The 20 Best Master’s Degrees in Aeronautics and Aviation of 2021

Interested in furthering your career in aeronautics? Enrolling in a master’s in aeronautics and aviation can lead students on a path to a challenging, exciting career that gives them wings — literally. A degree like this will focus on science and mathematics courses, and as part of earning a master’s degree in this industry, you’ll learn how to repair and maintain aerospace crafts, as well as how to control the plane from the cockpit. 

Excitement isn’t the only perk this field offers, either. A career in the aeronautics and aviation field can also lead to above-average salaries and a fast trajectory for growth in the field. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), a 3% job growth rate is expected to occur in this field through 2029,  which is on par with the national average for other careers. While salaries in this field will vary, if you work as an airline and commercial pilot, you could earn an average wage of about $130,440 per year. If you pursue a job as an aerospace engineer,  the median average wage is about $118,610 per year. Aerospace engineering and operations technicians typically make about $68,570 per year.

If you’re ready to take advantage of what this degree can offer you, start by weighing the benefits of the best five master’s in aeronautics and aviation programs below. You’ll also find information on what types of courses you’ll take, the potential salaries you can earn in this field, and what requirements are necessary to enroll in master’s in aeronautics and aviation.

Accredited Online College Programs

The 20 Best Master’s Degrees in Aeronautics and Aviation of 2021

  1. Johns Hopkins University
    Location

    Baltimore, MD

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Johns Hopkins University offers an MS degree in Space Systems Engineering through its G.W.C. Whiting School of Engineering. Graduate students must complete 10 courses consisting of five core courses, and five elective courses. JHU offers two tracks for MS students to choose from which include Technical Systems/Subsystems or Leadership/Management.

    Required courses include Systems Engineering for Space, and Small Satellite Development and Experimentation. While JHU's online MS program is offered online, all students must attend a residency weekend at the Applied Physics Laboratory on campus in order to complete the laboratory component of their capstone requirement.

    • Graduation rate: 94%
    • School status: Private
    • Tuition cost: $$$$$
    • Number of programs offered: 52 majors, 48 minors
    • City location: Baltimore, MD
    • Admission requirements: Bachelor’s degree in engineering, computer science, mathematics, physics or an equivalent course of study; 3.0 GPA
    • Standardized test scores/requirements: N/A
    • Contact: Patrick.binning@jhu.edu
    • Website
  2. University of Maine
    Location

    Orono, ME

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    The Professional Science Master of Engineering and Business at the University of Maine is an online 30-credit program. Graduate students can choose to study aerospace engineering or surveying engineering. Required courses include Flight Dynamics and Control of Aircraft, Advanced Boundary Law, and Geodesy. All students are expected to complete six credits of applied field experience as well.

    UM's program is intended for those who already hold a bachelor's degree in engineering or engineering technology. UM is ranked at #97 among the nation's Top Public Schools by U.S. News and World Report, and has been recognized as a top school for Best Online Graduate Engineering Programs.

    • Graduation rate: 56%
    • School status: Public
    • Tuition cost: $$$$
    • Number of programs offered: 100
    • City location: Orono, ME
    • Admission requirements: Bachelor’s degree
    • Standardized test scores/requirements: N/A
    • Contact: umaineonline@maine.edu
    • Website
  3. University of North Dakota
    Location

    Grand Forks, ND

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    The John D. Odegard School of Aerospace Sciences at the University of North Dakota offers a unique online MS degree in Aviation. Graduate students may choose one of four specialization areas, including Safety, Unmanned Aircraft Systems, Management, or Human Factors. Online classes at UND are offered in a synchronous format, which means classes are live and meet at specific times.

    The average UND student is capable of completing their degree within 2-3 years. Applicants are required to submit their GRE scores. New students can apply and enroll year round.

    • Graduation rate: 61%
    • School status: Public
    • Tuition cost: $$$
    • Number of programs offered: 250+
    • City location: Grand Forks, ND
    • Admission requirements: Bachelor’s degree, 2.75 GPA
    • Standardized test scores/requirements: GRE
    • Contact: undinfo@und.edu
    • Website
  4. Mississippi State University
    Location

    Mississippi State, MS

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Online students can earn their MS in Aerospace Engineering degree at Mississippi State University and right in the heart of The Raspet Flight Research Laboratory. Graduate students at MSU study concentrations such as Fluid Dynamics, Structural Mechanics, Flight Mechanics and Controls, and Flight Test Engineering.

    All MSU students are required to take a minimum of 30 graduate hours, which includes six hours towards a required research thesis. However, you may opt for a non-thesis program instead. MSU has been ranked among the nation's top public schools and best engineering schools by U.S. News and World Report.

    • Graduation rate: 64%
    • School status: Public
    • Tuition cost: $$$$
    • Number of programs offered: 175+
    • City location: Mississippi State, MS
    • Admission requirements: BS in aerospace engineering or a closely related field, 3.0 GPA
    • Standardized test scores/requirements: GRE required for students with a bachelor’s degree from a non-accredited Engineering Accreditation Commission of the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology school
    • Contact: grad-coord@ae.msstate.edu
    • Website 
  5. University of Central Florida
    Location

    Orlando, FL

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    University of Central Florida's College of Engineering and Computer Science offers an online Masters of Science in Aerospace Engineering. UCF's online program immerses students in the specialties of Controls and Dynamics, Aerodynamics, Propulsion, Thermal Analysis, and Design. While enrolled, online UCF students have access to tech support, library services, career support services, and more.

    UCF is ranked by U.S. News and World Report among the best graduate engineering schools, most innovative schools, and top public schools in the country.

    • Graduation rate: 74%
    • School status: Public
    • Tuition cost: $$$$
    • Number of programs offered: 230+
    • City location: Orlando, FL
    • Admission requirements: Bachelor’s degree in aerospace engineering or closely related field, 3.0 GPA
    • Standardized test scores/requirements: N/A
    • Contact: gradadmissions@ucf.edu
    • Website
  6. University of Alabama
    Location

    Tuscaloosa, AL

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    University of Alabama's College of Engineering is home to a 30-credit MS in Aerospace Engineering and Mechanics. This degree can be completed entirely online and offers courses such as Orbital Mechanics, Theory of Elasticity, and Airfoil and Wing Theory.

    Prospective students are admitted during the spring, summer, and fall semesters with a minimum GRE score of 300.

    UA is ranked by U.S. News and World Report among the best colleges for veterans, best value schools, and top public schools in the U.S.

    • Graduation rate: 72%
    • School status: Public
    • Tuition cost: $$$$$
    • Number of programs offered: 200+
    • City location: Tuscaloosa, AL
    • Admission requirements: Bachelor’s degree, 3.0 GPA
    • Standardized test scores/requirements: GRE score of 300 (waived for fall 2021)
    • Contact: thanh.bama@ua.edu  
    • Website
  7. Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University
    Location

    Daytona Beach, FL

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    The online, 30-credit MS in Aerospace Engineering degree program at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University is unique for a couple reasons, beginning with its proximity to the country's most famous aerospace hubs: The Kennedy Space Center.

    Two other intriguing points that allow ERAU to stand out are how graduate students aren't held to strict deadlines or class meeting times. In addition, incoming students with military status are offered discounted tuition rates and application fee waivers. Required courses at ERAU include Smart Materials in Engineering, Structural Health Monitoring, Boundary Value Problems. Applicants must submit their GRE scores to be considered for admission into this 30-credit program.

    Embry-Riddle has been ranked by U.S. News and World Report at #15 for Best Regional University in the South. It's also ranked at #9 for the Best Colleges for Veterans, #46 for Best Value Schools, and #8 for Most Innovative Schools in the Country.

    • Graduation rate: 52%
    • School status: Private
    • Tuition cost: $$$$
    • Number of programs offered: 100+
    • City location: Daytona Beach, FL
    • Admission requirements: Bachelor’s degree in aerospace engineering or related field, 3.0 GPA
    • Standardized test scores/requirements: GRE
    • Contact: worldwide@erau.edu
    • Website
  8. University of Southern California
    Location

    Los Angeles, CA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    The University of Southern California Viterbi School of Engineering offers an online MS in Aerospace Engineering for students who complete their degree with at least a 3.0 GPA. Required courses include Aircraft Structures Analysis, Nonlinear Control Systems, and Fatigue and Fracture.

    Graduate students also have the option enrolling full-time or part-time, and choosing an area of specialization including Aerospace Control, Aerospace Design, Computational Fluid Dynamics, or Propulsion. All applicants must submit their GRE scores and should hold an undergraduate degree in engineering, math, or hard science. The university accepts new students during the spring and fall semesters.

    • Graduation rate: 92%
    • School status: Private
    • Tuition cost: $$$$$
    • Number of programs offered: 23 schools and divisions
    • City location: Los Angeles, CA
    • Admission requirements: Bachelor’s degree in engineering or engineering-related discipline
    • Standardized test scores/requirements: GRE
    • Contact: den@viterbi.usc.edu
    • Website 
  9. Old Dominion University
    Location

    Norfolk, VA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Old Dominion University offers a 30-credit MS in Aerospace Engineering through its Frank Batten College of Engineering and Technology. Students of ODU will benefit from the university's close association to the NASA Langley Research Center, nearby military research centers, and other federally funded research laboratories in the industry.

    ODU's graduate degree programs require all students to complete a thesis for graduation. Online courses at ODU are live and scheduled in conjunction with the university's regular academic calendar. ODU also offers an online non-thesis MSE program which requires a comprehensive exam.

    Applicants are expected to submit their GRE score and already hold an undergraduate degree in aerospace engineering, engineering mechanics, or mechanical engineering.

    • Graduation rate: 53%
    • School status: Public
    • Tuition cost: $$$$
    • Number of programs offered: 200+
    • City location: Norfolk, VA
    • Admission requirements: Bachelor’s degree in aerospace engineering, engineering mechanics, mechanical engineering or a related field
    • Standardized test scores/requirements: GRE
    • Contact: gradadmit@odu.edu
    • Website
  10. Iowa State University
    Location

    Ames, IA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Iowa State University offers students an online MSE in Aerospace Engineering that is much less research-oriented the MS degree option and doesn't require a thesis to graduate. Required courses include Finite Element Analysis, Optimal Control, and Nonlinear Systems. ISU graduate students typically earn their degrees in less than two years.

    U.S. News and World Report have ranked Iowa State University at #56 among the nation's Top Public Schools, # 81 for Best Value Schools, and #80 for Best Colleges for Veterans. Prospective students should note that ISU requires GRE scores and previous educational records. Applications are considered on a rolling basis.

    • Graduation rate: 75%
    • School status: Public
    • Tuition cost: $$$
    • Number of programs offered: 100+
    • City location: Ames, IA
    • Admission requirements: Bachelor’s degree, 3.0 GPA
    • Standardized test scores/requirements: GRE
    • Contact: grad_college@iastate.edu
    • Website

  • Our Methodology, Explained


    Grad School Hub compiles rankings based on public data released from educational, commercial, and government databases. Sources such as the National Center for Education Statistics and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics play a significant role in how we source our educational data. After collecting insight for each institution, we organize information into five weighted categories.































    Metric Data Used Percentage
    Academic Quality Full-time faculty percentage, student-to-faculty ratio, student retention and graduation rates 20%
    Affordability Tuition rates, median student debt, and financial aid 40%
    Reputation Admission and enrollment rates 15%
    Program Offerings Number of program options 15%
    Online Enrollment Score Portion of learners taking at least one online course 10%

    A more comprehensive evaluation of how each category is determined and scored is accessible on our Ranking Methodology page.

Answering Your Questions About Master’s Degrees in Aeronautics and Aviation

  • What Can You Do With a Master’s in Aeronautics and Aviation?

    By earning a master’s in aviation and aeronautics, you will open doors that can lead to an exciting career. What that career path is, however, will depend highly on what you specialize in during your master’s program. Each school offers different opportunities for specializing, but in general, you can specialize in areas like aircraft design, air traffic management, space transportation and exploration.

    Some of those career pathways may include becoming an airline and commercial pilot, an aerospace engineer, or an aerospace engineering and operations technician. You can find jobs with national and international airlines like United, American Airlines, or even jobs with organizations like NASA and Tesla.

  • How Much Money Can You Earn With a Master’s in Aeronautics and Aviation?

    If you have a master’s in aeronautics and aviation, some common employment options include airline and commercial pilot, aerospace engineer, and aerospace engineering and operations technician. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), these positions are often lucrative. Airline and commercial pilots made a median wage of about $130,440 per year as of 2020. Aerospace engineers earned, on average, about $118,610 per year in 2020. Aerospace engineering and operations technicians made, on average, about $68,570 per year as of 2020.

What to Expect From a Master’s in Aeronautics and Aviation

Working in aeronautics and aviation requires you to have a working knowledge of the mechanics of aerospace vehicles and structures, advanced control theory, electric propulsion, and flight dynamics. You will also need to know how to control an aerospace craft. A master’s degree in aeronautics and aviation will prepare you for that. You’ll take classes in aircraft structural design, advanced control systems, engineering materials, design optimization, and engineering mechanics. 

Many programs require you to complete at least 30 credit hours to graduate. Students in these types of programs typically complete their education requirements within three years, including part-time students. Plus, many programs will allow students to take online and night classes, which is convenient for those with full-time jobs.

What to Expect From a Master’s in Aeronautics and Aviation

Working in aeronautics and aviation requires you to have a working knowledge of the mechanics of aerospace vehicles and structures, advanced control theory, electric propulsion, and flight dynamics. You will also need to know how to control an aerospace craft. A master’s degree in aeronautics and aviation will prepare you for that. You’ll take classes in aircraft structural design, advanced control systems, engineering materials, design optimization, and engineering mechanics.

Many programs require you to complete at least 30 credit hours to graduate. Students in these types of programs typically complete their education requirements within three years, including part-time students. Plus, many programs will allow students to take online and night classes, which is convenient for those with full-time jobs.

Admission Requirements for a Degree in Aeronautics and Aviation

As with all degree programs, the admission requirements for a master’s in aeronautics and aviation master’s program will vary from program to program and school to school. That said, there are some requirements you can expect to see across most programs.

For example, many master’s programs will require you to have a minimum GPA of 2.5 or higher from the work you did during your undergraduate studies. Many programs will also require that you take a GRE and score above a minimum threshold to be admitted. You will also need to have a bachelor’s degree in aerospace engineering or a similar field to be admitted into the program. 

Common Courses for a Master’s in Aeronautics and Aviation

During your time enrolled in a master’s in aviation and aeronautics, the bulk of your courses will revolve around science and mathematics. The classes you may be required to take include:

Aerospace Vehicle Dynamics
This degree leads to opportunities in the aeronautics and aviation industry, which means you’ll need to learn all about aerospace vehicles. This course teaches you about topics like three-dimensional kinematics and dynamics, Aircraft 6-DOF equations of motion, and Newton/Eulerand Lagrangian and Kane’s formulations. You can expect to cover translating and rotating reference frames and orbital mechanics as well.
Advanced Aerodynamics

This course will mostly focus on mathematics, and you’ll learn about things like vector analysis, perturbation methods, V/STOL and UAV Aerodynamics, and viscous flow control. You can also expect to learn theoretical studies of thin airfoils, finite wings, wing-body and vorticities, and high-lift aerodynamics.

Foundations of Structural Mechanics
When studying the foundations of structural mechanics, you’ll need to establish an understanding of analysis techniques for aerospace crafts. In this course, you’ll learn Castigliano’s theorems, analysis of stress and strain, and boundary value problems. You’ll also be taught energy methods and multi-axial yield.
Computational Fluid Dynamics

In a computational fluid dynamics course, you’ll need to have an understanding of computer programming languages. This will serve as the foundation for the rest of the material in this class. During this course, you’ll study hyperbolic equations, finite difference formulas, and stability analysis..

Fatigue of Engineering Materials
Since aerospace vehicles experience wear and tear, it’s important for you to know how to address those issues. In this course, you’ll learn how to recognize material fatigue and how to improve the lifespan of materials. Specifically, you’ll study fatigue damage, fatigue limit, and life prediction.

Laurie Garrison picture

Laurie Garrison

CONTRIBUTING WRITER

Laurie Garrison is a contributing writer who covers higher education, online graduate programs, and college planning for Grad School Hub and Best Value Schools. Her writing has also appeared in The Charlotte Business Journal, and the Dallas Business Journal.

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Angelica Leicht

Angelica Leicht is an editor for Grad School Hub. A proud University of Houston alum (go Cougs!), she previously served as an education reporter at Kearney Hub, and an editor at the Dallas Observer and Houston Press. Her writing has appeared in Affordable Colleges Online, Bankrate, The Simple Dollar, and elsewhere.

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