Several schools offer online bachelor's degree programs in quality assurance, training students for careers in the field and qualifying them to seek certification from professional organizations. These programs can be completed entirely online. Some programs allow students to view lectures as their schedules permit, while others utilize live video streaming to deliver class sessions to students. Some programs require in-person proctored exams. Most programs are designed for students who have already earned an associate's degree.
These degree programs consist of general education courses such as life science, English composition and history. Students get a basic foundational knowledge of quality management and the processes involved. Courses in quality auditing, quality problem solving and quality planning systems are usually included in a degree program. The Six Sigma methods of quality improvement are generally covered as well. Many programs require a capstone project in quality assurance.
Bachelor's Degree in Quality Assurance
Online students pursuing quality assurance bachelor's degrees gain the management, technical and problem-solving skills to set and maintain quality standards. Students study manufacturing and design processes used in various industries as well as business structures and application of the scientific method. Quality assurance bachelor's programs cover lean manufacturing, metrology, auditing and statistical controls. Students who pursue on-campus bachelor's degrees in business, engineering technology or construction management generally receive training in quality control.
Program Information and Requirements
Students in an online quality assurance program complete 120 credits, which typically takes four years, though some students may finish in two. Online quality assurance bachelor's degree programs are primarily upper-level programs meant for students who have completed their general education requirements or have earned an associate's degree.
An online bachelor's degree in quality assurance utilizes a variety of learning tools. Instructors use chat rooms, email, video or other online interactive tools to deliver lectures, assignments, exercises and exams. Most programs also employ discussion boards through a course management system. Standard textbooks, proctored exams and video conferencing are also requirements of some programs.
To complete the bachelor's degree, students must take general education courses. These courses may not be incorporated into the online program curriculum, but students can transfer credits or take these courses on-campus. Bachelor's degree programs also include online courses that cover specific aspects of quality management.
This course focuses on generally accepted quality standards including the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). The principles and tools for planning and conducting quality audits to meet ISO 9000 requirements are explained. Students review the basic qualifications for quality auditors and the documents required for completing audits.
Students learn to use and calibrate measurement tools. This course emphasizes precision measurement and geometric distancing. Some coursework focuses on specific types of metrology such as dimensional or electrical. Students learn to find sources of errors and methods for minimizing such errors.
This course examines statistical methodologies for problem solving and analysis. The course focuses on application of statistical tools in the inspection process.
Students study reliability, testing and troubleshooting of industrial equipment in addition to safety technology and workplace safety. Improvement implementation and failure analysis are also covered in this course.
Salary.com reported that, in November 2016, quality assurance managers earned a median salary of $101,830, while Payscale.comreported that quality assurance and quality control inspectors earned between $31,026 - $86,497 as of October 2016.
Quality control careers are primarily concentrated in industrial and manufacturing sectors. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), quality control inspection jobs will experience an increase of 0% between 2014-2024 (www.bls.gov).
Continuing Education Information
The American Society for Quality (ASQ) currently offers several certification examinations for graduates holding a bachelor's degree. Students can get certified as a quality auditor, quality engineer or quality technician. Study materials for certification are available online but tests are held at ASQ sites throughout the country.
Students interested in pursuing advanced study in the field of quality assurance have several options. Graduates can pursue a Master of Business Administration with a quality assurance specialization, which may require some on-campus study. Another option is the Master of Science in Quality Assurance, which is available online through several schools.
Students in online bachelor's programs in quality assurance learn about the design, distribution and business processes of a variety of industries, and how quality is maintained. Applicants to these fully online programs may need to already hold an associate's degree.