I’ve heard many references to the Black Box Software Testing courses and as such I'm interested in going through the coursework. There is a lot of information thrown on the site and no real guidance for completing it via self-study.

My question(s) is since there is no study or course guide to follow: how should I approach the BBST Coursework? Start with Foundations, then Bug Advocacy, then Test Design? Where do the other sections like domain testing, spec-based testing fit in?

Other thoughts:

  • Is it worth joining the Association of Software Testing (AST) to work through this?
  • If you join AST and pay their yearly dues, is the coursework still free?
  • Can a someone walk through the course, self-study, and get something out of it?
  • Has anyone gone through the BBST Courses?

-- Chris

4 Answers 4


I've successfully completed the AST's BBST Foundations course, and a couple of colleagues have just completed it (and enjoyed it!).

It is possible to self-study with the material, but I'd definitely recommend doing the AST course if you can. (There is a self-study student workbook in preparation, due out late 2012/early 2013). When you do the AST course, you'll find yourself working through the material supported by peers and tutors, with lots of supporting exercises and quizzes. You'll find yourself responding to the new material you've learnt as part of the exercises, but you'll also find that you're expected to review and comment on other students' responses, consider their feedback to you, and then decide whether you'd modify your original answer. I found that this process gave me a much deeper appreciation of the material - it really forced me to examine my ideas quite closely, and rethink them in many cases.

It's pretty intense. You pretty much get out of Foundations what you put into it in terms of time - the course recommends 12-14 hours a week, and you do need to put at least that much time in (some people put in much more, but it's doable with that time). I'd recommend taking a look at http://www.associationforsoftwaretesting.org/training/orientation/students/ as it'll give you a good idea of what will be expected of you.

As might be obvious from the above, I think the AST courses are fabulous - both in terms of content, but also in terms of instructional design. It's so clear that every aspect of the course has been carefully thought out to increase how much and how well you learn.

I intend to complete all three courses at some point, for me it's a matter of when I can afford the time. I'd definitely recommend at least doing Foundations to any tester (the experience level on the session I took ranged from a couple of months to more like a couple of decades). The order you suggest is correct - Foundations is a pre-req for Bug Advocacy, and you need to do both Foundations and Bug Advocacy to prepare you for Test Design.

Hopefully I'll see you on one of them sometime? :)

Note: I also found this article by Cem Kaner about the courses - http://www.logigear.com/magazine/articles/black-box-software-testing-test-design-course/

  • I just came across the Kaner link - good to know there is a student workbook coming. Sounds like it's worth joining AST. Thanks! Mar 9, 2012 at 19:45
  • Were you already a member of AST when you signed up to take the class? Mar 30, 2012 at 0:08
  • I joined when I took the course, I'd been intending to join for a while though so I finally got round to it. I went for the lifetime when I renewed!
    – testerab
    Mar 30, 2012 at 11:50

As testerab said above, the course is quite intensive. I have successfully completed it as well and it requires quite a bit of commitment. You work a great deal with a team/group to generate ideas and form a cohesive set of heuristics for approaching whatever project the instructors throw at you. So you'll have to deal with communication with a distributed team in different time zones as well as the overall solving of whatever problem is presented.

Also, as Joe already said, the base level BBST course is no longer free. Even though I didn't pay when I took it (other than my membership dues), knowing what I know now about it I would still pay to take it. Well worth the cost, in my mind. The course materials are great, and the instructors and your classmates provide a ton of feedback. The model they have set up gives you a really approachable way to iterate through your ideas improving on them as you go.


If you join AST and pay their yearly dues, is the coursework still free?

From the AST site (http://www.associationforsoftwaretesting.org/training/):

The Foundations Course is $125 beginning January 2012. (Members who registered prior to January had their course fee waived)

Advanced Courses (Bug Advocacy and Test Design) are $200

  • Late 2019. update: "Each BBST course costs $299 for AST members and $499 for non-members."
    – Mate Mrše
    Dec 20, 2019 at 14:34

Foundations is a pre-req for the others, see http://www.associationforsoftwaretesting.org/training/courses/

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