15 Top Aviation Colleges 2024

If the idea of soaring through the skies has always captured your imagination, then aviation college could be your ticket to a thrilling career. These institutions offer comprehensive education in piloting aircraft and aeronautics, paving the way for exciting opportunities as private, commercial, or cargo pilots. With the allure of breathtaking views, flexible schedules, and the responsibility of safely transporting passengers, aviation stands out as a uniquely rewarding profession.

Education and Training at Top Aviation Colleges

Embarking on a journey to become a commercial or airline pilot begins with earning a bachelor’s degree in aviation. This rigorous program covers essential subjects such as aeronautics, meteorology, safety protocols, aviation law, and leadership, alongside mandatory flight training hours. It’s a comprehensive curriculum designed to equip aspiring pilots with the knowledge and skills needed to navigate the skies safely and confidently.

Career Opportunities After Graduation

Upon graduation, aviation college alumni can anticipate stepping into well-compensated positions in a field that continues to expand. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual salary for airline and commercial pilots is $134,630. Moreover, job prospects for pilots are projected to grow by 6% from 2021 to 2031. With each flight presenting unique challenges and opportunities for hands-on learning and problem-solving, aviation offers a dynamic career path. In fact, U.S. News ranks pilots as #4 in the list of best social services jobs and #10 in the category of best-paying jobs.

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Top Aviation Colleges

Looking to discover the top aviation colleges that suit your aspirations? You’re in luck! Just as there are countless types of aircraft in the sky, there’s a diverse array of colleges offering aviation programs. Dive into our list to explore these exceptional programs and find the perfect match for your unique needs and ambitions.

Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University

Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University stands out for its distinct majors catering to students interested in flying fixed-wing or rotary-wing aircraft. Recognized as one of the best aviation colleges by Grad Reports, Embry-Riddle boasts an impressive record, with its Golden Eagles Flight Team securing 36 consecutive regional championships and 15 national SAFECON championships. With strong connections to prominent names in aviation like United, JetBlue, and Delta, students at this private institution benefit from valuable industry partnerships.

Annual Tuition: $42,204 Location: Prescott, Arizona

Florida Institute of Technology

Known for its robust aviation programs, Florida Institute of Technology offers a wide range of associate’s and bachelor’s degree programs. From aeronautical science to aviation meteorology and aviation management, students have various majors to choose from. Those aspiring to become pilots can pursue a specialized degree in aeronautical science with a flight emphasis. Additionally, students can opt for ROTC pathways or career pathway programs leading to opportunities with ExpressJet or Delta. Florida Tech also provides avenues for graduate studies in aviation or an accelerated MBA program.

Annual Tuition: $43,246 Location: Melbourne, Florida

University of Oklahoma

Listed among the nation’s best aviation colleges by Flying Magazine, the University of Oklahoma offers majors in aviation management or professional pilot tracks. Students benefit from paid and volunteer opportunities with reputable organizations such as Southwest Airlines, American Airlines, and UPS, fostering valuable industry connections. With comparatively lower tuition rates, UO ensures affordability without compromising quality education.

Annual In-State Tuition: $4,655 Annual Out-of-State Tuition: $12,939 Location: Norman, Oklahoma

Ohio University

Ohio University offers both two-year and four-year pathways to becoming a pilot, allowing students to pursue associate’s or bachelor’s degrees in aviation. In the associate’s program, students earn certifications in private and commercial pilot training, while the bachelor’s program includes coursework in business management, meteorology, and advanced flight training. With a comprehensive curriculum and practical training opportunities, Ohio University equips students for success in the aviation industry.

Annual In-State Tuition: $12,840 Annual Out-of-State Tuition: $22,810 Location: Athens, Ohio

University of North Dakota

Renowned for its comprehensive aviation programs, the University of North Dakota offers majors in commercial aviation, aviation studies, aviation safety and operations, and aviation management. Setting itself apart, UND also provides training in unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), offering students unique opportunities to engage with industry leaders like Northrop Grumman and General Atomics. With a strong focus on practical learning and industry partnerships, UND prepares students for diverse career paths in aviation.

Annual In-State Tuition: $12,897 Annual Out-of-State Tuition: $30,752 Location: Grand Forks, North Dakota

Purdue University

Ranked consistently among the best aviation colleges, Purdue University, located in West Lafayette, Indiana, offers seven different undergraduate aviation majors, providing a comprehensive range of study options for aviation enthusiasts. Whether aspiring to become a pilot through their professional flight major or focusing on aeronautical engineering or airport and airline management, Purdue provides solid industry connections and internship opportunities with major airline partners like Envoy, Frontier, and Atlas Air.

Annual In-State Tuition: $9,992 Annual Out-of-State Tuition: $28,794 Location: West Lafayette, Indiana

Auburn University

With over 80 years of experience in pilot education, Auburn University stands as one of the oldest institutions offering aviation programs in the nation. Undergraduate students can opt for majors in professional flight and aviation management. Additionally, students with diverse academic interests can pursue a minor in either field alongside a major in another discipline. Auburn’s strong partnerships with major airlines such as Delta, JetBlue, Southwest, and United contribute to its reputation as one of the premier aviation colleges.

Annual In-State Tuition: $11,826 Annual Out-of-State Tuition: $31,986 Location: Auburn, Alabama

Baylor University

Baylor University, a private Baptist Christian college situated in Waco, Texas, offers majors in aviation sciences or aviation administration within a faith-based academic environment. Prospective pilots can pursue the aviation sciences major, specializing in airplane or helicopter flight. Taught by faculty with extensive experience in commercial, corporate, and military aviation, Baylor’s curriculum is designed to equip students for success in the field. Additionally, Baylor facilitates major credit acquisition through its Aviation Internship in Industry course, further enhancing students’ career readiness.

Annual Tuition: $50,232 Location: Waco, Texas

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Western Michigan University

Home to the largest flight school in the Midwest, Western Michigan University boasts a fleet of 28 Cirrus SR20s for pilot training. Offering majors in aviation flight science, aviation technical operation, and aviation management, this public university provides comprehensive education and career development opportunities. With an emphasis on preparing students for military service, WMU’s ROTC program offers leadership positions in the Air Force or Space Force post-graduation.

Annual In-State Tuition: $13,434 Annual Out-of-State Tuition: $16,768 Location: Kalamazoo, Michigan

Kansas State University

Situated at the Salina campus, Kansas State University’s aviation program offers a diverse range of majors and certificates, catering to various career paths. Students can pursue a bachelor’s in professional aviation through a fully online program, ideal for those who already hold a pilot’s license. Alternatively, students seeking pilot training while enrolled can opt for a professional pilot degree. With a 98% acceptance rate, KSU emphasizes affordability through financial assistance and aviation-specific scholarships.

Annual In-State Tuition (per credit hour): $292 Annual Out-of-State Tuition (per credit hour): $788 Location: Salina, Kansas

Bowling Green State University

Standing out among colleges with aviation programs, Bowling Green State University boasts a regional airport right on campus, providing convenient access for students. Offering majors in flight technology and operations as well as aviation management and operations, BGSU provides diverse pathways for aspiring aviators. With recent investments in fleet modernization and state-of-the-art simulation training devices, students benefit from enhanced learning opportunities and practical training experiences.

Annual In-State Tuition: $13,061 Annual Out-of-State Tuition: $21,049 Location: Bowling Green, Ohio

Utah State University

At Utah State University, students have the option to specialize in fixed-wing, rotary-wing, or unmanned aerial systems, catering to diverse interests in aviation. Nestled at the foot of the scenic Wellsville Mountains, USU offers a comprehensive aviation program with opportunities for hands-on learning. With internships and cadet programs with industry leaders like SkyWest, Envoy, and American Airlines, USU equips students with valuable industry experience and prepares them for successful careers in aviation.

Annual In-State Tuition: $8,960 Annual Out-of-State Tuition: $24,080 Location: Logan, Utah

South Dakota State University

South Dakota State University offers a unique aviation degree with specializations in aviation education or aviation maintenance management. Students in the education specialization often secure positions as flight instructors during their final years, gaining valuable teaching experience. Meanwhile, maintenance management majors gain hands-on skills by working on aircraft in the hangar. With affordable tuition rates and a focus on practical training, SDSU provides a supportive environment for students pursuing careers in aviation.

Annual In-State Tuition: $9,299 Annual Out-of-State Tuition: $12,809 Location: Brookings, South Dakota

Saint Louis University

Saint Louis University offers a bachelor’s degree in aeronautics with concentrations in aviation management and flight science, preparing students for careers as professional pilots. With internship opportunities at leading airlines like Delta, Southwest, JetBlue, and United, SLU students gain real-world experience in the aviation industry. Known for its student-centered approach and smaller class sizes, SLU provides individualized flight instruction and equips students with the skills needed for success in aviation.

Annual Tuition: $49,800 Location: St. Louis, Missouri

San José State University

San José State University offers four majors in aviation management, flight operations, professional flight, and maintenance management, catering to diverse career interests in aviation. The professional flight major provides students with a strong foundation in aviation principles and advanced coursework in aeronautics and avionics. With opportunities for hands-on work experience through for-credit internship courses, SJSU prepares students for rewarding careers in the aviation industry.

Annual In-State Tuition: $7,852 Annual Out-of-State Tuition: $19,732 Location: San Jose, California


In the vast skies of aviation education, these 15 top-notch colleges stand out as beacons of excellence, each offering unique programs and opportunities for aspiring pilots and aviation professionals. Whether you’re drawn to the scenic mountains of Utah, the bustling cityscapes of Missouri, or the sunny coast of California, there’s a perfect fit for every aviation enthusiast. With a blend of hands-on training, industry partnerships, and academic excellence, these institutions pave the way for successful careers in the dynamic world of aviation. So spread your wings, aim high, and embark on an exciting journey toward achieving your aviation dreams at one of these outstanding colleges.