Aerospace Aeronautical And Astronautica

Aerospace engineering (AE) is a challenging, highly specialized field at the cutting edge of aeronautical and astronautical science. An aerospace engineer is an expert at the design and development of aircraft and spacecraft, from commercial jets and military missiles to planet-orbiting satellites and robots bound for Mars. Aerospace engineering is a popular choice among engineering students; admissions are often competitive.

AE overlaps a great deal with mechanical engineering, and even more specialized areas like petroleum engineering. Some aerospace engineers use their skills in oil and gas development, but most work in the aerospace product and parts manufacturing industries, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Many live and work in Texas, California or Washington state, where much of the defense industry is based. Major employers of aerospace engineers include Boeing, Lockheed Martin, and NASA.

Aerospace engineers are sometimes coloquially referred to as 'rocket scientists,' but these professionals have a multispecialty skill set that covers numerous engineering and science disciplines. As such, the education of an aerospace engineer should be sufficiently broad to encompass the multiple angles from which problems are solved. Areas of study include, for example, electrical engineering, materials science, and metallurgy. In general, aerospace engineering programs should be accredited by the Accreditation Board of Engineering and Technology, or ABET.

Degrees in Aerospace Engineering

Bachelor Degrees

The bachelor's degree is the minimum, entry-level qualification for aerospace engineers, according to the U.S. BLS. It is not generally necessary to major in AE at the undergraduate level to work as an engineer in the aerospace and defense sectors, though it can be helpful for getting into the best aerospace engineering schools.

Students commonly major in one of the core engineering disciplines, especially mechanical engineering. Note that acquiring a solid background in a major engineering area like mechanical or electrical engineering can be a hedge against job market insecurity, expanding one's employability across industries.

Different graduate programs vary in their admissions requirements. Undergraduate students who plan to go to graduate school should identify their desired program's specific goals as early as possible. They should also be prepared to take the Graduate Record Exam (GRE) as they near the completion of their bachelor's.

The top aerospace engineering schools let undergraduate students pursue a degree of specialization via elective study or even research-intensive tracks that expose students to the faculty-supervised thesis research process.

AE majors strongly emphasize applied mathematics and physics. Students become immersed in the math and science behind air and space technology, taking courses in chemistry, calculus, physics, and mechanical engineering. They also survey the fundamentals of aerodynamics and propulsion science, structural dynamics and control, flight and orbital mechanics, and systems design.

Typical undergraduate classes for a Bachelor of Science in Aerospace Engineering include:

  • Differential Equations & Matrix Methods
  • Solid & Fluid Mechanics
  • General Aeronautics

What jobs can be had with a bachelor's degree in Aerospace Engineering?

  • Junior Aerospace Systems Engineer
  • Flight Controls Engineer
  • Lead Engineering Flight Test Pilot

Master Degrees

Most practicing aerospace engineers have a master's degree. It is the standard level of education for working as a full aerospace engineering professional. There are programs that combine undergraduate and graduate study in an accelerated 5-year track.

Students can earn either a generalized degree or a specialized one like the Master of Science (M.S.) in Bioengineering – Aerospace Engineering. Either way, master degrees may be used to advance to the doctoral level. The Master of Aerospace Engineering (MAE) and Master of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering (MMAE), conversely, are considered terminal professional degrees; students will end their education here.

Courses for a M.S. in Aerospace Engineering might include:

  • Advanced Computational Fluid Dynamics
  • Finite Element Aerospace Applications
  • Aircraft Fault Tolerance & Advanced Control Theory

What kinds of jobs are available to master degree-holders?

  • Aerodynamics & Loads Engineer
  • Aerospace Research & Development Project Engineer
  • Aerospace Application Engineer

Doctoral Work

A Ph.D. in Aerospace Engineering mainly prepares one for academic research and organizational leadership positions. It is not necessary for hands-on engineering practice. In fact, having a Ph.D. can be a disadvantage with jobs designed for cheaper master-qualified applicants. On the other hand, applicants with AE doctorates can often submit successful applications with less industry experience, gaining an edge over their master-qualified counterparts.

Aerospace engineers with doctorates in AE overwhelmingly work in higher education or industrial research, teaching and conducting studies to advance the field's knowledge corpus. Major aerospace corporations have industrial R&D departments with potential work for aerospace engineering Ph.D.s. These engineers can also be found leading large-scale projects and departments.

Major areas of research in Aerospace Engineering include:

  • Astrodynamics & Satellite Navigation Systems
  • Bioastronautics & Space Exploration
  • Aircraft Control Systems & Optimization

Graduates of a Ph.D. program in Aerospace Engineering can become a:

  • Research Aerospace Engineer of Human Machine Systems
  • Aerospace Structural Analysis Engineering Manager
  • Aerospace & Defense Technical Sales Consultant

We found 70 schools offering aerospace engineering degree programs in the U.S.

>> See all 70 Aerospace Aeronautical And Astronautica Colleges in the U.S.

Aerospace Engineering Schools Ranked By US News and World Report

1
California Institute of Technology
Pasadena, CA  |  Total Enrollment: 1968

Degrees Offered: Bachelor's, Master's, Post-Masters certificate, Doctor's
1
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Cambridge, MA  |  Total Enrollment: 10090

Degrees Offered: Bachelor's, Master's, Doctor's, First-professional degree
3
Stanford University
Stanford, CA  |  Total Enrollment: 18549

Degrees Offered: Bachelor's, Master's, Post-Masters certificate, Doctor's, First-professional degree
3
University of Michigan - Ann Arbor
Ann Arbor, MI  |  Total Enrollment: 38103

Degrees Offered: Bachelor's, Postbaccalaureate certificate, Master's, Post-Masters certificate, Doctor's, First-professional degree
5
Georgia Institute of Technology - Main Campus
Atlanta, GA  |  Total Enrollment: 14805

Degrees Offered: Bachelor's, Master's, Doctor's
6
Purdue University - Main Campus
West Lafayette, IN  |  Total Enrollment: 39667

Degrees Offered: Less than one year, Associate's, Bachelor's, Postbaccalaureate certificate, Master's, Doctor's, First-professional degree
7
University of Illinois at Urbana - Champaign
Champaign, IL  |  Total Enrollment: 38465

Degrees Offered: Two but less than 4 years, Bachelor's, Master's, Post-Masters certificate, Doctor's, First-professional degree
8
The University of Texas at Austin
Austin, TX  |  Total Enrollment: 49996

Degrees Offered: Bachelor's, Master's, Doctor's, First-professional degree
9
Princeton University
Princeton, NJ  |  Total Enrollment: 6547

Degrees Offered: Bachelor's, Master's, Doctor's
9
Texas A & M University
College Station, TX  |  Total Enrollment: 44026

Degrees Offered: Bachelor's, Master's, Doctor's, First-professional degree

Browse All 70 Colleges With Aerospace Engineering Programs


Title City State Enrollment
Arizona State University at the Tempe Campus Tempe AZ 44126
Auburn University Main Campus Auburn University AL 21860
Boston University Boston MA 28318
California Institute of Technology Pasadena CA 1968
California Polytechnic State University - San Luis Obispo San Luis Obispo CA 16877
California State Polytechnic University - Pomona Pomona CA 18424
California State University - Long Beach Long Beach CA 30918
Case Western Reserve University Cleveland OH 9304
Clarkson University Potsdam NY 2877
Cornell University Ithaca NY 12043
Dowling College Oakdale NY 5680
Embry Riddle Aeronautical University - Daytona Beach Daytona Beach FL 13936
Florida Institute of Technology - Melbourne Melbourne FL 4248
George Washington University Washington DC 20527
Georgia Institute of Technology - Main Campus Atlanta GA 14805
Illinois Institute of Technology Chicago IL 6003
Iowa State University Ames IA 26845
Massachusetts Institute of Technology Cambridge MA 10090
Mississippi State University Mississippi State MS 16561
North Carolina State University at Raleigh Raleigh NC 28619
Ohio State University - Main Campus Columbus OH 47952
Oklahoma State University - Main Campus Stillwater OK 18676
Pennsylvania State University - Main Campus University Park PA 40571
Polytechnic University Brooklyn NY 3059
Purdue University - Main Campus West Lafayette IN 39667
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Troy NY 8022
Saint Louis University - Main Campus Saint Louis MO 13847
San Diego State University San Diego CA 31609
San Jacinto College - Central Campus Pasadena TX 10507
San Jose State University San Jose CA 26698
Southeastern Oklahoma State University Durant OK 3746
Stanford University Stanford CA 18549
Suny at Buffalo Buffalo NY 24830
Syracuse University Syracuse NY 18186
Texas A & M University College Station TX 44026
The University of Alabama Tuscaloosa AL 19277
The University of Tennessee Knoxville TN 25890
The University of Texas at Arlington Arlington TX 20424
The University of Texas at Austin Austin TX 49996
Tri - State University Angola IN 1267
Tuskegee University Tuskegee AL 2826
United States Air Force Academy Usafa CO 4330
United States Naval Academy Annapolis MD 4172
University of Arizona Tucson AZ 34488
University of California - Davis Davis CA 26094
University of California - Irvine Irvine CA 20211
University of California - Los Angeles Los Angeles CA 36890
University of California - San Diego La Jolla CA 20197
University of Central Florida Orlando FL 33713
University of Cincinnati - Main Campus Cincinnati OH 27327
University of Colorado at Boulder Boulder CO 29352
University of Dayton Dayton OH 10318
University of Florida Gainesville FL 45114
University of Houston Houston TX 32123
University of Illinois at Urbana - Champaign Champaign IL 38465
University of Kansas Main Campus Lawrence KS 25920
University of Maryland - College Park College Park MD 33189
University of Miami Coral Gables FL 13963
University of Michigan - Ann Arbor Ann Arbor MI 38103
University of Minnesota - Twin Cities Minneapolis MN 45481
University of Missouri - Rolla Rolla MO 4626
University of Notre Dame Notre Dame IN 10800
University of Oklahoma Norman Campus Norman OK 24205
University of Southern California Los Angeles CA 29194
University of Virginia - Main Campus Charlottesville VA 22411
University of Washington - Seattle Campus Seattle WA 36139
Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University Blacksburg VA 27869
West Virginia University Morgantown WV 21987
Western Michigan University Kalamazoo MI 28657
Wichita State University Wichita KS 14810