2023 Best Online Bachelor's in Aerospace Engineering
A bachelor's degree in aerospace engineering aims to equip students with the tools they need to design, build, and improve aircraft and spacecraft. Prospective students can pursue an online aerospace engineering degree at a few colleges, but fully online programs are rare. On this page, we list all the schools that offer online bachelor's degrees in this discipline. Graduates of these programs may work for the government or private sector in one of the highest paying engineering disciplines, or they might continue their higher education to pursue an online Master of Science in Aerospace Engineering.
Overview of Online Aerospace Engineering Degrees
Aerospace engineering students learn the physical and mechanical foundations of flight and space travel. These include the principles of aerodynamics, electromechanical systems, computation, thermodynamics, and space mechanics.
It's rare to find a fully online aerospace engineering program because they require special laboratory equipment that's usually found on college campuses. Make sure to check an online program's accreditation status if you find one. See Is This Aerospace Engineering Program Accredited for more details.
Most aerospace engineering bachelor's degrees require 120-128 credit hours, which can take as little as four years to complete with a full-time schedule. But some schools estimate a six-year completion time for online aerospace engineering programs, which may be due to required campus visits where students are asked to work in laboratories.
If you do attend an online program, you'll probably take asynchronous courses with no live meetings. Instead, you learn by watching lectures, downloading readings, and interacting with classmates in a learning management platform.
Admission requirements differ by school. Applicants typically need to submit high school or GED transcripts showing a 2.5-3.0 GPA, at least one letter of recommendation, and a personal essay. Many schools also require ACT or SAT scores, though some colleges have dropped entrance test requirements.
Bachelor's graduates might choose to continue their studies with an affordable master's degree in aerospace engineering.
Online Aerospace Engineering Courses
Students need to learn advanced mathematics, physics, and materials science before they're capable of putting machines into the air. Some programs feature a specialized concentration, which is usually a choice between aeronautical and astronautical engineering — that is, either aircraft or spacecraft. But the following online courses are common to the core of all aerospace engineering online degree programs, not just those with concentrations.
Related Online Degrees
If you're looking for an exclusively online degree, you might find one in one of the following disciplines that are related to aerospace engineering. Make sure to always ask admissions officers whether individual programs have in-person learning requirements.
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.
Our Resources for College Students guide features more information on funding your education and includes lists of scholarships for specific student groups. You can also see our list of the most affordable bachelor's in engineering degrees, though not all of these colleges offer aerospace programs.
Aerospace Engineering Careers
Aerospace engineering 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 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.
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
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. Many of these jobs call for an associate degree in engineering technology, so that might be a better route if you want to pursue this career.
What Else Should You Consider?
Before committing your time and money, you should determine what matters to you most in your education. The questions below might help you get a sense of what you want from your bachelor's in aerospace engineering.
Read our Guide to Starting an Online Education if you're curious about the practicalities of distance learning.
FAQs About Aerospace Engineering Degrees
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 instruments to study aerodynamics and propulsion systems. Even programs with asynchronous online coursework typically feature campus visits.
Is Aerospace Engineering in High Demand?
The BLS expects the aerospace engineering field to grow 6% in the 2021-2031 period. This growth rate is slightly higher than the rate for all U.S. jobs combined. Students can expect 3,700 new jobs by the end of the decade, and about 3,800 open positions per year due to growth and turnover.
What is the Difference Between Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering?
Aerospace engineering is a broad term encompassing both aeronautical and astronautical engineering. Aeronautical engineering deals with aircraft in the earth's atmosphere, whereas astronautical engineering covers vehicles that leave the atmosphere for space. Bachelor's students often learn concepts from both, although engineers tend to specialize in one or the other during their careers.
How Hard Is an Aerospace Engineering Degree?
Aerospace engineering degrees can be very difficult to complete. Students must master math and science principles that took humanity most of its history to develop, and the costly equipment involved in aerospace engineering means that professors (and employers) expect good performance. Even if you're an engineering wiz, you may struggle with other required skills, such as collaboration, critical thinking, or writing.