Ranked among the top 20 highest paying jobs in the nation by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, airline pilots and flight engineers earn a median annual income of $127,820. Employment opportunities for entry-level aviation professionals are expected to increase as more pilots reach the mandatory retirement age. The BLS projects that 4,400 new airline and commercial pilot positions will become available between 2016 and 2026. For aspiring pilots and professionals seeking leadership positions in airports, flight schools, and aviation mechanic training programs, a bachelor’s in aviation science will bring you a step closer to landing a career in the lucrative aviation industry.
Choosing a Program
A bachelor’s degree in aviation equips students with the background knowledge and training needed to earn several Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) certifications. This degree emphasizes practical training in flight and ground control. Students also acquire foundational knowledge of aviation law, airport management, and FAA regulations. An online aviation degree is generally 120 credits and includes coursework in aircraft performance, human factors, and safety. Most programs emphasize training in group communication.
Flight education courses provide hands-on training in which students participate in cross-country flights with single and multiple engine aircraft. Students learn how to skillfully maneuver aircraft and respond to instrument failure during flight. Ground courses feature topics in aerodynamics, emergency procedures, and weather’s effect on flight planning and navigation.
Graduates of a bachelor’s in aviation science possess the knowledge to fly, direct, and design aircraft. Students who desire more in-depth training in a particular area often have the option to pursue a particular concentration. Examples of concentrations commonly offered through aviation programs include aviation safety, aviation security, and airport maintenance management. Most aviation programs conclude with a capstone course that requires students to develop solutions to problems in areas such as international safety or airport technology.
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Online Bachelor’s in Aeronautics & Aviation Degree Program Ranking Guidelines
We selected the degree programs based on the quality of program and range of courses provided, as well as school awards, rankings, and reputation.
The Best Online Bachelor’s in Aeronautics & Aviation Programs
1 LeTourneau University
An interdenominational Christian university in Longview, Texas, LETU offers online aviation degree programs in aviation science and aviation management. For the past five years, National Intercollegiate Flying Association has designated LETU’s aviation programs as the best in the nation.
Each accelerated aviation program requires 120 credit hours, including 42-48 hours of major courses, 30 general education hours, 30 elective hours, and 12 hours of theology and vocation courses. LETU students must maintain a GPA of 2.0 or better.
The aviation science program requires courses in aviation management, aviation safety factors, financial analysis, and business ethics. Graduates often pursue careers in airport management, aircraft maintenance management, and aviation operations coordination.
The aviation management program includes courses in aviation human factors, aviation safety, airport operations and management, and air transportation systems. Students in this program can choose to pursue a concentration in maintenance, air traffic control, or professional piloting, though only the maintenance concentration is available online. Many graduates pursue careers in airline operations, airport operations, and maintenance management.
Each online course lasts three to seven weeks and students typically take one course at a time. Professors assign coursework each Monday, with deadlines each Sunday. Full-time students complete the entirely online programs in two years. LETU accepts transfer credit and awards credit for military experience.
LeTourneau University is regionally accredited from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACS).
2North Carolina State University
Raleigh, North Carolina
Founded in 1887 as a school for agriculture and mechanic arts, NC State offers a bachelor’s of science in aerospace engineering that prepares students to design, manufacture, and analyze space systems and aircraft. Students complete coursework in aerodynamic design and performance, aerodynamic structures, rocket and air-based propulsion systems, and engineering materials and dynamics.
The degree requires 127 credit hours. Students complete a two-semester capstone course with two project options; students can design and fly a unique, remotely controlled aircraft or design, build, and operate a space system, such as a satellite, remotely controlled space probe, or moon-rover vehicle.
Students earning the aviation bachelor’s degree online can choose the accelerated format to earn both a bachelor’s and master’s degree in aerospace engineering in five years. NC State also offers a direct path from the BS program to the doctoral program in aerospace engineering. NC State students must maintain a GPA of 2.5 or above and earn a grade of C or better in each required course. NC State invites sophomores and juniors with a GPA of 3.5 or better to participate in a program-specific honors program. Honors students must maintain an overall GPA of 3.25 or better to graduate with honors.
North Carolina State University is regionally accredited from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACS).
3 Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University
Daytona Beach, Florida
Located in in Daytona Beach, Florida, ERAU offers an online bachelor’s degree in aviation; the BS in aeronautical science curriculum is designed for military members and active professionals in the aviation industry.
The fully online program requires 120 credits and takes most students 3 years to complete. Students customize their degree through more than 500 aviation course options. The curriculum covers topics in general aeronautics and applications, general aeronautical science, airframe systems and applications, aircraft electrical systems theory, private pilot operations, and airman knowledge test preparation.
Each student works with a faculty member to formulate and complete an aviation maintenance capstone project over a two-month period. Graduates pursue careers in air traffic management, meteorology, safety, and business. Available minors include air cargo management, emergency services, and unmanned aerial systems.
ERAU awards credit — up to one quarter of the degree’s requirements — for prior aviation experience. ERAU considers all aspects of an applicant’s qualifications, including previous experience. The school also offers a combined bachelor’s to master’s degree in aeronautical engineering for students interested in earning both degrees in 5 years of full-time study.
Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University is regionally accredited from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACS).
4 Hampton University
Located in Virginia, Hampton U is a historically black university that was founded in 1868. The school offers a range of online programs, from certificates and associate degrees all the way through doctoral degrees. The school’s BS in aviation management, airport administration program combines aviation skills with a liberal arts foundation. The 122-credit program includes courses in aviation foundations, airport systems, weather and climate, flight safety, airport operations, aviation history, and homeland security.
During each of the first six semesters, students complete a one-credit, pass-or-fail aviation seminar. The school delivers its program asynchronously through the Blackboard platform. Students complete a three-credit practicum during their final semester. Graduates often pursue airport and airline management positions.
Hampton U offers financial aid, scholarships, and veterans benefits. All online students pay the same flat tuition rate, regardless of residency. Prospective students must check the school’s state eligibility list to ensure their state of residency is among the 28 states in which Hampton U offers its programs. Applicants must have a high school diploma or GED and must submit an essay on their professional goals along with official transcripts. Transfer applicants must have a GPA of 2.0 or better. The school offers credit for military and corporate training, transfer credits, and work/life experience.
Hampton University is regionally accredited from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACS). The online aviation program is fully accredited by the Aviation Accreditation Board International (AABI).
5 Everglades University
Boca Raton, Florida
Located in Boca Raton, Florida, EU offers an online bachelor’s in aviation science. Full-time students complete the degree in about three and a half years. Students in the BS in aviation and aerospace program gain analytical skills and knowledge of aviation operations, regulations, laws, and principles.
Students customize the 123-credit program to fit their academic and career goals. The curriculum requires 30 general education credits in areas like English composition, fundamentals of nutrition, and natural science. Students complete 12 credits of lower-division courses that cover topics in aviation history, aviation law and regulations, and aeronautics.
The program requires 42 upper-division credits in areas such as airline management, corporate aviation operations, and labor relations. Students can choose to complete 21 credits of interdisciplinary studies or to earn 21 credits in specialized courses, such as air cargo, federal regulations, and international business. Online learners also have the option to pursue one of six 18-credit concentrations: aviation safety, flight operations, management, aviation maintenance management, aviation operations management, and safety.
Students can complete the program entirely online or in a hybrid format. EU awards credit for prior aviation experience, military training, and FAA certifications.
Everglades University is regionally accredited from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACS).
6 Eastern New Mexico University
Portales, New Mexico
Located in Portales, ENMU offers two bachelor’s degrees in aviation science: a bachelor’s of science in aviation science and a bachelor’s of applied arts and science (BAAS) in aviation science.
Each program requires 120 semester hours, including 38 general education hours, 28 major hours, and 19 hours of required complementary courses. Students customize the curriculum through electives. Students in both programs complete a senior seminar and core coursework in economics, computer skills, spreadsheets and data analysis, and statistical methods.
The bachelor’s in aviation science degree requires courses in aviation history, flight theory, and FAA regulations. The BAAS requires courses in aviation law, airport operations, and contemporary aviation issues. Transfer students in this program can apply up to 64 credits earned at another accredited institution towards their degree. Up to 58 of those credits can be used to satisfy the program’s technical emphasis area requirement.
Students take a general education assessment after completing 55 to 75 hours. Students must maintain a GPA of 2.0 or better. All program requirements are available fully online. Applicants to the BAAS program must have aviation industry experience, an FAA certificate or license, or at least 30 transfer credits.
Eastern New Mexico University is regionally accredited from the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
7 Florida Institute of Technology
Florida Tech offers a fully online aviation degree; the BA in aviation management program prepares students for careers in airport and airline management. Florida Tech is one of six FAA-designated learning partners. Graduates often pursue careers managing airports, airlines, airport security, and freight and cargo. The school delivers its online coursework asynchronously in an eight-week format and offers six start dates per year. Most students complete the program in four years.
The 121-credit BA in aviation management requires courses in aviation planning, airport design, and aviation law. Students also complete coursework in composition, literature, statistics, and algebra. Students choose four of seven available electives, including global business, consumer behavior, and business decision methods. The program culminates in a practicum project, during which students create a business plan for an airline.
The university offers benefits and resources for military officers, astronauts, and enlisted personnel and their families. The school supports its online learners with enrollment advisors, student services representatives, online tutoring, career services, and around-the-clock tech support. In addition to filling out the application, applicants must submit college transcripts (or proof of high school graduation or GED if they have earned fewer than 24 undergraduate level credits). Florida Tech accepts transfer credits earned with a GPA of 2.0 or better. The school does not charge an application fee and usually makes an admission decision within two weeks of receiving all application materials.
The Florida Institute of Technology is regionally accredited from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACS).
8Vaughn College of Aeronautics and Technology
Flushing, New York
Located adjacent to the busy LaGuardia Airport in Queens, New York, Vaughn offers accelerated online aviation bachelor’s degree programs in airport management, aviation maintenance, and aviation maintenance management. All program requirements are available fully online and are ideal for working professionals. Students complete coursework at their convenience.
Major coursework for the BS in aviation management comprises up to 63 lecture credits and two lab credits. Major courses include airline management, airport administration, and aviation law. Students also complete a three-credit strategic management capstone. Vaughn’s BS in aviation maintenance requires 128 lecture and lab credits, with major courses in aircraft systems, turbine engines, and rotorcraft design technology. The program culminates with a capstone, internship, or degree project. Students earning the 124-credit BS in aviation maintenance management complete 43 credits of advanced maintenance and technology courses, 18 credits of management coursework, and a final capstone, internship, or degree project.
Vaughn offers fall and spring semesters, plus two accelerated summer sessions. Students in each program complete a foreign language requirement. Over 90% of students at Vaughn receive financial aid. The school accepts transfer credits from other accredited institutions with a grade of “C” or better on a case-by-case basis.
Vaughn College of Aeronautics and Technology is regionally accredited from the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE). The airport management program is fully accredited by the International Assembly for Collegiate Business Education (IACBE).
Boca Raton, Florida
Based in Boca Raton, Florida, Lynn offers a BS in aviation management program. Students earning the aviation bachelor’s degree online take 120 credits and complete coursework when it is convenient for them. Students gain knowledge in the management of airports, airlines, and fixed-base operations.
Major courses include aviation operations, global aviation regulations and law, and aviation technologies. Required business courses focus on operations managements, finances, legal matters, and human resources management. During aviation elective courses, students undergo simulated flight training. Students also train with Cessna 172 and DA-42 aircraft at the Boca Raton Airport.
Lynn university requires all students, including online students, to complete coursework using iPads; professors use iBooks Author and Canvas, along with special apps that are not available on laptops or PCs, to create and deliver interactive learning materials. Applicants must submit a personal statement and official transcripts. Lynn accepts transfer credits from accredited institutions and awards credit for military training, AP exams, and professional experience.
Lynn University is regionally accredited from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACS). Lynn University’s business programs, including the bachelor’s in aviation management, is fully accredited by the International Accreditation Council for Business Education (IACBE).
San Antonio, Texas
Hallmark University’s first campus was located inside of the San Antonio municipal airport. Given such history, it comes as no surprise that the school continues its focus on aviation. The school offers an accelerated online bachelor’s in aviation science program, which full-time students complete in fewer than two years. Online students can access coursework 24/7. The private university tailors its BS in aviation maintenance management program to students planning to pursue careers managing airports, airlines, and other aviation operations.
The online degree completion program includes 60 credits in areas such as business law and ethics, marketing, corporate finance, and operations management. Each course lasts nine weeks. Students also complete coursework in organizational behavior and leadership, human resources management, and aviation safety.
Applicants to the BS in aviation management program must hold current FAA airframe and powerplant certification in addition to an associate or bachelor’s degree from an accredited school. Students also submit an essay detailing their personal and professional interests in the program. Hallmark accepts transfer credits earned with a grade of C or better from accredited institutions or FAA-certified aviation schools.
Hallmark University is nationally accredited from the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC).
Online Bachelor’s in Aeronautics & Aviation Careers
An online aviation degree provides the training needed to pursue a career as a pilot, mechanic, or air traffic controller. Essential qualities of aviation professionals include organizational and problem-solving skills, quick reflexes, and the ability to observe and communicate under pressure.
- Airline and Commercial Pilots: From the preparation of flight plans to the navigation of airplanes and helicopters, airline and commercial pilots ensure that passengers and cargo arrive safely at their destinations. A bachelor’s in aviation science or a similar field is required to become an airline pilot. Additionally, airline pilots must earn a commercial pilot’s license and an airline transport pilot certificate from the FAA.
- Median Annual Salary: $105,720
- Projected Growth Rate: 4%
- Air Traffic Controllers: Often required to have a bachelor’s degree in aviation, air traffic controllers must pass a series of FAA tests in order to launch their careers. Ongoing physical and performance exams are required. Job duties include directing the safest and most efficient courses for aircraft, updating pilots of ground and weather conditions, and communicating with other air traffic controllers.
- Median Annual Salary: $122,410
- Projected Growth Rate: 3%
- Aircraft and Avionics Equipment Mechanics and Technicians: These professionals typically work eight-hour shifts with frequent overtime and weekend hours. Work responsibilities include determining the cause of malfunctioning parts, repairing broken aircraft, and performing routine maintenance. Earning an online aviation degree helps prepare candidates for the aviation mechanic examination.
- Median Annual Salary: $60,270
- Projected Growth Rate: 5%
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics