Robotics Programming Degrees and Certificates: Program Overviews

Robotics teaches students the engineering and programming skills needed to create mechanical solutions to human problems or dangerous situations. Degrees in robotics or mechanical engineering with a specialization in robotics are found at the bachelor's, master's and doctoral levels.

Essential Information

At the four year bachelor's level, students get a foundational knowledge of electrical circuitry, engineering and computer programming. Courses may include calculus, mechatronics and probability. Master's degree students spend a year to 18 months working to advance their skills through a combination of coursework and hands-on projects. Students devise and execute a robotics projects that meets a real-world need. Students can be admitted to a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) program with a bachelor's or a master's degree in a relevant field. Doctoral programs take 4-5 years to complete and are primarily focused on research in an area chosen by the student. This generally includes a thesis project. Coursework may cover topics such as artificial intelligence or ethical issues in robotics.

Bachelor's Degree in Mechanical Engineering

A Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering, with a specialization in robotics, teaches students about electrical circuitry, mechanical engineering and programming languages. Students learn to plan, build, wire and program physical machines, teaching a binary code-based system to make subtle movements. Undergraduate degree programs in robotics include coursework from computer, electrical and mechanical engineering as well as software programming. Coursework is designed to give students an overview of all elements of robotics, preparing students to specialize in further studies. Core coursework includes:

  • Calculus
  • Electric circuits
  • Mechatronics
  • Probability
  • Programming languages

Master's Degree in Robotics

In addition to being taught the fundamentals of the elements of robotics, graduate students are expected to take the lead in creating a project with a real-world application. Examples of previous master's level focused study projects include tactile physical therapy for stroke victims and smart wheelchairs. Graduate programs are designed to teach students everything from entrepreneurship to designing software systems. Commonly offered courses include:

  • Artificial intelligence
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Engineering mathematics
  • Machine perception
  • Programming and architecture

Doctoral Degree in Robotics

Doctoral students in robotics learn to plan and account for variables in creating robots with artificial intelligence. Ph.D. students think up and work on thesis projects, like tiny robots to give cardiac surgeons better access to the beating heart, thus making heart surgery less invasive. Robotics doctoral programs allow students to focus classroom studies on a specific area of interest, like visual perception and unguided navigation, and individual student schedules are organized to complement work done on a given robotics thesis. As students are admitted with undergraduate or graduate degrees, some of the courses available in doctorate level robotics programs cover work taught at the master's level, such as information architecture. Programs offer such courses as:

  • Artificial intelligence
  • Computer vision
  • Statistics
  • Programming languages
  • Robotic ethics

Popular Careers

Though many graduates from bachelor level robotics tracks continue their education at the master's and doctoral level, others decide to go directly into the workforce. Career options for graduates of bachelor degree programs include:

  • Controls and robotics specialist
  • Robotics engineer
  • Robotics research assistant
  • Robotics technical representative

With a Ph.D. in robotics, graduates may find employment opportunities in computer technology, military research and biotechnology research. Within these fields, private high-tech companies, think tanks, government organizations and universities hire doctoral program graduates as:

  • Assistant professor
  • Electro-mechanical engineer
  • Research scientist
  • Robotics engineer
  • Software engineer

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimates that for the years 2014 through 2024, computer programming jobs may decline 8% ( These workers made the median annual wages of $79,530 in May 2015.

Robotics engineers create everything from floor cleaning machines to articulated limbs for amputees. Jobs range from designing to programming, depending on your choice of specialization.

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