Doctorate in Aviation Safety: Info on PhD Programs

Oct 10, 2019

Specific doctoral programs in aviation safety do not exist, but students can concentrate on aviation safety while earning a degree in a related field. Get more information about degree options, curriculum, and future opportunities.

Essential Information

Aviation safety may be offered as a concentration in fields such as engineering, science, and economics. Students who choose these concentration study ways to prevent accidents and casualties during the operation of aerial crafts, such as airplanes, helicopters, and hot air balloons. Specific subjects necessary for the completion of doctorate with a concentration in aviation include chemistry, aerodynamics, and physics, with some programs also incorporating courses in finance, organizational management, and government regulations. In order to graduate, students are required to produce a dissertation based on original research in aviation.

Program lengths vary, depending on the school and the student, but it generally takes three years or more to finish classes and complete a dissertation. Many programs offer online classes, combined with brief on-campus study visits. In order to apply, students must hold a bachelor's or master's degree, attend an admissions interview, and submit a statement of intent, resume, and a writing sample.

Doctorate in Aviation Safety

A doctorate in aviation usually involves the study of various topics, such as risk assessment, aerial craft design, and mechanical engineering. Students pursuing doctoral degrees with a concentration in aviation might need to take courses in the following subjects:

  • Aviation foundations
  • Safety and management in aviation
  • Aviation law
  • Economic impacts of aviation
  • Air traffic control systems

Popular Career Options

Graduates might find careers in the manufacturing and airline industries. Governmental agencies and research organizations also hire employees with advanced level graduate education in aviation. Possible job titles include:

  • Professor of aviation
  • Safety analyst
  • Air safety investigator

Career Outlook and Salary Info

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that employment openings for postsecondary teachers, including aviation professors, were expected to increase by 11% between 2018 and 2028 ( The BLS didn't report salary statistics specifically for aviation professors, but it noted that postsecondary engineering teachers earned a median salary of $101,720 as of May 2018. At that same time, postsecondary teachers in non-specified fields of study earned a median annual salary of $78,470.

Continuing Education

The Doctor of Philosophy is the highest degree available for individuals looking for aviation-specific graduate education. An additional degree in business might create job openings in managerial or executive roles with airplane manufacturing corporations or engineering firms. Continued aviation safety training and classes are available through Federal Aviation Administration-approved training schools to meet education compliance.

Even though it is not possible to pursue a Ph.D. specifically in aviation safety, it is possible to choose a concentration in the subject within a broader program, allowing students to pursue advanced studies in this field. Work opportunities are commonly available both in the academe and airline companies.

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