What Types of Coursework are Part of a Graduate Robotics Program?

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Updated August 4, 2020

There is a variety of coursework options when it comes to graduate robotics programs, but few people truly understand what they are. But with a debate of whether or not robots will take away jobs, a discussion of what these programs are utilizing to teach the field to students is incredibly important. Here are a few ways that professors are teaching grad students in this field.

Related Resource: Top 20 Robotics Engineering Schools in the U.S.


Lectures are commonplace in nearly every degree program, from an associate to a doctorate. In a graduate program that focuses in this field, however, lectures can be a little different. While historical and foundational lectures are required, many graduate schools across the country are beginning to integrate case studies into these lectures, enabling students to understand the foundational concepts they are being taught through a real-world case study. These lectures can also help solidify a student's understanding of mathematical and engineering equations, formulas, and theories that will be helpful to them when working in the field. Lectures also give students the chance to hear from guest speakers, who often are experienced in the field they are hoping to enter after graduation.


As with most graduate programs, a thesis is required by the majority of graduate schools. This is the largest piece of coursework that a student will complete during the program and often takes up the most time and effort. Some schools require that the thesis is publicly defended while others require that a student undertake supervised research to meet the requirements. The thesis must be approved by the faculty committee and reviewed periodically by a faculty mentor; in some cases, the Master's Committee, the body that approves the thesis, is made up of students within the program as well who also must approve the thesis prior to a student's graduation.


This field of study requires intensive research, so the research requirement that accompanies most degrees will not come as a surprise to any graduate candidate. In fact, depending on the program and graduate school, research may take up the majority of the time spent earning the degree. Research is often unsupervised by faculty, with only the approval of the topic required by the department head; in some cases, supervised research is required. This comes from schools who hold their own research centers that can accommodate a student's process; alternatively, a school may have an agreement with another research center for students to complete their projects at that center.


Internships are the last type of education that a student will have access to in their graduate program. It is often only available after their first term of education has been completed. Internships can include a research assistantship or a placement at a company that works in the sector. These internships are often paid and are completed during the summer break so as not to interrupt a student's education; however, some universities do accept year-long internships for their students if an agreement can be reached between the student and the faculty. This is one of the most important options a student can take on at the graduate level because it provides them with real work experience prior to graduation.

This is an incredibly exciting field that consistently changes with new and emerging technologies. Because of its continuously changing atmosphere, graduate schools have had to create new ways to teach their students the field. Now that the different types of coursework that make up a graduate robotics program have been discussed, students can choose the program that gives them the best education in the field.

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