Quality Assurance Degrees: Bachelor's, Master's & Certification Info

About this article
What will you learn in a quality assurance degree program? Read about degree requirements, the pros and cons of a bachelor's and master's degree and potential careers.
View available schools

Study Quality Assurance: Degrees at a Glance

Quality assurance as an academic field involves the creation and implementation of quality systems that are designed to ensure the standards of a product or service. Students study business principles, statistical methods, engineering concepts and management systems as they learn to design, evaluate and maintain quality assurance standards for a company or organization.

Employment prospects for quality assurance graduates are as varied as the field itself. For example, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projected that employment prospects for production mangers would see a nine percent job growth between 2010 and 2020, which is less than average. Over the same decade, logisticians are expected to see a higher-than-average job growth at 26%.

Bachelor's Master's
Who is this degree for? Those interested in entry- to mid-level careers in the field of quality assurance Individuals interested in quality assurance leadership positions
Common Career Paths (with approximate median annual salary) - Logistician ($72,000)*
- Quality assurance manager ($92,000 - this salary is more common for people with six years of experience)**
- Industrial production manager ($88,000 - this salary is more common for people with 2-5 years of experience)*
Management analyst ($78,000 - this salary is more common for people with 1-5 years of experience)*
Career paths for the master's degree are similar to those of the bachelor's, although there are typically more advancement opportunities for candidates holding a master's degree
Time to Completion Four years, full-time Two years, full-time
Common Graduation Requirements Capstone or senior project Graduate thesis
Prerequisites High school diploma or GED Bachelor's degree
Online Availability Yes Yes

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (May 2011 figures), **Salary.com (figures reported in February 2013)

Bachelor's Degree in Quality Assurance

Bachelor's degree programs in quality assurance typically award the Bachelor of Science. As a quality assurance major, you'll study systems and processes of manufacturing while you learn about quality auditing, control and inspection. You can also learn how to collect and study statistical data that is used to avoid system and process failure, as well as achieve product safety and reliability. Upon successful completion of the program, you will know how to design and implement quality assurance systems as well as how to manage and maintain these systems to ensure the ongoing quality of your product line.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • The varied curriculum, with classes in fields such as engineering, manufacturing, business and the humanities, should provide you with a well-rounded education
  • Programs may feature internship opportunities, which can provide valuable professional experience
  • Upon graduating, you'll be in position academically to pursue a graduate degree in quality assurance or a related field

Cons

  • It can be difficult to find campus-based quality assurance programs at the undergraduate level
  • Positions related to this field may require several years of professional experience
  • Quality assurance bachelor's degree programs are rare

Courses and Requirements

Along with your core quality assurance courses, you'll also take plenty of math courses, including algebra, statistics and calculus. There will also be science requirements, such as chemistry and physics. General education requirements, such as English, history and social science courses, will round out your curriculum. The following are sample course topics covered in these programs:

  • Quality improvement
  • Quality and process control
  • Mathematics
  • Control methods
  • Measurement basics

Online Degree Options

The majority of bachelor's degree programs in quality assurance are offered in an online format, and programs are typically 100% online. As long as the institution offering the degree program is accredited by a recognized educational body, there should be no differences in educational outcomes or vocational possibilities between campus-based and online programs. You can also find related online programs that offer quality assurance coursework, such as the Bachelor of Business Administration.

Getting Ahead with This Degree

After you've obtained your degree, you may want to think about pursuing industry certification in your quality assurance field. Professional organizations, such as the American Society for Quality (ASQ), offer various levels of certification for those fresh out of college. The certification process consists of a proficiency exam that tests your knowledge in particular quality assurance areas. Being able to call yourself a certified professional in quality assurance may increase your employment and advancement opportunities.

Master's Degree in Quality Assurance

The purpose of a master's degree program in quality assurance is to prepare students for leadership or managerial roles in such fields as healthcare, manufacturing, service industries and more. Programs at this level typically award the Master of Science in Quality Assurance. You'll learn about the systems of quality standards, including how to evaluate and create quality tools and techniques. The coursework often stresses the theoretical, building on the practical knowledge developed at the undergraduate level. Programs may allow you to tailor your studies to a particular sub-field of quality assurance.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • May prepare you for advancement in careers related to quality assurance
  • Because quality assurance is a component of so many fields, you should be able to conduct a nation-wide job search
  • Quality assurance programs are more common at the graduate level

Cons

  • You may be competing for positions against applicants with a bachelor's degree and experience
  • It may be difficult to find campus-based graduate programs in quality assurance
  • Graduate school is often expensive and non-loan funding can be difficult to secure

Courses and Requirements

The coursework for this degree program will naturally reflect the multidisciplinary nature of the quality assurance field, which means you'll have courses in business, engineering and science. There are usually few or no other academic requirements outside the quality assurance courses. Most of these programs feature a graduate thesis as a degree requirement, and you'll receive course credit for researching and completing your thesis. Other possible course topics include:

  • Governmental regulations
  • Ethical issues in quality
  • Research methods
  • Quality systems management
  • Six Sigma

Online Degree Options

There are many online degree offerings for those interested in a master's in quality assurance. As with the bachelor's degree programs, you may find there are as many (if not more) online programs than there are traditional campus-based programs. The flexibility inherent in distance-learning programs makes them ideal for working quality assurance professionals interested in expanding their advancement potential.

Getting Ahead with This Degree

In addition to groups such as ASQ, there are other professional organizations that offer industry certification programs for managers and executives. For example, the Project Management Institute (PMI) features several levels of professional certification that are recognized globally, including the Project Management Professional (PMP) credential. These certification programs usually feature one or more exams as the initial certification process. Successfully completing these exams may signal to potential employers that you have the skills, knowledge and dedication they are looking for in an employee.

Popular Schools

Featured Schools

Purdue University

  • Master of Science in Engineering Technology

What is your highest level of education?

Southern New Hampshire University

  • MBA in Six Sigma

What is your highest level of education?

Upper Iowa University

Tarleton State University

Southern Polytechnic State University

Grace College and Theological Seminary