Keeping your team educated and motivated to make quality assurance a priority can lead to lasting quality improvements. Continuing learning can be especially important for QA and QC professionals in pharma. Members of the quality unit are tasked with creating and maintaining a quality management system, working closely with regulators, and using risk-based thinking to create continual improvements.
Quality professionals need continuing education to understand changes in Current Good Manufacturing Practices (cGMP) in the pharmaceutical industry as well as updates to regulatory requirements. Many QA and QC specialists come from a laboratory or academic background and need comprehensive training to understand their new role.
While the value of QA training is clear, the logistics of in-person courses can be challenging and cost-prohibitive for busy, fast-growing startups. Providing online training delivered on-demand can help your quality management staff level up their knowledge while keeping your costs down. Read on to discover some of the best online pharmaceutical quality assurance courses which can help you make substantial improvements in your company.
The 5 Best Pharmaceutical Quality Assurance Courses Online
eLearning has powerful use cases in pharma and other life sciences verticals. Learning through online portals typically requires 40-60 percent less time commitment than classroom alternatives, according to research by Shift. Relying on blended learning methods and providing on-demand options can also significantly improve learner outcomes when normalized for effort and time spent. eLearning increases retention rates 25-60% compared to in-person training sessions.
Online coursework is often the most cost-effective, efficient way to help your QA and QC employees become more knowledgeable about their careers. Investing in an online class or certificate can help your organization achieve stronger compliance, technology adoption, better audits, or countless other benefits.
Today’s best pharmaceutical quality assurance courses online represent a wide range of options, from fast two-hour training sessions to year-long programs at well-regarded academic institutions. The best program for your organization will depend on your QA staff’s current knowledge, budget, and objectives.
1. Technology Ed
The Pharmaceutical Quality Assurance and Regulatory Affairs Online Course & Certificate offered by Technology Ed is a two credit-hour, 20-hour online course with no formal prerequisites. Technology Ed is an online course provider specializing in STEM subjects and a member of the American Association for Adult and Continuing Education.
This course and certificate program is designed to provide learners with a basic understanding of QC and QA, GMP, regulatory agencies, and documentation. Students must complete five homework assignments and one final exam to receive a certificate. The total cost of enrollment is $295.
The Academy of Applied Pharmaceutical Sciences (AAPS) offers a year-long course in Pharmaceutical Quality Assurance and Quality Control Diploma Program. The AAPS is a private, accredited career college based in Ontario, Canada and among the most well-known names in professional education for life sciences. The Diploma program is a highly structured, 43-week program designed to provide comprehensive QA/QC training. Receiving the full Diploma includes a lab requirement and some residency at one of AAPS’ two Canadian campuses. However, 19 of the 30 courses in the program can be taken online.
Students have six weeks to complete online coursework after enrollment, and per the AAPS, many students find balancing three courses simultaneously is a comfortable workload. Online coursework includes:
- Good manufacturing practices
- Regulatory affairs
- Technical writing
- Regulatory submissions
- Intellectual property
- Post-approval compliance
The costs of online coursework, depending on the AAPS course, are approximately $550-600 CAD ($413-$450 USD) per course. Completing all available online courses in the certificate program could cost $8,550. However, AAPS offers online learners the flexibility to customize coursework based on interest and need.
3. Pharmaceutical Education & Research Institute
The Pharmaceutical Education and Research Institute, Inc. (PERI) is an independent, not-for-profit organization dedicated to continuing education for the life sciences industry. PERI's Quality Assurance/Compliance certificate program is designed for professionals currently working as QA auditors, compliance specialists, or in quality management roles.
Students enrolled in the QA/C certificate at PERI gain access to a uniquely structured program that can be customized according to role, interest, and needs. Students have five years to complete three core courses and one elective course. Core courses which are currently offered as online options include:
- Applied Good Clinical Practices
- Clinical Monitoring and Site Management
- Good Clinical Practices for the Clinical Research Team
Students can take exclusively online courses, or blend this approach with on-site training, such as the upcoming PERI training on Clinical Trial Design scheduled in Fairfax, VA. The elective courses similarly blend online and in-person offerings, and allow students to pursue special interests in research project management, marketing, and promotion, or decision points for QA/QC. The courses chosen will dictate the time commitment and costs of this program. However, an exclusively online approach would likely require $2,360 and 60 hours of commitment, at $590 and 15 total hours per course.
4. BioPharma Institute
cGMP: Quality Assurance and Quality Control is an online, on-demand course offered by the BioPharma Institute. Since 2003, the BioPharma Institute has specialized in providing continuing professional education for working professionals in the life sciences industry. The approximately two-hour course is an exploration of good manufacturing practices for quality testing, management, manufacturing, and product control. Students receive instruction in GMP auditing, process validation, and QC testing.
Students are given immediate access to online coursework for three months as soon as the $199 registration fee is paid. The materials and final assessment generally take two hours to finish. A PDF certificate of completion is provided as soon as the final assessment is submitted with an 80% or better grade. The QA and QC course can be taken individually or as part of BioPharma Institute’s 18-hour cGMP Professional certification program.
5. UC San Diego
The Quality Assurance and Control certificate offered by UC San Diego Extension is targeted towards professional scientists transitioning to a career in quality control and assurance. The coursework is also suited toward current undergraduate and graduate students who are pursuing a QA career. While the coursework is best suited for individuals with a life sciences background, there are no formal prerequisites or requirements for admission. The coursework consists of four total classes and 11 collegiate credit hours, with a possible weekly time commitment of six to nine hours.
Students of UCSD can anticipate coursework on pharma documentation, including SOPs, work instructions, and batch history. The program also emphasizes audits and supply chain management.
Two of the four courses which comprise this program are only offered two quarters each year. Per UCSD, most program students take one course per academic quarter to complete the certificate in a year’s time. However, students are given five years to complete the four requirements.
The cost of UCSD’s Quality Assurance and Control certificate is $2,650, including certificate and course fees. This estimate doesn’t include textbooks or the $95 acceptance fee.
A Free Online Resource
eLearning can be a powerful solution for improving quality at pharmaceutical organizations. Online courses provide the opportunity to find the best option based on your needs and objectives. You may need to train a scientist to assume a QA role from the ground up. Perhaps you have experienced QA and QC on board, but your team needs to refresh their knowledge of regulatory submissions. There are options available for both of these use cases, as well as countless others.