Online Bachelors Degree in Aviation: Program Overview

Dec 04, 2019

Essential Information

There are several types of bachelor's degrees in aviation, such as aviation management, airline transport, professional pilot operations or aviation technology.

Many of these programs can be completed 100% online, allowing students to view lessons and access class assignments as their schedules permit, within set deadlines. Other programs combine online classes with on-campus work. Obviously, students cannot get flight training online so some programs may require an on-campus residency.

Many careers are available to someone with a bachelor's degree in aviation, but most will require additional training. Those careers include commercial aircraft pilot, air traffic controller and flight instructor. It's also important to note that licensure is required for all of these positions.

Bachelor's Degree Programs in Aviation

Students aspiring to a career as a commercial airline pilot or a related job might consider a bachelor's degree in aviation. Pilots receive extensive classroom and practical training in the flying and operation of aircraft and helicopters. Pilots are responsible for knowing the proper function of airline equipment and controls, safe takeoff and landing procedures, evacuation protocol, emergency landing procedures and airline jargon. Pilots communicate with air traffic controllers stationed on the ground to ensure the safety of passengers and crew during flights.

Information and Requirements

Students should expect to devote four years to a bachelor's degree program. Applicants must have a high school diploma or its equivalent. For students unable to relocate for school or currently employed, online programs are available. Schools may allow students to apply earned Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) certificates and ratings toward the number of college credits required for graduation. Some schools may have a limited on-campus residency requirement.

Applicants must have a high school diploma or its equivalent. Courses in an aviation degree program depend on the student's career goals and may include aviation law, air traffic control, general physics and flight school management. Students also may study aerodynamics, physiology of flight and meteorology. A capstone project is usually required as well.

Distance learners will need a computer with Internet access. Instructors combine traditional textbooks with current teaching technologies, such as online presentations and a course management system, to create a virtual classroom environment.

Common Courses

The curriculum blends general education requirements, such as English, history and mathematics, with beginning and advanced courses in aviation, such as the role of air traffic controllers, the vocabulary of the aviation field and legal issues unique to the airline industry.

Legal Issues in Aviation

Students look at the law from a commercial pilot's point of view. Special topics of interest include aviation law, pilot rights and regulations, the history of aviation, the Air Commerce Act and government regulations. The goal is a comprehensive knowledge of the law as it pertains to upholding FAA regulations.

Basics of Air Traffic Control

Students learn necessary techniques and procedures used in the control tower and on aircraft approaches. The use of radar and non-radar control systems and the Air Traffic Control System are focal points. Students partake in classroom discussions, lectures and may have a chance to practice using acquired terminology in small group settings.

Physical Performance for Commercial Pilots

Commercial pilots learn how risk factors like mental and emotional well-being and physical fitness, cockpit layout and configuration of controls play a role in aviation safety and performance. Avoidance of common mistakes is covered. Pilots also explore the role of proper training in preparedness.

Career Information

In addition to completion of a flight training program and earning a pilot's license from the FAA, pilots are typically required to have two years of college education, although the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that it's becoming common for employers to require a bachelor's degree ( The 82,890 employed airline pilots and copilots and flight engineers counted by the BLS in May 2018 earned a mean annual salary of $140,340.

In 2016, the BLS also reported that airline pilots, co-pilots and flight engineers can expect a 5% rise in job growth between 2018-2028, although the employment of commercial pilots is expected to grow by 8%. Graduates of bachelor's degree programs in aviation may also pursue careers as air traffic controllers or flight instructors.

After completing online bachelor's degree programs in aviation, students will be prepared to seek the relevant licensing for careers such as commercial pilots, air traffic controllers or flight instructors. These programs teach students the vocabulary and protocol of the airline industry and train them to respond effectively in emergency situations.

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