able to find online Ph.Ds. in computer science with an artificial intelligence concentration.
Students enrolled in online artificial intelligence degree programs may be able to choose a specialization within the field. Specializations may allow them to focus their learning and their careers in an area of their interest. The best online colleges for artificial intelligence may offer more than one area of specialization; however, it is important to remember that not all colleges may offer them. It can, therefore, be a good idea to research a program's offerings before enrolling. Some specializations within artificial intelligence include:
- Deep learning
- Intelligent information systems
- Machine learning
- Natural language processing
Accreditation for AI and machine learning
Accreditation is a voluntary process that colleges undergo to demonstrate that their educational offerings meet or exceed the quality standards required to work in the field of artificial intelligence today. Attending an accredited school can be important for students of artificial intelligence degree programs as it can be a prerequisite for receiving federal financial aid, transferring credits and professional certifications. Accreditation may be regional, national or programmatic. Online artificial intelligence degree programs are programmatically accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) in the United States.
Certifications in AI and machine learning
While not always mandatory, professional certifications may serve to demonstrate your commitment and expertise in the field of artificial intelligence. Some employers may also prefer hiring candidates with professional certifications over those without. Some examples of certifications in AI and machine learning are:
- Certified Artificial Intelligence (AI) Expert
- Certified Machine Learning Expert
- Artificial Intelligence Engineer Certification
- Machine Learning Certification
Scholarships and financial aid programs for AI and machine learning students
Although artificial intelligence is a relatively new field, eligible students may be able to find scholarships and grants that can help ease the financial burden associated with attending college. Scholarships may be offered by universities, educational foundations as well as businesses with a vested interest in the development of AI and machine learning. Some scholarships to help you get started in your search are:
- Bold360 Artificial Intelligence Scholarship
- Google PhD Fellowship Program
- Simplr Artificial Intelligence and Technology Scholarship
- SMART Scholarship
Other resources for aspiring AI and machine learning majors:
- Artificial Intelligence Board of America (ARTiBA)
- IEEE Computer Society
- The International Neural Network Society
- Singularity Institute of Artificial Intelligence
To be included in our rankings for the top colleges for online degrees in accounting by degree level all colleges had to meet the following 4 requirements:
- 1. Offer a degree or certificate program in that subject, either in an online or hybrid format
- Have at least 1% of students attending some form of distance education
- Have awarded at least one degree or certificate in that subject in 2015-16
- Have reported data for all 19 ranking variables for associate/bachelor's and 11 ranking variables for master’s (listed below)
We then ranked colleges and universities in the United States that fit our criteria, using 2016-17 data from the National Center for Education Statistics and the weights specified. The final totals were:
- 16 colleges for associate degree in AI and machine learning
- 29 colleges for bachelor’s degree in AI and machine learning
- 42 colleges for master’s degree in AI and machine learning
- 5 colleges for doctoral’s degree in AI and machine learning
Please note that the accuracy of data derived from IPEDS depends on colleges regularly reporting to IPEDS. Not all colleges are as regular as they should be in updating their information with IPEDS.
OnlineDegrees.com, therefore, has gone a step further to ensure the rankings you see are accurate and verified. We manually check each college website to provide you the top rankings you can rely on. Because of this double-check, the number of colleges may vary for each degree level
We then scored the final list of colleges by degree level on a 100-point scale using these specific data points:
- Associate’s/Bachelor’s Program prominence, based on how many of the degrees and certificates awarded via distance education in 2016-2017 were in this particular subject
- Ratio of undergraduate students participating fully or partially in DE to Total Enrollment
- Average in-state tuition for undergraduates
- Retention rate
- Percent of undergraduate students awarded federal, state, local, institutional or other sources of grant aid
- Average amount of federal, state, local, institutional, or other sources of grant aid awarded to undergraduate students
- Student-to-faculty ratio
- Variety of Programs, based on the number of similar topics for programs in relevant CIP codes that are offered via distance education at any level
- Total electronic library collections, including digital books, databases, and media
- The availability of any tuition plans (4 variables considered) a. Payment b. Guaranteed c. Prepaid d. Other
- Services (2 variables considered) a. Academic/Career b. Placement for Completers
- Credit offerings (4 variables considered) a. Dual b. Life c. AP d. Military
- Master’s Program prominence, based on how many of the degrees and certificates awarded via distance education in 2016-2017 were in this particular subject
- Ratio of graduate students participating fully or partially in DE to Total Enrollment
- Average in-state tuition for graduates
- Credit offerings (2 variables considered)
- Services (2 variables considered)
- The availability of any tuition plans (3 variables considered)
- Total electronic library collections, including digital books, databases, and media
- a. Life
- b. Military
- a. Academic/Career
- b. Placement for Completers
- a. Payment
- b. Prepaid
- c. Other
NOTE: The accuracy of data derived from IPEDS depends on colleges regularly reporting to IPEDS. Not all colleges are as regular as they should be in updating this information with IPEDS.OnlineDegrees.com, therefore, has gone a step further to ensure the rankings you see are accurate and verified. We manually check each college website to provide you the top rankings you can rely on. Because of this double-check, the number of colleges may vary for each degree level.
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