Top 20 Artificial Intelligence Engineering Schools in the U.S. 2020

By: CSDH
June 2020

Is there really such a thing as a degree in artificial intelligence (A.I.)? Absolutely! In fact, according to Artificial Intelligence International, artificial intelligence is a rapidly growing field that is garnering a ton of attention from students and professionals alike. That’s why we scoured any and all available A.I. programs to find the top 20 artificial intelligence engineering schools in the United States. 

Ranking Methodology

To come up with our ranking of the best A.I. degree programs, we began by making a list of nearly 50 colleges and universities offering some sort of education in artificial intelligence. To narrow down our list to the top 20, we used the following points system. 

Average Annual Undergraduate Tuition: 

Under $70,000 — 1 point
Under $60,000 — 2 points
Under $50,000 — 3 points
Under $40,000 — 4 points
Under $30,000 — 5 points
Under $20,000 — 6 points
Under $10,000 — 7 points 

Average Annual Graduate Tuition:

Under $70,000 — 1 point
Under $60,000 — 2 points
Under $50,000 — 3 points
Under $40,000 — 4 points
Under $30,000 — 5 points
Under $20,000 — 6 points
Under $10,000 — 7 points

Annual Percentage of 20-Year Net Return on Investment (ROI): 

0-2% — 1 pont
3-4% — 2 points
5-6% — 3 points
7-8% — 4 points
9% and Above — 5 points 

Student to Faculty Ratio:

Under 30 to 1 — 1 point
Under 25 to 1 — 2 points
Under 20 to 1 — 3 points
Under 15 to 1 — 4 points
Under 10 to 1 — 5 points 

Finally, we used an holistic approach to break ties in points and determine a final ranking. For this reason, not all of the colleges and universities listed below are ranked in descending order of points. Our holistic approach considered two main factors: 

First, most programs are at the graduate level, and in a majority of those cases, the study of artificial intelligence is confined to only a few elective courses. And yet, we found a subset of schools that go above and beyond by providing specialized and/or comprehensive academic degrees in artificial intelligence starting at the undergraduate level. We studied the number of A.I.-related degree programs offered by a school and studied the breadth of the curriculum, and ranked the more robust A.I. programs higher. 

Secondly, our search for artificial intelligence degrees led us to a university’s research webpage almost as frequently as to its admissions page. Clearly, research is an important part of this 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 by completing original research. Therefore, we greatly considered those schools with on-campus labs, internship opportunities, and research projects available to students.

20. University of Rochester

University of RochesterM.S. in Computer Science: Artificial Intelligence & Machine Learning 
M.S. in Computer Science: Human Computer Interaction

Rochester, New York
Points: 12
Average Annual Tuition: $56,030 (undergraduate), $51,705 (graduate)

If you’re a graduate student 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. Course options are broad, and include everything from advanced algorithms and statistical speech, to cognitive processing and data mining. Students may also take advantage of research opportunities with professors who are leading the field in artificial intelligence innovations. Undergraduate students who are interested in University of Rochester and artificial intelligence may take part in these same research opportunities whilst earning a bachelor’s degree in computer science.

Research Groups: Center for Language Sciences; Center for Visual Science; Center for Computation & the Brain; Rochester Human Computer Interaction Group (ROCHI)

19. Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Rennselaer B.S. in Cognitive Science 
M.S. in Cognitive Science 
Minor in Cognitive Science of Artificial Intelligence 

Troy, New York
Points: 
12
Average Annual Tuition: $55,378 (undergraduate), $54,000 (graduate)

Unlike most colleges which offer artificial intelligence degree coursework through the computer science program, at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI)  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. For graduate students, an M.S. in Cognitive Science is also available. 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?”

Research Groups: Rennselaer Artificial Intelligence & Reasoning Lab; CogWorks Laboratory

18. Northwestern University

Northwestern-Top Computer Science Bachelor's DegreesM.S. in Artificial Intelligence 

Evanston, Illinois
Points: 12
Average Annual Tuition: $56,691 (undergraduate), $56,067 (graduate)

Top-ranked, Chicago-based Northwestern University offers a Master of Science in Artificial Intelligence. This degree program, part of the McCormick School of Engineering, has been designed to produce graduates who are ready to work in the fast-paced and increasingly complex world of artificial intelligence. The 15-month master’s program consists of a series of courses, projects with industry partners, and an internship. Undergraduates interested in both AI and Northwestern University would do well to pursue a B.S. in Computer Science. Within computer science is an influential group of faculty conducting ongoing work in Natural Language Processing and Generation, and undergrads are often included in this research.

Research Groups: Assistive & Rehabilitation Robotics Laboratory (argallab); Intelligent Information Lab; Interactive Audio Lab

17. Columbia University in the City of New York

columbia-universityB.S. in Computer Science: Intelligent Systems Track

New York, New York
Points: 12
Average Annual Tuition: $61,788 (undergraduate), $47,600 (graduate)

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
  • 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
  • Graphics and User Interfaces.

Research Groups: Center for Computational Learning Systems; Machine Learning

16. University of Southern California

USCM.S. in Computer Science – Artificial Intelligence

Los Angeles, California
Points: 13
Average Annual Tuition: $58,195 (undergraduate), $46,272 (graduate)

New to our list of the best colleges for artificial intelligence is University of Southern California. Top-ranked USC offers a Master of Science in Computer Science – Artificial Intelligence. As one of the first artificial intelligence degree programs in the U.S., this rigorous program trains students in the topics of:

  • robotics
  • machine learning
  • natural language processing, and more

More than 35 labs are affiliated with USC’s Department of Computer Science, many of which invite graduate students to participate.

Research Groups: Speech Analysis and Interpretation Lab (SAIL), Haptics Robotics and Virtual, IDM Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, USC Center for Artificial Intelligence in Society

15. California Institute of Technology

B.S. in Computer Science: Machine Learning & Artificial Intelligence Study Track

CalTechPasadena, California
Points: 13
Average Annual Tuition: $54,600 (undergraduate), $52,506 (graduate)

Another university new to this year’s list of the best schools for artificial intelligence is California Institute of Technology, better known as CalTech. Students may pursue a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science degree, then choose to follow the study track of Machine Learning & Artificial Intelligence. Courses include those on:

  • probability models
  • neural computation
  • others related to AI.

Before completing their degree, students are also required to complete a capstone project relating in some way to their degree program.

Research Groups: Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowships (SURF)

14. Stanford University

Stanford University-Top Computer Science Bachelor's DegreesB.S. in Computer Science: Artificial Intelligence Track 
M.S. in Computer Science: Artificial Intelligence Specialization
M.S. in Computer Science: Human-Computer Interaction Specialization 

Stanford, California
Points: 13
Average Annual Tuition: $53,529 (undergraduate), $52,479 (graduate)

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. Start with the undergraduate Computer Science. The Artificial Intelligence program is nearly as comprehensive as many graduate degrees, with courses in:

  • computational biology
  • speech recognition
  • cognition
  • 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. 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.”

Research Groups: Artificial Intelligence Laboratory

13. Harvard University

harvard-universityA.B. in Computer Science: Mind, Brain, & Behavior

Cambridge, Massachusetts
Points: 14
Average Annual Tuition: $51,925 (undergraduate), $48,008 (graduate)

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. 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
  • 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: Teamcore is composed of top faculty focusing on all things “AI for social good.”

Research Groups:  Teamcore

12. Carnegie Mellon University

carnegie-mellon-universityB.S. in Artificial Intelligence 

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Points: 14
Average Annual Tuition: $57,119 (undergraduate), $45,037 (graduate)

Carnegie Mellon University is home to the very first bachelor of science degree in artificial intelligence. Established in 2018, this top-ranked program has already solidified itself as one of the best in the world. In addition to expected courses like machine learning and computation, students also take classes in ethics and social responsibility. By the end of the degree program, graduates from Carnegie Mellon’s artificial intelligence bachelor’s program will have the skills necessary for a successful career in AI. And because Carnegie Mellon is one of the best known research universities in the world, students pursuing artificial intelligence here can be assured that they are taking part in cutting-edge research.

Research Groups: CMU AI, Human Computer Interaction Institute, Institute for Software Research, Machine Learning Department, Robotics Department

11. University of Pennsylvania

UPenn-Top Computer Science Bachelor's DegreesB.A.S./B.S.E. in Computer & Cognitive Science

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Points: 15
Average Annual Tuition: $57,770 (undergraduate), $36,254 (graduate)

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.

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)

10. University of Tennessee – Knoxville

University of Tennessee-Top Computer Science Bachelor's DegreesB.S. in Computer Science: Artificial Intelligence Track 

Knoxville, Tennessee
Points: 18
Average Annual Tuition: $13,264 – $31,664 (undergraduate), $11,468 – $29,656 (graduate)

If you really have your heart set on attending one of the top-ranked artificial intelligence schools 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
  • 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 officially became a research center in 2010. It has 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 on our list of the best artificial intelligence engineering schools in the U.S.

Research Groups: Center for Intelligent Systems & Machine Learning

9. Oregon State University

Oregon StateB.S. in Computer Science: Artificial Intelligence Applied Option

Corvallis, Oregon
Points: 19
Average Annual Tuition: $11,715 – $31,215 (undergraduate), $12,933 – $24,975 (graduate)

Oregon State University’s computer science program is one of the most versatile and customizable programs of its kind. Students may choose to focus their computer science degree on one of 10 options, one of which is Artificial Intelligence. Those following this track will take a slew of interesting electives like Intelligent Robotics and Scientific Visualization. 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. It even offers a list of open source software downloads that ambitious students can explore in their free time.

Research Groups: Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, & Data Science

8. The Ohio State University

ohio-state-universityB.S. in Computer Science & Engineering: Artificial Intelligence Specialization

Columbus, Ohio
Points: 
19
Average Annual Tuition: $11,084 – $32,061 (undergraduate), $11,560 (graduate)

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 and neural networks, 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 Algorithms and  Theory
  • Computer Vision
  • 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.

Research Groups: Laboratory for Artificial Intelligence Research (LAIR)

#7. University of Minnesota – Twin Cities

University of Minnesota-Top 50 Graduate Computer Science ProgramsB.S. in Computer Science & Engineering: Artificial Intelligence/Robotics Track Option

Minneapolis, Minnesota
Points: 
20
Average Annual Tuition: $15,027 – $33,325 (undergraduate), $17,580 – $27,204 (graduate)

University of Minnesota in Minneapolis offers six track options for its bachelor’s degree in computer science and engineering, one of which is artificial intelligence and robotics. Students pursuing this track will focus on “the principles and methods of designing intelligent systems that analyze information and learn to act to achieve objectives,” as described on the program’s website. A number of AI-related laboratories and research groups offer another element of learning and career prep.

Research Groups: Outobox; Artificial Intelligence, Robotics, and Vision Lab; Visual Computing and AI Seminar; Machine Learning Reading Group

6. University of Georgia

University of GeorgiaA.B. in Cognitive Science
M.S. in Artificial Intelligence

Athens, Georgia
Points: 20
Average Annual Tuition: $12,080 – $31,120 (undergraduate), $8,878 – $25,186 (graduate)

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 these is Artificial Intelligence, of course. UGA is also home to perhaps the only master’s program in the country that focuses exclusively on AI. 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 brings experience from other departments in the school.

Research Groups: Institute for Artificial Intelligence

5. University of Texas at Austin

UT Austin-Top Computer Science Bachelor's DegreesB.S. in Computer Science: Machine Learning & Artificial Intelligence Concentration

Austin, Texas
Points: 20
Average Annual Tuition: $10,824 – $38,326 (undergraduate), $11,998 – $22,966 (graduate)

Undergraduate students at UT Austin who are pursuing a bachelor’s degree in computer science have the option of concentrating in machine learning and AI. This unique curriculum consists of 12 credit hours composed of courses such as:

  • computer vision
  • robotics
  • autonomous multi agent systems

The program has been ranked in the top 10 programs of its kind by publications like U.S. News & World Report and CS Rankings. A slew of research groups are available to students studying in the College of Natural Science. Research projects focus on everything from AI applications to logic-based AI and beyond.

Research Groups: AI Laboratory, Learning Agents Research Group, Machine Learning Research Group, The UT Austin Villa Robot Soccer Team, Computer Vision Research Group, Virtual Reality Lab

4. University of California – Berkeley

UC Berkeley-Top Computer Science DegreesB.S. in Cognitive Science 

Berkeley, California
Points: 
20
Average Annual Tuition: $14,253 – $44,007 (undergraduate), $11,442 – $26,544 (graduate)

At U.C. Berkeley, students may pursue a bachelor of science degree in cognitive science. The degree program combines:

  • computer science
  • psychology
  • linguistics
  • philosophy
  • neuroscience
  • anthropology

The program prepares students for careers in AI and other, related fields. But truth be told, that’s not why 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, 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
  • Vision.

Research Groups: Berkeley Laboratory for Information and System Sciences (BLISS); Berkeley Vision & Learning Center (BVLC); Center for Intelligent Systems (CIS); CITRIS People and Robots

3. Indiana University – Bloomington

University of Indiana-Top Computer Science Bachelor's DegreesB.S. in Intelligent Systems Engineering
M.S. in Human-Computer Interaction Design
M.S. in Intelligent Systems Engineering

Bloomington, Indiana
Points: 20
Average Annual Tuition: $10,947 – $32,512 (undergraduate); $9,501 – $28,404 (graduate)

Indiana University is one of the only schools 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 BS in Intelligent Systems Engineering is “all about going small to make a big impact.” This means that students focus on “small-scale, networked, and mobile technology.” Concentrations in this program include:

  • Bioengineering
  • Computer Engineering/Cyber-physical Systems
  • Molecular and Nanoscale Engineering

A master’s degree in intelligent systems engineering is also available. 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 in the Ph.D. in Informatics and includes numerous research opportunities in artificial intelligence.

Research Groups: Center for Research on Concepts & Cognition; Rob Kling Center for Social Informatics; Computer Information & Graphics Technology Labs; Visual Information Sensing & Computing Center

2. University of Washington

University of Washington-Top Computer Science Bachelor's DegreesB.S. in Computer Science & Engineering: User Interface and Human-Computer Interaction

Seattle, Washington
Points: 22
Average Annual Tuition: $11,465 – $38,166 (undergraduate), $18,198 – $32,439 (graduate)

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. Courses are offered 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.

Research Groups: Automated Planning & Control; Brain-Computer Interfaces & Computational Neuroscience; Computational Biology; Intelligent Interaction; Machine Learning; Natural Language Processing; Robotics; Graphics & Imaging Laboratory.

1. Purdue University

Purdue University-Top Computer Science Bachelor's DegreesB.S. in Computer Science: Machine Intelligence Track

West Lafayette, Indiana
Points: 23
Average Annual Tuition: $9,992 – $28,794 (undergraduate), $9,208 – $28,010 (graduate)

Topping our list of the best universities for artificial intelligence is Purdue, which offers a Machine Intelligence track as part of its computer science degree program. This program offers coursework in:

  • artificial intelligence
  • data mining
  • machine learning
  • 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
  • cybersecurity.

Research Groups: Production, Robotics, & Integration Software for Manufacturing & Management (PRISM)

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