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Timothy Peck
13 College Lists

The 30 Best Colleges for Aerospace Engineering

What’s Covered:

 

A degree in aerospace engineering can open the doors to a variety of careers—for example, it can lead to professional positions designing air and space crafts, processing data generated by computer simulations, and drafting the technical drawings and specification sheets used in production and manufacturing. Many undergraduate aerospace engineering students will also go to graduate school. No matter what path an aerospace engineering student decides to take, their prospects are bolstered by attending a top school, such as the ones found below on our list of the best 30 colleges for aerospace engineering. 

 

 

How We Made This List

 

CollegeVine considered a number of factors when building our list of the 30 best colleges for aerospace engineering, including the reputation of the program, overall school quality, and median earnings of graduates of the major. CollegeVine also weighed the popularity of the major within the school, the size of the program relative to school size, and the student-faculty ratio of the program.

 

The 30 Best Colleges for Aerospace Engineering

 

1. Massachusetts Institute of Technology | MIT

 

Location: Cambridge, MA

Undergrad Enrollment: 4,600

Acceptance Rate: 7%

Middle 50% SAT/ACT: 1510-1570/34-36 

 

Every university in the nation looks up to MIT’s renowned Aerospace Engineering program. MIT aerospace students are provided a foundation in the disciplines required to engineer aerospace vehicles and systems. Over the course of their studies, students will cover topics such as aerodynamics, fluid mechanics, propulsion, structural design and analysis, advanced materials, and dynamics.

 

The undergraduate Aerospace Engineering program at MIT culminates with a sequence of aerospace laboratories and a capstone project that challenges students to apply what they learned and integrate multiple disciplines—for example, tasking them to design an aircraft or spacecraft system.

 

2. California Institute of Technology | Caltech

 

Location: Pasadena, CA 

Undergrad Enrollment: 900

Acceptance Rate: 7%

Middle 50% SAT/ACT: N/A

 

How impressive is Caltech’s Aerospace Engineering program? Caltech is near the top of our list of the best colleges for aerospace engineering despite only offering the program as a minor. Caltech’s reputation in the field of aerospace engineering is unimpeachable and traces its roots back to 1891, more than a decade before the Wright Brothers’ first powered flight at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. Over the years, GALCIT (Graduate Aerospace Laboratories of the California Institute of Technology) has earned a reputation for its stellar staff and unparalleled experimental facilities in solids, fluids, biomechanics, propulsion, combustion, and materials, as well as unique large-scale computational capabilities. 

 

3. Stanford University

 

Location: Stanford, CA 

Undergrad Enrollment: 7,000

Acceptance Rate: 5%

Middle 50% SAT/ACT: 1470-1560/34-35 

 

Stanford’s Aeronautics and Astronautics undergraduate program provides students with a foundation in principles and techniques in the conception, design, implementation, and operation of aerospace and related engineering systems. Stanford aeronautics and astronautics graduates are prepared for a variety of careers, in fields such as:

 

  • Aircraft and spacecraft engineering
  • Autonomy
  • Robotics and drones
  • Unmanned aerial vehicles
  • Space exploration
  • Air- and space-based telecommunications 
  • Computational engineering
  • Teaching and research
  • Military service 


Along with the fields listed above, Stanford Aeronautics and Astronautics grads will also find themselves well prepared for a host of other careers in technology-intensive fields.

 

4. Georgia Institute of Technology | Georgia Tech

 

Location: Atlanta, GA 

Undergrad Enrollment: 16,000

Acceptance Rate: 21%

Middle 50% SAT/ACT: 1370-1520/31-35 

 

The Daniel Guggenheim School of Aerospace Engineering at Georgia Tech can trace its roots back more than a century to the waning days of World War I when the university helped train U.S. Army pilots. A unique characteristic of Georgia Tech’s Aerospace Engineering program is its Mentors In Residence initiative, which pairs students with professionals and provides the space to talk about topics of interest to the student—from career advice to the state of the industry to technology trends. Thinking about applying to the Daniel Guggenheim School of Aerospace Engineering? Keep in mind that 97% of its incoming aerospace engineering students have taken AP calculus. 

 

5. University of Michigan

 

Location: Ann Arbor, MI 

Undergrad Enrollment: 30,300 

Acceptance Rate: 26%

Middle 50% SAT/ACT: 1360-1530/31-35 

 

The University of Michigan (U-M) isn’t just one of the best colleges for aerospace engineering in the U.S., but also in the world. Shanghai Ranking—an annual publication rating the world’s best universities—places U-M sixth in its aerospace engineering category, the highest rank of any U.S. institution. The University of Michigan has the largest aerospace engineering alumni base in the country, which provides students with a variety of internship opportunities along with opening numerous doors to careers in both the private and public sectors. The university’s Sequential Undergraduate/Graduate Studies (SUGS) program allows students to earn a bachelor’s degree and master’s degree in just five years. 

 

6. Purdue University

 

Location: West Lafayette, IN 

Undergrad Enrollment: 33,700

Acceptance Rate: 67%

Middle 50% SAT/ACT: 1190-1430/26-33

 

Purdue University is home to one of the most renowned Aerospace Engineering programs in the country, thanks to notable alumni like Neil Armstrong, the first person to walk on the moon and a Purdue graduate with a degree in aeronautical engineering. Eugene Cernan, the last American to walk on the moon was also a Purdue graduate; he earned his degree in electrical engineering before earning a master’s in aerospace engineering from the United States Naval Post Graduate School. Purdue is also home to Zucrow Labs, the largest academic propulsion lab in the world. It sits on 24 acres and its research capabilities encompass disciplines such as:

 

  • Combustion
  • Turbomachinery
  • Energetic materials
  • Measurement and control
  • Computational fluid mechanics
  • Particle flow heat transfer

 

7. Princeton University

 

Location: Princeton, NJ 

Undergrad Enrollment: 5,400 

Acceptance Rate: 6%

Middle 50% SAT/ACT: 1470-1560/33-35 

 

Students in Princeton University’s Aerospace Engineering program are challenged in both the sciences and liberal arts, helping to expose them to diverse perspectives, think from multiple viewpoints, and strengthen their insights. Princeton prioritizes teaching—classes feature low student-to-teacher ratios and faculty are available for advice and discussions. Princeton aerospace engineering students are required to engage in an independent project or complete a senior thesis before graduation, which provides them the chance to work on real-world engineering problems in collaboration with faculty members and their graduate students.

 

8. University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign | UIUC

 

Location: Champaign, IL 

Undergrad Enrollment: 33,900 

Acceptance Rate: 63%

Middle 50% SAT/ACT: 1340-1510/29-34

 

An undergraduate degree in aerospace engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign provides students with a foundation of knowledge in engineering, mathematics, and science, along with the understanding of how to apply it to the analysis and design of aircraft and spacecraft. UIUC’s Grainger College of Engineering is proud of its student outcomes—the average starting salary of its graduates earning a bachelor’s degree is $86,149, significantly higher than the national average. Graduates are Grainger College of Engineering found positions at highly desirable companies like Collins Aerospace, GE Aviation, and SpaceX. 

 

9. Cornell University

 

Location: Ithaca, NY 

Undergrad Enrollment: 15,100

Acceptance Rate: 11%

Middle 50% SAT/ACT: 1450-1540/33-35 

 

Cornell University doesn’t offer students the opportunity to major in aerospace engineering, however, those who wish to study at the school’s renowned Sibley School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering can pursue a degree in mechanical engineering while minoring in aerospace engineering. Students minoring in aerospace engineering will develop the skills needed to analyze and design aerospace vehicles and their subsystems through coursework in aerospace and fundamental engineering.  

 

10. Texas A&M University

 

Location: College Station, TX 

Undergrad Enrollment: 53,700 

Acceptance Rate: 63%

Middle 50% SAT/ACT: 1170-1380/26-32

 

Texas A&M University introduced its first aeronautical courses in 1928 and established its Department of Aeronautical Engineering in 1940, renaming it the Department of Aerospace Engineering in 1963. Texas A&M’s curriculum is balanced across four principal disciplines of aerospace engineering:

 

  • Aerodynamics and propulsion
  • Dynamics and control
  • Materials and structures
  • Systems, design, and human integration

 

Camp SOAR (Summer Opportunities in Aerospace Research) is a fantastic program for prospective Texas A&M aerospace engineering students. The six-day summer camp allows high school juniors and seniors to spend a week at Texas A&M while working on hands-on engineering projects and touring the university’s research facilities. 

 

11. University of California, Los Angeles | UCLA

 

Location: Los Angeles, CA 

Undergrad Enrollment: 31,500

Acceptance Rate: 14%

Middle 50% SAT/ACT: N/A 

 

Aerospace engineering is known for operating at the highest levels of technology and graduates of UCLA’s Aerospace Engineering program are uniquely prepared to work at the forefront of innovation and science. Aerospace engineering is a capstone major at UCLA and graduates are required to complete a project that exposes them to the design, development, and production of a component, such as a lightweight wing, to graduate. UCLA’s location is enticing to many aerospace engineers; it’s within close proximity to companies like SpaceX and Northrop Grumman, along with numerous startups—L.A. is often referred to as Silicon Beach!

 

12. University of Colorado Boulder | CU Boulder

 

Location: Boulder, CO 

Undergrad Enrollment: 30,100 

Acceptance Rate: 84%

Middle 50% SAT/ACT: 1180-1380/25-31

 

There are a lot of factors that entice students to study aerospace engineering at CU Boulder. For example, Colorado is the nation’s second-largest aerospace economy and CU Boulder receives more NASA funding than any public university in the nation. CU Boulder is also one of the top non-military producers of astronauts, with 19 CU Boulder affiliates having flown in space as NASA astronauts. Even CU Boulder aerospace engineering graduates who don’t get the leave the Earth’s atmosphere have the chance to have an out-of-this-world career, going on to work at many of the country’s top companies, including ATK, Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, Northrop Grumman, Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp., and United Launch Alliance.

 

13. Virginia Tech

 

Location: Blacksburg, VA

Undergrad Enrollment: 27,800 

Acceptance Rate: 66%

Middle 50% SAT/ACT: 1210-1410/26-32

 

Virginia Tech’s Kevin T. Crofton Department of Aerospace and Ocean Engineering offers students the chance to major in aerospace or ocean engineering. Because these two tracks share a significant amount of coursework, it’s also possible for students to pursue a double major—either aerospace with ocean engineering or ocean with aerospace engineering. Virginia Tech aerospace engineering undergraduates also have the ability to tailor their degree to their interests through a variety of technical tracks, including: 

 

  • Aero/hydrodynamics 
  • Dynamics, control, and estimation
  • Energy and the environment 
  • Naval engineering 
  • Propulsion 
  • Space engineering 
  • Structures and materials 
  • Vehicle and system design

 

14. University of Minnesota, Twin Cities | Minnesota

 

Location: Minneapolis, MN 

Undergrad Enrollment: 34,400 

Acceptance Rate: 70%

Middle 50% SAT/ACT: 1320-1470/27-32 

 

Accredited in 1938, the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities’ Aerospace Engineering and Mechanics (AEM) program is the descendant of one of the nation’s first ten accredited aeronautical engineering programs. Today, the university places a priority on grounding the fundamentals of engineering into their students along with immersing them in hands-on projects and research. In 2019-2020, nearly 90% of AEM graduates found a position within six months of graduating and their mean salary was $71,301. 

 

15. University of Maryland, College Park | Maryland

 

Location: College Park, MD 

Undergrad Enrollment: 30,700

Acceptance Rate: 51%

Middle 50% SAT/ACT: 1340-1490/30-34

 

The University of Maryland, College Park, is one of the top public undergraduate aerospace engineering programs in the nation. Aerospace engineering is a stand-alone department at Maryland—not part of a larger department like at many other universities—that employs roughly 30 professors who solely or predominantly teach aerospace courses. Maryland aerospace students will take at least one aerospace course every semester, to help keep them enthusiastic about the field. Approximately half of Maryland aerospace engineering undergrads are employed in the university’s research labs, with some students starting research as soon as their freshman year. Maryland provides exceptional access to internships and careers—it’s within close proximity to Washington, D.C., and NASA Goddard.  

 

16. Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute | RPI

 

Location: Troy, NY

Undergrad Enrollment: 6,600 

Acceptance Rate: 57%

Middle 50% SAT/ACT: 1310-1460/29-34

 

Students studying aerospace engineering at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute are prepared for a variety of careers in industry, government, academia, and consulting. RPI students are critical thinkers and problem solvers who possess a foundational knowledge of the disciplines and technologies related to aircraft, space vehicles, and other vehicles and systems operating in aerodynamic and hydrodynamic environments. 

 

17. Ohio State University | OSU

 

Location: Columbus, OH

Undergrad Enrollment: 46,800 

Acceptance Rate: 68%

Middle 50% SAT/ACT: 1260-1420/26-32

 

Oho State University’s Aerospace Engineering program was founded in 1948 and has gained national recognition, thanks in part to its proximity to three major aerospace powerhouses: the NASA Glenn Research Center, Air Force Research Laboratory, and GE Aviation. OSU delivers students with broad knowledge of the field of aerospace engineering, while numerous technical electives allow for specialization. OSU is home to numerous state-of-the-art research and instructional laboratories, which give students the chance to gain firsthand experience working to solve real-world engineering challenges. 

 

18. University of Southern California | USC

 

Location: Los Angeles, CA

Undergrad Enrollment: 19,900 

Acceptance Rate: 16%

Middle 50% SAT/ACT: 1330-1520/30-34

 

Aeronautical engineering at USC instructs students in the design, build, and operation of space vehicles beyond the earth’s atmosphere and prepares students for a variety of careers, such as:   

 

  • Designing rocket vehicles
  • Designing, building, and testing satellites
  • Operating unmanned spacecraft and probes
  • Building space instrumentation and sensors
  • Conducting government research

 

In addition to opportunities inside USC classrooms, there are a number of extracurricular activities available to USC aeronautical engineering students, such as design teams like Rocket Propulsion Laboratory and organizations like the Society of Women Engineers.

 

19. Pennsylvania State University | Penn State

 

Location: University Park, PA

Undergrad Enrollment: 40,300 

Acceptance Rate: 54%

Middle 50% SAT/ACT: 1160-1370/25-30

 

The Aerospace Engineering program at Penn State is not only one of the best aerospace engineering programs in the country, but also the only aerospace engineering program in the state of Pennsylvania. Penn State aerospace students are taught the theories and practices in foundational subjects like:

 

  • Aeronautics and astronautics
  • Aerodynamics and fluid dynamics
  • Aerospace materials and structures
  • Dynamics and automatic control
  • Aircraft stability and rocket propulsion
  • Aircraft/spacecraft systems design 

 

Additionally, Penn State aerospace engineering students develop important complementary soft skills—they’re strong communicators, excellent teammates, and effective problem solvers. 

 

20. University of California, San Diego | UCSD

 

Location: La Jolla, CA

Undergrad Enrollment: 30,200

Acceptance Rate: 37%

Middle 50% SAT/ACT: N/A

 

The University of California, San Diego’s Aerospace Engineering program prepares students for careers in the aerospace industry, aircraft/spacecraft development, and other technologically dependent fields, like automobile and naval equipment manufacturing and renewable energy. UCSD aerospace engineering alumni are employed at some of the most coveted companies in the field, including Boeing, Cubic Corporation, General Atomics, Green Alternative Systems, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, Sandia National Laboratories, Space Micro Inc., and SpaceX.

 

21. University of Notre Dame

 

Location: Notre Dame, IN 

Undergrad Enrollment: 8,600

Acceptance Rate: 19%

Middle 50% SAT/ACT: 1410-1550/32-35

 

Students studying aerospace engineering at Notre Dame receive a solid base in mathematics, physics, chemistry, and the engineering sciences, setting them up for success after graduation—80% of Notre Dame’s aerospace and mechanical engineering graduates go into industry, 10% to the military, and 10% pursue graduate studies. Studying abroad is a popular aspect of aerospace engineering at Notre Dame; the university has engineering-specific semester opportunities in Rome and London, along with offering numerous six-week summer programs in locations like Ireland, Spain, Germany, and Japan. 

 

22. University of Washington

 

Location: Seattle, WA

Undergrad Enrollment: 32,000

Acceptance Rate: 56%

Middle 50% SAT/ACT: 1240-1450/29-34

 

A bachelor’s degree in Aeronautical & Astronautical Engineering from the University of Washington (UW) provides numerous opportunities to students with their heads in the clouds, such as designing, developing, testing, and building aircraft, spacecraft, rockets, and satellites. It also opens doors to more earthly applications, such as making race cars more aerodynamic or designing vehicles for underwater exploration. While working toward their degree, UW students also build soft skills like leadership, teamwork, problem-solving, and creativity. 

 

23. United States Air Force Academy | Air Force

 

Location: USAF, CO

Undergrad Enrollment: 4,300 

Acceptance Rate: 13%

Middle 50% SAT/ACT: 1220-1420/29-33

 

The U.S. Air Force Academy’s Department of Astronautics was established in 1958, the same year NASA was formed. Today, the Air Force Academy takes a design-build-fly approach to teaching its aeronautical engineering students, providing cadets with firsthand experience dealing with real-world engineering problems and working in cutting-edge laboratories. Cadets must complete a two-course capstone to earn their degree in one of two design sequences: aircraft design or aircraft engine design. Graduates of the Air Force Academy with a degree in aeronautical engineering will find a variety of professional opportunities both in and out of the service, whether it’s as an experimental test pilot or a program manager.

 

24. North Carolina State University | NC State

 

Location: Raleigh, NC

Undergrad Enrollment: 25,100 

Acceptance Rate: 46%

Middle 50% SAT/ACT: 1290-1430/27-32

 

North Carolina State University’s Aerospace Engineering program is one of the most prominent of its kind in both the state and the nation. NC State provides a variety of academic pathways to its students. In addition to the traditional bachelor’s degree track, NC State offers a five-year accelerated track through which students can earn both a bachelor’s and master’s degree in aerospace engineering in as little as five years. NC State also offers highly qualified students a Direct to Ph.D. program, which grants exceptional undergraduates direct admission to the university’s Ph.D. program. 

 

25. Illinois Institute of Technology | Illinois Tech

 

Location: Chicago, IL

Undergrad Enrollment: 3,000 

Acceptance Rate: 61%

Middle 50% SAT/ACT: 1230-1400/26-32

 

Illinois Tech is one of the smallest schools—in terms of undergraduate enrollment—on our list of best colleges for aerospace engineering. Students studying aerospace engineering at Illinois Tech explore the design and manufacture of aircraft and spacecraft and are well prepared for careers in civil aeronautics, the defense industry, and the space program. Illinois Tech aerospace students also find themselves applying their knowledge in other innovative fields like undersea transportation, renewable energy, and the development of new materials. 

 

26. Case Western Reserve University

 

Location: Cleveland, OH

Undergrad Enrollment: 5,200 

Acceptance Rate: 30%

Middle 50% SAT/ACT: 1420-1520/32-35

 

The undergraduate Aerospace Engineering program at Case Western Reserve University emphasizes fundamentals in its students, ensuring that they are well prepared for cutting-edge careers and further study at the nation’s top graduate programs. A double major—combining mechanical engineering with aerospace engineering—is a popular option with students at Case Western. Another well-received track is Case Western Reserve’s BS/MS program, which allows students to earn their bachelor’s and master’s degrees in just five years. 

 

27. Iowa State University

 

Location: Ames, IA

Undergrad Enrollment: 29,600

Acceptance Rate: 88%

Middle 50% SAT/ACT: 1100-1320/21-28

 

Iowa State University helps its aerospace engineering students take flight—it delivers students the fundamentals of aerospace engineering while providing hands-on projects that allow them to augment their understanding of the field. Iowa State University also provides its students with the opportunity to gain real-world experience through its cooperative education program in which students alternate between industrial and academic experiences.

 

28. University of California, Davis | UC Davis

 

Location: Davis, CA

Undergrad Enrollment: 30,700

Acceptance Rate: 46%

Middle 50% SAT/ACT: N/A

 

Aerospace science and engineering majors at UC Davis begin their studies by building a foundation in math and science before expanding their coursework to cover topics in aerospace and engineering. There are ample opportunities for UC Davis students to pursue their passion for aerospace outside of the classroom; the university is home to a multitude of teams and student organizations such as:

 

  • American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA): a professional society of people interested in the aeronautics and aerospace fields
  • Space and Satellite Systems (SSS) Club: a group that develops systems for use in space
  • Advanced Modeling and Aeronautics Team (AMAT): an organization that explores the components and dynamics of airplanes by building RC airplanes from scratch every year and competes in an annual competition against 40+ schools from across the country

 

29. Worcester Polytechnic Institute | WPI

 

Location: Worcester, MA

Undergrad Enrollment: 4,600 

Acceptance Rate: 59%

Middle 50% SAT/ACT: 1320-1450/29-33

 

Worcester Polytechnic Institute believes in project-based learning and its aerospace students benefit from its state-of-the-art equipment and facilities—including wind tunnels, vacuum chambers, and robots. WPI offers a BS/MS program through which students can earn both a bachelor’s and master’s degree in just five years. WPI is extremely proud of its student outcomes—the average starting salary of WPI’s class of 2021 was $71,811 and WPI graduates are working at exciting companies like Amazon Robotics, Aurora Flight Sciences, BAE Systems, Ensign Bickford Aerospace and Defense, Lockheed Martin-Sikorsky Aircraft, NASA, Naval Air Systems Command, Naval Undersea Warfare Center, and Raytheon Company.

 

30. University of Virginia | UVA

 

Location: Charlottesville, VA

Undergrad Enrollment: 16,700 

Acceptance Rate: 23%

Middle 50% SAT/ACT: 1400-1510/35-35

 

The University of Virginia prepares students to pursue a variety of pathways in the widely diverse, yet highly specialized, field of aerospace engineering. The field of aerospace engineering is evolving rapidly and UVA students are uniquely positioned to transform with it thanks to a strong background in the fundamentals of the field along with significant firsthand experience using the latest in test equipment and modern experimental methods. Aerospace engineering majors conclude their undergraduate experience at UVA by designing an aerospace vehicle and publicly presenting it to a panel of judges and entering into a national competition. 

 

What Are Your Chances of Acceptance to these Top Aerospace Engineering Schools?

 

Curious about what your odds are of getting into one of the nation’s best aerospace engineering schools? Collegevine can help! Our free chancing calculator uses factors like GPA, standardized test scores, and extracurricular activities to predict your odds at the best colleges for aerospace engineering along with hundreds of other schools across the country. More so, it can help you identify areas of strength and areas in need of improvement on your college profile, and, in the end, help boost your odds of gaining admission to your dream school.


Short Bio
A graduate of Northeastern University with a degree in English, Tim Peck currently lives in Concord, New Hampshire, where he balances a freelance writing career with the needs of his two Australian Shepherds to play outside.