Top University Flight Programs 2022

By Jason Zilberbrand

January 27, 2022 Educational

Are you considering one of the top university flight programs in the U.S.?

If not for yourself, is there anyone you know thinking about becoming a pilot or other aviation professional? Unless you're tapped into the market, you probably haven't heard too much about universities with aviation programs. But there are many spread out throughout the U.S. If you're worried about limited options, there's a good mix of university flight programs out there from the state, technical, and private schools.

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What To Know About The Top 8 Aviation Schools In The United States

The following is a list of the top 8 aviation schools in the United States and more detailed information about flight programs.

What Is A Flight Program On The University Level?

You may have heard the terms "flight school" and "university flight program" used interchangeably. But there are some differences. The main difference is that one is part of a university, and the other is not associated with a college or university at all. You can get the minimum certifications required to work as a pilot at a flight school. Many people take this route to get directly to hands-on training, especially if they have no interest in college classes.

A university program will get you additional certifications, advanced training, and an Associate's, Bachelor's, or Master's degree. You may be able to stand out more with accreditations from a well-respected university.

8 University Flight Programs To Consider

Take a look at more detailed information for some of the top aviation universities in the country. Keep in mind that all estimated prices may or may not include the cost of base tuition, specific courses, supplies, housing, food, and other essentials.

1. Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University College of Aviation

Embry-Riddle, located in Florida, is well-known worldwide for its aviation program. They pride themselves on being the nation's largest, oldest, and most comprehensive aeronautical university.

International and local students apply every year. But they're extremely selective and only accept about 61% of applicants. Also, it helps to have an average SAT score between 1080 and 1310. Or an average ACT score of 22 to 28. Embry-Riddle is known for setting aviation standards across the globe and is chock-full of famous alumni. Embry-Riddle offers scholarships for both aviation and non-aviation majors, and they don't need to be repaid.

Estimated tuition per year: $16,313

RELATED: Read Top Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University FAQs

2. Purdue University Aviation College

Purdue's School of Aviation and Transportation Technology in Indiana is one of six departments and schools in the Purdue Polytechnic Institute. Purdue is widely recognized as a leader in aviation education. There are seven undergraduate majors, including Professional Flight, Aerospace Financial Analysis, and others. It's also one of the select universities in the country with state-of-the-art flight simulation technology to prepare students before they're in the air. Purdue's flight program offers scholarships within the institution and through third-party organizations. You can apply online here.

Estimated tuition per year: $22,812

3. Marshall University Division Of Aviation

The Division of Aviation at Marshall University in West Virginia works with the FAA to offer two academic degree programs that help launch students into the aviation industry. Marshall offers commercial pilot, aviation, and maintenance technology courses and career enhancement opportunities. These opportunities get students to the next level in their education and into the workforce. Marshall University offers merit-based and private scholarships. Find more about the application process here.

Estimated Tuition Per Year: $14,725-$19,200

4. Institute For Transportation Research & Education

The Institute for Transportation Research and Education (ITRE) is part of North Carolina State University. This program, chartered by the North Carolina General Assembly in 1978, offers air transportation research, training, and technical support activities. The Office of Scholarships and Financial Aid (OSFA) and each of the 10 colleges of N.C. State University fund many scholarships. Others are employer-affiliated, college-based, and more.

Estimated Tuition Per Year: $4,550.30

5. South Dakota State University Aviation Program

The South Dakota State University Aviation Program is a four-year program that prepares students for careers in the aviation industry. The Aviation Program offers high-quality aviation training, and each graduate leaves with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Aviation. Students can also choose between two specializations as they get closer to entering the industry as trained professionals. Students who apply and graduate often work at airlines, military, government, and other corporate workplaces. There are no scholarships specific to aviation, but SDSU offers other scholarships like the S.D. Opportunities Scholarship and the Jackrabbit Guarantee to new, incoming students.

Estimated Tuition Per Year: $9,922-$15,944

6. MIT AeroAstro

MIT AeroAstro in Massachusetts is full of talented and passionate staff, researchers, alumni, and more. It's one of the oldest programs of its kind and has led to significant contributions to the field of aerospace. Since 1914, MIT has been known for its educational and research opportunities in space transportation, exploration, communications, autonomous systems, education, and national security. The acceptance rate at MIT is 7%, and anyone planning to attend should be up to date on all the requirements before applying. MIT also offers information about funding your education using tools like an estimated cost calculator.

Estimated Tuition Per Year: $77,000

7. Ohio State University Aviation College

Ohio State University Flight Education has its own airport, the Ohio State University Airport, and its training fleet accumulates over 7,000 hours of flight time annually. Ohio's Flight Education program is FAA Part 141-certified, with over 100 students who earn their pilot certification every year. Limited programs are even available to the public. Take a virtual tour and skip out on scheduling a visit. Learn more about the application process here.

Estimated Tuition Per Year: $11,969

Essential Aviation Program Lab Fees: $14,500-$23,000

8. The University Of North Dakota

The John D. Odegard School of Aerospace Sciences in North Dakota offers a liberal arts core curriculum combined with a professional aviation education with various specialties. The average student here earns about $12,900 in scholarships every year. Also, graduates typically earn an average salary of more than $60,000 across all fields within six months of graduating.

Estimated Tuition Per Year: $12,571.44

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Who Attends University Flight Programs?

If you attend a flight program, you're likely to be surrounded by many other students with different backgrounds and interests – including active and retired military personnel. Because many of these universities specialize in science and math-related degrees, you have a wide variety of tools, courses, and other opportunities available.

The top professions that people look for after attending a university flight program include:

  • Director of Aerospace Program Management

  • Commercial Pilot, Co-Pilot, or Flight Engineer

  • Aircraft Maintenance Manager

  • Aerospace/Aviation Project Engineer

  • Air Traffic Controller

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