Which Type of Artificial Intelligence Course Should You Take?

Explore which type of artificial intelligence course is right for you based on your interests and goals.
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There could be a million reasons why you're considering taking an artificial intelligence course.

You could be a project manager who interacts with data scientists and needs to speak their language. Or a business leader who wants to serve their customers better. Or you want to learn in-demand skills that can help you quickly land a job in one of today's fastest-growing fields.

Fortunately, the chances of finding a course suitable for you are good. One quick search of "AI courses" online gets dozens of hits — some leading to certificates and others to a degree.

But which should you choose? Let's review the different types of AI courses and look at some examples to see which you might want to take.

Types of Artificial Intelligence Courses

AI-based courses teach you how to create machines that can learn, think, and perform tasks like humans. There are many types of AI courses covering key concepts in different subfields:

  • Machine learning teaches you how to get computers to automatically learn from data and improve performance on a given task over time. Notable examples of machine learning include Siri and facial recognition.
  • Natural language processing covers the ability of a computer program to understand human language in spoken and written form, such as chatbots and virtual assistants.
  • Deep learning delves into advanced machine learning methods that use neural networks to extract higher levels of data. Personalized shopping suggestions and self-driven cars rely on deep learning.
  • Robotics focuses on AI fundamentals and how to design and build robots that can solve various problems. Industries such as healthcare, agriculture, and the military often use robots to boost efficiency, convenience, or safety.
  • AI ethics examines the ethical and social impacts of AI and how to develop AI to be more sustainable. Gender bias, surveillance practices, and art are among the most talked about AI ethical dilemmas.

Learning Format of AI Courses

AI courses vary in length and difficulty depending on the program and level of study. Some courses are short, lasting only a few weeks, while others can take several months or even years to complete. Many AI courses are online, but some are hybrid or fully in-person.

You can take artificial intelligence courses individually or as part of a broader program. The three most common formats you'll see are:

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    Certificate programs: AI certificate programs are short, intensive programs to develop or strengthen specific career skills, often adapted from university-based programs and designed for working professionals. They last between a few days and a few months. Tuition ranges from about $1,000-$5,000.
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    Boot camps: AIboot camps are comprehensive, intensive, and demanding programs that quickly cover a lot of information, taking about four months on average, and can lead to a relevant job quickly. Boot camps range from $10,000-$15,000.
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    Degree programs: Degree programs offer the most in-depth AI courses and the highest level of credibility. AI degrees are available at the associate, bachelor's, master's, or doctorate levels and take two to six years to complete. The average four-year degree cost $19,020 in 2020-2021.

Popular Online Programs

Learn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.

Examples of AI Courses

So, what are AI courses like? Here are three examples of AI courses and who they help the most:

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    A Crash Course in AI, a Stanford Online course, takes a high-level approach to AI techniques. Students discuss societal and ethical issues of AI and learn how AI mimics the human brain through hands-on exercises. The 2.5-week course caters to product managers who work closely with data scientists and software engineers and want to know how current AI works.

  2. 2

    Artificial Intelligence in Business: Creating Value with Machine Learning from Harvard University focuses on leveraging AI to build value for organizations. The two-day certificate program covers topics such as emerging technologies and AI trends. Harvard designed the program to be useful for many fields and roles, including managers, executives, engineers, analysts, marketers and bankers.

  3. 3

    Creating AI-Enabled Systems is a semester-long course in the master of science in artificial intelligence program at Johns Hopkins University. Students explore the full life cycle of AI systems, starting with identifying a problem and then working through the data, design, diagnostic, and deployment phases. JHU recommends the program to those who want to start a career as an AI engineer.

Which Type of AI Course Should You Choose?

The type of AI course you should take depends on your interests and goals. The program offering the course should also meet certain quality standards.

If you're new to AI, you might want to start with a beginner-level course covering the basics, such as machine learning, data analysis, and programming. If you have some experience with AI, you could look into more advanced courses that focus on specific topics or applications.

AI skills are in high demand in today's job market. Bootcamps and certificate programs can help you gain these in-demand skills in a short amount of time. In contrast, traditional degree programs are more long-term but generally offer higher credibility and job placement.

Whatever you decide, it's important to make sure your course is legit. Rashi Maheshwari of Forbes Advisor recommends looking for "green flags" when choosing your AI course. According to Maheshwari, a course should:

  1. Hold accreditation from a recognized university.
  2. Be designed and delivered by university faculty or top training providers.
  3. Offer all-inclusive support from an admissions counselor or an academic advisor.
  4. Allow collaboration with peers and faculty.
  5. Facilitate mentorship from industry experts.
  6. Be affiliated with hiring partners or job search assistants.

The Pros and Cons of Taking AI Courses

AI courses have many upsides, but there are also some downsides. So, let's wrap this up by putting it all out there — the good and the bad. Remember, as with most things, the potential benefits and drawbacks depend on your particular interests and goals.


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    You can learn in-demand skills and be ready to find a relevant job relatively quickly.
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    Online and self-paced courses provide flexibility and convenience for working adults.
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    Courses vary in difficulty from introductory to advanced, for beginners and experts.
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    Many programs design their courses for specific people, from CEOs to marketers.
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    Renowned professors and industry experts often lead AI programs.


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    You may struggle without a strong foundation in math and computer science.
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    Prior experience in programming languages like Python and Java is a must.
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    AI is a rapidly changing field, and what you learn may become outdated.
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    Social and ethical implications of AI may be challenging to navigate.
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    Refunds are not always available if you decide to unenroll.

BestColleges.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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