Polygence blog / Education and College Admissions

Best Schools for Artificial Intelligence in the US

5 minute read

Artificial intelligence (AI) is reshaping our world, powering advances from self-driving cars to disease diagnosis algorithms. Mastering this dynamic technology as an undergraduate can launch your career in creating AI innovations at leading companies, like Google, Microsoft, and OpenAI. But what are the best colleges and universities that offer the foremost programs to gain an applied artificial intelligence ​​degree and needed expertise? 

This guide explores the top schools propelling AI forward, from pioneering Stanford to rising stars like the University of Michigan and the University of Texas, Austin. We’ll highlight why their groundbreaking research, all-star faculty, cross-disciplinary approaches, and hands-on resources make them leaders. You’ll also gain insider advice on gaining admission to these elite undergraduate and graduate school programs and how to start exploring AI interests in high school.

Let’s begin by understanding why AI skills unlock such tremendous opportunities.

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Polygence alumni had a 92% admissions rate to R1 universities in 2023. Polygence provides high schoolers a personalized, flexible research experience proven to boost your admission odds. Get matched to a mentor now!"

What are the key sectors of AI?

AI is the future of software, enabling systems to adapt, learn, reason, interact, and make decisions intelligently like humans. Computer science’s most vibrant frontier keeps expanding as AI transforms industries:

  • Healthcare - AI is reinventing patient care through machine learning. It powers chatbots providing medical advice, algorithms diagnosing disease earlier via pattern recognition, and robots assisting surgeries with superhuman precision. Studying AI could help you create the next breakthrough biomedical engineering or AI program that helps improve patient outcomes.

  • Transportation - Autonomous vehicles stand to revolutionize mobility using AI to sense, plan, and drive seamlessly. Earning an AI degree can position you at the forefront of enabling self-driving cars and unmanned aviation. Even current vehicles rely on AI for detection and safety systems.

  • Finance - AI is transforming Wall Street and fintech, optimizing trading through predictive models, personalizing investments using robo-advisors, and streamlining banking with chatbots. Strong AI skills equip you to innovate smarter transactions and services.

  • Space - NASA and SpaceX leverage AI to guide autonomous navigation and discovery. AI-based robotic systems will expand humanity’s reach. With AI proficiency, you could help design intelligent rovers exploring distant worlds.

  • Business - Companies apply AI to serve customers through predictive analytics, supply chain optimization, product personalization, and virtual assistants. With AI know-how, you can enable more agile, smart organizations.

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Leading Schools for AI Education and Research

Here we highlight 10 of the top colleges for artificial intelligence based on faculty, research, resources, and student outcomes:

Stanford University

Location: Palo Alto, California
Tuition: $56,169

The birthplace of AI pioneers and ideas. Home to legendary faculty like Andrew Ng shaping neural networks. Leaders in computer vision, NLP, robotics, and reinforcement learning. Unparalleled access to Silicon Valley ecosystems and labs like SAIL, Meta, and Google.

Polygence research program mentors:

Zheyuan: I am an NSF Fellow at Stanford High-Temperature Gasdynamics Laboratory, working with Prof. Ron K. Hanson. I am intrigued with airbreathing propulsion and hypersonic flows. 

Carnegie Mellon University

Location: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Tuition: $58,924

Carnegie Mellon University stands out as a premier institution for artificial intelligence (AI) due to its world-renowned School of Computer Science, housing leading experts in AI research. The university's interdisciplinary approach, fostering collaboration between departments, provides students with a comprehensive understanding of AI's applications across various domains.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology 

Location: Cambridge, Massachusetts
Tuition: $55,878

MIT is a global leader in artificial intelligence (AI) due to its pioneering research and innovation in the field. The Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) at MIT is a renowned hub, where brilliant minds converge to explore the forefront of machine learning, natural language processing, and robotics. 

University of California, Berkeley

Location: Berkeley, California
Tuition: $14,226 in-state, $43,980 out of state

Berkeley has many amazing research opportunities intersecting with explainable AI. Core hub advancing AI through research initiatives like the Center for Human-Compatible AI and BAIR lab. 

Harvard University

Location: Cambridge, Massachusetts
Tuition: $55,587

Cutting-edge research into safe, beneficial, and ethical AI. Leaders at the intersection of technology and societal impact, such as Professor Finale Doshi-Velez specializing in AI for healthcare. Unparalleled resources as an Ivy League powerhouse.

Polygence research program mentors:
Jefferey: I am a PhD student in the Bioengineering degree program at Harvard University. My research projects include using 3D printers to model the proximal tubule of the kidney and using kidney organoids to gain a larger understanding of the human kidney. I graduated with honors from the University of California, Merced with my degree in Bioengineering while also working as an undergraduate researcher in immunology and physiology labs. 

University of Michigan, Ann Arbor

Location: Ann Arbor, Michigan
$16,178 in-state, $53,232 out of state

UMich is acclaimed for its prowess in artificial intelligence (AI), with a top-tier Computer Science and Engineering department leading innovative research in machine learning, computer vision, and natural language processing. The university's commitment to interdisciplinary collaboration further solidifies its reputation as a key player in shaping the future of AI through groundbreaking research and education.

University of Washington 

Location: Seattle, Washington
Tuition: $12,076 in-state, $39,906 out of state

Esteemed for its excellence in AI education and research, Univ. of Washington places a strong emphasis on core areas such as machine learning, computer vision, and AI safety. Additionally, students benefit from valuable access to the ecosystems of industry giants Microsoft and Amazon, enhancing opportunities for practical engagement and real-world applications.

Georgia Tech

Location: Atlanta, Georgia
Tuition: $12,852 in-state, $33,964 out of state

A frontrunner among public universities for AI, this institution adopts an interdisciplinary approach that seamlessly integrates computing, cognitive science, psychology, and ethics. Standout features include a focus on autonomous robotics and intelligent systems. An intriguing note: the campus is home to Heron, an AI teaching assistant, adding a unique and innovative dimension to the learning experience.

Polygence research program mentors:
Lizzie M: I've now spent nearly 10 years researching the ways we can recapitulate specific human tissues in labs for scientific study to develop therapies that can treat and prevent disease. I've worked on projects aimed at developing cartilage, gastrointestinal, lung, immune, and uterine tissue models. During my Master's degree, I discovered the passion I had for working in reproductive health and uterine tissue engineering. I am now pursuing my PhD in a lab focused on studying endometriosis and specifically how sex hormones impact inflammation in the uterus.

University of Texas, Austin 

Location: Austin, Texas
Tuition: $11,752 in-state, $40,996 out of state

A thriving hub for AI research and education, driven by influential figures in machine learning such as Raymond Mooney. Notable strengths lie in natural language processing, computer vision, and data mining. Emerging as a promising option within the University of Texas (UT) system.

Polygence research program mentors:

Nick: I received a Master's in Computer Science from the University of Chicago, researching the future of programming languages and proof assistants. I have also taken graduate-level classes in machine learning and did an undergrad thesis in robotics at UT Austin. I previously worked on the Facebook Android team for two years. In my free time, I like watching TV, playing video games, and playing the game Go. I also have off-and-on aspirations to be a writer (not holding my breath on this one). I think I will be a good mentor thanks to my experience as a teaching assistant.

University of Pennsylvania 

Location: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Tuition: $67,710

Situated at the forefront of the convergence between medicine and artificial intelligence, this institution stands out as a trailblazer in pioneering advancements at this intersection. Additionally, it has gained renown for its contributions to robotics innovation, particularly through the GRASP lab and graphics research initiatives. As a well-rounded choice within the Ivy League, it offers a comprehensive educational experience for budding AI talent, combining expertise in medical applications of AI with cutting-edge developments in robotics and graphics.

Polygence research program mentors:
Serena: I am currently a third-year Bioengineering PhD student at the University of Pennsylvania. I graduated from the University of California, San Diego in 2020 with a degree in mathematics and computer science and am now attending Penn as an Interfaces Program in Biomedical Imaging Scholar and a National Science Federation (NSF) Graduate Research Fellow. My passion for research lies in biomedical imaging, where I am currently researching a novel x-ray technique - phase-contrast and dark-field x-ray - and working on both hardware and software components to bring the technology from the laboratory to the bedside.

Hannah: When I was 3 I wanted to be a bubble-gum salesman in front of Safeway and have followed my interests ever since. From VR at Nvidia to animation at Pixar, global rendering simulation at Cesium, and engine work at Unity, I enjoy delving into the cross between math, physics, art, and computer science. I'm a former startup founder currently consulting and advising in the entrepreneurship space. Ask me about anything and everything, heck we'll probably learn something together along the way as there's always more to discover in the world. 

Lesser Known Schools for Studying AI

These lesser-known schools in the U.S. may not be as widely recognized as some larger institutions, but they are actively contributing to the field of AI education and research.

Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT)

RIT, located in New York, has a strong emphasis on computing and AI. The school offers some of the best artificial intelligence programs, providing students with a solid foundation in cutting-edge technologies.

University of Texas at Dallas (UTD)

UTD's Erik Jonsson School of Engineering and Computer Science has been making strides in AI research and education. The school offers diverse AI courses and has a dedicated research center focusing on machine learning.

Santa Clara University

Located in California's Silicon Valley, Santa Clara University offers an AI and machine learning concentration within its computer science program. The proximity to tech industry leaders provides unique opportunities for students.

University of Denver

The Ritchie School of Engineering and Computer Science at the University of Denver has been expanding its AI offerings. The school emphasizes interdisciplinary collaboration and provides students with a well-rounded education in AI.

University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC)

UIC's College of Engineering offers a Master's in Computer Science with a concentration in Artificial Intelligence. The program covers various aspects of AI, including machine learning and natural language processing.

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An Important Note on Tuition 

While the listed tuition provides a baseline, it's crucial to recognize that it doesn't necessarily represent the complete financial landscape. Many schools prioritize accessibility by offering a range of financial aid options, scholarships, and awards. This means that students often don't have to bear the full sticker price. I talk about this more in my article on “How much does it really cost to attend Ivy League schools?”

Navigating the financial aspects of education involves tapping into resources like the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and federal grants, such as the Pell Grant, are instrumental in supporting students with financial need. The beauty of these grants lies in their non-repayable nature, providing a financial foundation for those pursuing higher education. By completing the FAFSA, students open doors to various federal grants, ensuring that financial constraints don't impede their educational aspirations. 

Institutions understand the financial constraints students may face and actively work to make education more affordable. By availing themselves of these financial aid opportunities, students can significantly offset the cost of tuition and ensure that their educational journey aligns with their financial means. It underscores the importance of exploring the diverse avenues of financial support available within academic institutions.

Careers as an AI Expert

Here’s what you can do with a degree in computer science and artificial intelligence. 

  • Artificial Intelligence Research – Create novel machine learning models and algorithms advancing the field at companies like Google Brain and OpenAI or pioneering new ventures. Experience the thrill of innovation advancing a technology transforming civilization.

  • Artificial Intelligence Engineering – Build AI into products and services by applying machine learning, data science, and coding skills. Enjoy high demand, competitive salaries, and opportunities to shape user experiences at leading tech firms.  

  • Autonomous Systems Development – Design the algorithms enabling robots and vehicles to perceive, plan, act, and learn intelligently on their own. 

  • Data Science – Leverage AI and advanced analytics to derive insights from today’s wealth of data. This is one of the most lucrative roles across industries from finance to government, with Netflix offering salaries up to $900,000

  • Distributed Systems Engineer – Craft the cloud infrastructure, security, development tools, and computing frameworks running AI applications reliably at scale. Enable revolutionary capabilities securely. 

  • Entrepreneur – Combine your AI expertise with business savvy to recognize unmet needs, then build companies delivering new AI-powered solutions and seizing whole new markets.

Gaining AI proficiency takes world-class graduate instruction and research experience. According to Glassdoor in October 2023, the estimated total pay for careers in AI is $173,399 per year in the United States area, with an average salary of $132,868 per year. The foundation for a career in AI is built through undergraduate studies at the universities leading this complex and multidimensional field.

How can Polygence help?

Polygence offers students a unique opportunity to engage in one-on-one research with mentors from top schools actively involved in groundbreaking AI work. Through this platform, students can connect with mentors from prestigious institutions such as MIT, Princeton, and the University of Washington, who are at the forefront of AI research. 

This personalized mentorship allows students to delve into real-world AI projects, gaining insights, guidance, and hands-on experience from experts in the field. Polygence's approach fosters a collaborative environment, enabling students to contribute meaningfully to ongoing research initiatives and further their understanding of the latest advancements in big data and artificial intelligence.