Complete Guide to an Online Aerospace Engineering Degree

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Quick Facts
Accreditation: ABET
Degree Levels: Associate, Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral, and Certificate
Avg Tuition: $25,844
Avg Salary: $95,519

Online aerospace engineering degrees are offered at 30 accredited online colleges and universities, most commonly at the master's level. Aerospace engineering is the field of study focused on designing and manufacturing aircraft and spacecraft. Individuals who earn degrees in this field can work for the government or the private sector, in manufacturing and research positions.

When choosing an online aerospace engineering degree program, students should look for both regional and programmatic accreditation. Regional accreditation ensures that a college's degree programs meet certain quality standards. In addition to regional accreditation, students should look for degree programs that have been accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology, Inc., or ABET, the predominant body for the accreditation of engineering programs. ABET-accredited programs meet rigorous academic standards and are more likely to provide educations that help prepare students for future careers in the field.

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Comprehensive List of Accredited Online Schools - Aerospace Engineering Degrees (30)

Online Aerospace Engineering Degree Overview & Career Information

This guide to earning an online aerospace engineering degree covers associate, bachelor's, master's, doctoral, and certificate programs. While specific aerospace engineering degrees aren't available online at the associate level, there are online degrees at this level that can prepare students for studying aerospace engineering at the bachelor's level. A bachelor's program in aerospace engineering is the minimum requirement needed to get started in the field. It is rare to find fully online aerospace engineering degrees at the bachelor's degree level.

Masters-level programs in aerospace engineering are more commonly available in the online format. This type of program may be appropriate for people who have backgrounds in similar fields and want to shift their career focus to aerospace engineering. Those already working in the field who want to broaden their career options may also benefit from earning a master's degree in aerospace engineering. Doctoral degrees in aerospace engineering are available, though they are also rare in the online format. An online doctoral degree may be a good option for someone who wants to engage in research or teaching at the university level. Individuals looking to earn an online certificate in the field of aerospace engineering can do so as well. Online certificate programs are offered at the graduate level and are available in subjects closely related to aerospace engineering.

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Online Associate Degrees in Aerospace Engineering

While there are no fully online associate degrees in aerospace engineering, there are online associate degrees in similar fields that can prepare a student for a bachelor's in aerospace engineering. For instance, a student may choose to pursue an online associate degree in engineering fundamentals. Students in this type of two-year program take general education courses in the humanities and social sciences, as well as additional courses in engineering and advanced math and science courses. Upon completing an associate degree, a student can transfer to a bachelor's program. An online associate degree in an aerospace engineering-related field requires approximately 65 academic credits and takes about two years to complete. To be admitted to this type of program, a student must have at least a high school diploma or equivalent.

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Online Bachelor's Degrees in Aerospace Engineering

Fully online bachelor's degree programs in aerospace engineering are rare. More often, this type of program is offered in an in-person format. A bachelor's degree is required to get an entry-level job in the field. Students enrolled in aerospace engineering programs spend four years gaining a fundamental knowledge in general education courses, as well as the advanced coursework they need to succeed in their field. Topics of study covered include aerodynamics, electromechanical systems, computation, thermodynamics, and space mechanics. Students take part in lab classes and hands-on learning opportunities.

Upon earning their degrees, graduates may find entry-level positions working on the design of different types of aircraft. Such entry-level job experiences also provide the background necessary to succeed in graduate school. To be admitted to an online bachelor's degree program. an applicant must have a high school diploma or GED. Depending on the college or university, additional requirements may include letters of recommendation, an admissions essay, AP test scores, or SAT or ACT scores. 

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Online Master's in Aerospace Engineering

Online master's degree programs in aerospace engineering are more commonly available than online programs at the undergraduate level. A master's degree in this field may be an appropriate option for someone who has an undergraduate degree in math, science, or engineering related subject, and who wants to gain knowledge and experience in the field of aerospace engineering to make a career shift. A master's degree program may also be appropriate for current aerospace engineering professionals who wish to obtain advanced education for career advancement.

Courses that master's-level students take include Aircraft Structural Dynamics, Structural Health Monitoring, Aeroelasticity, and Engineering Analysis. Students may have the option to specialize in a particular area, such as aerospace control, aerospace structures, or fluid mechanics. For admission to a graduate-level aerospace engineering program, an applicant must have an undergraduate degree in a related field or a field that gives sufficient background knowledge to facilitate learning of advanced engineering topics. Applicants also may be asked to submit a statement of purpose, a resume, and letters of recommendation.

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Online Doctoral Degrees in Aerospace Engineering

While some universities have doctoral programs in aerospace engineering, the programs typically are not fully available online. Online doctoral programs are more likely to be available in related disciplines, such as aviation or aerospace sciences. Students in these doctoral programs take traditional coursework, as well as conduct research and complete dissertations. Depending on the particular program, coursework may cover such topics as Ethics in Aerospace, Research Methods in Space Studies, Aviation Safety Management Systems, Structures and Material, and Aerodynamics and Propulsion. An online doctoral program will help prepare students to conduct research, as well as teach at the university level.

To to be admitted to an online doctoral program, applicants must have either a bachelor's or master's degree in a related field, depending on the school. They also need to submit a resume, a statement of purpose, letters of recommendation, and GRE tests scores. A certain amount of work experience may be required or recommended. The length of time it takes to earn an online doctoral degree in a field related to aerospace engineering varies, depending on the level of education a student has completed previously, and the time it takes to complete the dissertation. Students spend at least three or more years pursuing doctoral degrees in fields related to aerospace engineering. 

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Online Certificates in Aerospace Engineering

Individuals interested in completing online certificate programs in the field of aerospace engineering have multiple options. Online certificates are typically offered in subjects closely related to aerospace engineering, such as astronautical engineering, or specialty areas within the field such as advanced structures and failure analysis, or guidance and control. These types of certificate programs can be found at the graduate level, meaning that applicants must have an undergraduate degree in aerospace engineering and may need to have some industry experience to apply. Certificate coursework varies, depending on the focus of a program. A certificate may be a good choice for aerospace engineering professionals looking to add to their skill sets and gain job advancement opportunities. Most online certificate programs can be completed in one year or less.

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The Importance of an Accredited Online Aerospace Engineering Degree

Prospective online aerospace engineering students should keep accreditation in mind when deciding on a degree program. Regional accreditation is important because it means that an independent organization has evaluated a school as a whole and determined that it meets certain educational standards. Regional accreditation is also crucial because it helps to ensure that students qualify for federal financial aid, such as student loans and the Pell Grant, and that the credits they earn are transferable to other regionally accredited aerospace engineering programs.

Another important type of accreditation is programmatic accreditation. Different independent organizations specialize in accrediting certain types of programs. For example, ABET is the primary organization that accredits engineering programs, as well as other computer and applied science programs. Students should strive to attend an ABET-accredited program, as this will help to ensure that the program meets a rigorous set of standards, and that they are learning the skills they will need to succeed in their career. Additionally, employers may prefer to hire individuals from ABET-accredited programs, and graduate programs may require applicants to have an ABET-accredited bachelor's degree.

Careers in Aerospace Engineering

People with online degrees in aerospace engineering who pursue careers in the field may seek jobs at companies specializing in design and manufacture of aircraft and space craft. They are likely to specialize in either astronautical or aeronautical engineering. Astronautical engineers work on spacecraft while aeronautical engineers work with traditional aircraft. Aerospace engineers can find work in government and private-sector businesses. While the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports a 2% decrease in aerospace engineering jobs between 2014 and 2024, those who do find work in the industry can expect to enjoy high salaries.

Aerospace engineers spend their days evaluating aircraft designs, working with existing technologies and creating new ones, and making sure that aircraft projects meet certain safety and quality standards. Most of their work is performed in laboratory environments. As members of large teams, they also spend time building the aircraft they help design, which may or may not include the task of assembling aircraft. Aerospace engineers specialize in certain areas based on their expertise, such as structural design, propulsion and combustion, or fluid flow.

References

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