Best Bachelor's Degrees in Aviation & Aviation Management

Apr 02, 2021

What Is An Aviation Bachelor's Degree?

A bachelor's degree in aviation or aviation management is designed to equip students with the expertise and advanced training to become pilots and professionals operating the skies. Typically, undergraduate aviation programs cover the core foundational principles of aerospace science as well as the laws, regulations, and safety measures that aviation professionals must be adept in to effectively work in a variety of industry careers.

Students enrolled in aviation or aviation management bachelor's degree programs may take a curriculum of in-person, online, or hybrid courses. For those interested in becoming professional pilots, aviation curriculums usually include a series of flight training courses to allow students to gain basic training in the cockpit. Most four-year aviation and aviation management degrees include 120 credits of general education requirements, core aviation and aviation management courses and electives.

Students can usually expect to obtain a Bachelor of Science (BS) to culminate their undergraduate studies in aviation or aviation management. Similar program titles and options may include Professional Pilot, Aeronautics, Aviation Business Administration, Air Traffic Management, and Aviation Maintenance Science.

Best Bachelor's Degrees in Aviation and Aviation Management

15. University of Nebraska at Omaha

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$7,980 83% 50% 85% Yes Yes AP / NCCRS Credits

16. Eastern New Mexico University

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$6,450 58% 36% 97% Yes Yes AP Credits

17. Minnesota State University-Mankato

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$8,438 63% 50% 88% Yes Yes AP Credits

18. Henderson State University

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$8,811 76% 39% 99% No Yes AP Credits

19. University of Maryland Eastern Shore

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$8,558 65% 41% 89% Yes Yes AP / ACE Credits

20. Bowling Green State University

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$11,316 72% 61% 95% Yes Yes AP Credits

21. Western Michigan University

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$13,017 80% 57% 82% Yes Yes AP / ACE / NCCRS Credits

22. Delta State University

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$7,671 94% 39% 94% Yes Yes AP / ACE Credits

23. University of Central Missouri

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$8,043 65% 51% 94% Yes Yes AP / ACE Credits

24. Delaware State University

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$8,258 53% 42% 98% Yes Yes AP Credits

25. Louisiana Tech University

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$9,615 64% 60% 98% Yes Yes AP Credits

26. Liberty University

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$16,118 51% 47% 99% Yes Yes AP / NCCRS Credits

27. Hampton University

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$28,024 36% 60% 96% Yes Yes AP / NCCRS Credits

28. Walla Walla University

Tuition Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid % Placement Services Career Services Accepts
$28,881 No Available Data (2019-2020) 61% 100% Yes Yes AP Credits

To get a more in-depth look at our school ranking methodology, please visit's ranking methodology page.

Tuition information is based on published tuition and required fees, per data by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES).

Aviation Bachelor's Degree Concentrations

Within the programs for a bachelor's degree in aviation, students can pick from a wide array of different concentrations and focuses, including:

  • Aeronautical Science
  • Aerospace & Occupational Safety
  • Aerospace Engineering
  • Air Traffic Management
  • Aviation Business Administration
  • Airline/Airport Management & Operations
  • Aviation Management
  • Professional Piloting

Students would be well advised to match their concentration with their interests and career goals.

Curriculum For A Bachelor's Degree In Aviation

In addition to general education requirements that all schools and programs require, students who pursue bachelor's degrees in aviation and aviation management will be given the opportunity to study:

  • Aircraft Electrical Systems
  • Private Piloting
  • Aviation Communication
  • Aircraft Performance & Weather
  • Nondestructive Testing for Aircraft
  • Aviation Human Factors
  • Aeronautical Engineering
  • Laws & Regulations
  • Aerodynamics
  • Air Service Operations
  • Corporate Airline Marketing
  • Airport Operations & Management
  • Flight Safety
  • Commercial Piloting

In addition, there are many other studies dealing with the logistics, operations, safety, construction, testing, piloting, and managing of aircraft.

How Long Does It Take To Get A Bachelor's In Aviation?

Typically, a bachelor's degree (whether a B.A., B.S., etc.) will be completed in four years with a full-time course load. At some institutions, it is possible to complete programs in three years, either by credits earned prior to undergraduate enrollment or by an unusually rigorous course load. A bachelor's degree in Aviation is no exception.

How to Choose an Aviation School & Bachelor's Program

Many institutions offer programs within the aviation industry. How should one choose a school and a program?

No two degrees are the same; some institutions will offer flight training programs as part of their degree process, while others may not. Each program, though designed to prepare the student for a career in aviation, will have different focuses and curriculum. It's in a student's best interest to read through the curriculum offered for the degrees that they're interested in.

For instance, one program may offer a unit on Human Factors in Flight, another on Weather Factors. If you are transferring from another institution, make sure the new one takes your previous credits.

For a comprehensive list of institutions that offer degrees in aviation, interested students can visit the Future & Active Pilot Advisors (FAPA) website for a state-by-state breakdown of the programs offered.

Accreditation for Bachelor's In Aviation

Accreditation for aviation programs comes from the Aviation Accreditation Board International (AABI). AABI provides standards and accountability for college aviation programs.

Since its creation in 1988, AABI has become a trusted and respected accrediting organization, bringing an expectation of quality and rigor to its approved programs. Choosing an AABI accredited institution gives students the confidence and certainty that they're receiving not only quality education but a degree that will be respected by professionals across the aviation industries.

Additionally, regional accreditation is often given to colleges and universities by nationally-recognized accrediting organizations, such as the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) and the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU).

Students who wish to learn more about accreditation at a particular college or university can visit the school's website or search the U.S. Department of Education's Database of Accredited Postsecondary Institutions and Programs (DAPIP).

Aviation Licensure and Certification

Pilots can receive their licenses from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). The process of obtaining a license typically begins with a Student Pilot Certificate, for which applicants must be at least 16 years of age.

Pilots must also apply for and receive their Aviation Medical Certificate from an FAA-designated Aviation Medical Examiner (AME) to ensure they have been medically cleared to operate a plane. It is mandatory that individuals obtain both of these certificates.

Students may also obtain their pilot licenses through an undergraduate flight program, military flight training, or through another flight training program. More information can be found at the Federal Aviation Administration.

Of course, not all piloting licensure and certification are universal. While all pilots must begin with a Student Pilot Certificate and pass a medical certification, the type of aircraft an individual intends to operate ultimately determines the type of FAA classification they need to acquire; for example, private, commercial, transport, instrument, multi-crew, or flight instructor.

What Can I Do With A Bachelor's Degree In Aviation?

Piloting is of course the most well-known occupation in the field of aviation, but it is only one of many different potential careers in this area of study. In addition to those who pilot the craft, there are those who:

  • Design aircraft
  • Manage aircraft/airports/airlines
  • Market aircraft/airports/airlines
  • Direct air traffic
  • Research and develop aircraft and airports
  • Perform aircraft maintenance

From engineering to international marketing, a bachelor's degree in aviation and aviation management opens up countless doors to an aviation career, whether it be airborne or grounded.

Aviation programs, though mainly invested in the aeronautical specifics, develop and release skilled professionals into the workforce, whose knowledge and skills can cover every discipline from prototype to landing at the terminal.

A bachelor's in aviation is the start to various different careers in the aviation field. Let's go into a couple of the many choices of potential career paths.

How To Become An Air Traffic Controller

Air traffic controllers are crucial to aerospace operations, as they communicate with pilots in the air, manage both landing and departing craft, and monitor the weather to ensure safety at all levels. For those interested in pursuing such a career path, students are required to obtain either an associate degree or a bachelor's from a Collegiate Training Initiative (CTI) school. Two-year and four-year programs without engineering are offered by various different institutions accredited by the FAA.

In addition to the education requirements, there is extensive on-the-job training needed for future air traffic controllers, with many pursuing internships toward that goal. U.S. citizenship is required. Owing to its specialized and rigorous nature as a career, air traffic controllers earn a very competitive salary. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), air traffic controllers make a mean annual salary of $120,140, based on data gathered in 2019.

How To Become An Aerospace Engineer

Aerospace engineers are responsible for the creation, testing, development, and production of aircraft, spacecraft, or missiles. Those interested in pursuing this career must obtain at least a bachelor's degree in either aerospace engineering (or any other engineering having to do with aviation) from an institution accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET). Such a degree presents opportunities to pursue a career in the private sector or under the federal government, working on projects related to national defense that may also require a security clearance.

Aerospace engineers make a mean annual salary of $119,220, according to BLS data gathered in 2019. Future aerospace engineers are expected to have skills in critical thinking, analysis, design, mathematics, business, and communication. There are also many opportunities to further one's career, either by pursuing higher educational degrees in the field or by pursuing higher-level projects within the industry.

Career Advancement in Aviation

For those already employed in the aviation industry, there are many options for career advancement, not least of which is continuing education. Progressively-higher degrees are offered for study in aviation, such as the pursuit of a master's or doctoral degree that opens doors to higher-level positions in the same discipline or a more specialized field. (We will discuss some of these options in greater detail below.)

Some continuing education programs may be sponsored by an individual's company of employment and are designed to be taken by professionals as they continue to work within their occupations. There are several advantages to pursuing a higher degree, such as more specialized employment, higher management or leadership positions, and, in some instances, an increase in salary.

Graduates and working professionals in the aviation industry may seek career advancement by obtaining other types of licensure to operate different aircraft. Some individuals may choose to pursue technical supervisory roles, such as engineering managers, in which they can oversee teams of aerospace engineers and technicians. Other supervisory opportunities may be available to air traffic controllers, as well. With a combination of the required education, professional experience, and training, air traffic controllers may advance to control room careers with increased pay.

What Other Kind Of Aviation Degrees Are There?

Aviation and aviation management degrees are available at every degree level of study: associate, bachelor's, master's, and doctorate. Depending on their chosen career paths in the aerospace industry, students may wish to enhance their education with higher degrees and training. Additionally, there may be several shorter certificate programs related to the aviation field that students can enroll in, as well.

The following sections will provide further details regarding various academic opportunities for degrees in aviation and aviation management.

Associate Degrees in Aviation

Within the aviation industry, there are many positions in which a graduate holding an associate degree may qualify for, such as air traffic controller. Students enrolled in college full-time can typically complete their associate degree in about two years.

Many institutions that offer associate degrees incorporate accompanying flight training programs to license and produce pilots for commercial, corporate, or charters. However, piloting is not the only avenue students may take in pursuing their associate degrees. Other associate-level programs for aviation maintenance technology careers may include aeronautical science, aviation management, aeronautics, and many more with career paths directly tied to the aviation industry.

Master's Degrees in Aviation

Beyond the undergraduate degree, postgraduate programs are designed to educate and train top-level professionals within the aviation industry. Master's programs can extend anywhere from one to three years in length (depending on a student's focus) and cover a wide area of disciplines having to do with aviation, such as engineering or research and development.

Possible concentrations and study tracks for a master's degree in aviation are aviation management, aeronautical engineering, aviation logistics, safety and accident investigation, and remote pilot systems (drone development), among many others. For students interested in top-level management positions in the industry, pursuing a master's degree program offers complete preparation and qualification for aviation careers.

Doctoral Degrees in Aviation

Doctoral degrees can be pursued by students interested in becoming experts in their field of study. Within aviation, doctorates produce professionals at the top-level of the industry who are well-versed in research in various deep-level aspects of the industry. Typically, a doctoral program will last two to four years in length, and students will choose an area of specialization such as aviation safety, aviation operations, aviation sciences, or aerospace sciences.

Students will take an in-depth course of study that will prepare them for careers at the highest level of aircraft management, development, research, and regulation. Potentially culminating in a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.), doctoral degrees prepare students to take on upper-level and high-paying positions upon graduation.

Certificates in Aviation

Undergraduate and graduate certificate programs in aviation and aviation management are offered online or in person. Certificates are typically ideal for individuals interested in improving or gaining new skills, career advancement, or enhancing one's expertise in a niche area of study.

Most certificate programs consist of 12 to 18 credits of aviation-specific coursework, taking about a year to complete. Students usually have the option to pursue several certificate programs in a variety of aviation and aviation management topics. Common certificate program titles include Aircraft Dispatcher, Aviation Technology, and Aviation Safety and Security Management.

Financial Aid and Scholarship Information for Bachelor's In Aviation Degrees

For students seeking financial aid and scholarship assistance for their education, there are many options, and a list of scholarships is provided on the Federal Aviation Administration's (FAA) website. These scholarship opportunities include:

In addition to these aviation-specific scholarship programs, there are also many non-specific scholarship programs. Also, financial aid can be applied for and received from the federal government through the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), providing students across the United States with need-based financial assistance for undergraduate and graduate programs.

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