Best Aerospace Engineering Schools in the USA | Aerospace Engineering Colleges

Are you interested in aircraft and spacecraft development and design? Are you thinking about getting a degree in aerospace engineering? If that’s the case, you’ve come to the right place. As an aspiring aerospace engineer, it’s critical to research the best engineering schools that can provide you with the education and support you’ll need to get started in the field. We’ve put together a list of the top 12 aerospace engineering schools in the United States and worldwide to make things easier for you. 

This article will provide you with all the necessary information regarding these best aerospace engineering colleges and the best colleges for aerospace engineering. 

Table of Contents

What Is Aerospace Engineering and How Does It Work?

Aerospace engineering is a branch of engineering that deals with aircraft and spacecraft design. It is one of the most dynamic and fastest-growing disciplines, focusing on the design, maintenance, and improvement of all types of aircraft, from planes to missiles and space shuttles. Avionics engineering, which deals with the electronics side of aerospace engineering, is similar to Aerospace engineering. Aeronautical and astronautical engineering are two major branches of aerospace engineering that overlap.

Aeronautics engineering is the science or art that deals with aircraft study, design, and manufacture. It also covers the techniques for flying planes and rockets through the atmosphere. On the other hand, Astronautical engineering is concerned with aircraft that operate outside of Earth’s atmosphere.

Program in Aerospace Engineering

Aerospace engineering degrees are available at various levels of study, including advanced diplomas, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees in aerospace engineering departments at some universities and mechanical engineering departments at others. Some departments, however, offer degrees in astronautical engineering with a focus on space. Some institutions, however, distinguish between aeronautical and astronautical engineering. You can get a graduate degree in advanced or specialized areas for the aerospace industry from any school.

High school students interested in pursuing an aerospace engineering degree should also have strong mathematics, physics, computer science, and chemistry background.

Which Country Is the Best for Aerospace Engineering?

Several countries offer aerospace engineering programs, with some focusing on one of the two majors: aeronautical or astronautical engineering. However, the United States’ superiority in virtually all fields and research cannot be overstated. There are several prestigious colleges to choose from, including MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology), Stanford University, and Harvard University, but admission is highly competitive.

What Are the Duties of an Aerospace Engineer?

Aerospace engineers work on planes, rockets, satellites, missiles, etc. Furthermore, these engineers test prototypes to ensure that they function as intended. Engines, airframes, wings, landing gear, control systems, and instruments are among the parts and subassemblies designed by these professionals for these boats. Aerospace Engineers can also perform or write destructive and non-destructive test specifications for aircraft and parts’ power, functionality, reliability, and long-term durability.

Aerospace engineers also design, study, test, troubleshoot, and construct advanced defense, spacecraft, and aviation technology. They create quality assurance and design processes standards and identify and correct problems with products that aren’t performing well. An Aerospace Engineer’s responsibilities include:

  • New technologies for spacecraft, aviation, and defense systems are being developed.
  • Aircraft and aerospace product design, assembly, and testing
  • Analyze equipment damage or malfunction to determine the cause and provide a solution.
  • evaluating the feasibility and cost of new projects to be undertaken
  • Choosing quality acceptance criteria for design methods, quality standards, after-delivery support, and completion dates
  • Examining whether the project or product adheres to engineering principles, safety standards, customer requirements, and environmental concerns.
  • In collaboration with the design team, manufacture aircraft, and individual components.

Aerospace engineers frequently specialize in areas such as software engineering, structural engineering, mechanical engineering, electrical and electronic engineering, aerodynamics, and propulsion systems for automation and guidance.

What Are The Steps To Becoming An Aerospace Engineer?

Obtaining an academic degree is a first step toward becoming an Aerospace Engineer, but it is not sufficient. To practice, you’ll need to obtain licenses and certifications. Here are the steps you must take to become an Aerospace Engineer.

Obtain your bachelor’s degree

Aerospace Engineers are required to have a bachelor’s degree in aerospace engineering or a related field of engineering. Aerospace Engineering undergraduate school is required for obtaining a bachelor’s degree in the field. Students interested in studying aerospace engineering should take chemistry, physics, advanced math, computer programming, and computer languages classes in high school. 

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General engineering systems, propulsion, stability and control, structures, mechanics, and aerodynamics, which is the study of how air cooperates with moving objects, are among the subjects covered in bachelor’s degree programs. Some Aerospace Engineering undergraduate schools partner with local businesses to offer collaborative programs that allow students to gain work experience while completing their education. Internships and cooperative programs enable students to gain valuable experience while also funding a portion of their education. 

A student can enroll in a 5-year program at some Aerospace undergraduate Engineering schools, leading to both a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree upon completion. The American Board of Engineering and Technology (ABET) accredits aerospace engineering programs.

Obtain certifications, licenses, and registrations

Aerospace engineers do not have the same level of licensure as other engineering professions. It is, however, required for entry-level positions. Later in one’s career, one can obtain a Professional Engineering (PE) license, which allows for greater leadership and independence. Professional engineers are engineers who have obtained a license to practice (PEs). A PE can supervise other engineers’ work, sign off on projects, and provide direct services to the public. In general, state licensing entails:

  • A degree from an ABET-accredited engineering program
  • A passing score on the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) exam
  • Relevant work experience, typically at least four years
  • A passing score on the Professional Engineering (PE) exam.

After earning a bachelor’s degree, the first Fundamentals of Engineering exams are taken. Engineers in training (EITs) or engineer interns are the terms used to describe engineers who pass this exam (EIs). EITs and EIs can take the Principles and Practice of Engineering exam after meeting the work experience requirements. It’s also worth noting that each state has its own licensing system. 

On the other hand, most states recognize licensure from other states as long as the licensing state’s requirements meet or exceed their own. Engineers must maintain their licenses in many states, which necessitates continuing education.

Aerospace Undergraduate School Admissions Requirements

The requirements for admission to Aerospace Engineering programs vary by school. However, to apply to a top aerospace engineering school, you must be exceptionally proficient in mathematics and physics. Furthermore, suppose you’re an international student. In that case, you may be required to demonstrate your English proficiency through a standardized exam such as the IELTS before beginning an undergraduate program to obtain a student visa or acceptance into the program.

How Long Does It Take to Finish an Undergraduate Engineering Program in Aerospace?

Undergraduate degrees in aerospace engineering typically last three or four years, but many schools allow students to continue on to a master’s degree in aeronautical engineering, extending the program by a year or two. In such cases, BEng and MEng students take the same courses for the first two or three years, with high-achieving students continuing with the BEng for another year or progressing to the more advanced MEng for another two years.

Some Aerospace undergraduate programs allow this transfer in the first or second year of the BEng degree program, while others allow post-secondary candidates to enroll in an MEng degree program right away. A few institutions also offer associate degree programs in aeronautical engineering, but these are usually reserved for practicing engineers who have previously been certified in a related field and want to switch careers.

How Much Does an Undergraduate Engineering Program in Aerospace Cost?

The annual cost of tuition for an aerospace engineering bachelor’s degree varies by college. For in-state students, tuition can range from just over $8,000 at public institutions to more than $45,000 at private universities. Tuition for out-of-state students ranges from around $27,000 for public schools to over $45,000 for private schools. In-state tuition for an aerospace engineering degree costs around $10,500 per year, while out-of-state tuition costs around $36,500 per year.

What Does An Aerospace Engineer Get Paid?

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), job opportunities for aerospace engineers are expected to grow at a slower-than-average rate of 2% from 2018 to 2028. According to the BLS, aerospace engineers, including aeronautical engineers, earned a median annual salary of $115,220 in May 2018.

Aerospace Engineering Schools with the Best Undergraduate Programs

The best undergraduate Aerospace Engineering schools in the world are listed below. The following ranking factors were used to select these schools:

  • Reputation – This refers to the school’s public image and overall ranking performance.
  • Accreditation – This indicates that a school has been determined to be eligible to participate in a program.
  • Graduation Rate – The graduation rate measures an institution’s progress. The ability of a school to produce graduates actually speaks well of the school.

Top 12 Schools for Aerospace Engineering

As previously stated, the United States of America has many top-notch aerospace engineering schools, but other countries also have excellent programs. As a result, we’ll start with the best aerospace engineering schools in the United States before moving on to the rest of the world. According to the USNews Aerospace Engineering Ranking, the following are the best aerospace engineering schools in the United States:

1. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) 

Cambridge, MA

One of the best places in the world to study engineering is MIT, which is ranked number one in the QS World University Rankings. Undergraduate and graduate programs in aeronautics and astronautics are available through the Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics. The MIT AeroAstro program, which dates back to 1914, is the country’s oldest aerospace engineering program. 

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AeroAstro (or Course 16 as it is known at MIT) is a four-year undergraduate program that prepares students for promising careers in aerospace and related engineering fields and graduate school. There are numerous opportunities for first-year students as well. Employers also value MIT graduates because AeroAstro graduates are the best-prepared aerospace engineers on the planet.

Tuition: $17,800 per year (Summer 2019); $26,725 per year (Fall 2019). 

Annual Master’s Tuition: $51,520

2. Georgia Institute of Technology

Atlanta, Georgia

More than 1,200 students from all over the world come to Atlanta each year to study aerospace engineering at Georgia Tech’s Daniel Guggenheim School, one of the oldest and largest programs of its kind. Those serious about earning an aerospace engineering degree must complete a 132-credit program to produce well-rounded, professional engineers. Core courses in mathematics, science, and laboratory work are supplemented by basic humanities and social sciences courses.

Additionally, the school allows each engineering student to participate in enriching experiences, such as hands-on learning, internships, international study, and research, to further their understanding of aerospace vehicles and their subsystems. They finish up with a senior capstone course in one of three areas: rotorcraft, fixed-wing aircraft, or spacecraft. The School also has the kind of depth that consistently places it among the top five aerospace educators in the country, with over 40 professors on staff and numerous interdisciplinary research collaborations. 

According to the most recent US News & World Report, the school’s undergraduate program is ranked second in the country, and its graduate program is ranked fourth.

Tuition: $13,788 per year 

Annual Master’s Tuition: $28,568

3. California Institute of Technology (Caltech)

Pasadena, California

Caltech’s Aerospace department (GALCIT) is ranked third in US News’ Aerospace Engineering Graduate School. Its mission is to educate and train future leaders for academia, government, and industry to address fundamental problems that could lead to transformative science and technology in Aerospace and related fields. Caltech’s Department of Aerospace offers undergraduates interested in learning more about the field an aerospace minor and graduate-level degrees in various specializations, including aeronautics and space engineering. Undergraduates interested in learning more about aerospace can pursue an aerospace minor at this school.

4. University of Michigan – Ann Arbor

Ann Arbor, Michigan

The University of Michigan is a center for academic researchers and leading educators and for many of the brightest and most enterprising young academics in the field, with one of the top rankings in the US News for aerospace engineering schools. Students in aerospace engineering can customize their education in various ways, depending on their interests and objectives, thanks to Michigan’s reputation as a world-class research institution. After graduation, these students join the country’s largest alumni base of aerospace engineers, providing unrivaled professional and academic networking opportunities.

Tuition is $15,850 per year.

Master’s Tuition: $10,330 per year (in-state, full-time); $29,132 per year (out-of-state, full-time).

5. Purdue University – West Lafayette 

West Lafayette, Indiana (IN)

According to the News’ undergraduate aerospace engineering school ranking, Purdue University is the proud alma mater of 23 NASA astronauts (including Neil Armstrong) and dozens of other aerospace engineers who helped put those brave men and women into space. The school is regarded as one of the best and most prestigious places to pursue aerospace engineering degrees. Purdue University is also known for its specialized engineering program. 

Students choose a major and minor within the discipline to maximize their education, with topics such as aerodynamics, structures and materials, propulsion, dynamics and controls, and aerospace systems design available.

Tuition: $28,804 (out-of-state); $10,002 (in-state) 

6. Stanford University 

Stanford, California

The Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics at Stanford University was a graduate-only department from its inception in 1957 until the Summer of 2017. However, in response to student and industry demand, they launched a new undergraduate program in Autumn 2017. In addition, the major prepares students for careers in aerospace engineering, space exploration, air- and space-based telecommunications, autonomous systems, robotics, commercial space transportation, teaching, research, military service, and a variety of other technology-intensive fields.

Tuition: $51,354 in

Master’s Tuition: $54,015 per year (full-time)

7. University of Illinois – Urbana-Champaign

Champaign, Illinois

The University of Illinois’ Department of Aerospace Engineering is a world leader in aerospace science and engineering. The department is dedicated to excellence and leadership in teaching, research, and service, with nationally ranked undergraduate and graduate programs, internationally renowned faculty, and state-of-the-art research facilities. In addition, each spring, the Department of Aerospace Engineering at Illinois honors outstanding students with awards for academic achievement and other contributions.

The Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology, Coordinated Science Laboratory (CSL), Micro and Nanotechnology Laboratory, National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA), and Information Trust Institute are among the interdisciplinary centers where faculty and graduate students are active.

Tuition: Out-of-state tuition is $32,568; in-state tuition is $15,998.

8. University of Texas – Austin

Austin, Texas

The Department of Aerospace Engineering and Engineering Mechanics at the University of Texas at Austin is an interdisciplinary department with teaching and research activities in astronautics, earth-space engineering and science, aviation, energy, robotics, theoretical and experimental mechanics, and computational engineering. It is ranked number 7 in Graduate Aerospace Engineering and number 8 in Undergraduate Aerospace Engineering by U.S. News & World Report.

Additionally, through our strong research centers and laboratories, students collaborate closely with faculty to create, develop, and apply aerospace technology to solve important global and societal problems.

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Tuition: $37,480 (out-of-state); $10,606 (in-state)

9. Texas A&M University – College Station

College Station, TX

Texas A&M University is regarded as one of the best aerospace engineering schools in the United States. At Texas A&M University’s College of Engineering, the aerospace engineering department is a major one. They’re also one of the best Aerospace Engineering programs in the country, with cutting-edge educational and research opportunities in areas like space exploration, national defense, air transportation, communications, and sustainable energy.

They also provide students with a modern curriculum that is balanced across the three major areas of aerospace engineering: aerodynamics and propulsion, dynamics and control, and materials and structures. Strong ties to major aerospace industries, the Department of Defense, and NASA help the program succeed.

Tuition: $36,636 (out-of-state); $10,968 (in-state) 

10. University of Colorado (CU Boulder)

Boulder, Colorado

Colorado is a major center for the aerospace industry in the United States, and this facility will put the university even closer to the center of the innovation ecosystem. Students and faculty at CU Boulder are pushing the boundaries of aeronautics and astronautics research by designing next-generation unmanned aircraft, expanding remote sensing capabilities, and building space instruments and satellites for orbit around the Earth and beyond.

Tuition: $37,288 (out-of-state); $12,534 (in-state) 

11. Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University 

Daytona Beach, Florida 

The Department of Aerospace Engineering at Embry-Riddle welcomes students interested in the high-tech engineering world of airplanes, helicopters, and spacecraft. As of fall 2018, the Aerospace Engineering Department had 1404 Bachelor’s students, 119 Master’s students (including 24 distance students), and 33 Ph.D. students, making it the largest in the country. In addition, 13.1 percent of the department’s undergraduate students are honors students, compared to 5.5 percent for the rest of ERAU.

Aerospace Engineering students also learn about the fundamentals of aerodynamics and propulsion, dynamics and control, and structures and materials.

Tuition: $35,714 

12. University of Maryland – College Park

College Park, MD

Aerospace engineering (AE) at Maryland prepares students for careers in the aerospace and astronautics fields in industry, government, and academia through hands-on learning, diverse research opportunities, and a robust academic community.

Tuition: $35,216 (out-of-state); $10,595 (in-state) 

The Best Undergraduate Aerospace Engineering Schools in the World

The following are some of the best engineering schools in the world for a bachelor’s degree in aerospace engineering. To learn more about the program, simply click on any of them.

  • University of Tokyo (Japan) Department of Aerospace Engineering
  • University of Queensland (Australia)
  • Delft University of Technology (Netherlands) | TU Delft Faculty of Aerospace Engineering
  • Tsinghua University (China)
  • Seoul National University (South Korea)
  • Sapienza University of Rome (Italy)
  • Technical University Munich (Germany)

It’s also worth noting that the schools listed above and those in the United States offer the best graduate programs in aerospace engineering.

Conclusion

Aerospace Engineering is a branch of engineering that deals with the design and manufacture of aircraft and spacecraft. It focuses on the design, maintenance, and development of all types of aircraft and is one of the fastest-growing diverse disciplines. To be a part of the brains behind aircraft and spacecraft production, maintenance, and other activities, you must first enroll in an undergraduate Aerospace Engineering program.

Frequently Asked Questions

What steps do I need to take to become an Aerospace Engineer?

A bachelor’s degree in aerospace engineering or another field of engineering or science related to aerospace systems is required to work as an aerospace engineer. Aerospace engineers who work on national defense projects may also require a security clearance.

What do Aerospace Engineers get paid?

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for aerospace engineers in the United States was $115,220. In other words, they are paid $55.39 per hour.

Is Aerospace Engineering a good profession to pursue?

Yes. Given the pay, we believe that pursuing a career in aerospace engineering is a good idea. However, before embarking on a career in aerospace engineering, make sure you have a strong interest in the design of aircraft, spacecraft, satellites, and missiles.

What is the best college for aerospace engineering?

The following are some of the best schools in the United States to study Aerospace Engineering:

  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • Georgia Institute of Technology
  • California Institute of Technology
  • University of Michigan–Ann Arbor
  • Purdue University–West Lafayette
  • Stanford University
  • University of Illinois–Urbana-Champaign
  • University of Texas–Austin
  • Texas A&M University–College Station
  • University of Colorado–Boulder
  • Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University
  • University of Maryland–College Park

How long does an aerospace engineering program last?

Aerospace engineering takes about four years to complete, just like any other engineering program.

Where do aerospace engineers work?

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, aerospace engineers work in industries that design or build aircraft, missiles, national defense systems, or spacecraft. Aerospace engineers work in manufacturing, analysis and design, research and development, and the federal government, among other places.

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