Can You Get an Aerospace Engineering Degree Online?
Fully online bachelor's degree programs in aerospace engineering are rare. This type of program is offered on campus more often because students need access to laboratories with cumbersome equipment and special instrumentation that allows them to study aerodynamics and propulsion systems. Even programs with asynchronous online coursework typically feature campus visits. For example, the University of North Dakota requires undergraduate aerospace students to complete lab lessons for a week or two during summer months.
Related Online Degrees
It may be difficult to pursue an aerospace engineering major online because this particular degree typically requires a certain level of in-person commitment. If you are set on an online degree, you might consider other fields related to engineering, aeronautics, or space travel. Below are some alternative options.
Bachelor's degrees in aviation can cover everything from aviation management to professional pilot programs. A number of colleges offer online degrees, but pilot programs also require hundreds of hours of flight time.
Many varieties of engineering rely on engineering technologists who work closely with engineers to implement their designs and solutions. You can seek an online engineering technology degree in disciplines such as mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, or industrial engineering. Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University offers a B.S. in Engineering Technology - Aeronautical Science for students interested in flight technology.
Students of this discipline, sometimes called systems engineering, learn to design and improve fundamental production processes. Industrial engineering degree programs cover much of the same math and physics material as aerospace engineering programs.
As with aviation, this field encompasses a variety of career paths. For example, American Public University System's B.S. in Space Studies features concentrations in astronomy and space policy, which you could potentially use to work in research or administration, respectively.
The Importance of Accreditation
Institutional accreditation is a stamp of approval from an independent agency asserting the overall quality of a college. Regionally accredited institutions are more prestigious than nationally accredited schools because the standards are more academically rigorous. Attending a regionally accredited college improves your chances of being able to transfer credits to another college or graduate school, which is important if you want to switch schools during your bachelor's program or earn a graduate degree in the future. You may be able to use federal financial aid at a college with either type of accreditation.
Graduating from an aerospace engineering program without ABET accreditation may have adverse effects on your employability.
In engineering, programmatic accreditation is also important. Many employers prefer to hire candidates who graduate from programs approved by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. However, none of the online programs on this page are ABET-accredited. Graduating from an aerospace engineering program without ABET accreditation may have adverse effects on your employability. You'll also be unable to earn a Professional Engineer (PE) license. Although a PE license usually isn't necessary for beginner aerospace engineers, it could help improve your employment prospects in the future.
Funding an Online Aerospace Engineering Degree
Most students fund their studies with financial aid, which generally combines gift aid and loans. Graduates don't need to repay gift aid, such as grants and scholarships, but they must repay loans with interest. Prospective students should complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, which gives the government details about their financial situation and ability to pay. Online students usually qualify for the same financial aid as on-campus learners.
To help applicants, we've listed a few private scholarships below that aerospace engineering students might be eligible for. Applicants should check with their school's financial aid office to make sure they accept these funds.
This organization sponsors several renewable, annual awards ranging from $5,000-$10,000. Applicants must be student members of the institute and studying engineering at an accredited college.
Undergraduate women in aerospace engineering can earn $4,000 toward their degree. Recipients must be members of the Society of Women Engineers who are in at least their second year.
This foundation gives several annual awards to third-year aerospace engineering students, ranging from $1,000-$6,000. Applicants must be student members of the Vertical Flight Foundation, which researches helicopter technology.
Careers with an Aerospace Engineering Degree
Aerospace engineering and engineering technology students can learn valuable soft skills, such as deductive reasoning, analytical problem-solving, and clear writing. These skills may help them succeed in the aerospace industry when combined with a knowledge of flight mechanics and dynamics.
In general, aerospace engineers and technologists concentrate on either atmospheric or space flight:
Aeronautical specialists help design and manufacture aircraft or weapons that fly through the atmosphere, such as missiles. They might work for commercial aircraft manufacturers, defense companies, or government agencies that create and update quality and safety standards.
Astronautical specialists work on spacecraft. Many of them secure jobs at NASA or other agencies that deploy satellites, but they can also work for firms pursuing commercial space flight.
We've provided details on aerospace engineer and engineering technology careers below. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) provided the median annual salaries and job growth data through 2030.
Median Annual Salary: $118,610
Job Outlook: 8%
Aerospace engineers evaluate spacecraft or aircraft designs, create new aerospace systems, and ensure that projects meet designated safety and quality standards. They mainly work in laboratories where they test forces and stresses on airframes. Aerospace engineers often specialize in one of the phenomena that affect air or space flight, such as thermodynamics or celestial mechanics.
Aerospace Engineering Technologists
Median Annual Salary: $68,570
Job Outlook: 9%
Aerospace engineering technologists help build the aircraft and spacecraft that engineers design. They oversee teams that assemble airframes, install monitoring instruments, and perform rigorous safety and quality checks on finished craft. They collaborate closely with engineers, but much of their time is spent in manufacturing environments.
Aerospace engineering alumni can also pursue an online graduate program in the discipline, which is more common than online bachelor's degrees. Schools typically require applicants to hold a bachelor's degree in the discipline, so they assume a level of familiarity with the subject matter that lets students dive right into advanced coursework with less lab time.
Master's students can often select a concentration allowing them to specialize, such as fluid mechanics or astrodynamics. Earning a master's degree may improve a graduate's marketability and earning power. A few colleges offer online doctoral degrees in aerospace engineering, which are geared toward engineers who want to work in research or academia.