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.
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:
What jobs can be had with a bachelor's degree in Aerospace Engineering?
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:
What kinds of jobs are available to master degree-holders?
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:
Graduates of a Ph.D. program in Aerospace Engineering can become a:
We found 70 schools offering aerospace engineering degree programs in the U.S.
|Arizona State University at the Tempe Campus||Tempe||AZ||44126|
|Auburn University Main Campus||Auburn University||AL||21860|
|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|
|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|
|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|
|Suny at Buffalo||Buffalo||NY||24830|
|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|
|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|