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If you possess a passion for aircraft and air travel, as well as strong critical thinking and mathematics skills, a bachelor's in aeronautics and aviation can prepare you for an exciting and lucrative career. This degree can lead to several careers, including positions as airline pilots, air traffic controllers, airport managers, and aeronautical engineers.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that airline pilots, copilots, and flight engineers earned a median annual salary of $147,220 in 2019 — well above the median annual wage of all workers in the U.S. ($39,810).
Our bachelor's in aeronautics program guide provides an in-depth look at common career opportunities and admission requirements, as well as how to choose a program best suited for your specific field of interest.
What Are the Best Online Bachelor's in Aeronautics and Aviation Programs of 2020? Here Are Our Top 10:
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|1||Hallmark University||San Antonio, TX|
|2||LeTourneau University||Longview, TX|
|3||North Carolina State University at Raleigh||Raleigh, NC|
|4||Everglades University||Boca Raton, FL|
|5||Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University-Worldwide||Daytona Beach, FL|
|6||Eastern New Mexico University-Main Campus||Portales, NM|
|7||Liberty University||Lynchburg, VA|
|8||University of Nebraska at Omaha||Omaha, NE|
|9||Hampton University||Hampton, VA|
|10||Lynn University||Boca Raton, FL|
- How We Rank Schools
At BestColleges, we believe a college education is one of the most important investments you will make. We want to help you navigate the college selection process by offering school rankings that are transparent, inclusive, and relevant for online students. Our rankings are grounded in a few guiding principles and use the latest statistical data available from trusted sources. Read our Ranking Methodology here. We hope our approach helps you find the school that is best for you.
2020 Best Accredited Online Bachelor's in Aeronautics and Aviation Programs
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|San Antonio, TX||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 49%||
Nationally recognized for the quality of its bachelor of science in aviation maintenance management, Hallmark provides elite practical training with a strong focus on career growth. Intended for established aviation professionals seeking to advance into management positions, the program rewards those who meet its demanding admissions standards. The program's comprehensive training leads to a bachelor's degree in just 20 months.
The program's rigorous structure includes an intensive overview of the business and administrative necessities of aviation management. In particular, coursework focuses on leadership, project management, business administration, and human resource management skills. Graduates of this nationally accredited program emerge ready to enter growth-focused careers in maintenance analysis, supervision, and planning.
Applicants require an associate degree in a related field, along with current FAA-issued airframe and powerplant certification and at least 30 undergraduate credits in arts and science coursework.
|Longview, TX||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 61%||
Founded in 1946, LETU holds regional accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges. Its technical programs also hold a prestigious endorsement from the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology, a STEM-focused specialized accreditor.
Students in LETU's bachelor of science in aviation management engage with a multidisciplinary curriculum that combines detailed technical training with advanced business education. Degree-seekers can specialize in four fields: aircraft dispatch, homeland security, aircraft maintenance, and professional piloting. Every concentration maintains a sharp focus on the human factors that influence along with safety, operations, and management topics.
Delivered entirely online in an asynchronous format, learners can study year-round to advance their degree completion. The program features an accelerated structure that includes 122 required credits, with about one-third of the degree path concentrated on a rigorous program of technical and business courses.
North Carolina State University at Raleigh
|Raleigh, NC||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 81%||
NC State supports a unique degree path through its acclaimed online and distance education platform. Leading to a bachelor of science designation, this program begins with one year of pre-engineering coursework at a partner school. Students then transfer to NC State to complete the final three academic years of their aerospace engineering degree.
Degree-seekers complete coursework at the University of North Carolina system, either online or at the Asheville or Wilmington campus. Craven Community College in eastern North Carolina also hosts a qualified pre-engineering program. Learners benefit from transferring to NC State once they hold the basic knowledge that makes the school's world-class labs, equipment, and research facilities valuable.
NC State's advanced, academically rigorous program features instructors and faculty members with elite expertise and extensive experience. NC State also furnishes online learners with full access to the institution's career development assistance resources, guiding graduates to immediate and successful transitions into the job market.
|Boca Raton, FL||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 59%||
Everglades University, located in Boca Raton, Florida, features a bachelor of science in aviation/aerospace with six practical, career-oriented concentrations. Degree-seekers can specialize in technical or administrative areas, including aviation safety, aviation security, flight operations, facilities management, maintenance management, and operations management. Small class sizes and flexible, asynchronous course delivery methods create convenient learning opportunities.
Students proceed toward degree completion one course at a time, maximizing the program's practicality while affording learners the ability to master topics and concepts individually. Local learners also can attend traditional, campus-based classes or combining face-to-face and online study.
A noted military-friendly school, Everglades University holds regional accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges. The school strives to put students in control of their own academic development, with some concentrations offering capstone project opportunities that support synthesized and applied learning.
Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University-Worldwide
|Daytona Beach, FL||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 19%||
Originating from a symbiotic business partnership between aeronautics pioneers T. Higbee Embry and J.P. Riddle, ERAU holds distinction as one of the most prestigious aviation academies in the United States. The regionally accredited Florida-based institution offers degree programs in seven specialized areas, with its bachelor of science in aeronautics marking one of its most popular learning paths.
Incorporating multiple disciplines into its scientific perspective, the program examines both the human and technical factors that influence aeronautics. Students in this rigorous 120-credit program engage with various topics that focus on aviation safety and security, aircraft maintenance, air traffic control, and the science of aeronautics. Supplemental minors offer unique customization options, allowing students to earn certificates and notations in 29 aviation management disciplines.
ERAU boasts impressive student achievement rates, with a 2015 peak seeing 97.7% of online graduates earning effective job or continuing education placements within one year of matriculation.
Eastern New Mexico University-Main Campus
|Portales, NM||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 35%||
This bachelor of science in aviation science program affords students the chance to customize their learning experience. ENMU makes the degree available in two different entirely online modes, along with a hybrid structure that blends online and campus learning. Online students can opt for asynchronous web-based study or a real-time, lecture-capture format.
In either case, students earn an ideal knowledge base for careers as pilots, air traffic controllers, and airport managers. Military students can also advance their academic credentials through the program, and ENMU maintains supportive policies for learners with armed forces backgrounds. ENMU also offers affordable pricing and extends low in-state tuition rates to all learners, regardless of their physical locations, if they take six or fewer credits per semester.
Buoyed by impressive rankings from multiple respected review agencies, the degree path takes a broad, survey-oriented focus of aviation science. Students engage with a comprehensive set of topics that examine aeronautics from both technical and commercial perspectives.
|Lynchburg, VA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 50%||
Home of Virginia's largest flight school, Liberty University features highly accomplished faculty members and an online bachelor of science in aviation that builds both hard and soft skills. To qualify for admission, applicants must hold a valid pilot's license or acquire one through one of the institution's approved aviation training affiliates.
Liberty University's program covers 120 credit-hours of coursework, but many students qualify for advanced standing thanks to their flight training and experience. On average, degree-seekers earn their credentials in just two and a half years. Coursework focuses on essential aspects of aviation, including safety and security, aircraft maintenance, and navigation. It also explicitly works to build the soft skills essential to career success: leadership, professionalism, communication, and critical thinking.
In 2018, Liberty University's School of Aeronautics won the Loening Trophy. This venerable award recognizes the best all-around college aviation program in the U.S., and carries major prestige in the professional flight community.
University of Nebraska at Omaha
|Omaha, NE||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 48%||
At UNO, online learners engage with an innovative program leading to a bachelor of multidisciplinary studies degree. Students interested in aeronautics can customize their coursework to earn a concentration in aviation studies through classes delivered by the school's nationally renowned Aviation Institute.
By design, the program features a fluid structure that gives students enhanced control over their own learning. Under the guidance of academic advisors, students craft custom course lists that further their own intellectual and professional development goals. Supplementary internship requirements elevate the program's value through hands-on learning and networking opportunities.
Budget-conscious learners also appreciate this acclaimed 120 credit-hour program's affordable cost, set at $280 per credit-hour for in-state students and $390 for out-of-state students as of the 2019-20 academic year. Asynchronous course delivery facilitates "anytime, anywhere" learning, with core courses covering everything from aviation history to the industry's business, corporate, and human factors.
|Hampton, VA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 58%||
Virginia's HU delivers a 122 credit-hour program leading to a bachelor of science in aviation management with a concentration in airport administration. Designed to meet the needs of emerging aviation management professionals, the program ranks as the only FAA-approved degree path of its kind offered at a historically black college. HU now welcomes students of all racial and ethnic backgrounds.
The program includes advanced instruction in aviation management science along with liberal arts disciplines. The program helps pique student curiosity and inspires them to embrace lifelong learning as a professional growth model. Coursework remains sharply focused on the business, project management, and human resource management aspects of airport administration.
Sound ethics, problem-solving proficiencies, and leadership abilities define every aspect of its skills development perspective. Learners proceed through a highly structured degree path that culminates in cooperative work-study placements and senior capstone or practicum projects in their final year.
|Boca Raton, FL||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 55%||
The bachelor of science in aerospace engineering program at Lynn provides students the chance to combine detailed theoretical learning with advanced practical training. Students engage in a rigorous core curriculum of aerospace engineering courses, supplemented by instruction in innovation and entrepreneurship. As a result, learners emerge with the ratings and licenses necessary to enter the aerospace field.
Lynn supports fieldwork opportunities and encourages students to gain hands-on experience through simulations. These initiatives offer degree-seekers the chance to apply their learning to the global aerospace and aeronautics industries.
Online students also benefit from Lynn's various internship opportunities and many alumnis receive employment from companies like LaGuardia airport authority, American Airlines, and Delta Airlines. The program's structure also emphasizes business and leadership skills through ground personnel and industry management along with cockpit training.
What Can I Expect From an Online Bachelor's in Aeronautics and Aviation Program?
While all bachelor's in aeronautics and aviation programs cover the technical and analytical skills used in the aviation industry, prospective students should consider their specific area of interest when choosing a school.
Positions in the field of aeronautics and aviation demand precision, decision-making under pressure, and a basic understanding of math and physics. Bachelor's in aeronautics and aviation programs build these skills, as well as competencies in other STEM topics.
Bachelor's programs consist of at least 120 credits and take about four years of full-time study to complete. However, some schools offer year-round online bachelor's in aeronautics and aviation programs that can be completed in less time.
Many programs offer internship opportunities and job placement assistance, while others meet the requirements for Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) certification. Almost all careers in aviation fall under the FAA's jurisdiction, making this certification particularly useful.
While all bachelor's in aeronautics and aviation programs cover the technical and analytical skills used in the aviation industry, prospective students should consider their specific area of interest when choosing a school. Aeronautics programs may offer an array of specializations, allowing students to concentrate on an area that best serves their career goals.
The following list describes a few common aeronautics and aviation concentrations:
|Air Traffic Management||Students pursuing this area of study learn air traffic control procedures and operations in preparation for a position as a controller with the FAA. Graduates of a program approved by the FAA may be eligible to bypass part of the qualification training at the FAA Academy.|
|Aviation Technician||Designed for students interested in maintaining and repairing aircraft, this concentration focuses on performing tests, troubleshooting issues, and conducting repairs.|
|Unmanned Aircraft Systems||A UAS concentration prepares students for careers working with drones.One of the newest sectors of the aviation and aeronautics industry, the FAA launched the UAS Collegiate Training Initiative in April 2020. This program recognizes higher learning institutions that prepare students to work in this growing field.|
|Aviation Management||This concentration readies students for jobs that focus on operating and managing the business side of airports, airlines, or other companies within this sector.Common courses include airport safety, operations, and budget forecasting.|
|Professional Pilot||This specialization prepares students for a career as an airline or commercial pilot. Some programs only accept students with a pilot's license, while others offer flight training.|
|Aviation Safety||Aviation safety concentrations ready students to protect travelers and provide airport security. Coursework may explore topics related to terrorism and homeland security.|
Still Looking for the Right Fit? Discover Similar Degree Programs.
What Courses Will I Take in an Online Bachelor's in Aeronautics and Aviation Program?
While curricula vary by school and concentration, all programs help students develop a solid foundation in aviation and aeronautics. The following list includes a few courses commonly found in online bachelor's in aeronautics and aviation programs.
- Fundamentals of Aviation
This course focuses on the basic workings of the aviation industry. Practical instruction explains government regulations and how the many aspects of aviation work together and independently. Specific topics include air traffic management, operations, navigation, security, accidents, and safety.
- Airport Management
Participants learn the operational principles governing domestic and international airlines. Students gain an understanding of the intricacies involved in ground and flight operations, as well as the financial and budget concerns of major operators. Additional topics may include air cargo and management, airline marketing, and crew management.
- Aviation Meteorology
Students learn to analyze weather reports, charts, and forecasts to determine safety precautions related to air travel. Covered topics include weather patterns, hazards, and basic weather theory. Participants learn which tools to use for specific weather concerns and flight planning, as well as the correct responses to take during dangerous weather phenomena.
- Airport Security
Participants gain an understanding of the security practices relevant to airports and aircrafts. Course topics include homeland security and transportation security requirements, typical airport security plans, and specific threats and risks inherent to airport and airline security. Students also learn about crisis management and security screening techniques.
- Physiology of Flight
This course teaches the physical and mental effects of flight on the human body. Students learn to recognize potential problems that could develop in air crew personnel and passengers, then discuss the actions required to alleviate symptoms and protect individuals.
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What Can I Do With an Online Bachelor's in Aeronautics and Aviation Degree?
Earning a bachelor's in aeronautics and aviation prepares students for careers as air traffic controllers, airplane pilots, airport managers, certified flight instructors, and aircraft mechanics. These positions typically offer lucrative salaries.
For example, the BLS reports that airline and commercial pilots earn a median annual salary of $121,430 — over three times the median annual wage for all U.S. workers. Air traffic controllers earn slightly more, with a median annual salary of $122,990.
See where a bachelor's in aeronautics and aviation can take you and learn more about aeronautics careers.
- Air Traffic Controller
Air traffic controllers ensure the safety of passengers and flight crew by directing and monitoring aircraft during flight, takeoff, landing, and taxiing. Using radar and computers, these professionals manage the flow of multiple aircraft, relay instructions to pilots, and alert airport and runway staff of emergency situations.
- Airline or Commercial Pilot
Airline pilots typically transport passengers and/or cargo for regional, national, and international airlines. These pilots require an airline transport pilot certificate — the highest level of aircraft pilot certification issued by the FAA. Commercial pilots usually fly for hire. They may engage in various flight activities, including firefighting, emergency medical services, and crop dusting.
- Aircraft and Avionics Equipment Mechanic or Technician
Aircraft mechanics perform regular maintenance, diagnose electrical and mechanical issues, and repair and replace aircraft components. Avionics technicians specialize in repairing and maintaining an airplane's electronic instruments, including radar systems, radio communication devices, and navigational tools. Both professions require FAA certification and specialized training. While these professionals do not always need a bachelor's degree, higher education can prepare graduates for advancement into supervisory roles.
- Unmanned Aircraft Systems Operator
Graduates pursuing a career in UAS operations often work as drone pilots, technicians, or mission planners. Drone operators find themselves in increasing demand in a growing number of industries, including the military, first-response search and rescue, telecommunications, delivery services, and agriculture. Drone pilots require a remote pilot certificate. While a bachelor's may not be required for all UAS positions, a four-year degree can offer advancement opportunities and improve career prospects.
- Airport Manager
Airport managers oversee the daily operations of an airport. These professionals work with various departments and regulatory agencies; supervise safety, environmental, maintenance, and operations managers; and ensure compliance with standards and regulations. Typical responsibilities include budget forecasting, staffing, and maintaining good relations with the airlines that use their airport. While airport managers do not need experience as a pilot, they do require a solid understanding of aviation.
Aeronautics and Aviation Not for You? Check Out These Related Careers.
Frequently Asked Questions About Bachelor's in Aeronautics and Aviation Programs
- What aviation degree is best?
Students who wish to pursue a career as a pilot should consider a bachelor's in aeronautics and aviation from a school that offers a professional pilot concentration. These programs include courses designed specifically for pilots, with some schools incorporating flight training. Almost all major airlines require their pilots to hold a bachelor's degree. Students preparing for other careers should look for programs with classes in their particular area of interest.
- What can I do with a bachelor's in aeronautics?
A bachelor's in aeronautics can lead to several job positions, including air traffic controller, airline and commercial pilot, or aircraft maintenance technician. Business-oriented graduates can consider jobs in airline or airport management, such as general manager, operations manager, or safety manager. Additionally, students with a passion for aeronautical engineering may enter the workforce as flight engineers.
- How many aeronautics and aviation majors get jobs?
Graduates with a bachelor's in aeronautics and aviation can pursue numerous career options. The BLS projects 5% job growth for airline and commercial pilots from 2019-2029. During the same timeframe, the BLS projects employment for air transportation workers to grow by 10% — well above the average projected growth of 4% for all occupations.
- How much money can I make with a bachelor's in aeronautics?
Annual salaries for graduates with a bachelor's in aeronautics vary by position and employer. According to the BLS, airline pilots, copilots, and flight engineers working at commercial airports with scheduled air transportation earn a median annual wage of $161,110. Those working in nonscheduled air transportation services, such as chartered flights, earn $114,510, while pilots and flight engineers working for the federal government make $104,700.
- What are the highest-paying jobs I can get with a bachelor's in aeronautics and aviation?
According to PayScale, airline captains boast one of the highest-paying jobs for individuals with a bachelor's in aeronautics and aviation. While this position requires extensive experience, those that make it to captain earn an average salary of almost $164,000. Air traffic controllers also enjoy high pay, with a median annual salary of $122,990, according to the BLS.