Welcome to Artificial Intelligence: The Academic Program

June 8, 2023

Artificial intelligence is advancing rapidly. So is student demand for the academic program.

The release of ChatGPT,  a text-based artificial intelligence released near the end of 2022,  has grabbed the attention of higher ed. Some fear that students will use it to generate admissions essays and cheat on assignments. But one thing is certain: this program is growing fast.

Master’s in Artificial Intelligence Leads in Demand

Gray measures student demand for academic programs across three metrics: completions, enrollment, and Google keyword searches. Completions data is the most lagging indicator: the most recent IPEDS release is for the 2020-2021 academic year (students likely chose to enroll as early as 2017, when the program was still young). While somewhat outdated, completions is one of three useful metrics.

Artificial intelligence Completions by Award Level (2016-2021)

According to the most recent IPEDS data (2021), a Master’s degree in Artificial Intelligence has the highest and fastest-growing completions of all award levels. Post-bac certificates are also growing, but only more recently: the first reported completions were in 2019 (with one student). This program is even younger online*:

Artificial Intelligence Online Completions (By Award Level: 2019-2021)

*The bachelor’s program with 16 completions in 2019 was discontinued.

Master’s and grad certs total completions rose an average of 28 percent annually from 2016 – 2021.

Artificial Intelligence Completions (Master's and Grad Certificates: 2016-2021)

IPEDS Alone Is Misleading

IPEDS does not tell the whole story.  We researched academic programs titled Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, or Natural Language Processing, and discovered many of their completions were reported to CIP 11.0701 (Computer Science ) and CIP 11.0101(Computer and Info Sciences). Completions volume for Artificial Intelligence programs could be significantly higher for all award levels.

Enrollment (a more current metric) in master’s and grad certs in Artificial Intelligence is higher than completions. In Academic Year 2022 – 2023, 3,721 students enrolled in the program, up 48 percent annually from 2018 – 2019.*

Artificial Intelligence Total Enrollment (Master's and Grad certificates: 2018-19 – 2022-23)

*Fall and Spring enrollment only

The most current student demand metric, updated every month, is Google keyword searches. In April 2023, there were 29,692 Google searches for Artificial Intelligence programs, and Artificial Intelligence was the fastest-growing academic program for searches at 89 Percent year-over-year.  We dove deeper into this metric to learn which keywords related to Artificial Intelligence programs had the highest search volume, and a master’s degree led the pack.

Highest Artificial Intelligence Google Searches (Keyword Detail, January–April 2023)

Bachelor’s Completions in Artificial Intelligence are Small but Enrollment is Growing

The discrepancy between bachelor’s completions and enrollment numbers highlights the lagging indicator of 2021 completions. Only five campuses completed students in 2021, with Carnegie Mellon taking more than half of the share.

Artificial Intelligence Completions (Bachelor's 2016-2021)

Enrollment, a more current metric, is much higher, with 76 percent annual growth over the last four years. According to the US News, 25 institutions enrolled students in 2022-2023. It is possible that some of those programs report to the Computer Science CIP code.

Artificial Intelligence Total Enrollment (Bachelor's 2018-19 to 2022-23)

*Fall and Spring enrollment only

Students aren’t only interested in traditional degree programs in artificial intelligence. Enrollment in courses and certificates on platforms such as Coursera is high and growing.

As of April 2023, Machine Learning had the seventh highest cumulative enrollment of all main categories on Coursera, at more than 10.3 million. Courses in the category also show high cumulative enrollment.

Highest Year-over-Year Enrollment Increase, Coursera Machine Learning Category (April 2023)

Artificial intelligence (AI) is a rapidly advancing field, with new developments and applications being discovered all the time. More colleges and universities are starting programs, and there is an opportunity to enter the market early, as student demand is growing fast.

Monica Bilson

Senior Project Manager

Monica produces webinars and conference presentations, contributes to blogs, and manages internal projects for senior leadership. She is the designer and manager of Gray DI's course with Bay Path University, Academic Program Evaluation and Management.

About Gray DI

Gray DI provides data, software and facilitated processes that power higher-education decisions. Our data and AI insights inform program choices, optimize finances, and fuel growth in a challenging market – one data-informed decision at a time.

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