Aerospace engineering programs prepare students for careers related to the design, development and testing of various aircrafts. Online education programs in this field are not generally available at the undergraduate level, though graduate programs can be found at some schools. Master's degree programs in aerospace engineering can be completed entirely online and some offer a concentration area, such as aerospace structures, aerodynamics or fluid mechanics. These online programs feature interactive learning applications. All programs require applicants to already have a bachelor's degree, and some schools may prefer the degree to be in engineering, math or science. Some may also require GRE scores.
Aerospace Engineering Master's Degree
Graduate-level aerospace engineering programs teach advanced skills in the design, development and testing of technologies and manufacturing used for aircraft or spacecraft. Graduates are awarded a Master of Science (MS), Master of Engineering (ME) or Master of Science in Aeronautics and Astronautics (MSAE). Some schools also offer specializations in navigation and control, instrumentation and communication, astrodynamics and satellite navigation systems, remote sensing, bioastronautics, structural design and computational engineering. Typical prerequisites include a bachelor's degree in engineering, math or science and Graduation Record Examination (GRE) scores.
Information and Requirements
Online aerospace engineering master's degree programs typically require approximately 30 credit hours of coursework. These programs take from 18-24 months to complete, depending on part-time or full-time scheduling. Most schools do not have a thesis or any on-campus requirement; however, some require completion of a specialized project before graduation. Also, some schools allow students to take prerequisite coursework before formally applying to the master's degree program.
Program registration and class participation are completed through the Internet. Delivery may be in the form of streamlined, digitized lectures using interactive learning applications. Also, some programs offer the option of attending classes on campus for those in close proximity to the school.
List of Common Courses
Graduate-level coursework in aerospace engineering typically includes studies in design, mechanics, dynamics, navigation, controls, variables and processing. Curriculum varies by school and specialty; however, some of the requirements are common to every program.
Spacecraft Attitude Dynamics
In this course, students learn to predict and stabilize dynamics of spacecraft, and determine impact using numerical simulations. The class emphasizes rotational motion, attitude parameters, spacecraft torques and equations of motion in terms of quaternions. Euler equation application in attitude motions is also covered.
This class teaches students the techniques used in multidisciplinary design. Students learn to develop engineering design problem statements, select the best method to use in design optimization, solve optimization problems using available computer technologies and interpret solutions generated through implementation of the optimization strategy.
Optimization and Dynamics of Aerospace Engineering Structures
Students learn to apply basic theory and numerical calculations to formulate and solve problems in aerospace engineering throughout this course. The class also covers topics of structures and math, vibrational characteristics and measurements, space trajectory design and optimization, methods of dynamic analysis and undergraduate dynamics.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), aerospace engineers earned a median annual wage of $107,830 in May of 2015 (www.bls.gov). The BLS also reported an expected two percent decline in aerospace engineering jobs from 2014 to 2024. This decline is partly accounted for by the stagnation of manufacturing industries, in which many aerospace engineers are employed.
Continuing Education and Licensure Information
Doctoral degree programs are available in aerospace engineering for those wishing to pursue further education. Also, the Society of Automotive Engineers International (SAE) offers additional training, conferences and seminars in the aerospace engineering specialty, in both online and classroom formats.
Engineers who offer their services to the public must be licensed as a professional engineer (PE). Licensure requires successful passing of a state exam, a degree and four years of work experience. Many states also require continuing education credits to maintain licensure.
Undergraduate degrees in aerospace engineering typically cannot be found online; master's degree programs are more commonly available. These can typically be completed entirely online, and include coursework on mechanics, design and dynamics.