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The 10 Best AI And Data Science Undergraduate Courses For 2021

2 July 2021

Artificial Intelligence is the hottest topic in technology and commerce today, and the field of data science is fundamental to how it works. Courses in data science all now contain a strong AI presence, and a few institutions are already offering specialised undergraduate degrees in AI.

The increasing number of colleges and universities offering courses in these subjects indicates industry-wide expectations that there will be a world of rewarding opportunities for those with formal training and accreditation.

Did I say rewarding? Well, according to Glassdoor.com the average salary last year for a data scientist stood at $107,000. So, it’s certainly a career worth considering if earning a good starting wage is on your list of priorities!

If you’re a school leaver with an interest in technology and the future, or re-skilling due to life changes in these challenging times, you may be considering studying a degree in AI or data science, or taking a module as part of a statistics or computer science course. Here’s a quick overview of some of the top opportunities out there.

Harvard University – Data Science Programme

Harvard University offers two data science tracks for undergraduates wanting to study data science as a part of their degree. One focuses on the mathematics and statistical side, while one specialises in training in data analytics as used by government. While the government course covers the maths, statistics and computing fundamentals, it also includes social science elements, with alumni going on to work in data-driven journalism and for political organisations, as well as top tech firms like Google and Netflix. Outside of social sciences, the university’s work with adapting AI to robotics is also world-renowned. Harvard was identified as the top university for data science by Correlation One, which produces a standardised test to assess data scientists on their skills.

University of Michigan – Undergraduate Programme in Data Science

This data science major aims to provide students with a thorough grounding in the basic skills of mathematics, computing and statistics that go into the melting pot to create data science. As a prestigious institution with a reputation for cutting-edge research and development in information technology and artificial intelligence, a degree from this university will be a great icebreaker in any data science job interview. You’ll have the chance to learn data mining, machine learning and how to write algorithms putting all of this to use in the real world.

Nanyang Technological University, Singapore – BSc in Data Science and Artificial Intelligence

Aiming to strike a balance between computer science and mathematics, this course is administered by the school’s Computational Intelligence lab, that researches links between biological and cognitive brain functions and their implications for artificial thought, and the Data Science and AI Research Centre, that explores real-world business and societal implementations of AI and analytics.

Columbia University, New York – BA in Data Science

Computer science majors at Columbia can take various pathways that include fundamentals of data science, AI and machine learning in their education, including a BA course administered through the School of Engineering. Students are taught probability, statistics, regression, and machine learning. From there, they can progress to the Intelligent Systems track and deep-dive into subjects such as natural language processing, computer vision, and robotics.

University of Edinburgh – BSc Artificial Intelligence

This degree tackles two core concepts of AI and data science – firstly, the use of computation to understand the concepts and functionality of natural intelligence, and secondly, the use of technology such as machine learning to replicate those functions in machines. The four-year course will give you the chance to cover everything from basic programming to neuroscience and advanced robotics. Once you graduate, you’ll no doubt be seen as a valuable candidate by top employers in the AI and data science field, but the school also has a strong reputation for training up founders of successful start-ups in the field.

London School of Economics – BSc Data Science

Aims to teach the quantitative skills needed for a career in commercial or public-sector data science or to go on to further study for a masters’ or Ph.D. qualification. It covers data mining and machine learning and their application across the spheres of economics and finance. Although the title of the degree is data science, there’s a heavy leaning towards artificial intelligence and more cutting-edge use cases, as is true of most data science courses today.

Carnegie Moellon University, Pittsburgh – Bachelor of Science in Artificial Intelligence

Carnegie Moellon has a strong heritage with AI. It was the first university in the US to offer a dedicated bachelor’s degree in artificial intelligence, and also lays claim to being the place where AI was first invented over 50 years ago. Education is provided jointly by the computer science, software research, language technologies, machine learning, and robotics faculties. The school is also committed to its AI For Social Good programme, where innovative use cases that have the potential to impact society in positive ways are explored. Students are also expected to study either cognitive science or cognitive psychology as part of their degree.

MIT, Massachusetts

MIT undergraduate students have the opportunity to engage with the school’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, a leading light in AI research and development since it was founded in 1963 as “Project MAC” – Machine Aided Cognition. MIT has a reputation as a centre of technical excellence, so AI is entwined with many of the disciplines and fields of study available to students. Everything from the haptic feedback interface on your mobile phone to military reconnaissance robots has been developed here!

As with many of the institutions listed here, enrolment on their courses is fiercely competitive, but if you’re lucky enough to make the cut, you’ll be learning and studying alongside world-class thinkers and leaders in the field of AI and data science.

Stanford University, California – BSc Computer Science

Stanford’s BSc degree in computer science offers an AI track that gives undergraduate students the chance to learn from experts at one of the world’s most renowned AI research institutions. Electives are available covering the entire spectrum of AI fundamentals, including machine learning, deep learning, computer vision, and language networks. Students also explore applications for these techniques across other disciplines such as biomedical research and economics.

Brigham Young University, Utah – Statistics with Data Science

This course may not be the most famous, but it is ranked at number one by datasciencedegreeprograms.net, which scores courses across the US according to factors including graduation rates and value for money. Students cover the use of data and statistics in industrial applications, forecasting, and computer programming. The course covers programming in R and Python, two of the most commonly used programming languages for data science, and covers calculus, probability, regression, and statistical computing, among other core data science skills.

As data science and AI are becoming important skills in any industry or career, and not everyone wants to dedicate their entire undergraduate degree to it, you might also be interested in these free online big data and data science courses, which you can study alongside any other course.


ATSCALE | Bernard Marr

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