Posted July 2016
A degree in artificial intelligence engineering? Is there really such a thing? According to Artificial Intelligence International, there absolutely is. In fact, there are enough universities in the United States that offer programs in artificial intelligence, or AI, that we were able to research them all and come up with a ranking of the top 20.
Although programs in this field are growing, they are not so ubiquitous that information about them – such as performance statistics, comparisons, and student preferences – are free flowing. However, as we explored our options, a few trends emerged that made it easier to determine which schools are the “top dogs” in AI education.
First, most programs are at the graduate level – and in a majority of those cases, the study of artificial intelligence was confined to a few measly elective courses. But there was a subset of schools on our original list that went above and beyond, providing specialized and/or comprehensive academic degrees in artificial intelligence starting at the undergraduate level. These overachievers formed the basis of our ranking, but we still needed a way to compare the programs with each other.
At this point, we noticed another trend: our searches of artificial intelligence degrees led us to schools’ research webpages as often as their admissions sites. Clearly, research is an important part of the subject. Students who really want to be on the cutting edge of the field need to do everything they can to get their hands dirty by helping out in an on-campus lab – or in the case of graduate students, completing original research. To identify the shining stars in AI research, we looked at the breadth and depth of each school’s program, making special note of quantifiable metrics like the number of faculty affiliated with work in artificial intelligence and the variety of focus areas in which the program claims expertise.
With this data in hand, we formed our top 20 ranking of artificial intelligence engineering schools. All 20 offer baccalaureate degrees, 14 offer graduate degrees, and all 20 have very productive research departments. Whether you like the sound of the program that placed 1st or 20th, it’s hard to go wrong with any of the options listed below. Read on to see which schools made the cut on this ranking of winners.
20. University of California-San Diego
B.S. in Computer Science: Artificial Intelligence Cluster
At the UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering, undergraduates and graduate students alike can take advantage of unique opportunities in artificial intelligence. Students pursuing their bachelor’s degree in Computer Science have the option of adding a “cluster” (much like a concentration) in AI to their coursework. Courses in search and reasoning, computer vision, and image processing are available alongside independent study and research opportunities to help students prepare for a career in next generation computing. Speaking of research, graduate students can get involved in cutting-edge AI work by joining the Artificial Intelligence Group. This group seeks to develop real-world applications for technologies related to bioinformatics, data mining, speech and audio processing, and more.
Net Price: $13,693/yr
Research Groups: Artificial Intelligence Group/Computational Statistics & Machine Learning (COSMAL)
19. Georgia State University
B.S. in Computer Science: Concentration in Graphics and Human-Computer Interaction; M.S. in Computer Science: Coursework in Database & Artificial Intelligence
Georgia State is one of the few universities to offer distinct academic programs in artificial intelligence at both the master’s and bachelor’s levels of study. Graduate students can take a course in Database and Artificial Intelligence as part of their “breadth” coursework, or choose to explore the topic in depth as their chosen specialty. There are also plenty of faculty at GSU conducting research in artificial intelligence, and in recent years their names have appeared on more than 300 papers about fuzzy logic, nature-inspired computing, pattern recognition, and more. As for undergraduates, a computer science concentration in Graphics and Human-Computer Interaction provides an introductory look at this cutting-edge field.
Net Price: $15,609/yr
Research Groups: Artificial Intelligence; Computational Intelligence
18. Purdue University
B.S. in Computer Science: Machine Intelligence Track
How many schools do you know that offer a degree in Machine Intelligence – for undergraduates?! If you’ve heard of Purdue University, then you know at least one. This program, which is available as a concentration in the B.S. in Computer Science, offers coursework in artificial intelligence, data mining, machine learning, and robotics, among others. In fact, the variety of coursework available makes Purdue one of the best artificial intelligence schools for baccalaureate students. But that’s not to say that graduate students can’t get in on the action. The university’s research area in Machine Learning and Information Retrieval offers interdisciplinary research opportunities that span the fields of cognitive science, economics, statistics, robotics, and even cybersecurity.
Net Price: $13,081/yr
Research Groups: Production, Robotics, & Integration Software for Manufacturing & Management (PRISM)
17. Columbia University in the City of New York
B.S. in Computer Science: Artificial Intelligence Track
Even if you weren’t interested in an artificial intelligence degree, Columbia University’s program in Computer Science would be an attractive choice. It has some of the most impressive facilities on the East Coast, including lab areas for robotics, natural language processing, and computer vision. Prototype wearable computers, 3-D graphics workstations, and IBM robotic arms are just a few of the extra cool features you’ll see in Columbia computing labs. But for students who do want to study AI, the university provides an entire track of courses devoted to understanding systems that exhibit “’human-like’ intelligence.” Of course, Columbia is also a research powerhouse that attracts graduate students from near and far. Over a dozen faculty specialize in areas related to Machine Learning, Vision and Robotics, and Graphics and User Interfaces.
Net Price: $20,838/yr
Research Groups: Center for Computational Learning Systems; Machine Learning
16. Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
B.S. in Cognitive Science: Robotics & Artificial Intelligence Elective Options
Unlike most colleges which offer artificial intelligence degree coursework through the computer science program, at Rensselaer Polytechnic these futuristic topics are part of the Cognitive Science Department. Undergrads who pursue a B.S. in Cognitive Science at RPI turn their attention to both animal and artificial minds and gain a strong background in technological skills. Classes like Minds and Machines, Intro to Artificial Intelligence, and Machine and Computational Learning provide more than enough training for students to get their start in the AI field. RPI is also home to the Rensselaer Artificial Intelligence and Reasoning Lab (RAIR), where both faculty and student researchers have opportunities to ask such intriguing questions as, “Are we machines ourselves?”
Net Price: $36,374/yr
Research Groups: Rennselaer Artificial Intelligence & Reasoning Lab; CogWorks Laboratory
15. Harvard University
A.B. in Computer Science: Mind, Brain, & Behavior
There is a reason Harvard has appeared on top rankings of colleges for more than a century. The pristine facilities and endless resources that this university is able to afford its students are second to none, and it has attracted faculty who support a broad and varied assortment of coursework. For example, all students who “concentrate” in Computer Science at Harvard can complete classes in artificial intelligence and graphics, visualization, and user interfaces. But beyond this, students in Comp Sci can specialize in “Mind, Brain, and Behavior,” an interdisciplinary track that requires its members to complete research before graduation. And of course, Harvard is no slacker when it comes to research: the Artificial Intelligence Research Group (AIRG) is composed of top faculty studying everything from social computing to computational linguistics.
Net Price: $15,095/yr
Research Groups: Artificial Intelligence Research Group (AIRG)
14. The Ohio State University
B.S. in Computer Science Engineering/Computer Information Systems: Artificial Intelligence
At The Ohio State University, opportunities to study artificial intelligence are abundant. Computer science and engineering undergrads can get their start by choosing a focus in AI, which offers coursework in knowledge-based systems, neural networks, and computer vision, among others. But to really get a sense for OSU’s expertise in this area, look at its research programs. In fact, enough faculty at OSU pursue AI research that it has split the topic into five distinct subgroups: Applied Machine Learning; Auditory, Speech, and Language Processing; Machine Learning and Learning Theory; and Cognitive Systems. OSU also boasts the Laboratory for Artificial Intelligence Research (LAIR), a reputable stronghold in cutting-edge AI research that has been operating since the 1970s.
Net Price: $18,215/yr
Research Groups: Laboratory for Artificial Intelligence Research (LAIR)
13. University of Rochester
B.S. in Computer Science: Machine Learning, Vision, & Robotics or Human Computer Interaction & Web; M.S. in Computer Science: Artificial Intelligence & Machine Learning or Human Computer Interaction
If you’re looking not just to do research in AI, but also to actually earn a comprehensive artificial intelligence degree, the University of Rochester may be the place to do it. In fact, this high tech school has multiple academic options for both undergraduate and graduate students. Students seeking a BS in Computer Science can choose between two AI-related areas of interest: Machine Learning and Robotics, which focuses on data mining and machine vision; or Human-Computer Interaction and Web, which emphasizes cutting-edge HCI developments in web applications. For MS students, course options are broader and include everything from advanced algorithms and statistical speech to cognitive processing and data mining. And students at both levels can take advantage of research opportunities with professors who are leading the field in artificial intelligence innovations.
Net Price: $32,996/yr
Research Groups: Center for Language Sciences; Center for Visual Science; Center for Computation & the Brain; Rochester Human Computer Interaction Group (ROCHI)
12. Northwestern University
B.S. in Computer Science: Depth in Artificial Intelligence
At Northwestern University, undergraduate students have the opportunity to complete “breadth” and “depth” requirements within their major – just like graduate students. One of these “depth” options for computer science majors is in Artificial Intelligence, and unlike other schools (which only offer three or four courses in a typical specialization) Northwestern’s AI track includes nearly 20 different course options. You could study Natural Language Processing, Knowledge Representation and Reasoning, and Computational Geometry, to name a few. There is even a class in which students build “next gen” devices using Watson, IBM’s smart computer. The McCormick School of Engineering has established a robust research program as well, which includes opportunities to investigate artificial intelligence, machine learning, and human computer interaction.
Net Price: $28,667/yr
Research Groups: Assistive & Rehabilitation Robotics Laboratory (argallab); Intelligent Information Lab; Interactive Audio Lab
11. Oregon State University
B.S. in Applied Computer Science: Human-Computer Interaction
Of all the artificial intelligence degrees we’ve described so far, Oregon State University’s computer science program is perhaps the most versatile and customizable. Students who want to apply their CS experience to a specific area can choose from four predefined topics – one of which is Human-Computer Interaction – or even build their own. If you choose HCI, you’ll study programming, cognition, and psychology as you seek to understand “both sides of [the] interface.” But as impressive as this is, OSU’s research cluster in Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, and Data Science is perhaps an even bigger draw. This group tackles issues related to machine learning, natural language processing, and database systems – and even offers a list of open source software downloads that ambitious students can explore in their free time.
Net Price: $16,462/yr
Research Groups: Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, & Data Science
10. Indiana University
B.S. in Intelligent Systems Engineering; M.S. in Human-Computer Interaction Design
Indiana University is the only school in this ranking to offer a full-fledged, standalone undergraduate degree in AI that is not simply a concentration within the general computer science program. The new BS in Intelligent Systems Engineering is “all about going small to make a big impact”, which means that students focus on “small-scale, networked, and mobile technology.” Concentrations within this program include Bioengineering, Computer Engineering/Cyber-physical Systems, and Molecular and Nanoscale Engineering. As for grad students, the MS in HCI Design merges technology and creativity in a program that’s solution-oriented and project based. This graduate degree is also available as a track within the Ph.D. in Informatics and includes numerous research opportunities in artificial intelligence.
Net Price: $11,573/yr
Research Groups: Center for Research on Concepts & Cognition; Rob Kling Center for Social Informatics; Computer Information & Graphics Technology Labs; Visual Information Sensing & Computing Center
9. University of Massachusetts-Amherst
B.S. in Computer Science: Artificial Intelligence
If you’re an undergraduate studying computer science at UMass Amherst, you might want to check out the artificial intelligence degree track. And if you don’t go to UMass Amherst but you’re interested in machine learning, you might want to consider applying! Through the B.S. in Computer Science, students have easy access to classes in Robotics, Natural Language Processing, Embedded Systems, and Algorithms, just to name a few. This university also boasts a true wealth of AI-related research centers (see research groups below), making it one of the best options on this artificial intelligence degrees ranking for master’s and PhD students as well. Nearly 20 different faculty have dedicated their work to machine learning, computer vision, and cognitive computing, providing a seemingly limitless number of ways for students to get involved.
Net Price: $18,840/yr
Research Groups: Autonomous Learning Laboratory; Biologically Inspired Neural & Dynamical Systems Laboratory; Computer Vision Research Laboratory; Information Extraction & Synthesis Laboratory; Knowledge Discovery Laboratory; Laboratory for Perceptual Robotics; Machine Learning for Data Science; Multi-Agent Systems Laboratory; Resource Bounded Reasoning Lab
8. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
B.S. in Computer Engineering: Artificial Intelligence, Robotics, & Cybernetics
The BS degree in Artificial Intelligence, Robotics, and Cybernetics at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign is squarely focused on solving problems and preparing for the future. Motivated by current disagreements over AI algorithms and the need to address consumer preferences in “pseudo-intelligent devices,” the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department at UIUP has created this program to prepare students for work in an industry that is increasingly fast-paced and solution-oriented. As for graduate students, the real pull is in the AI research (the department is well-known for its undergrad research programs, too). UIUP professors study everything from motion planning and virtual reality to computer vision analytics and neuroimaging, offering plenty of variety for master’s and PhD students seeking an artificial intelligence degree.
Net Price: $16,249/yr
Research Groups: Beckman Institute; Natural Language Processing Group; Speech & Language Engineering Group
7. University of Michigan
Computer Science – BS LSA Computer Science Degree in Artificial Intelligence or Robotics & Vision; MS in Computer Science & Engineering: Artificial Intelligence
You won’t find the artificial intelligence degree at the University of Michigan in the School of Engineering, but rather in the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts. Why? Because U of M places an emphasis on interdisciplinary learning, which comes as a welcome relief to computer science majors who have trouble narrowing down their interests. In fact, CS students can choose from an incredible nine tracks within the program, including Economics and Computation, Bioinformatics, and yes – Artificial Intelligence. Undergrad researchers and graduate students will encounter a similar perspective at the Artificial Intelligence Laboratory. This lab encompasses several other research groups (see below) and includes a multidisciplinary team of computer scientists, economists, linguists, psychologists, and philosophers.
Net Price: $15,850/yr
Research Groups: Autonomy, Perception, Robotics, Interfaces, & Learning (APRIL) Robotics Lab; CHAI Lab; Computational Linguistics and Information Retrieval (CLAIR) Group; CROMA (Crowds + Machines) Lab; Distributed Intelligent Agents Group; Graph Exploration & Mining at Scale (GEMS) Lab; Intelligent Robotics Lab; Language & Information Technologies (LIT) Research Group; Soar; Strategic Reasoning Group
6. University of California-Berkeley
B.S. in Computer Science: Technical Electives in Cognitive Science
Although the University of California Berkeley doesn’t officially offer a computer science track in artificial intelligence engineering, it might as well. The list of technical electives available to CS undergrads includes a group of Cognitive Science courses that will easily prepare them for an advanced artificial intelligence degree program. Course options include Computational Models of Cognition, Perception, and The Neural Basis of Thought and Language. But truth be told, that’s not why UC Berkeley lands so close to the top of our list. Rather, it’s the university’s dedication to AI research – and the two dozen faculty who support it – that has earned the school top honors. In fact, UC Berkeley’s expertise in this area is so expansive that it has established six different areas of exploration, including Learning and Probabilistic Inference, Speech and Language, and Vision.
Net Price: $16,655/yr
Research Groups: Berkeley Laboratory for Information and System Sciences (BLISS); Berkeley Vision & Learning Center (BVLC); Center for Intelligent Systems (CIS); CITRIS People and Robots
5. University of Pennsylvania
B.A.S./B.S.E. in Computer & Cognitive Science
We’ll admit, the artificial intelligence degree for undergraduates at the University of Pennsylvania is not for the faint of heart. Instead of opting for a specific concentration, AI students agree to a dual degree program in Computer and Cognitive Science. Although it might be more work than a traditional program, UPenn students are nothing if not ambitious! Here, you can choose between a BAS or BSE while taking classes across Penn Engineering and the College of Arts and Sciences. And this is another university with a particularly strong research program; research activities run from Intelligent Systems to Theory and are currently thriving in several interdisciplinary labs on campus.
Net Price: $22,694/yr
Research Groups: Center for Human Modeling & Simulation (HMS); General Robotics, Automation, Sensing & Perception (GRASP) Lab; Institute for Research in Cognitive Science (IRCS); Penn Research in Machine Learning (PRiML)
4. University of Georgia
A.B. in Cognitive Science; M.S. in Artificial Intelligence
The University of Georgia is a clear “top dog” when it comes to artificial intelligence schools. In fact, the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences houses an entire Institute for Artificial Intelligence! Here, undergrads can major in Cognitive Science and choose from two or more areas of concentration, one of which is Artificial Intelligence, of course. UGA is also home to perhaps the only master’s program in the country that focuses exclusively on AI, and students have the unique opportunity to further specialize their degree by choosing from tracks like Genetic Algorithms, Logic Programming, Cognitive Modeling, Microelectronics, and several others. Rounding out this already impressive profile is an artificial intelligence research program that includes more than two-dozen faculty – each of whom bring experience from other departments within the school.
Net Price: $13,287/yr
Research Groups: Institute for Artificial Intelligence
3. Stanford University
BS in Computer Science: Artificial Intelligence; MS in Computer Science: Artificial Intelligence or Human-Computer Interaction
As would be expected, the computer and engineering heavyweight that is Stanford University offers one of the most impressive combinations of academic degrees and research programs in AI anywhere. To start, the undergraduate Computer Science: Artificial Intelligence program is nearly as comprehensive as many graduate degrees, with courses in computational biology, speech recognition, cognition, and machine learning, among others. The school’s graduate program also kicks it up a notch, with multiple specializations available to students interested in exploring the cutting-edge of AI developments. And those who end up working in the Stanford Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (SAIL) benefit from a staggering array of tech resources. The SAIL Compute Cluster consists of eight groups of machines – including the Gorgon, Visionlab, and Atlas – and “currently provide 3232 processor cores and 17.6TB of memory.”
Net Price: $17,952/yr
Research Groups: Artificial Intelligence Laboratory
2. University of Washington
B.S. in Computer Science Engineering: User Interface and Human-Computer Interaction
For those who like variety, the University of Washington’s CSE program is the spice of life. Computer Science Engineering undergraduates enjoy the unparalleled opportunity to choose from 16 specializations! Many of these are both interdisciplinary and innovative in nature, and the User Interface and Human-Computer Interaction track is the perfect choice for AI enthusiasts. By offering courses through the Information School as well as the School of Art, Department of Human Centered Design and Engineering, and the Interaction Design Program, UW has crafted a highly marketable curriculum that blends science and art in the best ways. The university also hosts a star-studded artificial intelligence research group comprised of more than 30 faculty who regularly publish papers and win awards for their work in the AI field.
Net Price: $10,374/yr
Research Groups: Automated Planning & Control; Brain-Computer Interfaces & Computational Neuroscience; Computational Biology; Intelligent Interaction; Machine Learning; Natural Language Processing; Robotics; Graphics & Imaging Laboratory.
1. University of Tennessee-Knoxville
B.S. in Computer Science: Artificial Intelligence
If you really have your heart set on attending the #1 artificial intelligence school out there, then you should probably set your sights on the University of Tennessee at Knoxville. Starting at the undergraduate level, students in the computer science program can enhance their knowledge of artificial intelligence through specialized courses in biologically inspired computation, pattern recognition, and machine learning. But graduate students (and those who enter the five-year BS/MS program) get the biggest reward for choosing UT: access to the Center for Intelligent Systems and Machine Learning. This gargantuan initiative – which only officially became a research center in 2010 – claims a staff of nearly 40 faculty members, including eight researchers from the Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Especially considering this group’s explosive growth in recent years, UT Knoxville certainly deserves its spot at the top of our list.
Net Price: $17,863/yr
Research Groups: Center for Intelligent Systems & Machine Learning
- What is Bioinformatics?
- What is Data Mining?
- 5 Great Jobs in the Field of Robotics
- 5 Uses for Data Mining
- 5 Jobs With a Machine Intelligence Degree