Colleges with Aviation Programs

 Colleges with aviation programs allow aviation students and budding pilots to achieve their dreams. This article looks at everything you need to know about aviation colleges and maybe it will inspire you to finally take that leap and become a pilot. So how do you find schools that offer the best aviation program? Read on..

 Introduction to Colleges with aviation programs

 Some of the best aviation colleges around the world have helped dreams become a reality. Colleges with aviation programs teach aspiring pilots everything they need to know before they hit the skies. Whether you’re looking to fly for a commercial airliner or to spend your days flying cargo to far-flung places, an aviation college could be your one-way ticket to a life in the sky.

colleges with aviation programs
You can still become a pilot without doing a degree program

 Do airline pilots have to go to college?

  You don’t have to go to the best aviation colleges to become a pilot. It can be a slow and incremental process where you attend your local flying school, accrue flying hours, sit your different exams, gain your different licences and over time you can become a fully-fledged, commercial pilot. There are also the cadetship pathways that major airlines offer like the Cadet Academy for American Airlines or the Future Pilots program at British Airways.

  The difference with attending an aviation college however is that compared to the flying school method, aviation colleges offer an immersive experience. This is intensive training where you solely focus on gaining your qualification and fast-tracking yourself into aviation. In comparison to the cadetships, aviation colleges are quite similar. The differences here are that in a cadetship you’re trained more in line with that company’s standards, policies and procedures however at an aviation college the training is more geared toward standards, policies and procedures in the industry as a whole.

colleges with aviation programs
There are many colleges or universities around the world offering fantastic, leading aviation programs

“The pilot who teaches himself has a fool for a student”


 Where is the best place to study aviation?

If aviation students were to research which country is best to study aviation, some results may come as a surprise. The Philippines, Kenya, Greece and Sri Lanka are four names that regularly crop up. Of course, the UK and the USA are also two countries that appear regularly on the lists of countries with the best aviation programs.

  Greece, in particular, is known for exceptional weather which in turn leads to great flying conditions which then, of course, leads to ample opportunity to rack up those important flying hours. Olympus Aviation offers ‘uninterrupted training all year long’ in Thessaloniki which is Greece’s second busiest airport. Advanced training allows you to fly in the Greek Isles experiencing the sights of Mykonos, Crete, Rhodes and more.

 If a tropical paradise is more your scene then The Philippines could be a fantastic option. The All Asia Aviation Academy offers various courses from PPL to First Officer training with a guarantee of an interview with an airliner. This academy works to ‘Japanese standards’ ensuring high-quality training. Along with exceptional weather with uninterrupted training, it’s clear to see why people choose the Philippines to study aviation.

How many years does it take to become a pilot?

  The amount of time it takes to become a pilot is largely dependent on the pathway you choose to achieve your ambitions. If you go down the flying school route where you pay per lesson, then this can take time. To achieve a Commercial Pilot Licence it can take upwards of 200 hours of flight time. You also have your different ratings to obtain such as multi-engine and instrument ratings. This can be a long and costly process, with some people taking years to achieve their commercial licences.

colleges with aviation programs
The cost of flight schools and degree programs can vary a lot. You can find out more about the COST here.

  If you decide to study at one of the colleges with an aviation program that offers a bachelor’s degree then this can be a lot quicker. It’s an intensive study and an immersive experience. The upfront cost is significant but many pilots, if given the opportunity, would choose this option over accruing hours on an ad hoc basis. If you study in a degree program, as well as work toward your CPL at the same time, you are looking at an average of 3 – 4 years to complete everything. If you are just joining an aviation college to only complete your CPL and other ratings, this tends to be a 12 – 14-month program. You can always approach individual flight schools regarding financial aid if you feel you may need it while studying, as is the case with many aviation students.

 What are the colleges with aviation programs?

  There are several colleges in the US that have aviation degree programs. Purdue University in Indiana has a very highly acclaimed program, along with Ohio University.

 If you follow this link here there is a lengthy list detailing all of the colleges that offer degrees and aviation programs in the USA, from the Colorado Flight Centre, to the Embry Riddle Aeronautical University in Florida and the Bowling Green state university in Ohio.

  In the UK, Kingston University in London offers a Bachelor of Aviation combined with Commercial Pilot training in nearby Bournemouth. More information on this course can be found at this link here.

  For our Canadian readers, the British Colombia Institute of Technology offers a joint Aviation diploma and Commercial Pilot training which takes 15 months in total.

  Finally, for our Australian readers, you can study for your Bachelor of Aviation combined with a CPL at Swinburne University in Melbourne. The training is at Moorabbin Airport and combined with the degree it will take you three years to complete.

What are the best aviation colleges?

  The best aviation colleges can be ranked on a number of factors but it typically comes down to the quality of the program, the weather conditions in which the college typically experiences (impacting flying time), the cost of that college to study, the array of courses offered in the aviation space and so on. There is a list that you can find here that takes all of these different factors into account, listing the top 25 best aviation colleges to study at.

  The university that comes out on top is Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana. You can visit their dedicated aviation page and take a look at the vast array of undergraduate and graduate aviation studies and programs that they offer.

  Another highly acclaimed aviation college is Ohio University which offers three different aviation programs, more details on them here. Located in Athens, Ohio, this college comes in at double the price of Purdue University. OU has 17 aircraft and you’ll see the typical classics on the tarmac there including Piper’s, Cessna’s and Beechcraft’s.

“Once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skywards”

Leonardo Da Vinci

 How do I find aviation colleges near me?

  The best way to start figuring out what degree programs or flight schools are near you would be to quite simply type “aviation colleges near me” into Google Chrome or whichever search engine you’re using. If your location settings are on then it will show you which aviation colleges are near you, allowing you to choose the best aviation program close to your hometown.

colleges with aviation programs
One of the best ways to find out more about aviation programs and schools is by networking within the industry

 Another way to find aviation colleges near you would be to take advantage of networking opportunities, with people in the industry whom you may already know. There’s a wide array of information online and people who want to help. Ask if someone has knowledge of the local aviation schools or colleges and if they would be willing to share with you what they know.

Summary – Colleges with Aviation Programs

As you can see, there are many schools, universities and colleges offering an aviation major or bachelor’s degree, or even certificate programs. There are also many of those degree programs welcoming international students if that applies to you.

The best aviation colleges can offer a great experience in terms of what you learn and what you obtain, often being a degree and a pilot’s licence. You can also gain a private pilot certificate or a commercial pilot certificate as you study through another aviation school. The experience of learning more about flight science and aeronautical engineering, and acting out your passion every day appeals to a lot of people. There’s a strong suggestion amongst many in the industry that an aviation college is a preferable route to go down as opposed to manually building hours at a local flying school.

  If you have the opportunity to attend an aviation college then it will be an all-encompassing experience that will teach you everything you need to know from take-off to landing, and everything in between, in a structured manner learning from experienced flight instructors and industry experts. If you really want to pursue a career as a professional pilot, colleges with aviation programs can really help your aviation career take off! The only thing better than graduation day is taking that first professional flight as a trained, professional pilot and continuing to learn from others in the aviation industry.

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ken johnson


Ken is a passionate aviator, a professional pilot and flight instructor. He has over 17 years of flight experience across hundreds of aircraft ranging from recreational, aerobatic, historic, commercial and military aircraft, training hundreds of students along the way. Find out more.

Ken has 124 posts and counting. See all posts by Ken

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