If you are looking to get into machine learning then you might be wondering what the best degree will be for it.
This post will show you the best 6 bachelor’s degrees that you can get for machine learning and the classes that you will need to take.
So, what is the best degree for machine learning? Overall, the best degree would be computer science with a minor in statistics.
There are actually a number of approaches that you could take to learning machine learning and there are actually a number of degrees that you can get that are highly valued in the industry.
Overall, computer science is the most recommended degree if you want to get into machine learning regardless of if you want to get a job in ML or become a researcher.
Machine learning requires the knowledge of programming, data structures and some advanced computer science algorithms. Computer science features all of these classes so it is a good fit for machine learning.
An added benefit of a degree in computer science is that it is a very employable degree and it will qualify you for many well-paying jobs with just a bachelor’s degree. According to Payscale, the average salary of someone with a bachelor’s in computer science is $83,000. This makes computer science one of the best paying degrees that are available.
This means that if you decide that machine learning is not actually for you then you will still have a very valuable degree.
Machine learning can also be very heavy on mathematics and statistics. Most computer science programs will require that you take single and multivariable calculus, linear algebra and discrete mathematics. However, they might not require that you take probability and statistics. If you want to get into machine learning then it will be important that you take these classes as electives.
I have written more about whether computer science would be a good major for you here.
The algorithms used in machine learning are all based on statistics in some way. As a result of this, a degree in statistics will be very beneficial if you want to get into machine learning.
Most statistics degrees will require that you take computer science algorithms and data structures classes. If your statistics program does not then make sure to choose them as electives and possibly even take more advanced algorithms classes if they are offered.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that the demand for statisticians and mathematicians will rise by 33% by 2026. This is mainly due to the surge in data that companies have been receiving in recent years that they need people with statistical skills to make sense of.
Many of the jobs being created for statisticians will involve machine learning in some way. However, many of them will involve more traditional statistics so having a statistics degree will also put you in a good position upon graduation.
I have written more about whether or not statistics would be a good major for you here.
As mentioned above, mathematics gets used in many different ways in machine learning so having a good understanding of mathematics will make things much easier for you.
When doing an applied math degree with the intention of getting into machine learning, make sure to take classes including data structures, algorithms, probability and statistics.
As mentioned above the demand for mathematicians is expected to continue to rise in the coming years so it will also be a degree that will put you in a good position. Taking computer science and statistics electives will also help to put you in an especially good position.
I have written more about whether or not you should get an applied math degree here.
Machine learning takes mathematics and statistics and finds ways to apply them similarly to how physics finds ways to apply them as well.
Having a degree in physics will help you to understand how to take advanced mathematical subjects and to make use of them. This will be very helpful when implementing machine learning.
If you do decide to major in physics make sure to take classes mentioned in the list below.
There are many data science degrees that are beginning to appear that will help in getting into the field of machine learning.
Data science degrees will require that you take the required classes from mathematics, computer science and statistics in order to learn machine learning. They will also often feature actual machine learning classes that other universities might only offer to grad students.
Data science undergraduate degrees will focus more strongly on the data visualization, processing and analysis side of machine learning than its mathematical underpinnings. If you want to get a job in machine learning then this would normally be a good thing.
However, If you want to become a machine learning researcher then a stronger focus on mathematics, statistics and computer science would likely be more helpful.
I have written more about whether or not data science would be a good major for you here.
Data analytics bachelor’s degrees have also started to appear in recent years. Machine learning requires the use of large amounts of data and having the knowledge of how to manipulate it will be very useful.
Data analytics bachelor’s degrees will also require you to take the necessary classes that are needed to learn machine learning so it will also be a good degree to get into the field with.
I have written more about whether or not you should get a degree in data analytics here.
Necessary classes for machine learning
If you want to get into machine learning then there are a number of classes that you will need to make sure to take as an undergraduate which can include:
- Single and multivariable calculus
- Linear algebra
- Data structures
Taking classes that focus on visualizing, manipulating, storing and processing data would also be very helpful. This means that databases computer science classes would help and computational statistics classes would help too.
Consider the area of machine learning that you are interested in
When deciding on which degree and what classes to take for machine learning it would help a lot to consider what it is that you are interested in.
There are a number of areas that machine learning covers including:
- Self-driving cars
- Natural language processing
- Computer vision
- Recommender systems
How hard will it be to learn machine learning?
Machine learning makes use of mathematics, statistics and computer science. All of those majors have high dropout rates. This is likely to be because they are difficult majors that require a lot more study time than most people are used to.
This means that it will also be a challenge to learn about machine learning as an undergraduate. How difficult it will be for you will largely depend on how much math, stats and computer science you already know.
However, there are many things that you can do to make it easier to learn about machine learning as an undergraduate that I have written about here.
How to learn specifically about machine learning?
Many colleges do not offer classes that specifically teach you about machine learning.
If you want to learn about machine learning then it will be necessary for you to do it in your own time.
You can learn about machine learning here and deep learning here.