Looking to break into AI? These 6 schools offer master's in artificial intelligence programs – Fortune

While buzz about artificial intelligence (AI) has largely focused on the growing popularity of generative AI tools such as ChatGPT, the demand for jobs and growth in the sector is booming. In fact, AI and machine learning specialist roles are growing faster than any other occupation in the world, according to the World Economic Report’s Future of Jobs Report.
Ryan Aytay, CEO of Tableau, says AI and big data’s rapid growth in popularity and growth has created a need for everyone to learn the appropriate skills as well as to more broadly adopt a philosophy of lifelong learning.
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 “[AI] only seems to have accelerated this need for everyone, not just business users, not just analysts, really everyone to have the ability to not only see and understand but also use that data to make decisions with regardless of what they need to be focused on,” Aytay says.
Over the past few months, more universities have sought to meet the AI demand head on by creating degree programs specifically focused on the subject. For example, just in March 2024, Purdue University—a school known for its strong engineering arm—announced a brand new online master’s in AI
If AI from a business perspective interests you, you’re in luck, too. Many business schools now offer MBA specializations in AI as well as certifications focused on the subject.
And while there are also options to take free online courses in artificial intelligence, many schools now offer full-fledged degree tracks. Fortune compiled a list of six master’s in AI programs to check out if you’re looking to make a career switch. 
At Duke University, students in the artificial intelligence for product innovation master of engineering program can complete courses in -person in 12 to 16 months or online within 24 months. Students can also choose from a variety of learning tracks—or a focus—including data science and machine learning. 
The program also includes a capstone project and summer internship. Graduates often move intotake jobs as machine learning engineers, AI engineers, data scientists, and data engineers for companies including OpenAI, Doordash, and Target’s AI Lab within six months of graduation. All students must complete an online data science and Python bootcamp the summer before the start of their program.
Students complete 10 courses during the program, covering topics including AI, machine learning, operations, and management. The management courses are offered through Duke’s Law School and Fuqua School of Business, which Fortune ranks as having one of the top full-time MBA programs in the U.S. 
Applicants are expected to have an undergraduate degree in science or engineering (or equivalent technical work experience), minimum one year of programming experience, two semesters completed of calculus, and meet English proficiency admission requirements (for international students). 
The cost of Duke’s program depends on the modality (online or in-person) and the amount of time taken to complete the degree. Applications require transcripts, short-answer essay responses, a resume, three letters of recommendation, and an introductory video. Prospective students have the option to submit GRE scores.
Format: Online or in-person
Cost: $99,734 (online); $113,892 (in-person)
Deadlines: Round 1: January 15 (online and in-person); Round 2: March 15 (in-person), April 15 (online) 
Johns Hopkins University offers both a master’s degree and a graduate certificate in artificial intelligence through its Whiting School of Engineering. The online master’s in AI includes 10 courses—four core courses and six electives—and students can take up to five years to complete them. 
Curriculum includes algorithms, applied machine learning, and creating AI-enabled systems. Johns Hopkins does require several prerequisite courses including calculus, programming, and linear algebra, but will offer provisional admission for students to complete the required courses prior to enrollment. 
GRE scores aren’t required to apply, but most admitted students have at least a 3.0 undergraduate GPA. 
Format: Online
Cost: $52,700 (estimated total program price)
Deadlines: Open year-round (terms begin in spring, summer, and fall)
Northwestern University’s master’s in artificial intelligence seeks to train those with a desire to “become architects of intelligent systems.” Through the program, students learn the psychological and design implications of AI and how business needs may be satisfied.
Students can take a traditional track or choose the MSAI+X program and combine AI with their original field of study. The program is limited to approximately 40 students per year and lasts for 15 months. 
Applicants should have a bachelor’s in computer science or related field, and preference will be given to those with at least two years of relevant work experience.
Format: In-person
Cost: ~$110,000
Deadlines: December 15 (priority); March 15 (final)  
Purdue’s new master’s in artificial intelligence seeks to prepare students to succeed in today’s increasingly tech-reliant world. Students will learn practical skills in AI and computing as well as professional skills like leadership and project management and technical skills like programming and machine learning. 
Participants can choose two major tracks: AI and machine learning or AI management and policy. Admissions requirements differ depending on which major is chosen. There is no application fee to apply. While English proficiency testing is required for international students, GRE and GMAT scores are not needed.
Format: Online
Cost: ~$28,000
Deadlines: August 1 (fall); December 1 (spring); April 1 (summer)
The master’s in AI at the University of Michigan–Dearborn teaches students the foundational theory and practice of AI. The program is very flexibility in the sense that students can choose to learn online, in-person, or hybrid, and learn either on a full- or part-time basis. Because of the latter offering, courses are hosted in the late afternoon or evening hours.
Students can focus on four different concentrations: computer vision, intelligence interaction, machine learning, or knowledge management and reasoning. Admission into the program requires students to have graduated with bachelor’s degree in a STEM field with a B average. Mathematics skills, such as calculus III and linear algebra, is recommended but not required.
Format: Online, in-person, or hybrid
Cost: $50,208/year (direct + indirect costs, out-of-state)
Deadlines: Rolling admission
UT—Austin offers its online master’s program in AI through its department of computer science and machine learning laboratory, and the degree can be completed at your own pace. The degree covers about two years worth of content. The program is offered on the online education platform, edX, an online education platform, and costs $10,000 to complete, making it one of the more affordable options.
The degree covers AI-related topics, including natural language processing, reinforcement learning, computer vision, and deep learning, which prepares graduates for A.I. jobs in engineering, research and development, product management, and consulting.
The program quickly skyrocketed in popularity, with more than 4,000 prospective students requesting more information from the university within 24 hours of its launch announcement. 
Prospective students must submit an application to the Graduate School at The University of Texas at Austin as well as a statement of purpose, resume, and transcripts. Letters of recommendation and GRE scores are optional to submit. 
Format: Online
Cost: $10,000 (2023–24 academic year)
Deadlines: Fall: April 1 (priority), May 1 (final); Spring: August 15 (priority), September 15 (final)
Yes, having a master’s in AI can be very beneficial for those wanting to become AI experts. However, it is also important to keep in mind that AI is always evolving. By the time your program completes, some of the skills and best practices you initially learned could be out of date. 
Yes, you will need to learn how to code if you plan to study AI in an advanced degree program. Python is generally considered to be the most relevant programming language to AI. Having skills in Java, SQL, C++, and R also couldn’t hurt. Some master’s in AI programs, like Duke, require students to have some programming experience as well as to enroll in a Python bootcamp.

The best degree pathway for those interested in AI truly depends on your interests. 
A master’s in AI will likely give you a perfect entry into careers in AI, data science, machine learning, and beyond. If you know a particular specialization in the tech space interests you more than another, that is a great place to start. Above all, keep in mind that because AI master’s are new, there is no perfect path; it’s up to you to define it.
Check out all of Fortune’s rankings of degree programs, and learn more about specific career paths.
Sydney Lake contributed to this piece.
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