While the Master of Science in Quality Assurance (QA) is the highest degree in the field, some Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) programs offer specializations in quality assurance. These programs typically prepare students for careers creating, planning, managing and implementing efficient and effective quality assurance strategies for businesses and organizations. They train students for work in a variety of industries, where they will be responsible for overseeing the general quality of manufactured products, technological processes, managerial systems and more.
Master of Science in Quality Assurance
Some universities offer interdisciplinary two-year master's degree programs in quality assurance. These programs prepare students for careers as quality assurance supervisors in the fields of healthcare, manufacturing, engineering and technology. Other universities offer more specialized quality assurance graduate degree programs that cater to just one of these specific areas. While enrolled in a master's degree program in quality assurance, students learn how to measure the quality of products, systems, and organizations. They also learn how to institute quality cost control and implement safety and quality assurance procedures. In order to apply, students must hold a bachelor's degree, preferably in a related field such as quality assurance, organizational management, or engineering.
These programs feature courses that introduce advanced quality testing and analysis techniques as well as theories of quality assurance. Some examples of course topics include the following:
- Statistical concepts and quality assurance
- Analyzing operating systems
- Total quality measurement
- Process control
- Applied system reliability
- Six Sigma concepts
Doctor of Philosophy with Quality Assurance Specialization
Although there are no Ph.D. programs dedicated entirely to the field of quality assurance, there are a few doctoral programs available that allow students to specialize in the subject. Some of these include a Ph.D. in Technology Management and a Ph.D. in Industrial Engineering. These programs emphasize research methodology and management theory. In order to apply, students need to hold a bachelor's and master's degree. They must also have completed college-level courses in management, quality assurance, and statistics.
Doctoral courses in the field of quality assurance delve into specific management and testing techniques, as well as theories of human performance and leadership in the quality assurance field. Possible course titles include:
- Principles of assessment and reliability
- Quality standards leadership
- Analysis of experimental design
- Human performance in organizations
- Culture of quality change
Popular Career Info
Graduates of master's degree programs are prepared for management and inspection positions in a wide range of industries. Potential job titles include:
- Aerospace product inspector
- Manufacturing quality assurance manager
- Motor vehicle parts inspector
- Plastics product quality assurance director
- Personnel quality assurance director
Graduates of Ph.D. programs typically pursue academic careers in research and teaching. For instance, gradates may become professors or associate professors of technical quality assurance. Other Ph.D. graduates might pursue positions as directors or board members of organizations that monitor quality assurance in a particular industry, such as the Food and Drug Administration. Still others choose to work at the very highest levels of management and development within manufacturing corporations.
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment for industrial production managers (in which the BLS includes quality assurance managers) is expected to decline 4% from 2014 to 2024, likely due to increased productivity and outsourcing of jobs. Payscale.com reported in January 2016 that quality assurance managers made between $45,181 and $108,416 annually. The median salary was $71,922.
Organizations such as the American Society for Quality offer various certifications in the quality assurance field. These include the designations of Certified Biomedical Auditor (CBA), Quality Inspector (CQI), and Reliability Engineer (CRE). In order to earn one of these credentials, individuals must gain field experience and pass an exam.
Overall, there are multiple graduate degrees that provide advanced training in quality assurance and prepare students for high-powered positions in industry, government, or academia.