Artificial intelligence is advancing rapidly. So is student demand for the academic program.
ChatGPT, a text-based artificial intelligence released near the end of 2022, has grabbed the attention of higher ed. Some fear students will use it to generate admissions essays and cheat on assignments. However, 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. As a result, completions data reflects what students were interested in four to six years ago. That said, it is still an indicator of long-term trends in student demand for mature programs, especially when combined with other metrics.
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-baccalaureate certificates are also growing, but only more recently: the first reported completions were in 2019 (with one student).
Master’s and grad certs total completions rose an average of 28 percent annually from 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 that many of their completions were reported to CIP 11.0701 (Computer Science ) and CIP 11.0101 (Computer and Info Sciences). The research suggests that the actual completion 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 several times higher than completions. In Academic Year 2021 – 2022, 3,766 students enrolled in the program, up 62 percent annually from 2018 – 2019.
The most current student demand metric updated monthly is Google keyword searches. There were 94,877 Google searches for Artificial Intelligence programs from January – November 2021 and 123,615 in the same period in 2022 – a 30 percent increase 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.
There Are Few Bachelor’s Completions in Artificial Intelligence, but Enrollment Is Growing
The discrepancy between bachelor’s completions and enrollment numbers highlights the lagging nature of 2021 completions. Only five campuses completed students in 2021, with Carnegie Mellon taking over half the share.
Enrollment, a more current metric, is over forty times higher at 1,318 in the academic year 2020-2021, and is growing 111 percent annually. According to US News, 25 institutions enrolled students in 2022-2023. This number might be higher since some institutions probably reported AI programs in Computer Science.
Our data indicates that people 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 November 2022, Machine Learning had the third highest cumulative enrollment of all courses on Coursera, at more than 50 million. Other courses in the general machine learning category also show high cumulative enrollment.
According to our data on student demand, more colleges and universities are starting programs. There is an opportunity to enter the market early, as student demand is growing fast.