2021 Best Online Aviation Degrees [Bachelor’s Guide]

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With an online aviation degree, you could pursue a flying career or advance your opportunities in this field.

Best Online Aviation Degrees

From airport management to professional pilot degrees, online aviation programs can provide the tools you need for a variety of positions in air transportation settings.

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Flight is an exciting career option that offers diverse job opportunities. Having an aviation degree can help set you apart as a trained professional who understands the ins and outs of the aviation business.

Online Aviation Degrees

Yes, it’s possible to earn an aviation degree online! Whether you want to become a pilot or have another job in the aviation field, online coursework can be part of your career preparation. Here are four degree options to consider as you think about starting online aviation studies:

Regardless of the specialty you select, you will still receive a strong foundation in aviation and related courses.

Aviation

Aviation bachelors degree

The field of aviation offers a wide variety of career opportunities for interested students. Aviation bachelor’s degrees could be the first step toward one of those positions.

In aviation programs, you’ll study the science and history of flight. In addition, you can explore concepts like weather forecasting, accident prevention, electronic instrumentation and navigation.

Other classes could cover business administration, logistics, risk management, and aviation regulations. It’s common for aviation majors to choose a degree specialization or minor. Since this is a diverse field, it’s useful to focus your studies on one discipline that’s of special interest to you.

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Your college may provide opportunities for in-depth study of air traffic control, professional flight, or unmanned aircraft. Other options might involve maintenance or airport management.

Depending on their training and certification, aviation professionals can work as maintenance supervisors, pilots, flight trainers, and manufacturing executives.

Aviation Maintenance

Aviation Maintenance bachelors degree

If you enjoy working with your hands and figuring out how things work, then you might consider a career in aviation maintenance. Your hard work and dedication could be vital to others’ safety.

Aviation maintenance technicians need to understand the parts of an airplane and how they work. That includes the propellers, instruments, electrical systems, and landing gear. In this sector, you’d study hydraulics, thermodynamics, and materials.

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Maintenance is a hands-on field, so online programs are typically geared toward students who already have mechanical training. Some programs may require you to be FAA certified for Airframe and Powerplant.

Through your online classes, you could also explore the management side of aviation maintenance. Your training may help prepare you to head up teams and hold supervisory roles. Aviation maintenance graduates tend to become airplane mechanics or avionics technicians. Some even become maintenance supervisors or directors.

Aviation Management

Aviation Management bachelors degree

Aviation organizations need smart business leaders. The field of aviation management incorporates principles from both aviation and business.

To earn this degree, you’ll generally take classes that cover aviation systems and flight safety. You’ll also study concepts like meteorology, aviation law, and flight physiology. Plus, your coursework will cover business concepts like finance and organizational leadership.

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Aviation management can be a strategic degree path for professionals who already have experience in this field but want to take their careers further. For example, this degree track may help former pilots move into airline management positions. It could also give flight attendants the credentials to head up teams of service professionals.

Past flight training may be counted toward credit in an online program. Even if you aren’t certified, you may still benefit. Common job titles in this sector include aircraft sales manager, operations director, air traffic controller, and airport security director.

Aeronautics

Aeronautics bachelors degree

If you want to understand principles and concepts that govern flight, then you might appreciate studying the scientific field of aeronautics.

An online aeronautical degree program will cover many of the same concepts as other aviation programs. For example, you may take classes in human aviation factors, flight safety, legal issues, and aircraft technology.

You may also practice flying planes or performing maintenance. In addition, though, you can expect your program to be heavy in math and science courses. A class about aerodynamics, for instance, will explore how flight works and what factors influence stability.

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You’ll also study the science of weather in a meteorology class. Your math sequence may include pre-calculus and calculus courses that are geared especially for aviation applications.

Aeronautics students may have a range of job opportunities after graduation. Many become airline or commercial pilots. Others look for jobs in aviation security, aircraft engineering, air traffic control, or flight instruction.

Aviation Careers & Salaries

Aviation Careers & Salaries

There are two main categories of pilots: airline pilots and commercial pilots. Airline pilots fly on set schedules. They can work for regional or major airlines to transport passengers and cargo from one airport to another.

Commercial pilots don’t usually keep a regular schedule. They often provide on-demand flights. There are many different sectors in which commercial pilots are useful, such as corporate transportation, ambulance services, tourism, and farming.

Air traffic controller is another job option for aviation graduates. This job category includes tower, approach and departure, and en route controllers. Most air traffic controllers are federal employees under the leadership of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

For those who want a non-piloting role in the air, becoming a flight attendant is an option to pursue. These professionals promote safety and provide service for airline passengers.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, pilots make a median of $130,440 per year. These salary figures represent national averages. Your personal income will depend on factors like training, job responsibilities, and experience.

Careers Annual Median Salaries
Airline Pilots, Copilots, and Flight Engineers $160,970
Air Traffic Controllers $130,420
Top Executives $107,680
Commercial Pilots $93,300
Transportation Inspectors $78,400
Aerospace Engineering and Operations Technicians $68,570
Avionics Technicians $67,840
Aircraft Mechanics and Service Technicians $66,440
Flight Attendants $59,050
Transportation Security Screeners $44,300

In the flight business, safety is critical. Transportation inspectors check cargo and airplanes for any safety or security risks. Security screeners inspect travelers and their belongings before flights.

Airplane mechanics and technicians perform maintenance and repairs. Mechanics deal with most parts of a plane, but avionics technicians are responsible for the electronic instrumentation.

People with experience in the air transportation field may eventually earn management roles. At an airport, each airline may have its own manager. Also, the airport itself may have managers over different departments as well as a chief executive officer.

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Other organizations, such as airplane manufacturers, may need managers with aviation training as well. These types of organizations may also hire people with training in aerospace engineering. They could employ both engineers and engineering technicians who can design or build aircraft.

Bachelor of Aviation Curriculum & Courses

Bachelor of Aviation Curriculum & Courses

A bachelor’s degree program usually consists of 120 credit hours’ worth of classes. You may take courses on flight, airport management, security, and more. Here are examples of courses you may find in an aviation program:

  • Air Travel Risk Management: Flying involves risk, so you’ll explore potential hazards in this class and discuss ways to respond.
  • Aircraft Instrumentation: Through lectures and hands-on simulations, you’ll get to know the various instruments that are essential for safe and smooth flights.
  • Airport Leadership: Taking this class can prepare you to head up departments in an airport and provide positive team leadership.
  • Avionics Technology: You can explore the latest developments in flight instrumentation and navigation.
  • Brain, Body, and Flight: The lectures and assignments in this course will help you explore the limitations of the body and the mind when it comes to safe flight and quick reaction times.
  • Commercial Piloting in Business Settings: For those who are interested in a job as an on-demand pilot, this class will provide an overview of that career path.
  • Emergency Management: Your time in this course will prepare you to plan for crashes and other emergencies long before they actually happen.
  • Finance for Aviation: In this course, you’ll focus on the business side of aviation and discuss strategies for running profitable organizations.
  • Navigation: This course will help you become more adept at using GPS systems for navigation and will teach you about how these tools fit into an overall flight strategy.
  • Safety Regulations: This course may cover current laws about air travel and how your organization can ensure compliance.

There may be a variety of electives that you can choose for your online aviation degree as well.

How to Choose an Online Bachelor’s Degree in Aviation Program

Bachelor's Degree in Aviation Program

Many schools train students for careers in aviation, so you can pick the program that’s best suited for your goals and learning style. Evaluating criteria like those below may help you decide where to apply.

  • Career paths. Aviation is a broad field. Some programs are designed for those who want to be avionics experts, and others are intended for students who plan to become professional airline pilots. There are also management and engineering programs.
  • Online format. Online classes may be held live, or the materials may be available for you to access at any time. All students may progress at the same speed, or you might be free to go at your own pace.
  • Practicums and internships. You may be able to get hands-on practice in the field because of partnerships that your college has with aviation organizations.
  • Programmatic and regional accreditation. It’s strategic to look for an aviation school that holds accreditation from both the Aviation Accreditation Board International (AABI) and a regional accrediting agency.
  • Simulations. Some online schools provide digital lab experiences that recreate the flight environment.

You may have other factors that play a part in where you decide to enroll for your pilot or airport management degree. If you have questions, you can always reach out to a college’s admissions office.

Bachelor of Aviation Admissions Requirements

Bachelor of Aviation Admissions

Each school sets its own admissions standards. Typically, though, the process involves submitting documents that help the school learn about you and your goals. The requested materials may include:

  • SAT or ACT test scores (if required)
  • School transcripts, which may need to reflect a minimum GPA
  • Personal statement about your academic and career plans

Some colleges have set deadlines for turning in application materials, and others may accept materials at any point in the year.

Accreditation

Bachelor of Aviation Accreditation

It’s beneficial to choose a regionally accredited school for your aviation studies. Some students decide that they need to make a switch partway through their studies. Accredited coursework may transfer to another college.

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If you want to earn a graduate degree, you’ll have a better chance at qualifying for a program if you have a regionally accredited bachelor’s degree. Airlines and other employers may be more likely to hire you if you have an accredited degree, too.

Aviation Accreditation Board International (AABI)

To ensure that you receive a credible, top notch aviation education, you can search for schools that have had their aviation programs approved by the Aviation Accreditation Board International (AABI).

This organization is known as a programmatic accreditor. It provides accreditation specifically for the aviation field. If you hold a degree from an AABI accredited school, employers will recognize that you’ve received a thorough education that meets or exceeds industry standards.

Financial Aid and Scholarships

Bachelor of Aviation financial aid

You may not have the full cost of a college degree in your bank account right now, but that doesn’t mean that higher education is out of reach. Financial aid programs can provide support to qualifying students.

Government aid is a top source of funding for many students. There are both grants and loans available for those who qualify. Some college students can get tuition help from both state and federal programs.

Scholarships could contribute to your assistance package as well. You may earn funding from an industry organization, a community program, or a philanthropic group. Your college might provide scholarship opportunities as well.

Some employers help their workers through college. Your workplace may offer a tuition assistance program. To start learning about your financial aid opportunities, you can complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

What Can You Do with an Aviation Degree?

aviation degree programs careers

Some online aviation degree programs include flight training and certification tracks. These types of programs could help you qualify to pursue a career as a professional pilot.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics states that major airlines usually prefer job applicants who have a bachelor’s degree. Most airline pilots are employed in the scheduled air transportation sector. Commercial pilots may provide on-demand services.

Aviation management is another field that graduates may work in. Managers tend to work for airports, airlines, or manufacturers. They may oversee specific departments—such as scheduling or personnel—or entire facilities.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, avionics technicians need at least an associate degree. A bachelor’s degree may lead to supervisory roles in maintenance departments.

Can You Get an Aviation Degree Online?

Aviation Degree Online

Yes, you can take online classes that can lead to an aviation degree. Depending on the program, you may need to pair your online courses with in-person training.

Aviation management degrees may be available as fully online programs. Since flight training may not be required, you can obtain all of the necessary information through distance learning.

Professional pilot training may require you to earn a pilot certificate from a local flight school. Maintenance students also need to earn mechanic certificates. You can often pair in-person training with online courses.

How Long Does It Take to Get a Bachelor’s in Aviation Degree Online?

Full-time students often complete an aviation major in about 4 years. At a school with traditional 16 week semesters, you may take courses over 8 semesters—2 per year.

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If you want to finish faster, you may be able to cut 6 to 12 months off that timeframe. Some online aviation programs offer year-round, 8 week classes that you can take one after another until your degree is complete. Other programs also grant college credit for professional experience in the aviation field.

What’s the Difference Between a Bachelor of Science in Aeronautics vs. Aviation Degree?

As you search for colleges with aviation programs, you may find yourself choosing between aeronautics and aviation degrees.

Aeronautics Aviation
  • The science of flight
  • Includes all aircraft, including lighter-than-air ships
  • May have more science and engineering courses
  • A discipline that addresses all flight activities
  • Focus is on fixed-wing and rotary-wing aircraft
  • May have more management courses

Although there are differences, many of the same jobs are open to both aeronautics and aviation graduates.

Is an Aviation Degree Worth It?

Is an Aviation Degree Worth It

Yes, an aviation degree is worth it for many professionals. Aviation professionals are in demand. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that the number of positions for professional pilots will increase by 5% over the next ten years. In particular, there’s expected to be 9% job growth for commercial pilots and 3% growth for airline pilots.

Studying aviation can help you develop a unique set of skills that are suited to employment with aviation organizations. For example, you can learn more about airport operations if you pursue an aviation management degree rather than a standard business degree.

Universities Offering Online Bachelors in Aviation Degree Programs

Methodology: The following school list is in alphabetical order. To be included, a college or university must be regionally accredited and offer degree programs online or in a hybrid format.

Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University

Embry Riddle Aeronautical University

Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University offers a Bachelor of Science in Aeronautics. The degree program is specifically designed for students who wish to work in aviation-related careers or who already do so. Students who already work in the aviation industry may be awarded advanced standing credit.

Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Florida Institute of Technology

Florida Institute of Technology

The Florida Institute of Technology offers a BA in Aviation Management. The degree can be earned 100% online, and the curriculum covers topics such as modern aviation technology and business practices. The degree is designed for those intending to pursue careers in the management of airports or airlines.

Florida Institute of Technology is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Kansas State University

Kansas State University

Kansas State University offers a professional aviation bachelor’s degree. The degree can be earned 100% online and is intended for students who have already earned aviation certificates, ratings, licensure, or college credit.

The degree program is designed to enhance students’ employability in the aviation industry. Classes follow 8 and 16 week formats, with multiple start dates available.

Kansas State University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.

Liberty University

Liberty University

Liberty University’s Bachelor of Science in Aviation features 8 week courses and is 100% online. It usually takes about 3.5 years to complete. This online program is intended for those who already have a pilot’s license, but students who do not have one may earn one through one of Liberty University’s flight training affiliates.

Liberty University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Lynn University

Lynn University

Lynn University offers online B.S. degrees in Air Traffic Control, Aviation Management, Aviation Operations, Aviation Security, and Professional Pilot. Degree programs are available 100% online and use an iPad-driven curriculum. Optional flight training is available on site at Burton D. Morgan College of Aeronautics in Boca Raton, Florida.

Lynn University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Polk State College

Polk State College

Polk State College’s Bachelor of Science in Aerospace Sciences program is available mostly online, including a hybrid capstone course.

If needed, staff can work with you on an individual basis to develop an online-only attendance option. The degree covers operational theory and real-world practice. Concentrations are available in Aerospace Administration and Professional Pilot.

Polk State College is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Purdue University

Purdue University

Students in Purdue University’s professional flight degree program have the opportunity to earn professional or private pilot certificates and instrument ratings. Flight training is completed in state-of-the-art airplanes. Students in this program can potentially earn both a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in just five years of study.

Purdue University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

University of Nebraska – Omaha

University of Nebraska Omaha

The University of Nebraska—Omaha’s degree program in Aviation Studies is available on campus, online, or in a blended format.

The program requires 120 credit hours, and students may receive up to 21 credit hours for time spent earning FAA flight certificates and ratings. Coursework includes History of Aviation and Aerospace, Airline Operations, and Airport Administration.

UNO is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

University of Wisconsin – Oshkosh

University of Wisconsin Oshkosh

The University of Wisconsin—Oshkosh offers a 100% online degree program in Aviation Management. Military credits and FAA certifications may be counted as transfer credits. Courses are offered in accelerated, 7 week sessions and cover law, airline production management, and analysis methods for aviation and aerospace systems.

University of Wisconsin – Oshkosh is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Utah Valley University

Utah Valley University

At Utah Valley University students can earn a degree in aviation online. Previously earned, qualifying FAA certificates and ratings can be counted as transfer credits.

The program is flexible and designed with working students and adult learners in mind. Online students have access to a variety of resources and services, including academic advising and tutoring.

Utah Valley University is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.

Getting Your Aviation Bachelor Degree Online

Aviation Bachelor Degree Online

Through online courses, you can earn an aviation degree in a flexible setting that works for your schedule.

Although earning a degree in aviation may be a top goal of yours, daily responsibilities might make enrolling in school seem like a far-off goal. The opportunity for online study could change that for you.

Through an online program, you can learn about many facets of the aviation industry. To develop skills that require hands-on instruction, you may be able to seek additional training at a facility near you.

You can take a look at accredited online colleges to find the aviation program that best fits your schedule and career goals.

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Jordan Meeks
WRITTEN BY
Jordan Meeks
Jordan is pursuing a Ph.D. in Public Policy and earned her Master of Business Administration in Strategic Management and her Bachelor's in Business Administration. Jordan's research focuses on adults returning to college and online degree programs.