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Best Master’s Aerospace Engineering Masters Programs

top aerospace engineering graduate schools

Did you know that there are over 1,000 aerospace engineering jobs posted online every day?

Technology is advancing in the aerospace field. Those jobs are going to become even more numerous.

Are you looking for a high-paying, in-demand career path? Then an aerospace masters program may be just what you need.

According to the BLS, in 2020 alone, there were more than 61,400 jobs posted. About half of all engineers begin their aerospace engineering career with a bachelor’s degree. A master’s degree is also a smart choice.

Most aerospace engineers are never required to get Professional Engineering (PE) state licensure. Doing so is the best way to get a leadership position. 

Plus, getting a master’s degree in aerospace engineering will set you up for an aerospace engineering career that is quite lucrative. PayScale lists a handful of the more popular companies employing aerospace engineers. The average reported salaries are quite impressive. 

Some examples, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics:

  • National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) – $101k
  • SpaceX – $92k
  • General Electric (GE) Aviation – $90k
  • Northrop Grumman Corporation – $90k
  • The Boeing Company – $89k
  • Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Company – $80k
  • Naval Air Systems Command – $68k

Engineers with five to 10 years’ experience under their belts earn about $20,000 per year more. That is compared to those with less than five years. That makes for some hefty pay raises in a very short amount of time.

According to the National Science Foundation, out of the seven engineering subfields, aerospace engineering has the fewest graduates. It has shown the largest percentage of upward change.

Keep reading to find out why a master’s in aerospace engineering is such a valuable investment.

 See Also: 10 Best Master’s in Industrial Engineering


Now, on to admissions requirements. Aerospace engineering master’s degree requires the completion of a Bachelor of Science in Aerospace Engineering or a related field. Many programs also include an internship or a cutting edge research project. Some schools may also ask for GRE scores or letters of recommendation. These letters of recommendation should be from professors or employers. Of course, you will also need to submit official transcripts.

The admissions requirements for each program vary. It is important to check with the graduate school you are interested in attending for specific admissions requirements. In addition to checking for admissions requirements, be sure to ask about the timeline for applying for your MSAE program.

Aerospace engineers often work in aircraft and parts manufacturing. Because of the vast nature of processes aerospace engineering covers, there are several associated occupational career options. Aerospace engineering and operations technician are the closest. 

Florida Tech lists a few intriguing aerospace engineering career options for aerospace engineers. Examples include:

  • Aircraft/Spacecraft Designer 
  • Mechanical Engineer
  • Military Aerospace Engineer  
  • Data Processing Manager
  • Drafter 
  • Aerospace Technician 
  • Inspectors 
  • Mission Specialist
  • Payload Specialist


College isn’t getting any cheaper. Before you rush to take out a student loan, make sure you’ve maximized every financial aid and scholarship opportunity.

The time it takes to fill out an application is less than the hours than students work to pay back a loan! Federal Student Aid is the clear winner when it comes to popular financial aid options. If you’ve finished an undergraduate degree, then you’re familiar with the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) process. Graduate students can use it to apply for aid, too. 

If you have amazing grades and fall into a lower income bracket, you should make every effort to maximize your aid and career opportunities. There are Pell Grants and other federal grants for grad students. These include:

Many schools also have college-based financial awards or tuition discounts. You’ll need to look out for local and regional scholarships, too. 

For aerospace engineers, there are dozens of scholarship opportunities. There are also unique competition-based awards. An example is the National Inventors Hall of Fame’s Collegiate Inventors Competition.

Many grad students fund their schooling with Graduate Teaching Assistantships and Graduate Research Assistantships. You will get work experience and help paying for your degree. 

For additional information on engineering related financial aid application information, be sure to check with your school.


We have a time-tested four-part formula designed for ranking the best colleges in the nation.

We prioritize four major factors in our best aerospace engineering graduate schools rankings:

  • Earnings Potential
  • Affordability
  • Student Satisfaction
  • Selectivity.

If you want to know more we encourage you to check out our methodology page. 

Check out our list of the 10 Best Master’s Programs in Aerospace Engineering. See what awesome online and on-campus aerospace engineering graduate programs await!



Missouri University of Science and TechnologyMissouri University of Science and Technology is one of the top aerospace engineering graduate schools. It is a land- and space-grant university. It is nestled in the college town of Rolla, MO. It was founded in 1870 and is home to 1,759 graduate students. Missouri S&T may have small-town roots. Its engineering department is top-ranked. The graduate school offers other engineering degrees as well, such as mechanical engineering.

The university offers a Master of Science in Aerospace Engineering. It is for both on-campus students and for working professionals who need the flexibility of an online program

The MSAE provides an interdisciplinary learning experience. It can benefit those in the aerospace field and other engineering sectors.

The online course requirements include a minimum of 30 credit hours. Of these, six are cutting edge research that is applied toward the thesis. The option without a thesis replaces the research credits with courses from outside of the aerospace department. 

Sample online course offerings include:

  • Aero Eng 5131: Intermediate Thermofluid Mechanics
  • Aero Eng 5169: Intro to Hypersonic Flow
  • Aero Eng 6222: Theory of Elasticity. 

The university is home to professional and honor societies. These include:

The graduate school has an active on campus life. There are more than 200 student organizations! Missouri S&T is also big on intramural and club sports. It hosts annual events.

This school is also top rankings-wise. It is No. 1 for Best Value College in Missouri, according to It is No. 2 for Engineering Programs for Non-Traditional Students, per College Factual. It is No. 6 for Annual Return on Investment, according to 



PurduePurdue is considered the No. 1 destination for international students in STEM disciplines. Purdue has an online Master of Science in Aeronautics and Astronautics (MSAAE) option. It is flexible and high-quality – more convenient than ever! 

In this one of the best aerospace masters programs, you will take a variety of courses. You can take courses in related disciplines, such as mechanical engineering. The aerospace engineering courses cover topics such as:

  • Aerodynamics
  • Structures & materials
  • Astrodynamics & space applications
  • Propulsion
  • Computational fluid dynamics
  • Aerospace structures and materials
  • Engineering management
  • Systems engineering
  • Aerospace engineering. 

This aerospace engineering program is 30-credit hour online program that does not include a thesis. Graduate students engage with online video content whenever they need, wherever they want. Graduate students may also complete an Interdisciplinary Master of Science in Engineering with a concentration in aeronautics and astronautics. 

Many part-time graduate students enroll in just one class at a time. 

U.S. News & World Report listed Purdue Online’s College of Engineering in its Best Online Programs for Grad Engineering 2019. It is also among the best Veteran Grad Engineering programs in 2019. Purdue creates innovative platforms geared toward making online learning effective and high quality.



Georgia TechIf you attend Georgia Tech, get ready to work! This STEM-centered institution is among the top-ranked public colleges and research universities in America. It was founded during the post-Civil War Reconstruction period. It has – unlike many of its tech-oriented peers – remained a public university. This helps keep tuition rates low. 

It is home to one of the best aerospace engineering masters programs. The school offers other engineering degrees as well, such as mechanical engineering.

The Daniel Guggenheim School of Aerospace Engineering has a flexible 33-credit hour Master of Science in Aerospace Engineering. It is customizable to help you meet your individual study goals. 

Concentration areas include:

  • Aerodynamics and fluid mechanics
  • Aeroelasticity and structural dynamics
  • Flight mechanics and control
  • Space flight dynamics
  • Dynamics and control
  • Aerospace structures and materials
  • Structural analysis and structural health monitoring
  • Propulsion systems and combustion
  • Engineering management
  • Structural mechanics and materials behavior
  • System design and optimization. 

Georgia Tech also offers an MSAE Distance Learning Program. This meets the same academic and research and development standards as the on-campus version. Students still must attend classes live, via streaming video. This option is designed for part-time students.  There is no thesis option available for distance learning students. 

The School of Aerospace Engineering is devoted to research and practical education. It gives students marketable skills. At the same time, it prepares them to stand apart from the competition.

There are many research facilities and labs. Examples include:

U.S. News & World Report rankings ranked the Daniel Guggenheim School No. 2 in Aerospace /Aeronautical / Astronautical Engineering. It was No. 4 in Most Innovative Schools. 

Georgia Tech’s Atlanta campus sits on a beautiful 400 wooded acres. It is the perfect setting for its 25,000 graduate students to engage in active on campus life. 



NC StateYou will find one of the best aerospace masters programs at North Carolina State University. North Carolina State University has a high-speed, 30-credit online Master of Science in Aerospace Engineering. It takes a short 12 months. Yes, even for those working full-time jobs! 

There is no thesis requirement, no final oral exam, and no in-person attendance. You can access content through lecture videos, and online activities. This is all through NC State’s WolfWare platform. 

Course requirements for MSAE Online and Distance Education graduate students include:

  • 30 credit hours 
  • Complete 500- or 700-level courses
  • An overall 3.0 GPA
  • Six MAE courses
  • Project Work in Aerospace Engineering
  • Three elective courses of any grad-level engineering (including mechanical engineering), math, or statistics 

Sample courses include:

  • MAE 495 – Special Topics in Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering
  • MAE 501 – Advanced Engineering Thermodynamics
  • MAE 513 – Principles of Structural Vibration
  • MAE 531 – Engineering Design Optimization. 

NC State is accredited by the Engineering Accreditation Commission of ABET

The College of Engineering stays on the cutting edge of research. It had about$198 million in research and development spending for 2018-2019. There are more than 20 centers and labs.  These are dedicated to engineering-related research ambitions.

On-campus students have unprecedented access to an array of real-world projects and industry connections. Online students are also able to benefit from the knowledge gleaned via on-site work. 

NC State has a habit of raking in top rankings! It was named the No. 1 Best Public University in North Carolina (Money). U.S. News & World Report ranks it No. 6 in Best Value Among Public Universities Nationally. It is No. 8 in Online Graduate Engineering Programs Nationally.



University of VirginiaUniversity of Virginia (UVA) has offered accredited engineering classes to distance learners for over 35 years. You will find one of the top aerospace graduate programs here.

The Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering has a 30-credit hour, online Master of Engineering (ME) in Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering. It includes the same coursework as that of the traditional route. But there’s less of the hassle!

Examples of VEO courses include:

  • MAE 6230: Mechanical Vibrations
  • MAE 6250: Multibody Mechanical Systems
  • MAE 6420: Engineering Mathematics II
  • MAE 6710: Finite Element Analysis
  • MAE 6080: Constitutive Modeling of Biosystems. 

UVA’s online classes are not pre-recorded and reused. They are live-streamed, for real-time engagement. They are also recorded for students who need to access the material on their own time due to time constraints. The school offers other engineering degrees as well, such as mechanical engineering.

The University of Virginia is ranked No. 28 among National Universities by U.S. News & World Report. 



Auburn UniversityAnother one of the best aerospace grad schools is Auburn University. Alabama’s Auburn University has gone through a few name changes since its founding in 1856. Its commitment to engineering achievements has always been a staple. Kathryn Thornton, the second American woman to walk in space, is a notable alumnus!

The Department of Aerospace Engineering offers a Master of Science in Aerospace Engineering. It has both thesis and non-thesis options. There’s also an online degree program.

The thesis option requires 30 credit hours. There are six credit hours for AERO 7790, Research and Thesis. There’s also an oral exam at the end. 

The non-thesis option is also 30 credit hours. There’s no residency requirement. There is no research or oral exam, either.

Core areas covered in the program, offered by one of the most prestigious universities, include:

  • Aeroacoustics and aerodynamics
  • Aerospace structures and materials
  • Flight dynamics and control
  • Engineering management
  • Systems engineering and mechanical engineering elective options
  • Orbital mechanics and astrodynamics
  • Engineering management
  • Dynamics and control
  • Aerospace design and vehicle stability
  • Rocket propulsion.

Auburn’s program in aerospace engineering offers offers various forms of financial support through teaching and research assistantships. The school offers other engineering degrees as well, such as mechanical engineering.

The department has several dedicated research labs: 

Auburn’s on-campus graduate students in aerospace and mechanical engineering have ample opportunities to get out and enjoy life! And plenty of career opportunities as well. The sweeping 1,875-acre campus is home to hundreds of student organizations and graduate student organizations.



University of Illinois at Urbana-ChampaignYou will find one of the best aerospace engineering masters programs
at the University of Illinois. The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign’s
Grainger College of Engineering knows how to network! The school, one of the most prestigious universities, offers other engineering degrees as well, such as mechanical engineering. This degree program has ties to:

  • the Department of Defense’s Multidisciplinary University Research Initiatives
  • the National Science Foundation
  • the Department of Homeland Security Centers of Excellence

The college pulled in $221 million for research expenditures in 2018. When people talk about the best engineering programs in the nation, Illinois often comes up as a leader in the field. The Department of Aerospace Engineering is staffed by world- renowned faculty and top-notch research facilities.

The department of aerospace engineering offers a degree in Master of Science in Aerospace Engineering (AE). There is also a Master of Engineering (with a focus in Aerospace Systems Engineering). Either program will prepare you well for a variety of career opportunities. The department of aerospace engineering offers a graduate program that will prepare you for just about anything. This graduate school is one of the best for online and on campus students alike.

The MSAE graduate program offers both thesis and non-thesis options. On-campus students must complete the non-thesis degree within four semesters. The thesis graduate program takes five semesters.

There’s also an online Master of Science. For this, there is no thesis. Conducting research is also not required. Online students receive the same lectures and assignments. They complete the same tests and projects. You will be prepared for the same types of career opportunities.

The general areas of study for the MSAE are:

  • Aerodynamics
  • Astrodynamics
  • Combustion and propulsion
  • Control systems
  • Dynamical systems
  • Dynamics and control/guidance navigation and control
  • Fluid mechanics and fluid dynamics
  • Structural mechanics and structural health monitoring 
  • Materials

UIUC’s curriculum builds a foundation in aerospace engineering fundamentals. It has core classes in:

  • Fluid Mechanics
  • Solid Mechanics and Materials
  • Dynamics and Controls

Specializations for the online degree in the school of engineering can include:

  • Aerodynamics
  • Fluid mechanics
  • Combustion/propulsion
  • Structural mechanics

The non-thesis degree has 32 credit hours of coursework. It is found at one of the best aerospace graduate schools.

Grainger’s engineering graduate program ranks No. 10 overall among the Best Graduate Schools. That is according to U.S. News & World Report (March 2019). It is No. 7 in the Aerospace / Aeronautical / Astronautical category. Meanwhile, UIUCS came in at No. 2 on the American Institute of Economic Research’s survey of Best College Towns from U.S. News & World Report

You will have plenty of career opportunities after completing this program!



Iowa StateIf you want to learn how to deflect asteroids from hitting the planet, Iowa State University ISU could be the place for you! Its AE research extends beyond the traditional aircraft and spacecraft topics. It dives deep into everything, including:

  • Turbulence research
  • Icing physics
  • Tornado simulation
  • UAS formation flight control
  • Yes, even asteroid deflection!

The Department of Aerospace Engineering offers two paths to get a graduate degree. There is a Master of Science or Master of Engineering. The school of engineering offers other engineering degrees as well, such as mechanical engineering.

Both degrees have 30 semester hours. A unique feature of the curriculum is that there are no requirements regarding the specific courses students take. You can design your own plan of study.  

The faculty have experience mentoring graduate students students in aerospace and mechanical engineering. They know how to help them explore their aerospace engineering career goals.

You must complete at least 30 semester hours of advanced research and/or coursework. 

The Master of Science is research-oriented. It has a thesis. It is recommended for anyone wanting to pursue a Ph.D. The Master of Engineering, on the other hand, focuses on coursework over research. The coursework for this option can also be combined with a creative project.

Grad students may opt to specialize in several areas, such as:

  • Aerospace systems design
  • Atmospheric and space flight dynamics
  • Computational fluid dynamics
  • Control systems
  • Wind engineering
  • Solid mechanics
  • Fluid mechanics and fluid dynamics
  • Optimization
  • Structural analysis
  • Non-destructive evaluation. 

ISU has a wealth of student organizations and resources. For example, there is the Aerospace Engineering Graduate Student Organization. This organization promotes involvement, networking, and communication among students and faculty. There is also the Aerospace Mentorship Program and the Aerospace Student Council. 

ISU ranks No. 41, in a tie, for Best Graduate Aerospace Engineering Schools, per U.S. News & World Report. The Department of Aerospace Engineering’s tornado simulator garnered fame as the most important natural disaster simulator in the country! 

If you’re looking for ample job opportunities, this degree in aerospace engineering is the right degree for you.



Virginia TechVirginia Tech is another recognized leader in the world of aerospace engineering. Its Kevin T. Crofton Department of Aerospace and Ocean Engineering has a flexible online master’s degree. This degree in aerospace engineering emphasizes:

  • Aerodynamics
  • Structures
  • Propulsion
  • Fluid dynamics
  • Flight mechanics. 

Distance-learner students have two online tracks to choose from in this Master of Science in Aerospace Engineering graduate program. The school of engineering offers a thesis or non-thesis track. Both have 30 credit hours. This includes 12 credits of core coursework. The suggested course load is one to two courses per semester. The graduate school offers other engineering degrees as well, such as mechanical engineering.

Required core classes for both tracks are: 

  • AOE 4404: Applied Numerical Methods 
  • AOE 5024: Vehicle Structures 
  • AOE 5104: Advanced Aero and Hydrodynamics
  • AOE 5204: Vehicle Dynamics and Control 

Examples of some of the approved electives are:

  • AOE 5034: Mechanical and Structural Vibrations
  • AOE 5064: Structural Optimization
  • AOE 6114: Transonic Aerodynamics
  • AOE 6124: Hypersonic Aerodynamics
  • AOE 6145: Computational Fluid Dynamics. 

All students must pass a final oral exam. 

Virginia Tech’s cutting-edge AOE department is invested in scintillating research. This advanced research:

  • Creates new technologies for aerospace travel
  • Harnesses renewable energy from the motion of the atmosphere
  • Invents instruments and sensors to be used in air and space. 

Virginia Tech’s graduate program has six concentrations:

U.S. News & World Report ranked Virginia Tech at No. 31 (tie) among Best Engineering Schools. 

It’s scored even higher in many other rankings, including:

  • No. 4 in Best Value Aerospace & Aeronautical Engineering graduate programs (College Factual 2019)
  • No. 5 in Aerospace Engineering Graduate Programs Global (Center for World University 2018 rankings)
  • No. 5 in Top-ranked Aerospace & Aeronautical Engineering graduate programs (College Factual 2019)

Students work closely with faculty members in this program. Financial aid is available as well.



University of WashingtonUW launched its aeronautical engineering department about a century ago. This was through the Guggenheim Fund for the Advancement of Aeronautics. The Aerodynamics Laboratory in the school of engineering was built in 1917 after a donation from the Boeing Airplane Company. It is used today by the university, industry, and federal government researchers. 

The University of Washington’s William E. Boeing Department of Aeronautics & Astronautics features a multidisciplinary Master of Aeronautics Engineering (MAE). There is also a Master of Science in Aeronautics & Astronautics (MSAA). The latter graduate program includes lots of independent research. The graduate school offers other engineering degrees as well, such as mechanical engineering. This is perfect for candidates interested in a degree program that will prepare them to work with the federal government, 

The MAE is a terminal degree and includes only coursework. It is a part-time graduate program with a three-year timeframe. Courses are held at night, once per week. Students have the choice of attending in-person or online through the UW Continuum College

Online attendees may watch classes live via webcast or at their convenience

The MAE allows for four concentration options:

  • Controls
  • Fluids
  • Aerospace structures
  • Composites. 

The MSAA is a more traditional, full-time graduate program. It has both a master’s thesis and a coursework-only track. It allows for concentration options of:

  • Controls
  • Fluids
  • Plasmas
  • Aerospace structures.

Admissions details are on the graduate program page

Nestled in downtown Seattle, the University of Washington is one of the oldest public universities in the West. It’s also one of the highest-ranking. The 2019 Academic Ranking of World Universities lists UW at No. 14 in the world. It’s also ranked No. 1 in federal research funding for public universities. Financial aid is available as well.


#11. The University of Texas at Arlington

Location: Arlington, Texas

Degree: MS/MSE in Aerospace Engineering

Net Price: $12,533


#12. University of Colorado Boulder

Location: Boulder, Colorado

Degree: MS in Aerospace Engineering

Net Price: $20,323


#13. Mississippi State University

Location: Mississippi State, Mississippi

Degree: Master of Science in Aerospace Engineering

Net Price: $16,056


#14. Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University

Location: Daytona Beach, Florida

Degree: Master of Science in Aerospace Engineering

Net Price: $35,358


#15. Old Dominion University

Location: Norfolk, Virginia

Degree: MS/ME in Aerospace Engineering

Net Price: $15,213



Michael Templeton
Managing Editor

Kacey Reynolds Schedler
Contributing Editor