Online master's degree programs in aeronautical engineering are rare, but available. Certain specialties may only be offered in an on-campus format. These programs often require a bachelor's degree in aerospace engineering or a related field for admission. Coursework typically covers material properties, movement fluids, control systems, structural mechanics and wing design, and the program offers both thesis and non-thesis options. Additionally, to communicate with professors and other students, applicants will need access to high-speed Internet and a computer that meets the school's requirements.
Master's Degree in Aeronautical Engineering
Students in online programs in aeronautical and astronautical engineering study technologies like propellers, jet engines, airfoils, structural mechanics, propulsion, guidance, instrumentation and control systems. Classes examine the physical properties of materials, the effectiveness of wing design and the movement of fluids around a moving body. Online bachelor's degree programs in aeronautical engineering are very rare, but there are a number of options available for a master's degree candidate.
Programs differ slightly in name and purpose. Some schools refer to their similar degrees as a Master of Science in Aeronautics and Astronautics or a Master of Science in Aerospace Engineering. A different option, the Master of Aerospace Engineering, is likely to be practice-oriented in nature, leading not to further graduate study, but to a technical career in the industry.
Applicants to an online master's program in aeronautical engineering are typically students with a bachelor's degree in aerospace engineering or a related field. Depending upon the program, students are expected to complete 27-45 credits, and programs may offer thesis and non-thesis options. Full-time students may be able to complete their coursework in 1-2 years, and part-time students may take as long as 5-6 years to earn their degree.
Most distance-learning master's degree programs in aeronautical engineering offer enough fully online courses for students to complete a degree online. However, there may be some courses and specialties that are not fully supported by online course material, and students wishing to concentrate in these specialties may be required to attend face-to-face classes.
Distance-learning students should have a relatively powerful personal computer with a browser, multimedia capabilities and a fast Internet connection, in order to view and hear online presentations without distortion or interruptions. In some cases, students will be expected to log in to a live lecture and have the ability to interact with fellow students.
Chat rooms may be set up for student interactions or for students to participate in remote meetings with advisors. Research, assignments and examinations may be conducted online; in some cases, schools may require students to obtain proctors to witness and validate remote examinations.
Instructors may require specific design or engineering software that may run only on a Windows, Mac or Unix platform. A school's distance-learning department will be able to advise students on which hardware and software configurations are best-suited for their online aeronautical engineering major.
Specialty areas for online students may only be a subset of specialties offered to face-to-face students, depending upon the availability of specific courses. Some concentrations in aeronautical engineering include computational engineering, aerodynamics, structural mechanics, guidance and control, safety systems, instrumentation and human factor engineering. Sample courses include:
This course teaches methods of advanced engineering analysis as they apply to aerospace engineering, including vector analysis, fluid mechanics and solid mechanics. Linear ordinary differential equations factor into all aspects of aerospace engineering, as do the calculus of variations and finite-element analysis.
Gas Turbine Engine
The theory, design and manufacture of gas turbine engines are discussed in detail in this course, including recent innovations in the design of physical features like burners and nozzles. Discussion may touch upon the environmental impact of present-day engines.
Aircrafts must protect occupants and internal components from the effects of external forces like sun, wind, weather, atmospheric conditions, heat and radiation. Engineering strategies to counteract these effects are considered in this online course.
Linear Control Systems
The mathematics of vectors and linear equation solution theory are applied to the design of control systems, incorporating feedback controls. The discrepancies between a model and the actual function of a system are often addressed.
Propulsion systems are presented, starting with the basics of rocket propulsion, orbital mechanics, liquid rocket propellants and solid-fuel rockets. The course usually ends with study of more speculative and unusual propulsion systems.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov) projected that aeronautical engineering jobs would decline 2% from 2014 to 2024. The highest demand will be in the fields of national defense and civilian aircraft design. According to PayScale.com, the median annual salary as of October 2016 for engineering school graduates with a master's degree in aeronautical engineering and 1-4 years of experience was $71,729.
While it may be challenging to find an online master's degree program that covers the principles of aeronautical engineering, those that are offered provide comprehensive training in aircraft design and development.