Master of Science in Applied Artificial Intelligence

Shiley-Marcos School of Engineering

Training the Next Generation of Artificial Intelligence Experts for Career Success

Earn Your Master’s in Artificial Intelligence Online

Accelerate Your Career in Booming Job Market with AI Master’s Degree

The future looks extraordinarily bright for artificial intelligence. Conventional wisdom holds that AI is still rapidly evolving and has a long way to go to realize its full potential. Experts will tell you that true AI isn’t even here yet, but it is already revolutionizing such essential sectors as finance, health care, and national defense.

One thing is certain — the job market is booming for artificial intelligence engineers, data scientists, and programmers, as well as many other AI-related jobs. Talented professionals with experience and a master’s in AI are strong contenders for a wide range of six-figure positions across many industries.

Motivated by the passion and commitment to train current and future artificial intelligence professionals for the important and fascinating work ahead, the University of San Diego offers an innovative, online AI master’s degree program — the Master of Science in Applied Artificial Intelligence (MS-AAI). The strengths of our program include significant emphasis on real-world applications, ethics, privacy, moral responsibility, and social good in designing AI-enabled systems.

Designed to prepare  graduates for success in this vitally important and fast-growing field, this master’s in artificial intelligence online degree program has been developed by AI experts in close collaboration with key industry and government stakeholders to provide in-depth practical and technical training.

Note that the program title is Applied Artificial Intelligence; this means it has a significant focus  on the practical applications of AI in business and industry. AI master’s degree students will be immersed not just in the fundamental principles and concepts of artificial intelligence but also in ethics-based, real-world problem solving.

Is the Applied Artificial Intelligence Master’s Degree Right For You?

Students seek out the University of San Diego’s online master’s degree programs for a reason. We are known for high-quality academics and instruction delivered by passionate, student-centered faculty through a time-tested online learning environment that is both collaborative and user friendly. The online classes are designed to provide ultimate flexibility for busy working professionals to balance work and life with their educational and career goals.

Admission requirements to the program include a bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering, Computer Engineering, Computer Science, IT, Statistics or a related STEM field from an accredited institution with a bachelor’s GPA of 2.75 or higher. Candidates with a GPA under 2.75 may apply, but they will need to provide an essay including relevant and convincing explanations of their experience, skills and motivation.

We ask that applicants review the complete list of our admission requirements before applying.

Preference will be given to prospective students with research experience, industry experience or other relevant real-world experiences. Ideal candidates for the University of San Diego’s online AI master’s degree program include:

  • Those who possess a bachelor’s degree with strong academic credentials in such majors as statistics, mathematics, data science, computer science, engineering, physics, biological sciences, health care or a related STEM field.
  • Programmers and engineers who are looking to expand their skills into the realm of artificial intelligence
  • Professionals starting their careers in AI who realize they are more interested in practical applications and real-world problem solving

In contrast to USD’s MS in Applied Data Science — which focuses on gaining insights from data using data analysis, visualization and prediction while a human is usually involved in the process — the applied artificial intelligence master’s degree program focuses on autonomous decision making and action execution by agents with broad-ranging applications such as robotics, computer vision, and text analysis.

Employers who have a need for skilled AI professionals should be aware that USD’s artificial intelligence master’s degree program is designed to prepare graduates to provide immediate impact in the workforce by applying their technical knowledge and skills to business and commercial applications.

Artificial intelligence is about much more than self-driving cars, home automation and Internet of Things-enabled systems. Experts predict that AI will play a key role in automating data-driven decision-making, impacting markets that include health care, defense, national security, transportation, manufacturing, construction, agriculture, financial services and more.

Innovative Curriculum Tailored to the Needs of Industries and Employers

[MUST-WATCH WEBINAR] Join USD-AI Academic Director Ramesh Rajagopalan, Ph.D., for an inside look at the AI employment landscape and our career-building master’s program >>

The Master of Science in Applied Artificial Intelligence curriculum is designed to equip graduates with the foundation, principles, technical knowledge, and skills they will need to apply powerful, modern, ethical, and socially responsible artificial intelligence techniques to real-world applications.

Launched through the University of San Diego’s Shiley-Marcos School of Engineering, the online AI master’s degree program culminates in a Capstone experience that pairs degree candidates with fellow students, instructors, mentors, and potential industry partners on a rigorous, practicum-based project that hones their ability to apply their skills in the workplace.

In addition to simulating real-world experience, the Capstone project also involves developing a technical portfolio that will demonstrate your experience and proficiency to potential employers.

Designed to be completed in 20 months over five semesters, the USD master’s in artificial intelligence online degree program requires students to complete 30 academic units. Of the 30 academic units:

  • 6 units focus on introductory topics and fundamentals
  • 21 units cover technical aspects essential to the field of artificial intelligence
  • 3 units are dedicated to the comprehensive Artificial Intelligence Capstone Project

The courses are updated regularly in consultation with faculty and industry experts to ensure that they are closely aligned with progress and advancement in a field that is still undergoing rapid development. This includes ongoing consultation with a wide range of public and private sector stakeholders. The MS-AAI program’s Board of Industry Advisors includes experts and managers from a range of different industries with experience in data science and AI-based technologies.

For more information about our AI master’s degree program and detailed course descriptions, visit our Curriculum page. 

Artificial Intelligence Master’s Degree Program Goals

The mission of the online AI master’s degree program is to offer a robust, state-of-the-art online learning experience that enables students to master the technical skills, practical expertise, and soft skills necessary for developing and deploying ethical and socially responsible intelligent systems that autonomously solve challenging engineering, science, health care, and business problems in data-rich domains.

“The mission of our program is to offer a robust, state-of-the-art online learning experience that enables students to master the technical skills, practical expertise, and soft skills necessary for developing and deploying ethical and socially responsible intelligent systems that autonomously solve challenging engineering, science, health care, and business problems in data-rich domains,” said Ramesh Rajagopalan, Ph.D., program director of the online MS-AAI program. “Graduates will be successful in technical positions in a variety of industries, and will also be well-positioned for management and entrepreneurial projects in AI.”

The University of San Diego’s online master’s degree in applied artificial intelligence differentiates itself from other similar programs in several significant ways.

The USD Master of Science in Applied Artificial Intelligence program:

  • Leverages the best of both worlds by combining comprehensive technical knowledge and skills with a profound understanding of how to apply the techniques, principles, and algorithms (including hard and soft skills) in real-world applications
  • Focuses on continuous improvement, gaining insight used to enhance curriculum immediacy and relevance through ongoing consultations with its Industry Advisory Board, faculty, and a broad range of artificial intelligence experts and managers
  • Employs highly skilled faculty with a passion for teaching, many of whom are applied artificial intelligence practitioners in key roles at a wide range of commercial, academic, and government organizations
  • Integrates ethics, privacy, social good, and moral responsibility in applying artificial intelligence tools and techniques across the entire curriculum
  • Takes a student-centered approach, employing faculty who demonstrate teaching excellence and who are committed to engaging with and mentoring students
  • Is one of the nation’s only 100% online master’s in artificial intelligence programs

The University of San Diego MS-AAI program aspires to function as a respected artificial intelligence thought leader organization as part of its mission to develop current and future generations of ethically responsible AI professionals.

Applied Artificial Intelligence Faculty: Real-World Experts

The faculty members selected for USD’s artificial intelligence master’s degree program possess advanced terminal degrees (master and doctoral) and a unique combination of government, academic, research, and industry experience spanning enterprises focused on technology, engineering, health care, business, marketing, education, and more.

Additionally, MS-AAI faculty advisors will work with students and guide them so that learning in the courses is contextualized for individualized development and career advancement.

[WATCH] Our video webinar exploring the AI job market and career landscape >>

Careers in Artificial Intelligence

High-paying career opportunities in artificial intelligence and related disciplines continue to expand across a broad spectrum of industries, with the market for AI engineers growing at a rapid pace of about 30% year over year. Though analysts expect AI to displace some jobs, forecasts call for 133 million new jobs requiring AI professionals by 2022.

The average salary for an artificial intelligence programmer is said to range from $100,000 to $150,000. Salaries are significantly higher for artificial intelligence engineers, averaging $171,715 with the top 25% earning above $200,000, according to one job search site.

The need for skilled artificial intelligence professionals spans nearly all industries, public agencies, and nonprofits, with particularly strong demand and opportunity in fields such as:

  • Financial services
  • Health care
  • Technology and home automation
  • Media
  • Marketing
  • Manufacturing
  • National security
  • Government and military
  • IoT-enabled systems
  • Retail

This online AI master’s degree program is ideal for candidates who plan to work within a business organization that requires the application of AI-based tools and techniques for developing intelligent systems, algorithms, and automated data-driven decision making. Graduates will be well-prepared for success in technical positions in a variety of industries.

However, the program is also designed to develop soft skills as well as technical proficiency, so that graduates will be well-positioned for management and entrepreneurial roles in artificial intelligence. AI professionals, in the near future, will span diverse roles from domain experts to AI programmers and engineers, data and research scientists, machine learning engineers, business intelligence developers, product designers, user experience engineers, ethical system developers, executive and functional managers, IP attorneys, and more.

[WATCH NOW] Learn about the fast-growing and high-paying world of AI in our new on-demand webinar, “Planning Your Future: A Career in Artificial Intelligence.”>>

Admissions (Earn Your Degree in 20 Months)

Candidates who possess industry experience or academic research experience with a strong technical background will be best positioned for acceptance into the USD master’s in AI program. Those who are currently working in related positions in industry will gain the knowledge and skills needed to add value at their companies and further advance their careers.

Students are admitted throughout the year for enrollment into one of three semesters (Spring, Summer and Fall). Each semester two courses are offered, with students focusing sequentially on one course at a time – a total of seven weeks for each course.

Applications for admission are accepted on a rolling basis. A decision will be recommended by the Review Committee within one week of your application being submitted. For details on specific requirements needed for admission, please visit our Admissions page.


University of San Diego tuition rates are competitive with other leading institutions. The cost for each program varies by credit hour; the Master of Science in Applied Artificial Intelligence program requires a minimum of 30 total credit hours. At $925 per credit, total tuition is $27,750 — before potential scholarships and financial aid are factored in.

Financial Aid

One of the University of San Diego’s highest priorities is to ensure that sufficient tuition and financial aid support is available to all eligible students. The first step in applying for aid is to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

In addition to financial aid, the University of San Diego provides assistance in securing additional financial support for students to further their education, including scholarships and grants.



Accreditation is an important quality indicator for college and university degree programs, generally regarded as a stamp of approval that ensures you will be able to apply for financial aid and transfer your credits if you decide to switch schools. Most state universities and private non-profit universities will have a regional accreditation. The University of San Diego has earned both regional and national accreditations.

Accreditations include:

The WASC Senior College and University Commission – WASC is a regional accrediting agency that is recognized by the U.S. Department of Education as certifying institutional eligibility for federal funding in a number of programs, including student access to federal financial aid. Learn more about the importance of selecting a regionally accredited program.

Enrollment and Academic Advisors

Applying to a graduate program can be complicated — that’s why our team of advisors is here to help answer all of your questions.

When you first inquire about our online master’s in artificial intelligence program, you will be assigned a personal Enrollment Advisor who will be available to answer your questions, help you assess your eligibility for admission and guide you through the application process.

In addition, each of our graduate degree programs has an Academic Advisor who is responsible for evaluating applications and admitting new students, monitoring your academic progress and providing guidance as needed. Program Advisors also serve as instructors for their respective programs.

Right from the start, you’ll receive support and guidance from experienced advisors who are invested in helping you achieve your education goals!

Speak to a USD Advisor

Online Learning at USD

Designed for busy working professionals who want to earn their master’s degree while balancing the demands of work and family life, the University of San Diego offers convenient, yet rigorous online learning programs that enable you to achieve your educational goals on your own schedule.

As an online graduate student, you will have access to your classroom and lectures at any time and can view your assignments, syllabus, and course resources from any computer with internet capability.

The degree you’ll earn as an online graduate student is of the same quality and rigor as that earned by campus-based students. The online courses embody the same learning outcomes, educational rigor and high level of academic excellence.

Learn More About Earning Your Master’s Degree Online at University of San Diego 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What skills and experience are important for success in the Master of Science in Applied Artificial Intelligence program?

Applicants should have some knowledge and experience with Calculus and Linear Algebra.

How much programming experience is required?

Applicants should have some knowledge and experience in at least one of the following programming languages: Python, C, and Matlab.

How much does the online artificial intelligence master’s degree cost in tuition?

The Master of Science in Applied Artificial Intelligence online program is 30 total credits at $925 per credit, for a total tuition of $27,750. Thanks to available federal financial aid, most students find the program to be a valuable, affordable investment that quickly pays for itself.

Does USD offer career development/advising support?

The University of San Diego is committed to steering you on a path toward educational and professional success. Right from the start, you’ll receive support and guidance from experienced University of San Diego advisors who are invested in helping you achieve your education goals!

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