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Are AI Degree Programs Worth the Hype? Here's How to Decide

Carnegie Mellon and MIT have already started their AI degree programs in fall 2018 and fall 2022 respectively.
Cover Image Source: More people are going for AI degrees (representative image) | Unsplash | Photo by ThisisEngineering RAEng
Cover Image Source: More people are going for AI degrees (representative image) | Unsplash | Photo by ThisisEngineering RAEng

Amid a massive surge in AI jobs, the hype for AI degrees has also grown. This is not just because of the popularity AI is gaining but also for the benefits it offers. Artificial Intelligence tools can make things more efficient in less time and money, come up with fresh ideas and help companies reduce their workload. The increasing demand of companies wanting candidates who have AI degrees has compelled colleges and universities to experiment with their courses, per CNBC.

These are not just additions to a regular Computer Science degree, but follow a different trajectory. But is it worth the hype and should students go for these, ditching the regular tried and tested courses?  

The decision to purse a degree can be crucial. Image Source: Unsplash|Photo by Caleb Woods
Popularity of AI degrees is on the rise (representative image) | Unsplash | Photo by Caleb Woods

Most colleges have seen the trend of students going for a basic Computer Science degree but because of the high demands of AI jobs, colleges have launched other degrees as well. Many colleges and universities are offering a special four-year degree in AI. These programs go a bit beyond the basics of Computer Science and make the student well-equipped with the advanced concepts of machine learning, computing algorithms, data analysis, and advanced robotics. Carnegie Mellon and MIT have already started their AI degree programs in fall 2018 and fall 2022 respectively. The University of Pennsylvania has created a B.S.E. in Artificial Intelligence program which will be initiated in fall 2024. 


There are colleges that are inviting applicants who wish to pursue AI degree programs. Some of them include Georgia Institute of Technology, Stanford University, Cornell University, Harvard University, University of Michigan, Columbia University, University of Maryland, and many others. Despite the rise, some people are skeptical about whether pursuing AI degree programs is worth it. Many say that as long as the program is rooted in computer science, pursuing AI concepts can be a wise choice to build an enticing resume.

With the changing market conditions, students now think that they don't require a degree as more employers are hiring candidates without a degree. Everyone is now more focused on learning the right skills but Dataquest CEO suggests, "Having a degree is usually one of the first things employers look for. Not having one might hurt your chances of getting hired."

Keeping aside all the market conditions, students should stay focused on pursuing undergrad and master's degrees to land an offer at a good organization with an enticing package.


The trends say that students often get confused between a regular Computer Science and an advanced AI degree. But how should they choose? This decision does not depend on the degree but on the aspirations of the students. They must evaluate their future goals and interests. Students should consider how an AI degree is different from a regular computer science program, what kind of jobs graduates usually get, and how much money they can make. Just going for AI degrees because companies have labeled their products and salary packages accordingly is not a wise decision. Instead, students must ask themselves some technical questions which will help them get a clear picture.

- Are they looking for hands-on experience in AI or just a degree?

- Do they want a program that focuses on the basics and technicalities of AI technology?

- Are they ready to delve into the wide pool of getting broader insights into the AI industry and tools?

- Do they want a job immediately based on their skills or do they want to learn more about AI and its functioning?

Given the uncertainty, some professionals said students can’t go wrong with a traditional computer science degree or an AI-specific one, provided the fundamentals are covered. Those who take the former route, however, should consider taking classes related to AI and data science, which can be important for future employment. Otherwise, students might need to “close the practical application gap themselves post-graduation,” said Bryan Ackermann, head of AI strategy and transformation at the management consultancy Korn Ferry.