Online Degree & Certificate Programs in Artificial Intelligence (AI)

Artificial intelligence is the new electricity. Data is the new oil. You would be forgiven for thinking these statements were hyperbolic, but they’re not as far off as they might first appear. The applications of AI-powered analytics reach across practically every sector. Over a third of organizations have already deployed AI-based processes, and analysts forecast global spending on AI to more than double in the next three years, to $79 billion.

AI isn’t coming to take your job, but it’s probably going to change it. Early indicators suggest that an AI-powered future is one where humans and intelligent technologies work collaboratively. But the largest barrier to realizing that future, and to the further advancement of AI, is the current dearth of talent in the field. This goes beyond the lack of AI engineers: Deloitte’s 2020 State of AI in Enterprise Survey found that the biggest corporate need was in finding more AI-literate business professionals.

Thanks to online degree programs and DIY skill-builders, it’s never been easier to get started in artificial intelligence. Educational options are available at every possible starting point: from the working software engineer to the absolute layman.

If you’re ready to explore this dynamic, impactful, and rewarding career, read on.

Fast Facts: Why Are AI Skills Important?

  • High Growth. Industry reports suggest that there are just over a quarter-million AI professionals worldwide, but millions of roles are available. In the US alone, AI-related job postings grew by 29 percent between 2018 and 2019, according to Indeed, an employment data aggregator.
  • High Impact. In the mainstream consumer world, AI is optimizing product delivery and streamlining decision-making. But AI is also working on curing genetic diseases and bringing self-driving cars to life. People with AI skills can truly change the world.
  • High Paying. The average yearly salary in 2019 for machine learning engineers was $142,585. That’s one of the highest job titles for AI, but other roles frequently pay over $100,000 per year, too.
  • Competency-Based. Computer science has always preferred competency to diplomas, and that goes for the field of artificial intelligence, too. You don’t need a sterling resume from an Ivy League school to climb the ladder here—just the skills and the drive.

Mentors: Three AI Gurus to Know

Online AI Degree & Certificate Programs

Lewis University (MS Computer Science)

Lewis University offers an online MS in computer science program with a concentration in artificial intelligence. Students learn how to design and implement computing systems that perceive, act, and learn.

Concentration courses cover topics such as artificial intelligence, natural language processing, robotics, statistical programming, and machine learning. Each class goes in-depth on multiple technical areas, including Bayesian networks, Markov Decision Processes (MDPs), and reinforcement learning control. Before graduation, students will design and conduct a faculty-advised research thesis that results in publication-worthy documentation. The program consists of 33 credits.

  • Location: Romeoville, IL
  • Estimated Tuition: $810 per credit

Stanford University (Graduate Certificate)

Stanford University’s online graduate certificate in artificial intelligence gives students a chance to learn from the leaders of the artificial intelligence revolution. The curriculum covers both foundational and advanced skills in the principles and technologies that define artificial intelligence.

Designed for working software engineers, the program is fast-paced and academically rigorous. Applicants should be able to demonstrate mastery of mathematical and programming prerequisites. The program takes an average of one to two years to complete.

  • Location: Stanford, CA
  • Estimated Tuition: $1,300 per unit

Colorado State University (MS Computer Science)

Colorado State University’s online MS in computer science provides in-depth instruction on artificial intelligence and machine learning, teaching students how optimal system analysis and design can solve complex, organization-wide issues. The curriculum addresses the latest deep-learning libraries and technologies, and how they can be applied in a variety of industries. Additionally, this program focuses on parallel computing, software engineering, database systems, networking and security, and other fundamentals of the discipline. The program consists of 35 credits.

Notably, 70 percent of CSU’s master’s degree program have jobs upon graduation, including positions at companies such as Microsoft, Intel, Motorola, Hewlett-Packard, and IBM.

  • Location: Fort Collins, CO
  • Estimated Tuition: $715 per credit

DIY Skill-Building in Artificial Intelligence

Online education is evolving almost as quickly as artificial intelligence. Whether you’re looking for a quick level-up in a specific technical area, or for a broader understanding of the field of artificial intelligence, today’s DIY skill-building is more accessible than ever before. These online modules are quick, cheap, up-to-date, and, in some cases, attached to heavyweights of industry and academia.


Coursera is an online learning platform co-founded by AI revolutionary and Stanford professor Andrew Ng.

As a repository of Massive Online Open Courses (MOOCs), Coursera has one of the largest offerings of DIY skill-building options for artificial intelligence. Each course is sponsored by either a university or corporation, and students can choose between highly targeted classes like those offered by Google Cloud, or generalized overviews of AI from IBM.

They can also mix and match: course packages range from individual classes to professional certificates to specialization tracks and full-on degrees.


Founded by Harvard and MIT, edX is an online learning platform that brings together over 20 million learners and partners them with top-ranked universities and industry-leading companies. Students can access low-cost courses in artificial intelligence that come backed by Harvard, Columbia, IBM, and the University of Pennsylvania.

Groups of courses can culminate in MicroMasters degrees and professional certificates, or be taken a-la-carte to boost a particular skill set.

Matt Zbrog
Matt Zbrog

Matt Zbrog is a writer and freelancer who has been living abroad since 2016. His nonfiction has been published by Euromaidan Press, Cirrus Gallery, and Our Thursday. Both his writing and his experience abroad are shaped by seeking out alternative lifestyles and counterculture movements, especially in developing nations. You can follow his travels through Eastern Europe and Central Asia on Instagram at @weirdviewmirror. He’s recently finished his second novel, and is in no hurry to publish it.

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