25 Best Values For Aerospace Engineering Degrees

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Aerospace Engineering Degrees

Aerospace engineering is a fast-paced, dynamic discipline that focuses on the design, maintenance, and enhancement of all types of airborne vehicles, from airplanes to missiles to space shuttles. In college, aerospace engineering majors are probably the only students who don’t have to worry that teachers will reprimand them for having their “head in the clouds.” In fact, that’s where their heads belong!

If you’re interested in pursuing a major in aerospace engineering or aeronautics, you’ve come to the right place. There is a long list of colleges and universities that offer such programs, and finding the time to research and compare each and every one would be nearly impossible. But that’s our job at Best Value Schools, and that’s exactly what we’ve done. Using our characteristic approach, which combines an assessment of both cost and quality to bring you the very best in low cost, high reward education, we’ve put together a list of the 30 best value aerospace engineering degrees. Read more about our methodology here, or scroll down to see which schools made the final cut.

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Top 10 Ranking Aerospace Engineering Schools

Methodology

To begin, we acquired a list of all the colleges and universities in the United States that offer bachelor’s degrees in aerospace engineering (courtesy of College Navigator). Next, we compared this set to a list of all ABET-accredited programs. Schools needed to have earned specific accreditation for their aerospace engineering degrees in order to qualify; it was not sufficient to have an ABET-accredited general engineering curriculum. From here, we collected data on five equally weighted metrics:

Graduation Rate: Specifically, graduation rate refers to the percentage of students who earn their degree within 150% of normal time, defined to be six years for a typical four-year undergraduate degree. While this statistic is not specific to aerospace engineering programs, we thought it was important to include it as an indicator of overall student success, as well as of the schools’ performance on measures of student “output” (as opposed to measures of “input,” ex. selectivity). Source: College Navigator.

Accreditation Date: Achieving accreditation status is a big deal for academic programs; it serves as an indication that the curriculum meets rigorous, nationwide standards and demonstrates an ability to prepare students for relevant career fields. In order to make the most of this metric, we looked at each degree’s accreditation date. In general, schools that have been accredited for longer periods of time also have more comprehensive programs, have had more opportunities to revise and enhance the curriculum, and have had more time to attract top-tier faculty. Source: Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET).

Degree Popularity: Many colleges – especially large universities – offer a vast array of engineering degrees. When freshman engineering majors have so many options, what does it take for them to choose sky and space over other specialties? We considered that particularly robust aerospace engineering programs likely attract a large number of aspiring engineers, relative to other engineering degrees available at the school. Thus, we assessed schools on degree popularity, or the percentage of students earning aerospace degrees out of all engineering degrees awarded in the most recent school year. Source: College Navigator.

Engineering Popularity: On a related note, we also considered the benefit of attending a college or university with broad strengths in engineering and STEM on the whole, such as tech institutes. In general, these schools funnel more money into their engineering programs, have more and better engineering facilities, and house a larger population of like-minded engineering students. Thus, we assessed schools on engineering popularity, or the percentage of students earning an engineering degree (of any kind) out of all undergraduate degrees awarded in the most recent school year. Source: College Navigator.

Net Price: Of course, no best value ranking would be complete without an assessment of cost. We judged schools on their overall affordability by looking at their self-reported net price. Note that this figure is distinct from tuition, in that it “is generated by subtracting the average amount of federal, state/local government, or institutional grant or scholarship aid from the total cost of attendance. Total cost of attendance is the sum of published tuition and required fees (lower of in-district or in-state), books and supplies, and the weighted average for room and board and other expenses.” Source: College Navigator.

We gave each school points for their performance in each of the aforementioned categories, then summed the amounts to calculate raw totals. Lastly, we “curved” these calculations so that the school with the most points received an A+ score (or 100 points), adjusting the other scores in kind. You can find the 25 highest-scoring schools below, along with descriptions of their top aerospace engineering degree programs.

  1. Georgia Institute of Technology-Main Campus
    Location

    Atlanta, GA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    97% of all undergraduate students who start Georgia Tech continue through to a second year of study. Those committed to earning an aerospace engineering degree complete a 132-credit program designed to develop well-rounded, professional engineers. Core courses in the humanities and social sciences compliment core courses in mathematics, science, and laboratory work. Georgia Tech allows each engineering student to participate in a variety of enriching experiences as they develop understanding of aerospace vehicles and their subsystems, including hands-on learning, internships, international study, and research. Studies culminate with a senior capstone course, focused on one of three areas — rotorcraft, fixed-wing, or spacecraft.
    Net Price: $12,187/yr
    Score: 100

  2. Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
    Location

    Blacksburg, VA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Aerospace engineering undergraduates at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University literally "Invent The Future" by developing and designing aircraft and watercraft that defy the conventions of existing vehicles. At the AOE Studio for Design Innovation, Virginia Tech students have access to eight "dedicated engineering work stations,"which provide cutting-edge tools and computing equipment for design projects. But plane and rocket design are not simply part of the aerospace engineering curriculum at Virginia Tech; they are also an integral aspect of departmental and student culture. With dozens of competitive and non-competitive student engineering organizations, Virginia Tech offers one of the best aerospace engineering degrees for students who want to make something new while making friends with like-minded classmates.
    Net Price: $18,398/yr
    Score: 94.74

  3. Purdue University-Main Campus
    Location

    West Lafayette, IN

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Purdue University is the proud alma mater of a staggering 23 NASA astronauts (including Neil Armstrong), and dozens of other aerospace engineers who helped put those courageous men and women into outer space. That being said, it's hardly a surprise that Purdue places so highly on our list - and earns a top 5 undergraduate aerospace engineering school ranking from U.S. News, too. Reputation aside, Purdue is also notable for its specialized engineering curriculum. Under this model, students select both a major and minor within the discipline in order to make the most of their education, choosing from topics like Aerodynamics, Structures and Materials, Propulsion, Dynamics and Controls, and Aerospace Systems Design.
    Net Price: $13,081/yr
    Score: 94.17

  4. Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
    Location

    Troy, NY

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Among all of the metrics for judging the quality of a school—student-teacher ratio, class size, tuition, course offerings, etc.—the surest bet of all is student outcome, and that's exactly where Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute excels. With corporate affiliates that include Boeing, Corning Inc, and General Electric, Rensselaer is a feeder school to some of the most prestigious careers available in the industry. These companies regularly present technical seminars and coordinate with faculty liaisons to recruit and inspire students through research and extracurricular organizations. Rensselaer even sponsors "co-terminal" students who complete an additional year of research credits beyond the BS to present the height of undergraduate work to corporate recruiters.
    Net Price: $36,374/yr
    Score: 93.93

  5. Wichita State University
    Location

    Wichita, KS

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Located in what is famously known as The Air Capital of the World, Wichita State University has one of the best aerospace engineering degree programs in the country. Leading names in aviation are literally neighbors of WSU, including Airbus, Boeing, Bombardier-Learjet, Cessna, Hawker Beechcraft, and Spirit AeroSystems. Naturally, this makes WSU's cooperative work program one of the most sought-after in the nation. But the perks don't stop there; students also benefit from access to WSU's National Institute for Aviation Research, which easily competes with the laboratory resources at any of the aforementioned corporations.
    Net Price: $9,843/yr
    Score: 86.96

  6. University of Washington-Seattle Campus
    Location

    Seattle, WA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Named after one of the titans of air travel and aircraft technology, the University of Washington's William E. Boeing Department of Aeronautics & Astronautics is truly a part of history. Even before UW officially established this department, the school's aerospace engineers were proving themselves vital to the growth of the industry. So much so, in fact that Boeing personally donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to build the school's Aerodynamics Laboratory and the Aeronautics & Astronautics building, both of which have become points of pride on the UW campus. Although it remains one of the smaller programs in the country (with fewer than 150 undergraduates enrolled), UW nonetheless leads the nation in undergraduate research and industry sponsorship.
    Net Price: $10,374/yr
    Score: 85.05

  7. The University of Texas at Austin
    Location

    Austin, TX

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Graduates of the aerospace program at the University of Texas work in a variety of interdisciplinary fields — for airlines, NASA, the US Department of Defense, and construction, technology, and energy companies. UT's aerospace engineering degree requirements include a 127-credit curriculum accredited by the Engineering Accreditation Commission of ABET. A mix of general education, mathematics, engineering, and science classes prepare students to enter the workforce or pursue graduate study. Choose from two different concentration options, in atmospheric flight or space flight, to customize your degree plan according to your goals. A variety of campus clubs and organizations allow for networking and hands-on experiences outside of class hours.
    Net Price: $16,832/yr
    Score: 83.21

  8. Texas A & M University-College Station
    Location

    College Station, TX

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    It should come as no surprise that Texas A & M University scored a #8 undergraduate aerospace engineering school ranking from U.S. News. Introduced in 1928, Texas's Aerospace Engineering Department is one of the oldest in the nation and has consistently set the bar sky high for research in space exploration, sustainable energy, and national defense. No small part of the department's strong reputation is its longstanding relationships with NASA and the Department of Defense, which not only supply ample research funding, but also regularly provide summer internship opportunities and scholarships for undergraduate students.
    Net Price: $11,725/yr
    Score: 82.82

  9. University of Cincinnati-Main Campus
    Location

    Cincinnati, OH

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    The University of Cincinnati has landed among The Princeton Review's top institutions for undergraduate learning nine consecutive times, but that's not our only justification for its high aerospace engineering school ranking. Cincinnati's Department of Aerospace Engineering integrates aeronautics and astronautics to provide a comprehensive education that can adapt to either field, giving undecided students plenty of opportunities to explore both options. What's more, students can partake in a cooperative work/education program that alternates every quarter, allowing them to finance their education while simultaneously gaining traction in the professional field of their choice.
    Net Price: $19,739/yr
    Score: 82.70

  10. United States Naval Academy
    Location

    Annapolis, MD

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Along with the Air Force Academy, the United States Naval Academy is tied for the most affordable school for aerospace engineering in the world. After all, you can't get any cheaper than $0! And while you might think that the Air Force would be better equipped to educate students in aeronautics and astronautics, the Navy commands considerably more fighter jets and auxiliary aircraft. U.S. Naval Academy graduates are also among the highest earners of any college in the country, with a starting salary averaging over $80,000 a year, according to CNN. Owing to dedicated internship opportunities at Lockheed Martin and NASA, aerospace engineers from the U.S. Naval Academy find success in government and private industry work alike.
    Net Price: $0/yr
    Score: 82.03

Sources:
College Navigator
Accrediting Board for Engineering & Technology (ABET)
The American Institute of Aeronautics & Astronautics (AIAA)
CNN – Highest Paid Graduates

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