The Top 25 Colleges for Aviation Degrees


Aviation refers to the development and operation of aircraft. The industry encompasses a varied assortment of skilled professionals, including pilots, engineers, mechanics, air traffic controllers, and airport managers. Aviation offers strong employment prospects and competitive salary levels. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), jobs for airline and commercial pilots are projected to grow 5% between 2019 and 2029, which is faster than average. As of 2019, these professionals earned a median annual salary of $121,430.

This page offers an overview of aviation degrees, including the best aviation colleges, typical aviation courses, potential career paths, earning potential, and industry licenses and certifications.

Top 10 Colleges for Aviation Degrees
Rank
School
Location
No. of Aviation Programs Offered
Tuition
(2017-2018)
1
Purdue University West Lafayette, IN
10
$11,898
2
Ohio University Athens, OH
3
$22,072
3
Sinclair Community College Dayton, OH
4
$4,887
4
Orange Coast College Costa Mesa, CA
2
$6,142
5
Ivy Tech Community College Indianapolis, IN
12
$5,425
6
Western Michigan University Kalamazoo, MI
3
$15,863
7
San Jacinto Community College Pasadena, TX
1
$8,790
8
University of Alaska Anchorage Anchorage, AK
7
$13,288
9
Ohio State University Columbus, OH
2
$18,694
10
Bowling Green State University Bowling Green, OH
2
$6,145

What Is an Aviation Degree?

Aviation colleges offer various types of education, and many schools cover more than just piloting. Students can pursue programs in airport management, aircraft engineering, air traffic control, and flight stewardship. However, many programs focus on aircraft piloting.

Pilot training occurs at many levels: Private pilots focus on small aircraft for personal use, while airline transport pilots prepare students to pilot major commercial aircraft. Piloting smaller, single-engine aircraft requires lower levels of education, while commercial piloting typically requires at least a bachelor's degree.

Why Get a Degree in Aviation?

Earning a degree from one of the best aviation colleges offers several professional and personal benefits. See below for five common reasons students attend flight school.

  • Professional Advancement

    Professional flight training is a universal requirement for pilots. Earning a degree is the surest path to a career in the aviation field.

  • Specialized Skills

    An aviation program builds the technical skills and knowledge necessary for a career as a pilot. Students learn about aircraft operation, aviation law, and weather factors.

  • Higher Salary Potential

    An aviation degree confers advanced skills that enable graduates to pursue a wider selection of careers with higher salary potential. In general, more advanced degrees yield higher average salary levels.

  • Networking Opportunities

    Many aviation programs partner with major airlines and other aviation employers. Enrolling in these programs can offer students a larger professional network and increased employment opportunities after graduation.

  • Licensure and Certification

    Aviation programs prepare students for various types of licensure and certification, which are required for pilot careers. Advanced certification can also increase employment prospects.


FAQ
Question Answer
What are the careers in aviation? Aviation graduates can pursue many different careers. They can work as commercial or private pilots, aircraft mechanics and technicians, air traffic controllers, and airport managers.
Do I need a four-year degree to be a pilot? Not all pilot careers require four-year degrees. However, more advanced positions, including those with major commercial airlines, often do.
Is aviation a good career? Aviation is a varied and challenging career field. Airline and commercial pilots benefit from high salaries and above-average projected job growth, making the field a worthwhile choice for many students.
Can I become a pilot without a degree? While professionals can obtain lower levels of pilot certification without a degree, most professional pilot careers call for a degree and proper pilot certification.

Accreditation for an Aviation Degree

When researching aviation colleges, prospective students should ensure a school possesses proper accreditation. Accreditation functions to regulate colleges and universities, demonstrating that an institution meets nationally and regionally designated education standards. A school that lacks proper accreditation may not adequately prepare students for work in their chosen field.

Accreditation comes in two major forms: national and regional. National accreditation serves trade and vocational schools, while regional accreditation serves traditional four-year colleges. Most colleges offering aviation programs should be regionally accredited by one of the six major regional accreditation agencies. The Council for Higher Education Accreditation provides a list of approved accrediting organizations for more information on these agencies.

While a college as a whole may possess regional or national accreditation, individual programs can also hold programmatic accreditation from industry-specific accreditation agencies. Many aviation programs are accredited by the Aviation Accreditation Board International.

Courses in an Aviation Degree

Aviation programs cover many diverse topics, including technical aircraft operations, aviation law and regulatory processes, aircraft systems, and aviation management and organization processes. In most instances, course content varies according to area of study. For example, an air traffic control program and a pilot program must cover different subject matter out of necessity. However, many programs feature the same foundational body of knowledge.

Read on to review five common courses in aviation programs. While exact course titles and content may vary slightly, many aviation degrees include courses that focus on these subjects.


Introduction to Aviation Technology

Most programs include a general introductory course that outlines the basics of aviation technology and operations. This course often provides an overview of the aviation industry and its various associated careers, giving students a broad understanding of how the field functions. Other common topics include safety practices, basic flight technology, regulations and the regulatory process, organizational practices, and the human factors that affect aviation.

Aviation Meteorology and Weather

Weather and other meteorological factors directly affect aviation practices, and many programs include courses that explore the role weather plays in flight. Pilots, air traffic controllers, and airline managers in particular need comprehensive knowledge of weather factors and response strategies. This course typically focuses on weather patterns, weather products and providers, and weather interpretation methods and their effect on flight scenarios.

Aviation Safety

Safety plays a crucial role in all aspects of aviation. Often emphasizing both managerial and pilot perspectives, safety courses may touch on topics such as risk theory and management, prevention methodology, human factors, safety program organization, and data and analytical information systems. Other common airline safety topics include regulatory requirements and aviation inspection programs.

Aviation Law

The aviation industry is subject to a complex system of laws and regulations intended to ensure aircraft safety. Many programs include a course that introduces the fundamental principles of modern aviation law, giving students a broad understanding of both the federal and international regulations that affect pilots and other aviation professionals. These courses may explore the intersection of constitutional law, administrative law, international law, and federal jurisdiction, all of which play a role in the aviation industry.

Aviation Operations Management

The airline industry operates under a highly complex system of organization and management, helping ensure the safety of tens of thousands of flights each day. Courses in operations management explore the industry's administrative and business sides, focusing on the practices that organize airlines and enable them to turn a profit. This course often covers human resources, technology management, marketing, travel analysis and profitability, and managerial functions.

How Much Do Pilots Make?

Pilots generally earn high salaries, particularly in more advanced positions with major airlines. The BLS reports that airline and commercial pilots of all types earned an annual median salary exceeding $120,000 as of May 2019. Salaries vary depending on pilots' education, employment sector, location, and professional certifications.

Pilots can typically command higher salaries by earning advanced certifications that enable them to fly more complex planes. For example, airline pilots, who often fly for major passenger airlines, earn a median annual salary of $147,220. Commercial pilots, who often fly smaller charter flights or conduct other types of unscheduled air travel, earn a median annual salary of $86,080.

A pilot's industry can also affect salary. For example, pilots who work in scheduled air transport (such as commercial flights) earn a median annual salary of $161,110. Those who work for the federal government earn a median annual salary of $104,700.

Certifications and Licensure for Aviation

More than many industries, aviation relies on a strict system of certifications and licenses, which dictates the types of aircraft pilots can operate. Pilots must earn different levels of certification and licensure to pursue advanced positions in the aviation field. See below for three of the most common certifications.

Private Pilot Certificate

The first step for aspiring commercial pilots, this certificate allows students to fly small aircraft day or night in visual meteorological conditions (good weather in which visibility is unobstructed). The certificate does not enable pilots to fly for compensation, but it prepares them for more advanced levels of licensure.

Instrument Rating

An instrument rating enables pilots to fly under inclement weather conditions and through clouds, navigating solely by instruments. In order to obtain an instrument rating, applicants must already hold a private pilot certificate and have logged at least 50 hours of cross-country flight, 40 hours of instrument time, and at least 15 hours of instrument flight training.

Commercial Pilot Certificate

This certificate qualifies pilots to earn pay for their services. In order to obtain a commercial pilot certificate, pilots need at least 250 hours of flight time, 100 hours of pilot-in-command time, 50 hours of cross-country flight time, 20 hours of training, and 10 hours of solo training.

The Top 25 Colleges for Aviation Degrees

1

Purdue University-Main Campus West Lafayette, IN

A major public college based in West Lafayette, Indiana, Purdue ranks among the best aviation colleges in the country. Purdue's School of Aviation and Transportation Technology hosts 10 aviation degrees at all academic levels. These programs focus on contemporary applications of aviation technology, emphasizing key challenges such as sustainability, safety, and quality.

At the undergraduate level, Purdue offers seven aviation majors, including aviation management, aeronautical engineering technology, unmanned aerial systems, and airport management and operations. Graduate offerings include a master's in aviation and aerospace management, a Ph.D. in aviation technology, and a graduate certificate in aviation safety management.

Purdue students can take advantage of professional internship opportunities, career fairs, job opportunities, and other networking events. Many prominent aviation companies recruit Purdue graduates.

2

Ohio University-Main Campus Athens, OH

Training pilots and other aviation professionals for more than 70 years, OU is among the best aviation schools in the Midwest. Emphasizing leadership, professional development, and technical expertise, the school's Department of Aviation prepares students to meet the demands of the modern aviation industry. OU offers three aviation programs: an associate degree in aviation flight technology and bachelor's degrees in aviation flight and aviation management.

The two-year aviation flight technology program prepares students to earn private pilot and commercial pilot certifications upon graduation. The bachelor's in aviation features advanced courses on topics such as corporate flight operations and aircraft and flight crew operations. The bachelor's in aviation management program builds the skills needed to administer airport operations and other aviation regulatory issues.

OU aviation students benefit from extensive campus training facilities, including a dedicated airport with a wide selection of aircraft. Students can also use an assortment of flight simulation facilities.

3

Sinclair Community College Dayton, OH

A community college based in Dayton, Ohio, Sinclair ranks among the best flight schools in the state. The school offers several technical certificate and associate degree programs, along with bachelor's degrees in aviation technology/professional pilot and unmanned aerial systems. Sinclair's aviation programs prepare graduates for many different roles in the industry, including pilot, aircraft dispatcher, mechanic, aviation manager, and unmanned aerial systems operator.

Sinclair holds an articulation agreement with Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, one of the country's leading flight schools. Candidates can complete their associate degree at Sinclair before seamlessly transferring into one of Embry-Riddle's bachelor's programs.

Sinclair maintains a partnership with First Flight Aviation, a major regional pilot training company. The school also works with PSA Airlines, a Dayton-based American Airlines subsidiary, to offer pilot training through its PSA Cadets Program to eligible students. This special training program features tuition reimbursement, professional mentoring, and a guarantee of employment upon graduation.

4

Orange Coast College Costa Mesa, CA

One of the largest community colleges in California, OCC serves more than 25,000 students annually from its 164-acre campus in Costa Mesa. As one of the best aviation colleges in the state, OCC offers several aviation science programs, including an associate of science degree and several professional certifications. OCC graduates can work as pilots in many different industries, including government, emergency transport, law enforcement, and commercial airlines.

OCC students train in advanced flight simulator labs and on the school's fleet of Piper and Cessna planes. Students receive pilot training through APT Flight lab courses and enjoy significant tuition discounts compared to other commercial flight schools in California. Flight lab admissions are highly competitive, and full-time students receive preference. Students can also use flight simulator labs to meet many of the requirements for pilot certification.

5

Ivy Tech Community College Indianapolis, IN

Based in Indianapolis, ITCC ranks among the best flight schools in Indiana. This two-year college offers aviation programs in four major areas: aviation maintenance technology, aviation management, aviation manufacturing, and aviation technology/flight. ITCC offers several types of aviation programs, including associate degrees, certificates, technical certificates, and workforce certifications.

The aviation maintenance technology program trains students to service and maintain aircraft, with courses offered face-to-face at ITCC's Aviation Center at Smith Field in Fort Wayne. This 21,000-square-foot facility offers both classroom and hangar space. Students receive comprehensive hands-on training, building their skills by servicing ITCC's fleet of aircraft.

The aviation management program provides both private pilot and ground school training, preparing students to earn their private pilot's license. The aviation manufacturing program offers part-time internship opportunities and a variety of professional certification pathways, including assembly mechanic technician, certified production technician, and electrical assembly technician.

6

Western Michigan University Kalamazoo, MI

One of the best aviation colleges in Michigan, WMU serves more than 21,000 students from its main campus in Kalamazoo. WMU's College of Aviation holds accreditation from the Aviation Accreditation Board International, ensuring that students receive practical training based on industry-standard practices. Students can choose from three programs: aviation flight science, aviation technical operations, or aviation management operations.

Aviation students train at the W.K. Kellogg Airport in Battle Creek, which boasts a wide selection of aircraft and the state's second-longest runway. The airport also houses an Air National Guard Base, creating additional opportunities for professional training. Students fly in and out of several airports across Michigan, learning to effectively navigate different weather systems and temperatures.

Aviation candidates can also pursue elective courses to specialize their studies and increase their job options. Some of the College of Aviation's elective offerings include certified flight instructor, float plane rating, and jet equivalency training.

7

San Jacinto Community College Pasadena, TX

Based in Pasadena, Texas, San Jac offers a cutting-edge aerospace technical training program that prepares students for careers in the burgeoning aerospace industry. The program trains students for manufacturing and mechanical technician positions in aerospace environments.

Candidates complete orientation and technical core courses before choosing a technical track, such as aerospace mechanical technician, aerospace quality technician, mechatronics and industrial automation technician, or aerospace electrical assembly technician. The program uses a hybrid format that combines on-campus and online courses.

San Jac serves as the official education training partner for Houston Spaceport at Ellington Airport, a center of aerospace manufacturing, research, and commercial space operations. Students can participate in many experiential learning and training opportunities at the Spaceport campus.

8

University of Alaska Anchorage Anchorage, AK

One of Alaska's major public colleges, UAA enrolls more than 17,000 students annually. The school's Aviation Technology Division offers degree and certificate programs in air traffic control, aviation management, aviation maintenance technology, and professional piloting.

The aviation management program offers both associate and bachelor's degree options, preparing students for administrative and managerial roles in the aviation field. Students build the organizational, managerial, technical, and human relations skills necessary to navigate large-scale aviation operations.

The professional piloting track prepares students for pilot positions with passenger airlines, offering both associate and bachelor's degree options. The curriculum focuses on the technical side of aviation, covering key topics such as aerodynamics, aircraft operating limitations and performance, aircraft engine and system operation, and navigation and communication methods. The program prepares graduates to earn their commercial pilot certificate for both single and multi-engine aircraft.

9

Ohio State University-Main Campus Columbus, OH

A major public school based in Columbus, OSU ranks among the largest colleges in the state, serving more than 61,000 students annually. As one of the best aviation colleges in Ohio, OSU offers a bachelor of arts and a bachelor of science in aviation. Students learn how to design, administer, and operate aviation systems both nationally and internationally.

All candidates complete eight core aviation courses, covering key topics such as aircraft communication, aircraft performance and weather, aviation management and marketing, aviation human factors and safety, and aviation regulations.

Students can also select from electives that explore specialized topics in areas like air transportation analysis, flight education, and airport management. OSU stresses experiential learning, with about 75% of aviation students participating in either an internship or co-op education before graduation.

10

Bowling Green State University-Main Campus Bowling Green, OH

Training pilots and aviation professionals since 1978, BGSU's aviation school offers a bachelor's degree with two specializations: flight technology and operations and aviation management and operations. This Ohio-based public college boasts modern facilities and cutting-edge aviation technology, preparing students for careers such as airline pilot, airport manager, aviation consultant, and airfield specialist.

The flight technology track trains commercial pilots, emphasizing the technical skills necessary for piloting. The aviation management track focuses on the business side of the industry, including topics in air traffic control regulations, aviation law, aviation planning and design, public relations, and economics.

BGSU boasts extensive aviation facilities, and the school's main campus houses the Wood County Regional Airport. The college also hosts a modern flight center with 8,800 square feet of education space and 20,000 square feet of hangar space.

11

Community College of Allegheny County Pittsburgh, PA

A community college based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, CCAC ranks among the best aviation colleges in the state. The school offers three aviation programs, including an associate of science in aviation management, an associate of science in aviation technology, and a private pilot certificate.

The aviation technology program trains students to serve as professional pilots, preparing graduates to obtain their commercial pilot single/multi-engine land license with an instrument rating. The private pilot certificate also prepares students to serve as pilots, leading to a single-engine land license.

The aviation management degree prepares students for administrative and managerial careers in the aviation field. Candidates complete a total of 63-65 credits, taking courses on topics like air traffic control systems, private pilot theory, and principles of management.

12

Eastern Michigan University Ypsilanti, MI

One of the best aviation colleges in Michigan, EMU enrolls nearly 200 students in its aviation program annually. This Ypsilanti-based public college offers bachelor's programs in aviation flight technology and aviation management technology, along with an aviation dispatch certificate.

The aviation flight technology program trains students to serve as professional pilots, covering topics such as automation, aircraft systems, crew resource management, weather, and human factors in aviation. Graduates can earn multiple professional certifications, including commercial pilot, private pilot, and certified flight instructor. Students also receive instrument, complex, multi-engine, and high-performance ratings. The program requires 77-79 credits.

The aviation management technology program prepares students for administrative and supervisory positions in the aviation industry, covering key topics in airline operations, passenger safety, airport planning, and industry trends. The program includes a general business minor. Students can also pursue aircraft dispatch certification as part of the curriculum.

13

Utah State University Logan, UT

One of the largest public colleges in Utah, USU serves more than 27,000 students annually from its main campus in Logan. USU's aviation school offers several flight programs, including bachelor's degrees in professional fixed-wing pilot, professional helicopter pilot, and aircraft maintenance management. Undergraduates can pair any aviation major with a minor in unmanned aerial systems (drones). USU also offers a master of aviation science.

The two professional pilot programs train students for careers as fixed-wing or rotary/helicopter pilots, building technical skills along with knowledge of aviation law, weather factors, and airspace and airport administration. Both programs comprise 120 credits and take about four years of full-time study to complete.

The maintenance management program trains students to serve on the ground, preparing graduates for entry-level aircraft maintenance positions. The program leads to professional airframe and powerplant licensure.

14

University of Southern California Los Angeles, CA

A prestigious private college based in Los Angeles, USC offers a unique aviation safety and security certification program. Founded in 1952, the program trains aviation professionals to establish and manage airline safety programs and investigate aircraft accidents.

USC offers two certificates: an aviation safety and security management certificate and a system safety certificate. The safety and security management program takes a multidisciplinary approach to safety, examining topics in accident investigation, human factors, technology, and aviation safety management.

The system safety program approaches aircraft safety from a technical perspective, with courses on topics like software safety and mathematics for system safety analysis.

15

Sacramento City College Sacramento, CA

A two-year community college based in Sacramento, California, SCC ranks among the best flight schools in the state. Students can choose from associate degrees in air traffic control, aircraft dispatcher, and flight technology, along with certificate programs in aircraft dispatcher and flight technology. The school's certificate programs last one year, while associate degrees last two years.

SCC's air traffic control program operates in partnership with the FAA's Collegiate Training Institute, and the program covers all of the FAA's designated learning objectives. Courses occur in a cohort format. Graduates qualify to attend the FAA academy with preferential selection.

The flight technology program builds technical skills and knowledge for aspiring professional pilots. The curriculum prepares students to sit for several professional certification exams, including private pilot, instrument rating, commercial pilot, and certified flight instructor instrument.

16

Florida State College at Jacksonville Jacksonville, FL

One of the best aviation colleges in Florida, FSCJ offers several flight programs, including four associate degrees and four technical certificates. The school's associate degree offerings include aviation administration, aviation maintenance administration, aviation maintenance management, and professional pilot technology. FSCJ's certificate programs include airframe mechanics, aviation mechanics, powerplant mechanics, and commercial pilot.

The associate degree in aviation administration offers three professional pathways: aircraft dispatch, air traffic control, and unmanned aerial systems. The maintenance management and maintenance administration programs both prepare graduates to earn the FAA's aircraft and powerplant mechanic certification. The professional pilot technology program prepares students to become professional pilots, leading to airline transport pilot certification.

FSCJ students benefit from access to Jacksonville's Cecil Airport, which provides extensive hands-on training opportunities. The school is also home to the Aircraft Services Educational Facility, a fully functional maintenance hangar.

17

Central Washington University Ellensburg, WA

Based in Ellensburg, Washington, CWU offers bachelor's programs in aviation management and professional pilot. Students can also choose from four professional specialization options: flight officer, commercial pilot, aviation management, and aviation maintenance management.

The aviation management program builds administrative and organizational skills for aviation business professionals. The professional pilot program trains students to pilot aircraft of all types. CWU maintains direct-hire agreements with several prominent airlines, including Sky West, Alaska/Horizon, and Mesa Airlines.

CWU offers several unique advantages for aviation students, including student organizations like the ALPA ACE Club, Women in Aviation International, and Alpha Eta Rho. Campus students can opt to live in the Aviation Living Learning Community in Wendell Hill Hall, which provides additional opportunities for community building and interactions with faculty outside of the classroom. CWU is also the only aviation school on the West Coast that uses the Frasca CRJ-200 turbo-jet trainer.

18

Miami Dade College Miami, FL

A public college located in Miami, Florida, MDC hosts a wide selection of aviation programs. The school offers associate degrees in aviation administration, aviation maintenance management, professional pilot technology, and transportation and logistics. Students can also choose from eight professional certificate programs in areas like air cargo management, passenger services agent, international freight transportation, and airport management.

MDC offers convenient transfer pathways between many of its aviation programs, and credits from certificates apply toward requirements for associate programs, enabling students to complete their degree faster. After earning an associate degree, students can also seamlessly transfer to any of MCD's bachelor's degree programs.

Aviation students complete flight training at the Miami International Airport, Miami Executive Airport, and the school's Homestead campus. Along with real-life flight training, students use cutting-edge flight training devices that offer realistic flight simulations.

19

Texas State Technical College Waco, TX

Based in Waco (about 90 miles south of Dallas), TSTC ranks among the best aviation colleges in Texas. The school offers aviation programs in airframe technology, aircraft pilot training, powerplant technology, and avionics technology. TSTC provides aviation education from its main campus in Waco and satellite campuses in both Harlingen and Abilene.

The school offers an associate degree and a certificate in airframe technology, both of which train students to serve as aircraft mechanics. Graduates can pursue occupational licensure.

TSTC's aircraft pilot training program has educated professional pilots since 1968, and faculty members boast backgrounds in both civil and military aviation. Student pilots benefit from modern aviation facilities, including a dual runway operational control tower and access to the Dallas-Fort Worth airport -- one of the largest in the country. The program prepares candidates to obtain multi-engine aircraft pilot certification.

20

Glendale Community College Glendale, CA

A comprehensive community college based in Glendale, California, GCC maintains a reputation as one California's best aviation colleges. Students benefit from GCC's strong industry connections, offering students opportunities to connect with internship and job opportunities with local employers. GCC offers aviation programs in pilot training and flight attendant/travel career.

The pilot training program prepares students to enter the commercial aviation field as commercial or private pilots. Flight training for the program takes place at the Whiteman Airport Facility in Pacoima. The program prepares students to sit for the FAA's private pilot, commercial pilot, and instrument rating examinations.

The flight attendant/travel career program prepares students for flight attendant careers in the airline and travel industry. The curriculum covers key topics including travel safety, airline reservations systems, communications skills, and first aid techniques.

21

Minnesota State University-Mankato Mankato, MN

One of the most affordable aviation schools in the Midwest, Minnesota State Mankato boasts accreditation from both the FAA and the Aviation Accreditation Board International. The school offers a bachelor of science in aviation with three emphasis areas: aeronautics, aviation management, and professional flight. Students can also pursue three related minors in aeronautics, private flight, and professional flight.

Minnesota State Mankato offers dedicated advising services for students, including professional advising and faculty advising. Professional advisors assist with course selections and connections to campus resources, while faculty advisors help with aviation coursework.

Minnesota State Mankato maintains professional relationships with several prominent airlines, including Delta, Sun Country, and Endeavour Air. These partnerships create a variety of professional opportunities for aviation students, and many graduates receive job offers immediately upon graduation. The college participates in the highly competitive Delta Propel program, which provides job offers for eligible students after successful completion of the aviation degree.

22

Liberty University Lynchburg, VA

A private evangelical college based in Lynchburg, Virginia, Liberty ranks among the best flight schools for Christian students. Liberty's School of Aeronautics offers bachelor's programs in aeronautics, aviation administration, and aviation maintenance.

The aeronautics program offers concentrations in commercial/corporate and global studies, military, and unmanned aerial systems. Students can also pursue an associate degree in aviation maintenance technician and an online master's in aeronautics.

Liberty's flight training affiliate program enables students to earn their aviation degree online without visiting the Liberty campus. Distance learners complete online coursework along with in-person flight training at one of 65 affiliate training centers around the country. Students can complete the online flight training program in as little as 2.5 years.

23

Baylor University Waco, TX

One of the oldest Christian colleges in Texas, Baylor serves more than 18,000 students from its main campus in Waco. One of the best aviation colleges in Texas, Baylor offers a bachelor of science in aviation sciences with two major options: aviation administration and aviation sciences.

The aviation administration major focuses on the business aspects of the aviation industry, combining studies in aviation with courses from Baylor's Hankamer School of Business. The aviation component examines topics in air navigation, aviation law, meteorology, and aviation leadership. The business section covers topics such as economics, accounting, and organizational behavior.

The aviation science major trains students for careers as professional pilots. Candidates choose from fixed-wing (airplane) or rotary-wing (helicopter) training, with flight training conducted at the Waco Regional Airport or Texas State Technical College in Waco.

24

Saint Louis University Saint Louis, MO

A private Jesuit college, SLU is home to the Parks College of Engineering, Aviation and Technology, the country's oldest federally certified aviation school. SLU offers bachelor's degrees in aeronautics and aerospace engineering. The aeronautics program features three concentrations: aviation, flight management, and global aviation.

The aeronautics program includes advanced courses in aviation management and flight science, conferring FAA certifications in instrument rating, private pilot, and commercial pilot with both single and multi-engine ratings. Students complete flight training at the St. Louis Downtown Airport, flying in several advanced aircraft, including the Diamond DA-20 and the Piper Seminole PA44.

SLU maintains pathway programs with several regional airlines, including ExpressJet Airlines, Envoy Air, Inc., Republic Airways, and Mesa Airlines. These programs offer professional training and employment opportunities for aviation students upon graduation, often enabling students to move into a pilot position immediately upon graduation.

25

Hinds Community College Raymond, MS

A two-year college based in Raymond, Mississippi, Hinds offers an associate of arts in commercial aviation that prepares students to obtain their private pilot license. Candidates complete flight training at John Bell Williams Airport, which is owned by Hinds. Students benefit from several modern aircraft and flight simulation facilities.

Candidates complete a total of 63 credits over the course of four semesters (two years). The program includes courses like private pilot flight, applied meteorology, and aircraft engine operation. Students also complete a wide selection of general education courses, such as English composition, public speaking, college algebra, and principles of microeconomics.

Hinds maintains an articulation agreement with Delta State University, located in Cleveland. Candidates who complete their associate at Hinds can seamlessly transfer into the aviation bachelor's program at Delta State, which leads to a commercial pilot license with an instrument rating.


To determine the best aviation colleges, we looked at the most important factors prospective students, mainly common predictors of future success and a school's commitment to online programs. This boils down to admissions rate, student loan default rate, retention rate, graduation rate, and the percent of students enrolled in online classes. All data points are taken from information provided by colleges and universities to the National Center for Education Statistics.

Each factor is weighted evenly in order to give an objective view and determine the top 10 aviation colleges. To calculate our rankings, we looked at a school's ranking when organized by a single factor, and then averaged each category's ranking to find an overall score: Admissions Rate (20%) + Default Rate (20%) + Retention Rate (20%) + Graduation Rate (20%) + Percent of Students Enrolled in Online Classes (20%) = Final score.

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