PhD in Aviation Program Information

Learn about Ph.D. programs in aviation, including residency requirements for online programs. Find out about popular career options for program graduates.

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Essential Information

Doctorate degree programs in aviation are rare. The few that are available are mainly offered online and have several multiple-day residency requirements. These programs can be completed in three to five years. Students usually complete qualifying exams in the second or third year of their program and defend their dissertation at the end of the program in order to graduate.

Most students who enter aviation Ph.D. programs are working professionals, such as pilots, who are interested in teaching. Program curricula include education training, in addition to topics in fundamental aviation theories, safety management, aviation economics, regulatory policies and foundational physics. Students learn to solve research-based and theory-based aviation problems and then apply their solutions to real problems in the field. The principal goal of doctorate students' work is to add to the current body of knowledge by producing original research, a pursuit aided by an advisor or an advisory committee.

Educational Prerequisites

Those who wish to enroll in doctorate aviation programs must hold both a bachelor's and master's degree, usually in an aviation field, like aviation technology, aeronautical science, aviation maintenance or aviation electronics. Those who don't possess a bachelor's or master's degree in a relevant field are usually required to have work experience in aviation. Students should also expect to submit GRE scores, writing samples, a resume and letters of recommendation.

Program Coursework

Courses in doctorate programs in aviation usually cover several basic areas, including the history of aviation, business and finance, theory and application. Here are a few examples of classes you might see in this program:

  • Foundations of aviation
  • Aviation safety
  • Economics in aviation
  • Legal issues in aviation
  • Quantitative research methods
  • Parametric and nonparametric statistics

Popular Career Options

Graduates of doctorate programs in aviation have a variety of career options available. The most popular is to teach in aeronautical or aviation programs; however, here are some other career options:

  • Sr. aviation consultant
  • Aeronautical engineer
  • Public administration careers in aviation
  • Senior management in aviation programs
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    • California (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at Stanford University include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Undergraduate: Bachelor
    • Transportation and Distribution
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      • Ethnic and Gender Studies
      • Liberal Arts, Humanities, and General Studies
      • Philosophy
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    • Massachusetts (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at Harvard University include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Post Degree Certificate: Postbaccalaureate Certificate
      • Undergraduate: Associate, Bachelor
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    • Pennsylvania (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at University of Pennsylvania include:
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      • Post Degree Certificate: First Professional Certificate, Post Master's Certificate, Postbaccalaureate Certificate
      • Undergraduate: Associate, Bachelor
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    • Rhode Island (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at Brown University include:
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      • Undergraduate: Bachelor
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  • School locations:
    • North Carolina (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at Duke University include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Post Degree Certificate: Postbaccalaureate Certificate
      • Undergraduate: Bachelor
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    • Indiana (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at University of Notre Dame include:
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      • Undergraduate: Bachelor
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    • Columbia (D.C.) (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at Georgetown University include:
      • Graduate: First Professional Degree, Master
      • Non-Degree: Coursework
      • Undergraduate: Bachelor
    • Transportation and Distribution
      • Cultural Studies
      • Liberal Arts, Humanities, and General Studies
      • Philosophy
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    • Tennessee (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at Vanderbilt University include:
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      • Undergraduate: Bachelor
    • Transportation and Distribution
      • Cultural Studies
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  • School locations:
    • Florida (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at University of Florida include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Post Degree Certificate: Post Master's Certificate
      • Undergraduate: Associate, Bachelor
    • Transportation and Distribution
      • Fire Safety and Protection
      • Legal Research and Professional Studies
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    • New York (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at Cornell University include:
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      • Non-Degree: Coursework
      • Undergraduate: Bachelor
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