Aeronautical Engineering Degree

Aeronautical engineering is the study of how aircrafts fly, including their analysis and spacecraft design. This knowledge is then applied to build, repair and maintain such machines. There are many sub-fields in aeronautical engineering, ranging from aircraft maintenance to research and development. It is a field that incorporates various elements of electronics, math and physics.

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If you want to enter into this sector, there are various aeronautical engineering programs you could go for, depending on your prior education and preferences.

Bachelor’s Degree in Aeronautical Engineering

A bachelor’s degree in aeronautical engineering, also known as Bachelor of Science in Aeronautical Engineering, provides students with an educational foundation required to progress in this field. Prospective students will be exposed to applications in the design, testing and operation of airborne vehicles. They will be introduced to basic principles of aerospace design and engineering, along with fundamental mathematical skills.

Undergraduate level aeronautical engineering courses will be taught to students covering topics such as:

  • Thermodynamics
  • Engine Design
  • Fluid Mechanics
  • Aircraft Design
  • Aerodynamics
  • Aviation Law
  • Business Communications
  • Structural Dynamics
  • Engineering Acoustics

Different college programs offer different course structures in their aeronautical engineering curriculum.  However, they all revolve around basic concepts of physics and math. If you wish to look into advance matters in this field, you should consider aeronautical engineering graduate programs.

Master’s Degree in Aeronautical Engineering

A master’s degree in aeronautical engineering provides focused and specialized knowledge in various aspects of designing viable aircrafts and spacecrafts. It deals with topics such as mechanical flight, design, function and operation of guidance systems and other structural aspects relating to aircraft creation.  Emphasis is now placed on improving students’ understanding of design technologies and the science behind their engineering.

Masters in engineering would expose you to various advance level courses including, but not limited to, the following:

  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Design
  • Structural Dynamics
  • Heat Transfer
  • Control Systems Design

Keep in mind that to get into a master’s program, you must hold a bachelor’s degree and should have taken your GRE. The engineering departments at different schools might have additional admission processes.

PhD in Aeronautical Engineering

A PhD program in aeronautical engineering exposes you to advance level studies in physics, electronics and math. In addition to that, it also allows you to carry out extensive research projects and submit a dissertation at the end of the program. The degree typically lasts for five to six years. A doctoral program would be more focused on the research aspect of the field of aeronautical engineering.

To be eligible for application in a doctoral program in aeronautical engineering, there are certain requirements that you need to fulfill. You would be required to have a very sound background in basic and advance level relevant concepts in applied mathematics and computational sciences. In addition to that, you must also demonstrate the ability to develop and pursue an original research subject, which tests your ability to carry out independent research.

The criterion for admission in a PhD program varies according to college. Generally,  you would be required to achieve a pre-candidacy status. Universities will have different requirements for this, but in most cases, you would need to meet a minimum GPA.   In addition, you will need to select a faculty member who will be your advisor for your thesis.

The PhD students will take courses in:

  • Theory of Elastic Stability
  • Intermediate Dynamics
  • Linear Systems
  • Viscous Flow
  • Compression Flow
  • Foundations of Solid and Structural Mechanics


In addition to the core courses, you would also be required to pass a certain number of other courses such as:

  • Finite Elements
  • Mechanics of Fibrous Composites
  • Combustion processes
  • Astrodynamics
  • Aeroelasticity
  • Turbulent Flows
  • Helicopter Aeromechanics
  • Lin Feedback Control
  • Computational Fluid Dynamics

Needless to say, the complexity level of these courses would be quite high. 

Online Aeronautical Engineering Degree

Aeronautical science is a field that requires not only theoretical knowledge but also hands-on experience in operating complex electronic equipment. For this reason, on-campus classes and learning experience is important in this field. As of April, 2014, there were no fully-online accredited aeronautical or aerospace engineering programs.

If you wish to study aeronautical engineering online, you always have the option of going for a hybrid program. This helps you combine the convenience of online classes with on-campus courses with the use of distance learning technologies. Instant messaging, online lectures, instructional videos, message boards, video conferencing and web based tutorials are utilized to aide in this process and where necessary, the students are required to come to campus to attend particular classes.

Careers with a Degree in Aeronautical Engineering

Aeronautical engineers usually specialize in a particular aspect of this field, but they also often work along other specialists on common projects. There are various areas of employment in this field including fuel efficiency testing, engine design, flight testing, investigating air crashes, airframe design, assessing potential risks of new aircraft designs, supervising the assembly of aircraft and missiles and interpreting aircraft performance data. 

Aeronautical Researcher

An aeronautical researcher is in charge of looking into potential new technologies, systems, materials and equipment relevant to the field of aeronautics. As part of this job, you will be involved in analyzing and testing new technologies, comparing them with existing technologies, and writing reports based on conclusions reached through research.

Aeronautical Designer

An aeronautical designer provides design and detailing expertise to companies that create aeronautical components and systems. Needless to say, this job requires technical excellence and a great deal of skillful knowledge in aeronautics. As an aeronautical designer, you will not only be in charge of designing, building, operating and installing new equipment, but you will also need to ensure compliance with relevant laws and regulations.

Aeronautical Maintenance Technician

To become an aeronautical maintenance technician, you will need to obtain a mechanic’s certificate issued by the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) or any such accredited organization. You will be in charge of taking care of a range of mechanical activities and structure of aircraft, including engines, flying controls, hydraulics, etc.

Aeronautical Consultant

Also known as an aviation consultant, an aeronautical consultant provides business and technical solutions across a wide range of departments in the aviation industry. You can provide consultancy for air traffic managers, maintenance crew, service vendors and manufacturers.

Is Aeronautical Engineering for you?

If you are someone who enjoys technical challenges, innovation and creativity, then this might be the field for you. This field needs people, who can work effectively in multinational teams, use creativity to figure out innovative solutions, develop economically viable and sustainable solutions, meet changing customer needs and pay great attention to detail. If you have these qualities and the right amount of drive, then consider yourself the right fit for an aeronautical engineering degree.

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Q:What courses will I find in the curriculum of aeronautical engineering programs?

A:The curriculum will depend on the level of degree you are pursuing. Generally, the following courses are covered in aeronautical engineering programs: introduction to engineering, calculus for engineers, material science for aerospace, general physics, computer science, and engineering projects. You can check with the selected college to learn more about the curriculum requirements.

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