Look, up in the sky! It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s a rocket, it’s… something you helped build! Sound interesting? For students with their eyes on the skies or the stars, a major in aerospace or aeronautical engineering can be a great way to transform your curiosities and passions into a career.
Aeronautical and aerospace engineering are two closely related fields of study, but while aeronautical engineering focuses on building aircraft that operate within the Earth’s atmosphere — like airplanes and helicopters — aerospace engineering can include designing and building craft that operate in outer space. Whichever field you choose to major in, expect your STEM skills to be put to the test, as you’ll be learning and applying advanced math, physics, and more.
When you’re choosing an online aerospace or aeronautical engineering school, you’ll need to consider many different aspects of the program, from course format to content to cost. Keep reading to learn how to find the right aerospace engineering bachelor’s degree for you, and what your program might look like.
Bachelor’s Program Spotlights: Online Aerospace and Aeronautical Engineering Degrees
Due to the nature of engineering degrees, which often require practical components such as lab-based classes, fully online aerospace engineering degrees are relatively rare. However, some accredited colleges do offer majority-online or hybrid degrees in aerospace engineering and related fields, which enable you to learn the practical and theoretical aspects without having to relocate to campus full-time. Each program is unique, but here are a few examples of accredited, notable options worth considering:
Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University is a private university that has been specializing in aerospace and aeronautical education since 1926. They offer an on-ground or online BS in Aeronautics, along with several other online aviation degrees, including degrees in aviation management and a multidisciplinary engineering degree that includes aeronautics. The BS in Aeronautics is designed for students with relevant prior work experience and awards course credit for your previous work. Students in the military are highly encouraged to apply and will receive deeply discounted tuition.
- Cost: $485/credit
- Location: Online; Daytona Beach, Florida; Beach, Florida; Prescott, Arizona
- Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)
At the University of North Dakota, students can pursue a BS in Aerospace Engineering online or at their campus in Grand Forks. In this program, you will be studying the fundamentals of mechanical engineering and design, as well as the mechanics of flight, propulsion, and applied physics. Astronautics electives are offered as one option for your mandatory technical electives if you have a particular interest in space flight.
- Cost: $452.38/credit for North Dakota residents, $641.78 for non-residents (on-ground); $611.75 for online students, regardless of state of residency
- Location: Online; campus in Grand Forks, North Dakota
- Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
The BS in Aviation Management at Texas A&M University–Central Texas is a fully online program that combines the physical sciences of aviation with a grounding in business, management, and economics. In this program, you’ll be preparing for a career on the business side of the aviation industry — with a scientific background to ensure that you fully understand the industry you’ll be working in. As a state university, TAMU offers in-state tuition for Texas residents, as well as opportunities for financial aid.
- Cost: $260.08/credit for in-state residents, $668.08/credit for out-of-state students
- Location: Online; campus in Killeen, Texas
- Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)
Classes for Your Online Aeronautical Engineering Degree
When you’re researching an online bachelor’s in aerospace engineering, it’s a good idea to know what kinds of classes you can anticipate in your academic future. Generally, you’ll have a mix of general education requirements, required aerospace-engineering-specific courses, and electives. Each program will differ somewhat and may offer varying levels of flexibility in your course requirements. Here are some examples of foundational major-related courses you’re likely to encounter in your bachelor’s in aerospace engineering online:
Mechanics of Flight
Whether you’re studying aeronautical or aerospace engineering with the hope of working in commercial airlines or for the space program, there’s a common thread to all students: You want to study flight and how to improve the mechanics of it. In this course, you’ll gain a foundational understanding of how flight works from the perspective of physics and mathematics. This is a vital course for transferable skills related to aeronautics and aerospace.
Fundamentals of Electrical Engineering
Electricity is an important component of any airplane, spacecraft, or other airborne vessel. The fundamentals of electrical engineering will teach you about the role of electricity in design and how it can impact an overall structure. In studying the fundamentals of electrical engineering, you’ll be learning an important aspect of powering any craft you’re working on, as well as gaining the background knowledge to understand some of the technical challenges designing aircraft and spacecraft can bring.
Engineering is the “E” in STEM, so it’s to be expected that you’ll also learning about the “M” — mathematics — as part of your online aerospace engineering degree. Applied statistics is a highly important field for aspiring engineers, but it is equally relevant for those interested in the business and development aspects of the air and space industry. As an applied math course, you’ll be learning how to use the knowledge you’re learning in real-life scenarios you may encounter in your career.
Speed, velocity, mass, volume — all of these are vital concerns within the world of aerospace engineering. This is why an applied physics course will be crucial for your understanding of the challenges you may face in aerospace engineering. Unlike a typical introductory physics course, even one at the college level, applied physics will teach you the specific ways the practice of physics is relevant in different real-world settings, such as those you may encounter as an engineer.
Aerospace engineering requires an extensive knowledge of the physical matter from which aircraft and spacecraft are built. You’ll therefore need to learn materials science — the science of developing and working with physical materials, like those that form an airplane or spacecraft. This unique field in physical sciences is applicable to all aspects of engineering, but students of aerospace engineering — with the unique environmental challenges they’ll deal with in their future careers — may find it especially important.
Job Outlook: Careers and Salaries with an Online Aerospace Engineering Degree
While an online aerospace engineering degree can feel highly specialized toward a particular career, in reality, there are several potential occupations you may pursue with this degree. Many aeronautical engineering-related jobs are in high demand and can pay very well, so have a look at just three possible paths you can take after graduating:
Job #1: Aerospace Engineer
During your aerospace engineering bachelor’s degree study, you’ll be learning all the skills a future aerospace engineer needs — so it’s no wonder this is a popular career path for graduates. In this role, you’ll be part of a team that designs, develops, and tests aircraft and spacecraft, which can range from commercial airplanes to satellites (depending on your particular employer). As an aerospace engineer, you can expect to be well compensated — according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the average salary for an aerospace engineer in 2021 was $122,270 per year.
Job #2: Aerospace Engineering and Operations Technologist or Technician
For those who want to put their aerospace engineering knowledge to work in a hands-on, practical capacity, consider working as an aerospace engineering technologist or aerospace engineering technician. These are critically important jobs, as you’ll be responsible for installing and maintaining the equipment used to develop and build aircraft and spacecraft. One false move can have critical consequences for a craft’s safety and utility, so this is a job that commands your full attention. Further, it’s a job that makes a comfortable living — $73,580 per year in 2021, according to the BLS.
Job #3: Engineering Manager
If you’re a skilled aerospace engineer but also enjoy project management and working with people, you may be well-suited to a career as an engineering manager with an aerospace engineering firm. In this role, you’ll be responsible for the planning and coordination of projects in engineering, ensuring they run smoothly. It’s important to have a strong understanding of aerospace engineering if you’re managing a project in the field; after all, you’re responsible for ensuring that you’re setting realistic and accurate goals and tasks. This is an important role, which is why it’s a well-paid one — according to the BLS, the average engineering manager in 2021 earned $152,350 in salary.
How Much Does an Online Aerospace Engineering Bachelor’s Degree Cost?
The cost of an online aerospace engineering bachelor’s degree can vary significantly depending on your school and personal factors. Not only do schools’ tuition rates vary based on several factors like residency and class format, but some may also offer scholarship aid based on test scores, discounts for military or veteran status, and more. Here are a few examples of different programs at several public and private institutions and their tuition rates as a baseline for comparison purposes:
What Should I Look for in an Online Aerospace Engineering Degree Program?
Even as you explore different online aerospace engineering degree programs, you may be wondering how to choose between them. While this is a personal decision, you’ll want to dive deep into course offerings and faculty expertise/specializations to get a sense of the program’s academic rigor and reputation. Further be sure to bear in mind practical aspects of the program, like cost and course format. Here’s a closer look at just a few critical considerations.
For students on a budget, it’s important to know the cost of your degree and have a plan to fund it. Remember, in addition to tuition costs, be sure to explore scholarship and aid opportunities, consider the cost of living where you are, and remember to factor in the price of texts/materials and any extra costs a given program may have, such as technology fees or equipment costs.
Program quality can be subjective, but it is still a highly important consideration. In order to research a school’s academic reputation, you’ll need to factor in program outcomes like employment and graduation rates for recent classes. You may want to spend time reading student feedback in forums and rating sites to get a sense of how in-depth and challenging an education you can expect if you enroll.
Everyone wants to learn from the best — which is why faculty expertise can be a critical point in evaluating your program. Check which instructors will be teaching you in your aerospace engineering bachelor’s degree program — do they have a strong background as aerospace engineers, and also as teachers? The school website should provide ample information about faculty background. You can also check online forums for evaluations from former students.
It is crucial that your online aerospace engineering degree comes from an accredited program and/or school. Accreditation by a recognized third-party accreditation board is what makes your degree legitimate, as it means it has met certain standards of academic rigor. This designation will be of utmost importance to postgraduate programs and future employers.
You’ll find that online degrees can take on a few different forms — asynchronous, synchronous, or self-paced study, as well as fully online or hybrid. Which format you want for your online aerospace engineering degree will depend on how you’ll be balancing your personal preferences, family and professional responsibilities, so consider your own needs and goals as you research.
Questions to Ask About Online Aerospace Engineering Bachelor’s Degree Programs
Here are six of the most pressing questions about aerospace engineering bachelor’s degree programs, according to our readers.
Are online bachelor’s degree programs in aeronautical or aerospace engineering fully online?
It’s very rare for an aeronautical or aerospace engineering bachelor’s program to be 100% online. Due to the nature of the course material, most programs have labs and classes with practical components that are very difficult to complete remotely. However, majority-online or hybrid programs do typically have a very limited on-campus component to them, sometimes as little as a few weeks of intensive practical classes to supplement your online coursework.
What does the admissions process look like for this degree?
The admissions process for an online bachelor’s in aerospace or aeronautical engineering is typically fairly standard for a bachelor’s program. You will need to fill out an online application and submit your official transcripts from high school and any previous college courses. Depending on the program, you may also need to submit a personal statement, letters of recommendation, and SAT or ACT scores. Many schools have application fees, but waivers may be available.
How long does it take to complete a bachelor’s degree in aerospace engineering online?
An online bachelor’s in aerospace engineering will typically take four years of full-time study to complete. If you are starting with previous college credits or a relevant associate degree, this may substantially reduce your time to graduation, as will an accelerated program if available. If you’re studying part time or need to take a leave of absence for personal or professional reasons, it may take longer to complete your degree.
What academic and career support services are available to online students earning their bachelor’s degree in aeronautical engineering?
While you’re studying online, you can still take advantage of student support services from your college. While the offerings will vary from school to school, you should look into whether your school offers career counseling, academic tutoring, virtual office hours with your professors, or student mental health services, among other opportunities. These can be great resources throughout your online aerospace or aeronautical engineering program, so be sure to take advantage of them.
What are some of the technical requirements of earning an online degree in aerospace engineering?
As a student in a highly technical field, you’ll be expected to have a high-powered laptop and a highly reliable high-speed internet connection for your online aerospace engineering studies. You may be required to use Microsoft Office applications, including Word, Excel, and Outlook, as well as to download course-specific software. You should receive communication before class starts from your program about specific requirements, so be sure to check the material they send you, and be aware that some of the required software may be expensive.
Can I work while pursuing an online aeronautical engineering degree?
One advantage of an online degree, including an online aeronautical or aerospace engineering degree, is that the lack of mandatory relocation to campus and the more flexible nature of online classes mean that it is entirely possible to work while you study. Some programs even offer credit for relevant job or internship experience. However, be sure you can balance your work and professional obligations with your studies, or both may suffer.
Other Degree Options in Engineering
If you are still unsure which path in computer science you want to take, look at these other bachelor’s degree options: