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Graduate Programs for Aspiring Test Engineers: Degree Overviews

Oct 10, 2019

Students seeking a career in test engineering have a variety of educational options available to them at the master's level. They can pursue a Master of Science degree in Computer Engineering, Telecommunications or Agricultural and Biosystems.

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Essential Information

There are no graduate programs specifically in test engineering. If you are interested in becoming a test engineer, you may pursue a degree in a specific engineering discipline to receive the training necessary to help you understand the intricacies and complexities of that field, such as computer science, telecommunications or agriculture. Regardless of the specialty, each program will take two years to complete and typically require the completion of a dissertation.

Master of Science in Computer Engineering

Individuals who earn this degree learn how to create, test and implement the hardware and software that run computers and high-tech devices. Given the rapid pace of technological advances in computing and related fields, individuals who can quickly adapt to and create change are needed.

Students take courses in various methodologies. They learn to model and conduct simulations along with functional, logical and timing testing and verification. Software validation and verification courses provide students with techniques to isolate and fix software problems during the course of the software cycle.

A bachelor's degree in engineering is required, preferably in computer science. The degree could be in a related discipline like electrical engineering, but an applicant would likely have to take remedial courses, in addition to completing the regular coursework. Students should have completed multiple computer classes at the bachelor's degree level, as well as several advanced math classes.

Students are usually required to complete several core courses that focus on designing and testing computer hardware and software. The remainder of the coursework is elective. Students can focus on a specific concentration like robotics or computer security, if they choose. Classes could include:

  • Artificial intelligence
  • Performance evaluation and modeling
  • Computer-aided system verification and design

Master of Science in Telecommunications Engineering

Individuals with a master's degree in telecommunications engineering are prepared to ensure the security and reliability of telecommunication networks. They use workstations to test and develop various protocols. In addition, students working in the area of WiMAX and WiFi may use antenna testbeds to test radio functions in various geographical regions. Other students may test, build and design a variety of antennas.

Students need a bachelor's degree in telecommunications or a related field like electrical engineering. A bachelor's degree from another discipline may be accepted provided students are proficient in specific knowledge areas. Those unable to adequately demonstrate proficiency may be required to take an examination to assess their ability to succeed in the program.

Students complete core courses that focus on how different systems, like computer systems or digital networks, communicate with one another. Elective classes allow students to focus on a particular area of interest, such as fiber optic communications, mobile communications, network security or system performance. Some programs require students to complete a thesis, while other programs have a non-thesis option. Course topics might include:

  • Computer systems performance
  • Wireless communication - antenna engineering
  • Analysis and design of computer algorithms

Master of Science in Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering

Students learn how to handle and solve the issues faced by the agricultural industry. Research focuses on testing, developing and designing engineering solutions for various problems connected to biological systems, foodstuffs and agriculture.

Most programs require a bachelor's degree in engineering, but it can be in any discipline. Some applicants may be able to enter the program without a bachelor's degree in engineering provided they have taken a certain number of engineering classes and can demonstrate the potential to succeed in the program. However, all applicants usually need at least a 3.0 GPA on a 4.0 scale.

Students take numerous courses that focus on a variety of issues unique to agriculture. They may study the different methods of powering the devices used in farming or ways to deal with livestock waste. Most programs also require students to complete a thesis project. Some course topics may include:

  • Agricultural power - testing, analysis and theory
  • Hydrology (water studies)
  • Testing agricultural machines

Career Outlook and Salary Info

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), computer hardware engineers had a mean annual wage of $114,600 as of May 2018 (www.bls.gov). Agricultural engineers earned an mean salary of $77,110 the same year, while all other non-specific engineers took in a mean salary of $96,980. Given that technology is rapidly advancing and changing, engineers will be needed to design products and solutions to keep pace with the changes. All engineering positions were predicted to grow 4% from 2018-2028, which is as fast as average compared to all occupations, but expected growth can vary depending on the engineering specialty.

For students interested in the field of test engineering, they will likely have to choose a specialty to enter the field. To best prepare for the master's program students should obtain a bachelor's degree in a related field and expect to complete a dissertation.

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