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What To Study to Work in Artificial Intelligence (AI)

What To Study to Work in Artificial Intelligence (AI)
Sulaiman Abdur-Rahman
Sulaiman Abdur-RahmanUpdated February 25, 2023
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Editor’s note: Lantern by SoFi seeks to provide content that is objective, independent and accurate. Writers are separate from our business operation and do not receive direct compensation from advertisers or partners. Read more about our Editorial Guidelines and How We Make Money.
You may need to study computer science, machine learning, and advanced mathematics to work in artificial intelligence. Building AI-powered applications may require technical and quantitative skills. Below we highlight the curriculum and instruction you may need to pursue a career in AI deployment and chatbot building. 

Top College Majors for Working in AI

Here are some of the top college majors that can help prepare you for a career in AI:
  • Computer science 
  • Computer engineering
  • Information systems
  • Data science
  • Statistics
  • Mathematics
Completing any of these majors may require advanced math skills, including an aptitude for calculus and algorithms. Computer science can be difficult — and some computer science majors may drop out of school for that reason.

Where Can I Learn AI Programming Skills?

There are undergraduate and graduate school programs where you can learn AI job skills, including mastery of the Python® and Java® programming languages.Here are some places where you may learn about artificial intelligence:

Online University of Texas at Austin Program

The University of Texas at Austin is planning to launch an online Master of Science in Artificial Intelligence (MSAI) graduate program as follows:
  • UT Austin will begin accepting applications in June 2023 for its inaugural January 2024 cohort 
  • Tuition will cost $10K
  • Automated logical reasoning, deep learning, ethics in AI, machine learning, optimization, and natural language processing are part of the curriculum
  • Applicants must hold a bachelor’s degree or international equivalent to be considered for admission
  • UT Austin needs approval from the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board to officially launch this online MSAI program

Northwestern University MSAI Program

The Northwestern University McCormick School of Engineering has an in-person MSAI graduate program as follows:
  • Traditional 15-month program teaches techniques in AI, machine learning, data science, deep learning, and natural language processing
  • Tuition for the 2022–23 academic year is $20,314 per quarter
  • Students pay for four quarters of tuition
  • Students who enroll may be eligible for Direct PLUS Loans for grads
  • You need to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) to apply for a PLUS loan
  • Applicants are expected to have a strong quantitative and computer science background before entering the program

IBM Online Courses

Students can buy an IBM Digital Learning Subscription to take basic, intermediate, or advanced courses in AI and machine learning. You can also learn chatbot building essentials and receive the IBM Applied AI Professional Certificate from Coursera, which involves the following:
  • Learning Python programming skills
  • Creating AI chatbots
  • Learning how to build and deploy other AI-powered applications
Free courses may be available for those who wish to learn AI job skills while avoiding the rising cost of collegeIBM in partnership with edX may offer free online courses that can help you develop Python programming skills for building AI-powered applications.

What Job or Career Path Uses AI Programming Skills?

Here are some employment options that may require AI programming skills:
  • Machine learning engineer
  • Computer scientist
  • Data engineer
  • Data scientist
  • Algorithm engineer

Annual Salary for Working in AI Field

Computer programmers who create AI-powered applications may earn $93,000 per year. That’s the median annual wage for computer programmers, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.Programmers with a Master of Science in Artificial Intelligence may earn more than programmers with a bachelor’s degree on average.Recommended: Pros and Cons of Going to Grad School

Paying For Applied AI Education

Students can borrow federal or private student loans to help pay for applied AI college education. Here are some factors to consider if you’re looking to borrow money to cover tuition expenses:

The Takeaway

Getting an advanced MSAI degree may be right for you if you wish to enhance your technical skills in deploying artificial intelligence. Student loans can help you pay for undergraduate and graduate programs, and college programs may offer greater resources than free online courses.With Lantern by SoFi, you may explore student loan refinancing for possible opportunities to lower your interest rate. Any portion of your federal student debt that you refinance loses its eligibility for Public Service Loan Forgiveness and federal income-driven repayment plans. Find and compare student loan refinance options with Lantern.

Frequently Asked Questions

What do I need to study to work in artificial intelligence?
How do I start a career in artificial intelligence?
Is it hard to build an AI chatbot?
Photo credit: iStock/gorodenkoff

About the Author

Sulaiman Abdur-Rahman

Sulaiman Abdur-Rahman

Sulaiman Abdur-Rahman writes about personal loans, auto loans, student loans, and other personal finance topics for Lantern. He’s the recipient of more than 10 journalism awards and served as a New Jersey Society of Professional Journalists board member. An alumnus of the Philadelphia-based Temple University, Abdur-Rahman is a strong advocate of the First Amendment and freedom of speech.
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