Best Aviation Schools

Updated on January 3, 2024

Aviation is a exciting and rewarding career field. For those looking to become professional pilots, mechanics, air traffic controllers, or other aviation professionals, choosing the right training program is crucial. Here are 10 of the top aviation schools in the United States based on factors like curriculum, training facilities, career outcomes, and more.

Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University (Prescott)

Location: Prescott, AZ

Rating: 9.5/10

Acceptance Rate: 66%

Avg SAT Score: 1210

Tuition: $35,792 per year

Avg Salary After Graduation: $77,900

Website: www.erau.edu

Embry-Riddle’s Prescott, Arizona campus focuses solely on aviation and aerospace degrees. It boasts an impressive fleet of over 90 aircraft for students to train on. The school is finely tuned to place graduates in major airlines, aerospace companies, government agencies, and more.

Purdue University

Location: West Lafayette, IN

Rating: 9/10

Acceptance Rate: 67%

Avg SAT Score: 1350

Tuition: $9,992 per year (in-state)

Avg Salary After Graduation: $69,100

Website: www.purdue.edu

Purdue’s aviation technology program concentrates on professional flight training and aviation management. Students get abundant hands-on training with a fleet of aircraft that includes helicopters, jets, and twin propeller planes.

University of North Dakota

Location: Grand Forks, ND

Rating: 9/10

Acceptance Rate: 83%

Avg SAT Score: 1100

Tuition: $8,695 per year (in-state)

Avg Salary After Graduation: $55,000

Website: www.und.edu

The University of North Dakota has an acclaimed Center for Aerospace Sciences. It provides education for future pilots, air traffic controllers, aviation managers, mechanics, and other industry professionals. The school operates an impressive fleet of over 120 aircraft.

Western Michigan University

Location: Kalamazoo, MI

Rating: 8.5/10

Acceptance Rate: 82%

Avg SAT Score: 1090

Tuition: $12,482 per year (in-state)

Avg Salary After Graduation: $67,600

Website: www.wmich.edu

Wester Michigan University’s College of Aviation offers highly respected flight training, aviation maintenance tech, and aviation science and administration programs. The college has a strong reputation for placing graduates with commercial airlines and aerospace companies.

Liberty University

Location: Lynchburg, VA

Rating: 8.5/10

Acceptance Rate: 47%

Avg SAT Score: 1060

Tuition: $23,800 per year

Avg Salary After Graduation: $59,500

Website: www.liberty.edu

Liberty University’s School of Aeronautics provides professional pilot, aviation maintenance, avionics, and unmanned aerial systems degree programs. The flight program operates a fleet of over 50 aircraft. Graduates report high job placement rates.

Jacksonville University

Location: Jacksonville, FL

Rating: 8/10

Acceptance Rate: 73%

Avg SAT Score: 1100

Tuition: $37,000 per year

Avg Salary After Graduation: $62,800

Website: www.ju.edu

The Davis Aviation Center at Jacksonville University offers respected aviation management and flight operations programs. Students can obtain FAA certifications from private pilot up to airline transport pilot. Graduates work for companies like U.S. Airways, FedEx, and American Eagle.

Middle Tennessee State University

Location: Murfreesboro, TN

Rating: 8/10

Acceptance Rate: 84%

Avg SAT Score: 1060

Tuition: $29,044 per year (in-state)

Avg Salary After Graduation: $51,100

Website: www.mtsu.edu

Middle Tennessee State University has highly-ranked professional pilot and aerospace degree programs. The aerospace department manages a large fleet of aircraft and an FAA-certified aviation maintenance program. Graduates report excellent job placement rates.

LeTourneau University

Location: Longview, TX

Rating: 7.5/10

Acceptance Rate: 67%

Avg SAT Score: 1070

Tuition: $30,770 per year

Avg Salary After Graduation: $54,800

Website: www.letu.edu

LeTourneau offers respected aviation degrees including flight dispatch, aviation management, and professional pilot. It provides top-notch flight training to certifications like CFI and multi-engine instructor. Graduates work for companies like ExpressJet, SkyWest, and ACE Aviation.

Arizona State University Polytechnic Campus

Location: Mesa, AZ

Rating: 7.5/10

Acceptance Rate: 86%

Avg SAT Score: 1165

Tuition: $15,078 per year (in-state)

Avg Salary After Graduation: $67,400

Website: www.poly.asu.edu

ASU’s Polytechnic campus has a flight school, aviation business management degrees, and more. It also has a fleet of Cirrus SR-20 aircraft and Redbird flight simulators. Graduates report high career placement rates across the aviation field.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What aviation degrees can I study?

Common aviation degrees include professional flight training, aeronautical science, aviation mechanics/maintenance, aviation management, air traffic control, drone technology, aerospace engineering and more specialized fields.

What are the costs of an aviation degree?

Tuition and fees for aviation degrees vary significantly between public state colleges, private schools, vocational-tech programs, and more. Costs for flight training equipment and flight hours also add to overall costs. In general costs range from $10,000 per year to over $35,000 per year.

How much do graduates of aviation schools earn?

Salaries for aviation careers span a wide range. Airline pilots average around $100,000 to $150,000. Aircraft mechanics average $50,000 to $70,000. Air traffic controllers average over $100,000. Graduates in aviation administration and other roles generally earn $40,000 to $80,000.

What are admission requirements for aviation schools?

Admissions criteria varies between aviation schools, but usually includes having a minimum high school GPA (e.g. 3.0) and SAT/ACT scores. Pilot training programs also require passing an FAA medical exam. Some public flight schools require fly-in try-outs to assess piloting aptitude.

Can international students attend U.S. flight schools?

Yes, many U.S. aviation schools admit international students. However, there are additional requirements regarding visas, sponsorship, English fluency tests, and TSA background checks that international candidates must meet to train in U.S. flight schools.

How competitive are aviation degree programs?

Some specialized aviation degrees in fields like aerospace engineering are highly competitive with low acceptance rates. Flight training degree programs can also be competitive depending on the school and level of demand. However, most aviation tech and aviation operations/administration programs have reasonable acceptance rates.

What is the difference between Part 141 and 61 flight schools?

Part 141 flight schools have additional oversights and structure, with courses pre-approved by the FAA. Graduates typically have minimum flight hour requirements for certificates/ratings. Part 61 schools have more flexibility but require more self-guidance. Both have pros and cons.

Do aviation schools partner with commercial airlines?

Many aviation universities partner with regional and major airlines. These airlines often recruit students for internships and offer direct interview pipelines upon graduation. However, the strength of connections depends on the school and relationships with specific airlines change over time.

What aviation careers require college degrees?

Piloting airlines, engineering roles, aviation management, air traffic control, accident investigation, aviation regulation compliance, and aviation research typically require bachelor’s or master’s degrees. Other careers like mechanics and flight instructors involve certificate-based training.

What types of financial aid are available for flight school?

Scholarships specifically for flight training and aviation degrees are available through some universities, companies, non-profits, government sources and competitive private funding programs. Most schools also provide federal student aid programs. Aviation loan repayment options also exist for some careers.

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Rohit Mittal

Rohit Mittal is the co-founder and CEO of Stilt. Rohit has extensive experience in credit risk analytics and data science. He spent years building credit risk and fraud models for top U.S. banks. In his current role, he defines the overall business strategy, leads debt and capital fundraising efforts, leads product development, and leads other customer-related aspects for the company. Stilt is backed by Y Combinator and has raised a total of $275M in debt and equity funding to date.