The best way to earn an aerospace degree is to determine long-term career goals and apply to an accredited college or university that offers the degree necessary to enter that field. An aerospace degree may be earned from either traditional universities or aerospace colleges, ranging from two-year associate degree programs to Ph.D. programs suitable for research and academic positions. Some traditional universities offer excellent aerospace degree programs while offering non-aerospace electives and minors. Many aerospace colleges have excellent reputations in the aerospace industry; earning a degree from one of these can increase the chances of finding an aerospace job after graduation.
Lists of accredited aerospace programs are available on the websites of many of the major aeronautical associations. These associations also rank aerospace degree programs on reputation in the aerospace field. Requirements for aerospace programs vary depending on specialization, but generally aerospace degree programs require thorough knowledge of mathematics, science, and engineering.
Associate’s degree programs in aerospace focus almost completely on aerospace science and developing technical skills. Bachelor’s degree programs will require some humanities and social science classes along with some non-aerospace electives. Master’s degree programs in aerospace build on a basic knowledge of aerospace principles and require specialized research. Ph.D. programs are suitable for advanced positions and positions in research or academia.
Some students choose to first complete an associate’s degree in aerospace before pursuing an aerospace bachelor’s degree. This can be helpful because having an associate’s degree can help a student secure a job for experience while continuing to earn the bachelor’s degree. For example, many aspiring pilots earn an associate’s degree in airframe and power plant mechanics that gives them the ability to work as an aircraft mechanic while earning a bachelor’s degree in flight. This allows them to work in the aviation field, gaining experience and making contacts, while still earning the bachelor’s degree.
Students who want to earn master’s or Ph.D. level aerospace degrees may either earn a bachelor’s degree in aerospace first, or earn a bachelor’s degree in another related field. Bachelor’s degrees in physics or mechanical engineering can lay the groundwork for a master’s degree in aerospace engineering. A student who wants to earn a master’s in airport management may want to consider a bachelor’s degree in business or accounting as a base for later coursework. Some choose double majors at the bachelor’s level to gain skills in knowledge in complementary areas, especially if they are still deciding between two disciplines.