2020 Best Colleges Badge

25 Best Aerospace Engineering Schools 2020

By the GradReports team | Updated 4/1/2020

These are the best aerospace engineering schools based on alumni earnings in the year after graduation. Massachusetts Institute of Technology is at the top of the list, with California Polytechnic State University-San Luis Obispo and University of Southern California following closely behind. Graduates of these top aerospace engineering schools earn median annual salaries of over $62,000 in their first year after graduation.

Tuition, median salaries, and median debt were reported by the U.S. Department of Education in November 2019. View our methodology for more details about these rankings or read more about the top-ranked schools.

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Salary and debt data reported by the U.S. Department of Education
Salary and debt data reported by the U.S. Department of Education
Rank School Location Annual Tuition Median Debt Median Salary
#1 #1 Cambridge (MA) Cambridge (MA) $51,832 $14,000 $80,100
#2 #2 San Luis Obispo (CA) San Luis Obispo (CA) $21,696 $21,500 $71,600
#3 #3 Los Angeles (CA) Los Angeles (CA) $56,225 $25,985 $70,500
#4 #4 Atlanta (GA) Atlanta (GA) $33,020 $27,000 $69,500
#5 #5 Charlottesville (VA) Charlottesville (VA) $49,032 $26,375 $69,300
#6 #6 Troy (NY) Troy (NY) $53,880 $26,574 $69,000
#7 #7 Ann Arbor (MI) Ann Arbor (MI) $49,350 $18,595 $68,500
#8 #8 Worcester (MA) Worcester (MA) $50,530 $27,000 $68,200
#9 #9 Boulder (CO) Boulder (CO) $37,286 $20,820 $67,400
#10 #10 Champaign (IL) Champaign (IL) $31,664 $21,500 $66,200
#11 #11 St. Louis (MO) St. Louis (MO) $43,884 $27,000 $65,600
#12 #12 State College (PA) State College (PA) $34,858 $27,000 $65,400
#13 #13 Las Cruces (NM) Las Cruces (NM) $21,770 $22,370 $65,200
#14 #14 College Park (MD) College Park (MD) $35,216 $22,728 $65,100
#15 #15 Cincinnati (OH) (and 1 other) Cincinnati (OH) (and 1 other) $27,334 $25,000 $64,700
#16 #16 Tucson (AZ) Tucson (AZ) $11,800 $21,693 $64,500
#17 #17 Potsdam (NY) Potsdam (NY) $49,444 $27,000 $64,300
#18 #18 College Station (TX) College Station (TX) $37,495 $21,000 $64,200
#19 #19 Rolla (MO) Rolla (MO) $26,461 $27,267 $64,200
#20 #20 Gainesville (FL) Gainesville (FL) $28,659 $20,750 $64,100
#21 #21 Norman (OK) Norman (OK) $26,919 Not Reported $64,100
#22 #22 West Lafayette (IN) West Lafayette (IN) $28,794 $26,984 $63,900
#23 #23 Columbus (OH) Columbus (OH) $30,742 $27,000 $62,700
#24 #24 Morgantown (WV) Morgantown (WV) $24,950 $25,750 $62,500
#25 #25 Daytona Beach (FL) Daytona Beach (FL) $35,814 $27,000 $62,500

2020 Best Colleges Highlights

Learn more about the top colleges for a Bachelor's in Aerospace Engineering degree. You can also read student reviews of each school by clicking on the stars. Although student reviews were not used as a ranking factor in this list, we provide ratings and reviews so students can consider the experience of alumni in their decision-making process.

Median Salary $80,100
Median Debt $14,000
Annual Tuition $51,832
Graduation Rate 94%

Established in 1861, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology is a private university located in Cambridge, Massachusetts. MIT students and faculty are known for their ingenuity, innovative research, and breakthrough discoveries. Although the curriculum is demanding and challenging, students are encouraged to have fun as they explore new ideas.

MIT offers many diverse engineering specializations, including a Bachelor of Science in Aerospace Engineering (Course 16) for those interested in engineering aerospace vehicles. Engineering fundamentals are covered in a unified engineering course that is team-taught by multidisciplinary instructors over the course of two semesters. In support of the engineering core, students study differential equations, statistics, computer programming, dynamics, and principles of automatic control. Groups work in a teamwork-oriented environment in design laboratories to foster collaboration and synergy. If they wish, students can choose aerospace information technology as a specialization. Seniors complete a capstone project to demonstrate their abilities to design, build, and test an original project, such as an interactive robot. Employers consider MIT graduates with aerospace degrees to be among the best-trained engineers in the world, according to the MIT website.

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Median Salary $71,600
Median Debt $21,500
Annual Tuition $21,696
Graduation Rate 82%

Located on the California central coast, California Polytechnic State University-San Luis Obispo is a public university with an applied research focus and a philosophy of “learning by doing.” Engineering is one of the most popular majors offered at Cal Poly. The Bachelor of Science in Aerospace Engineering is ideal for students seeking hands-on experience. Project-based learning helps students hone critical thinking and complex problem-solving skills.

Students pursuing a bachelor’s degree in aerospace engineering learn to manage the high-stakes challenges of designing, manufacturing, and testing aerospace systems and aircraft. Some of the many classes offered include aerospace engineering analysis, gas dynamics and heat transfer, orbital mechanics, and propulsion systems. Students can select a concentration in aeronautics or astronautics. Learning extends beyond the classroom and laboratory. Professional aeronautics organizations such as Sigma Gamma Tau, a national honor society for engineers, help students acclimate to the profession. The program culminates in a Senior Design capstone project that demonstrates the student’s ability to apply engineering theory to spacecraft or aircraft design. The program aims to graduate students with cutting-edge skills that are desired by employers in the fast-paced aerospace industry.

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Los Angeles (CA)
Median Salary $70,500
Median Debt $25,985
Annual Tuition $56,225
Graduation Rate 92%

The University of Southern California is a private research institution with its primary campus in Los Angeles. At the USC Viterbi campus, students can pursue a comprehensive Bachelor of Science in aerospace engineering through the internationally acclaimed USC School of Engineering. Interdisciplinary learning lies at the heart of the curriculum. A broad perspective supports the discovery of novel solutions to challenging engineering problems.

Prerequisite courses are required in advanced math, physics, and chemistry to attain a solid foundation for mastering difficult engineering studies. The aerospace engineering core includes classes such as basic flight mechanics, dynamic systems, thermodynamics, and aircraft design. Students select a track such as aerospace design to round out their degree and fulfill the 129–130-unit program requirement. Dedicated faculty members mentor students by involving them in research projects and engineering design competitions. Senior research teams then present their work at an annual showcase. Employers often attend the showcase to look for potential hires who can apply engineering ideas to real-life problems, such as aircraft noise mitigation.

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Median Salary $69,500
Median Debt $27,000
Annual Tuition $33,020
Graduation Rate 87%

Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech) in Atlanta is a public research and technology institute that offers students in-depth instruction, along with a sense of purpose. The Daniel Guggenheim School of Engineering at Georgia Tech has a reputation for rigorous scholarship, exceptional teaching, and cutting-edge innovation.

Students enrolled in the 132-credit-hour Bachelor of Science in Aerospace Engineering program delve into the design, operation, and testing of aircraft, unmanned vehicles, and satellites. First-year students take courses in advanced math, chemistry, physics, and computing, as well as general education classes. Sophomores take more math and science, along with engineering classes and economics. Juniors and seniors immerse themselves in aerospace engineering classes such as design methods, aerodynamics, circuits, and control systems. Internships enable students to gain experience in an area of special interest to them. The school and local industries sponsor competitions that challenge students to come up with novel plan-build-fly projects. The overall aim of the program is to prepare students for jobs in theoretical research, experimentation, and technical design.

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Charlottesville (VA)
Median Salary $69,300
Median Debt $26,375
Annual Tuition $49,032
Graduation Rate 94%

The University of Virginia in Charlottesville is a public research university. Founded by Thomas Jefferson in 1819, the University of Virginia has a storied tradition of bettering society through research and public service. The UVA mission is reflected in the department of mechanical and aerospace engineering’s commitment to preparing engineering students to solve real-world problems through new engineering applications. Several engineering degrees are offered, including a Bachelor of Science in Aerospace Engineering.

The curriculum emphasizes the latest technological advances and inventive laboratory experimentation. New students must complete general education classes before declaring an aerospace engineering major. Aerospace engineering majors start by taking courses in advanced math, chemistry, and physics. Computer courses are also required to familiarize students with the computational methods used by engineers. Throughout the program, students are expected to consider the ethical dimensions of their work, such as consumer safety and product liability. Students are afforded flexibility in choosing technical electives that will support their particular career objectives within the broad field of aerospace engineering.

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