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Aerospace Degree Program and College Major Information

Majors Overview March 6, 2013

Colleges offer aerospace degree programs at the doctoral, master, bachelor, and associate levels. Students enrolled in aerospace engineering degree programs become adept at designing and constructing satellites, missiles, and aircraft. Major studies in aerospace technology include aerodynamics, advanced computers, statistical analysis, physics and calculus.

Associate of Arts – Aerospace Engineering

Individuals interested in creating and designing vehicles and parts for space flight and other atmospheric voyages need to consider pursuing an aerospace degree. Students who intend to go on to complete a related four-year degree can prepare by enrolling in an associate degree program. Their specific focus should be on completing the science and math requirements that are usually required for admittance to an aerospace engineering program.

Educational Requirements

A high school diploma or an equivalent qualification such as a General Educational Development (GED) is the minimum academic requirement for students who want to pursue an associate degree in aerospace engineering. Passing a college placement test may also be required before applicants can be admitted to the program.

Program Coursework

Students complete basic education requirements during the two-year degree level. They will take advanced classes in subjects such as:

•Differential Equations
•Chemistry
•Physics
•Calculus
•Geometry

Salary Information and Employment Outlook

Completion of a two-year aerospace degree program may help graduates get employed as an aerospace engineering technician. Job growth for professionals in this field has been projected at two percent during the period from 2008 to 2018, a rate much lower than the average for all other industries (source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics). In 2008, aerospace technicians earned an average annual salary of $56,280.

Bachelor of Science – Aerospace Engineering

Apart from the intricacies of mathematics, science and engineering; students also have to learn about operations and design of aircraft systems. They may choose to focus on aeronautics or astronautics, in accordance with the degree program they have chosen to enroll into. Completion of a four-year aerospace engineering degree program will help prepare students for a career in an industrial or governmental organization that involves construction of satellites, flight vehicles, and launching weapons.

Educational Requirements

The admission process to aerospace engineering programs is highly competitive, and applicants may be required to demonstrate competitive class rankings, graduate point average (GPA) and SAT or ACT scores. Aspiring aerospace engineers are usually required to complete high school or college courses in computers, mathematics and advanced science.

Program Coursework

Students enrolled in undergraduate studies generally participate in the aerospace industry internship programs and usually complete and design a spacecraft or an aircraft project before graduating. Bachelor of Science in Aerospace Engineering coursework usually covers variations of the following:

•Advanced Engineering Mathematics
•Experimental Space Systems
•Electrical Engineering
•Aircraft Structures
•Aerospace Dynamics
•Computer-Aided Design of Aerospace Systems

Salary Information and Employment Outlook

Students who majored in aerospace engineering are qualified to work as engineers and aerospace technologies. In 2008, aerospace engineers earned an average annual salary of $93,980 (source: BLS). Job growth of ten percent has been projected during the period from 2008 to 2018, which is the average for all other professions in the country.

Master of Science – Aerospace Engineering

At the graduate level, aerospace graduate degree students develop critical thinking abilities and more advanced research skills. Students may select for a non-thesis or thesis track. Aerospace engineering areas of concentration are usually available in aerothermodynamics, structural dynamics, aerospace control and guidance operations, and orbital mechanics.

Educational Requirements

Usually, students who want to pursue a graduate degree program in aerospace engineering needs to have an undergraduate degree in science, math, or aerospace engineering. For admissions consideration, students need a cumulative undergraduate grade of a B.

Program Coursework

Students participate in lab work and lectures at the graduate degree level. Study topics usually include:

•Aeroelasticity
•Space Mechanics and Navigation
•Global Positioning Systems
•Statistics
•Aerospace Theories

Career Options

Students who hold a graduate degree in aerospace engineering usually work for agencies such as National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the United States Department of Defense. Graduates from aerospace engineering program may work as:

•Rocket and Missile Engineers
•Spaceship Developers
•Aerospace Engineering Consultants
•Aerospace Parts Designers
•Airline Diagnostic Specialists

Ph.D. in Aerospace Engineering

Aerospace engineering Ph.D. programs are research-focused. Students need to come up with a unique concept and argue it to an aerospace faculty panel. In order for students to graduate from the program, they have to successfully complete their dissertation along with passing a comprehensive skills and knowledge assessment.

Educational Requirements

Ph.D. programs are as selective as every other level of aerospace engineering programs; accordingly, applicants are required to demonstrate competitive GPAs with higher ranking than at least half of other members from their class. Letters of recommendation are required to be submitted by applicants who need to hold a master degree in a related field; related work experience is also demanded in some cases.

Program Coursework

Students are usually required to assist an aerospace instructor for a minimum of one semester at the doctoral level. During the program, students get closer to accomplishing their doctoral candidacy by participating and learning:

•Dissertation Defense
•Dissertation Preparation
•Qualitative Analysis
•Quantitative Analysis
•Research Methods

Career Options

Typically, graduates of doctoral programs in aerospace engineering find themselves working in scholarly or authoritative settings. Students with a Ph.D. in aerospace engineering can obtain the following jobs:

•Developer
•Researcher
•Author
•University Chairperson
•College Professor

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