What Classes Will I Need to Take to Become an Aerospace Engineer?

Aerospace engineering teaches students the technical skills to design, produce and test space- and aircraft. Generally after your sophomore year you'll be asked to focus on either aerospace or aeronautics. Aeronautics focuses on airplanes and aerospace deals with space flight. Read on to see where your flight path will take you. Schools offering Engineering & Technology Management degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Aerospace Engineering Degrees

Aerospace engineering undergraduate degrees are generally offered as 4-year bachelor's degree programs. Some schools also offer combined bachelor's/master's degree programs. These BS/MS degree programs usually take an extra year to complete. You will find some schools that offer two programs: one for aerospace or astronautics, and another for aeronautics. Some students also double major with a second engineering degree, such as mechanical engineering. You also have the option to pursue a doctorate.

Important Facts about Studying Aerospace Engineering

Prerequisites Graduate study requires a bachelor's degree or work experience in a related field
Concentrations Aerospace engineering systems, astrodynamics and satellite navigation, bioastronautics
Online Availability Fully online coursework available at the graduate level
Similar Occupations Astronaut, professor, CEO or manager of an aerospace corporation
Median Salary (2018)$115,220
Job Growth (2016-2026)6% (As fast as average)

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Freshman and Sophomore Years

In your freshman year, you'll begin with general engineering, math and science courses and then, in your sophomore year, you'll study introductory aerospace-related subjects. You'll still have to pass your general education courses while you complete the requirements for your major. Some of the aerospace classes you'll take include:

  • Engineering physics
  • Calculus and advanced geometry
  • Designing circuitry
  • Computer programs for engineers
  • Solid and fluid mechanics studies
  • Structures and materials
  • Statics and dynamics

Junior and Senior Years

Some programs may ask students to concentrate in either aeronautics or astronautics; others may teach both. Also, many programs include a senior design project, which is an opportunity to test your knowledge in real-world applications. Some schools may partner with businesses in the industry for these projects.

Junior and Senior Year Aeronautics Courses:

  • Aircraft structural design
  • Studies in aerodynamics
  • Flight control system design and analysis
  • Rocket and turbine engine studies

Junior and Senior Year Astronautics Courses:

  • Space flight mechanics
  • Attitudinal dynamics for spacecraft
  • Structural design for spacecraft
  • Propulsion systems for space travel

Master's Degree Classes

Master's programs give you another two years of research and project-based study. You can also find programs that give you a sub-specialization within your chosen field. Some of these focuses include things like orbital systems in satellites or designing living environments and space suits in bioastronautics. Many of the programs will still require classes from the primary aerospace study plans.

Aeronautic Studies Courses:

  • Systems design theory
  • Fluid dynamic flow issues
  • Hypersonic flow dynamics
  • Inertia relative to navigation

Astronautic Studies Courses:

  • Interaction in spacecraft environments
  • Architecture of space exploration systems
  • Navigational system design for space exploration
  • Spacecraft design on a budget
  • Rocket fuel propulsion mechanics

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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