Learn AI in Washington, DC: A Guide to Artificial Intelligence Degree Programs & Certificate-Level Training Courses Online & in the District of Columbia

Written by Rebecca Turley

washington, dc programmer using ai

The rise of artificial intelligence is awe-inspiring, even for the top minds in the field. This emerging technology has already shown its ability to make significant contributions to society, shaping everything from how we do business to how we combat climate change.

In Washington D.C., the power of AI is felt across government and industry, and the results are nothing short of amazing. For example, in August 2023, the Department of Defense (DoD) announced that it was installing an AI-powered airspace monitoring system to protect the nation’s capital. The DoD reports that this detection system, called the National Capital Region-Integrated Air Defense System program, may also be used to protect other governmental installations and systems in the future.

The new AI-enabled detection system, which will replace the 9/11-era system currently in place, will feature an upgraded visual recognition, identification, and warning system, and will act as a surveillance and tracking system that will be able to monitor and defend the controlled airspace surrounding the nation’s capital.

After undergoing a prototype testing period, the DoD awarded a $100 million production contract to Teleidoscope to produce the system. The new system will use machine learning and augmented reality to help identify any objects that enter the National Capital Region (NCR) airspace where numerous military bases, intelligence agencies, and governmental offices are located.

This newest AI-powered intelligence is but a small example of some of the exciting things happening in Washington D.C. A wide array of superb opportunities awaits computer scientists, engineers, analysts, and business professionals who have the formal education this field demands. Whether you’re interested in breaking into the AI field with a bachelor’s degree or reimagining your career through a master’s degree or graduate certificate program, Washington D.C. is where you want to be.

How a DC Summit Brought Policymakers and the Industry’s Top Execs Together to Discuss the Value of AI Legislation

ai ethics legislationWashington D.C. has become the epicenter of artificial intelligence, where policymakers and top experts in academia, government, and private industry gather to consider how this emerging technology has the power to both hurt and help society in ways we’ve only begun to understand. The persistent question being asked is: How can we embrace artificial intelligence while implementing concrete guardrails that will ensure its safe and ethical use?

It’s an ongoing conversation that’s only just begun.

In September 2023, for example, our nation’s capital hosted a U.S. Senate hearing that called on leaders of some of the biggest tech companies to consider the regulation of AI. (Elon Musk, Bill Gates, and Sundar Pichai were just some of the industry leaders to attend.) While details of the closed-door meeting weren’t revealed, we know that lawmakers and tech executives agreed that the regulation of AI is crucial. According to Senator Chuck Schumer, who organized the meeting, every tech executive present agreed that some sort of government oversight for the use of AI is necessary.

Schumer suggested that AI legislation should prioritize innovation while also ensuring democracy, national security, and full transparency. Issues of privacy, racial bias, and safety surround AI.

Though, in classic government fashion, getting any type of legislature pushed through both chambers is unlikely to happen immediately, this rare summit served to kickstart the conversation and begin the process of ensuring the safe and equitable use of AI well into the future.

AI Jobs in Washington D.C.

There are plenty of reasons to get excited about the artificial intelligence field in Washington D.C. According to JLL, a global real estate firm, while many regions of the country will experience strong job opportunities in AI in the years to come, the wave has already hit our nation’s capital. JLL reports that the D.C. metro area is second in the nation for AI-related job openings, behind only the San Francisco Bay area. As of August 2023, there were nearly 1,800 job postings for AI positions in Washington D.C.

Much of the growth for jobs in the AI field in this region is due to the strong defense and biotech industries here (Northern Virginia for defense and suburban Maryland for biotech). For example, JLL reported strong demand for AI professionals at Leidos, a Reston, Virginia government technology contractor, and at Boeing, which operates a major research and technology hub in Arlington, Virginia.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the number AI professionals in Washington D.C. is expected to increase by 15% in the years leading up to 2030.

Artificial Intelligence Jobs in Washington D.C.

Government agencies, government contractors, NGOs, private industry… AI jobs in Washington D.C. are plentiful, thanks to the many types of companies that call the region home:

Not surprisingly, some of the most exciting job opportunities in AI in our nation’s capital are found in federal agencies. In fact, the federal government is using AI throughout its agencies, with this advanced technology offering benefits in healthcare, transportation, national security, the environment, and much, much more.

For example, AI is being used in Customs and Border Protection (CBP) in areas like:

The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency is utilizing AI in areas such as:

And the National Energy Technology Laboratory is implementing AI solutions in areas like:

AI Companies in Washington D.C.

AI companies in Washington D.C. are unearthing AI solutions that drive growth and help businesses of every size and shape improve their operations, boost efficiency, and gain unique insights.

For example, Afiniti, a privately held startup, has developed an AI technology that’s being used by major corporations like United Health Group and T-Mobile. Its algorithm analyzes traits of callers to better match them with agents. Afiniti’s technology is currently being used by more than 30 companies in 18 countries, including those in the insurance, hospitality, healthcare, and financial services sectors.

Just some of the other D.C.-based AI companies include:

AI Salary in Washington D.C.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), artificial intelligence engineers and scientists in Washington D.C. earned a median salary of $125,650 as of May 2022. Those with little to no experience earned about $92,830 during this time, while those with extensive experience and advanced degrees earned about $176,280.

AI professionals in the larger D.C. metro area, which includes Arlington and Alexandria, earned a median salary of $140,730 as of May 2022, while the top earners in the region earned about $198,990. 

Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning Master’s Degree and Certificate Courses in Washington D.C. and Online

A growing number of colleges and universities, both in Washington D.C. and throughout the nation, are offering undergraduate and graduate degrees in AI. From bachelor’s degrees to master’s degrees to graduate certificates, AI programs are expertly designed to prepare today’s experts in AI as it relates to engineering, computer science, data analysis, business, robotics, and more.

Many colleges and universities are also offering both bachelor’s and master’s degrees in AI through partially or fully online formats. These programs provide students with unmatched convenience and flexibility and allow them to complete a formal degree in this emerging field regardless of their geographical limitations for professional obligations.

Bachelor’s degrees in AI, which are generally housed in a university’s computer science department, are designed to provide students with a broad foundation in this emerging field. Grounded in math and science, these programs generally include coursework in areas like linear algebra, calculus, analytic geometry, and probability. The AI core of these programs explores AI theory, methodologies, and applications, as well as AI topics like robotics, autonomous systems, and intelligent systems.

Master’s degrees in AI may be designed as engineering degrees, computer science degrees, business degrees, and straight AI and AI engineering degrees. There are few consistencies in these programs, which reflect the interdisciplinary and largely emerging nature of the field.

Many graduate AI programs offer students the option of specializing their degree. In computer science degrees, this may include concentration options in data science, robotics, autonomous systems, or cybersecurity, while in engineering programs, this may include options in biomedical engineering, chemical engineering, civil engineering, or mechanical engineering.

For example, George Washington University’s Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering offers an MS in Electrical Engineering and an MS in Computer Engineering, each of which offers a concentration in machine learning and intelligent systems. The university also offers a Graduate Certificate in Machine Learning.

Machine Learning Degree and Certificate Options in Washington D.C.

There are opportunities in Washington D.C. to focus on machine learning, a broad subset of AI that utilizes mathematical models of data to help computers learn without direct instruction:

AI Engineering Degree and Certificate Options in Washington D.C.

Artificial intelligence is being woven into all disciplines of engineering, creating unique career opportunities to expand your skillset to reflect this emerging field:

George Washington University (Private)

Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering
Washington D.C.

george washington university

MS in Electrical Engineering-Machine Learning and Intelligent Systems (on-campus, online)

MS in Computer Engineering-Machine Learning and Intelligent Systems (on-campus)

Total Estimated Program Cost: $62,250

Graduate Certificate in Machine Learning (hybrid)

Total Estimated Program Cost: $24,900

Also offers: Doctor of Engineering in Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning

2022 US Bureau of Labor Statistics salary figures for computer information and research scientists. Job growth projections from the US Department of Labor-sponsored resource, CareerOneStop. Figures are based on state data, not school-specific information. Conditions in your area may vary. Data accessed November 2023.