Best Colleges for Aerospace Engineering in USA

Aerospace engineering is one of the most trending courses in the USA with two major branches i.e aeronautical engineering and astronautical engineering. Many universities’ aeronautical engineering departments, as well as mechanical engineering departments, offer bachelor’s, master’s, and Ph.D. programs in the subject. In this article, we will discuss the Best Colleges for Aerospace Engineering degrees, the average aerospace engineering salary, and how to major in Aerospace engineering.

Best Aeronautical Engineering Universities In The World

Your choice of aerospace and aeronautical engineering school matters. It’s critical to arm yourself with as much information as possible when picking the perfect school for you. Below is a list of the Best Colleges for Aerospace Engineering by ranking:

1. Massachusetts Institute of Technology:

Students interested in aerospace and aeronautical engineering can consider the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. As the saying goes, being at MIT is like ‘drinking through a firehouse.’ This holds not only for academics, but also for social encounters, networking events, and much more. MIT is a big private not-for-profit university in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Ranks #1 out of 2,576 colleges nationwide means MIT is a great school overall. There are approximately 120 aerospace and aeronautical engineering students who graduate with this degree at MIT in the most recent year.

2. University of Notre Dame:

Notre Dame is a large private not-for-profit university located in the large suburb of Notre Dame. Ranks #15 out of 2,576 schools nationwide and it is also a great university overall

3. California Institute of Technology:

The California Institute of Technology is one of the best places in the country to study aeronautical engineering. Caltech is a private, non-profit university with a modest student body, located in the midsize city of Pasadena. Ranks #17 out of 2,576 schools nationwide means Caltech is also a great school.

4. Johns Hopkins University:

Johns Hopkins University is a private, non-profit university with a big student population that is located in the metropolitan city of Baltimore. Ranks #19 out of 2,576 schools nationwide means Johns Hopkins is a great school.

5. Rice University:

Located in the large city of Houston, Rice is a private not-for-profit university with a medium-sized student population. Rice is ranked #25 out of 2,576 colleges nationwide, indicating that it is a fantastic university in general.

6. St Louis’ Washington University:

WUSTL is a big private non-profit university in the Saint Louis suburb of Chesterfield. WUSTL is a great university in general, ranking #28 out of 2,576 colleges nationwide.

7. California University (USC):

The University of Southern California is one of the Best Colleges for Aerospace Engineering degree in the country. USC is a private, non-profit institution with a significant student body that is located in the city of Los Angeles. USC is a fantastic school, ranking #33 out of 2,576 colleges nationwide.

8. Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech):

Georgia Tech is a large public university located in Atlanta, Georgia. It has an overall ranking of #35 out of 2,576 institutions indicates that it is a fantastic institution.

9. University of Michigan (UMichigan):

U-M is a public institution with a pretty big student body that is located in the medium-sized city of Ann Arbor. It is ranked #40 out of 2,576 institutions in the United States, and it is also a fantastic school.

7 Countries With The Best Aeronautical Engineering Universities In The World:

Russia is considered to be the finest country to study Aeronautics and Aerospace Engineering for a master’s or a bachelor’s degree. Nonetheless, if you’re struggling with the dilemma of which country is best to study Aerospace engineering, just realize that there are a lot of options out there. Unless you have a specific career path in mind, it probably doesn’t matter what country you start going to school in. You can check out these great universities around the world:

1. Russia

  • MIPT (Russia)

2. U.K

  • Imperial College
  • University of Southampton
  • Oxford
  • Cambridge


  • ISAE – Toulouse
  • ENSMA – Poitiers
  • Ecole Polytechnique


  • KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm


  • TU Delft


  • University of Queensland


  • Beijing (China)

As long as you work hard and enjoy what you’re doing, you will be able to find a job somewhere that will expose you to interesting work. But if you know where you would like to end up, it’s best to start studying in that country. And if not, just start studying anywhere, and you’ll probably figure out where to go from there.

Scope Of Aerospace Engineering

If you have to choose between aerospace or mechanical engineering, then mechanical engineering would be a more considerate option for you. This is because Aerospace engineering is a good branch but still it is not developed in some countries yet. Have you discovered that most of those job descriptions say “mechanical/aerospace engineering” anyway? In terms of apprenticeships and internships, most aeronautical companies prefer mechanical students over aeronautical students.

Also, while looking at job openings at large aeronautical companies, mechanical students have a better chance than aeronautical students. Look at the curriculum for both aerospace and mechanical. With only a few classes separating them, their content is nearly identical. Mechanical engineering is a viable alternative, but some employers would not classify you the same way they would if you listed “aerospace” on your CV.

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This is relative because mechanical companies like Boeing, Lockheed, Northrop, etc. will have no problem hiring you to do aerospace work. Go check it out! Even prestigious entrance exams like ISRO and DRDO have more vacancies for mechanical engineers. Of course, if you are asking which is better in terms of job prospects, it completely depends on your country and its need for skilled labor.

A generalized question like this cannot have a definite answer. Nevertheless, since mechanical engineering is broader, in terms of job prospects it is much easier to employ a mechanical engineer than an aerospace engineer. Therefore, asking which is better is rather strange because Aerospace engineering is a sub-branch of mechanical engineering just like a child and a father.

There are tons of schools with quality education in Aerospace/Aeronautical engineering from MIT in the United States, Supaero in France, IITs in India, and so on. It’s based on the candidate to choose the country and the institute according to their own need:


5 Things to Consider Before Applying to the Best Colleges for Aerospace Engineering in the USA

1. Area Of Interest:

The needs of each candidate will vary from one to another. An aspirant needs to try to figure out what part/branch suits you more and use that in deciding as to the schools to apply to based on their research focus and projects. It all depends on what you’re interested in. Go to institutions that offer Aerospace Engineering programs if you’re interested in aircraft and spacecraft and just want to learn about them and the physics and engineering that goes into them. It’s 70% mechanical engineering and 30% the combination of other branches. You’ll learn to design, propulsion, aerodynamics, structures, and other subjects specific to Aircraft only.

2. Acceptance Ratio/ Tuition:

There is a high acceptance ratio and tuition for most aerospace schools. According to a recent survey, virtually tens of thousands of students are having their income withheld to repay school costs before they graduate. Occasionally, the department is fairly picky about what kinds of classes will get credit if you spent a semester at another university. Pre-approval will be required for many of these transfer credits.

Review shows that this contributes quite a bit to the relatively low number of undergraduates studying abroad in the department. Conversely, there has historically been a decent number of people in the department visiting from Cambridge through the (now defunct) Cambridge-MIT Exchange. There was an impression that they did pretty well in their classes, likely at least in part because the UK curriculum for engineers is more focused than the US equivalents.

They probably didn’t spend the time necessary of all MIT undergrads to take eight humanities and social science classes.

3. Reviews:

A list of student reviews for many universities can be found on each school’s portal, and they provide helpful info about student life, on-campus atmosphere, professors, and so on. For example, you’re given a set of preliminary questions, that you spend some time outlining answers to. Then you go into a room with your professor and a blackboard, and they can ask you anything. Usually, they’ll start with the introductory questions you were provided, but this isn’t always the case.

It can be a little frightening if you’re not used to it. Imagine you are in MIT and your first-ever oral exam is with a professor who served as Secretary of the Air Force. It was a pretty scary situation. The disadvantage to this is that it can be slightly more subjective than a standard written exam. Regardless, The professors typically do a decent job about grading for these though.

The benefit is that professors can gently nudge you in the correct direction if you’re veering off course, so you don’t waste time scribbling junk on the board. We can’t say for sure how common this is at other universities, but I’ve never heard of it happening in departments other than Aerospace at MIT, at least at the undergrad level.

4. Lab Facilities

Fundamentally, try to get into one of the Best Colleges for Aerospace Engineering that has a great program and learning facilities. Then select whether it is aerospace or mechanical engineering that “truly catches your fancy”.

5. Collaboration

Part of the difficulty of an aerospace engineering degree is that you have to know a lot of different fields, and can’t specialize as much as some other majors can during undergrad. That’s a choice for the student to make. There are certainly folks from other majors who go into aerospace jobs and do quite well, but the initial educational experience will be somewhat different. Some aeronautical departments follow this strategy, or something close, and you should think about it while deciding which major to pursue.

Others may not be as distinct from the traditional discipline of mechanical engineering except by being more particular, in which case you may want to pursue something like that if you are concerned about being pigeonholed. Scope depends on your aim and interests in any field. A Bachelors in Mechanical Engineering followed by a Masters in Aeronautics. That’s a fine blend.

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6. Placements:

Checking many sources for global university or college rankings makes it easier to choose an aeronautical engineering school. Besides, it certainly helps to have less baggage. So, you should take a look at a more rigorous breakdown of the top 50 universities. A reasonable recommendation would be that, if you don’t fit into the high spectrum, you lower your expectations a bit, and try to find the college that’s best for you, financially and academically.

Furthermore, there are several major-specific rankings including the best aerospace engineering schools in the USA. This list will help you make the College decision. In addition, based on these rankings, you can take two colleges and compare them based on the criteria that matter most to you.


How To Choose A Major in Aerospace Engineering

Choosing a major should be based on interests and passions. Worrying about salary several years hence or industry stability is a waste of time. If you are a citizen of a country with a robust aerospace industry you can get a job in that industry with either degree. If your home country does NOT have a good aerospace industry then definitely do mechanical engineering. However, considering the acceptance ratio and also the extortionate fee structure, I don’t think these colleges are for everyone. They are only “best” for you if:

  • You have a substantial sum of money in your possession.
  • You have astonishment-inducing grades.

While it may seem a bit of a compromise, It is indisputable that colleges just get you off to a good start. After the initial few years, it all comes down to how you capitalize on new skills and grow through them. Here are other American aerospace engineering schools we recommend:

  1. Stanford University
  2. Harvard University
  3. Yale University
  4. Northwestern University
  5. Princeton University
  6. Carnegie Mellon University
  7. University of Michigan – Ann Arbor
  8. University of Virginia
  9. University of Florida
  10. Kansas State University
  11. Wichita State University
  12. Purdue University
  13. Texas A&M University
  14. Cornell University.

MIT and Stanford are the Best Colleges for Aerospace Engineering. The department likes its undergraduates. Undergraduates in Mechanical Engineering who apply for graduate school in Aerospace or related fields stand a much higher chance of getting in than folks from elsewhere. Part of this is because the students are well-known to the department; they trained them, and they know who to keep.

Partly, they are also just MIT students, so they would likely do reasonably well in grad school admissions anyway. Undergraduate programs do not have any Aerospace degrees, but most do have Mechanical Engineering. Mechanical provides a good basis for Aerospace. Mechanical often includes courses such as fluid dynamics and thermodynamics, which would be part of an Aerospace program, so you do get some overlap.

Studying For an Aerospace Engineering Degree vs Mechanical Engineering

If your target is to work on airplane design then aerospace engineering will give you the broadest exposure to the field while focusing your education on airplanes and aerospace. If you work for an aircraft company, there will be many different areas you can specialize in, including Structures (wings, airframes, etc.). Even having just an Engineering degree is valuable to businesses because it shows to the employer that you possess strong analytical & critical thinking skills which when proven are highly valuable themselves.

Aeronautical engineering is suitable for research; otherwise, mechanical engineering is a superior choice. So, if you’re looking for a job, mechanical is the way to go. Aeronautical is a good choice if you want to pursue a Ph.D. or conduct research. Mechanical engineering is an important discipline. This and other core streams provide more chances for establishing a career. In addition, core streams provide greater options for study.

A mechanical engineering degree will open several avenues for you, including aerospace, if you merely desire an engineering degree. Mechanical engineering students are frequently hired by aerospace companies. Mechanical engineering industries, on the other hand, don’t necessarily hire aerospace engineers as often. The skill-set is already specialized for a particular industry, while mechanical students are shapeless until they’ve been indoctrinated into the industry that hires them.

Judging from the viewpoints of several engineers and experience with collaborators in both of these disciplines, aerospace engineering is best suited for students who like aircraft, and are damn near certain they will work in that industry. Lecture examples in mechanical will include automobiles, boats, refrigerators, air conditioners, golf balls, etc. If this bores you, and you just want to hear about planes, planes, and planes, then do aerospace! It is fine, you are motivated and interested and will contribute effectively to this community.

If the above list doesn’t seem so bad, then maybe go with mechanical for now. The extensive exposure to so many disciplines will make you more effective once you enter the aerospace industry. Also, don’t forget that you still have the opportunity to do a graduate degree! If after four years of mechanical engineering you want to dedicate yourself to aerospace, spend a year or two working on aerospace masters, then walk into that industry like a graduate-level boss.

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Both have very good scopes. If you are mad about Aircraft and want to learn about them right away and work somewhere on Aircraft/spacecraft exclusively, go for Aerospace Engineering. If you can’t decide between aircraft and vehicles, mechanical engineering is the way to go.

Comparison Between Mechanical and Aerospace Degrees

Both Engineering disciplines have similar course work, however, their end-applications are quite different. You will find significant differences in your Junior and Senior Years (3rd and 4th Years), and realize the significance of the picture above. So, if you know you only want to work with planes for the rest of your life and know you won’t change your mind, choose aerospace. But if you want the ability to work in any field, choose mechanical engineering. If you want to work with NASA or SpaceX, then MIT and CalTech are right up there.

CalTech students (who are US citizens) work with JPL engineers. The good thing is that each of the Best Colleges for Aerospace Engineering has very good mechanical engineering programs. So if any of the universities that are a good fit for you and are cost-effective are on that list, you can’t go wrong. As a result, find the one that is the best fit for you as well as the most cost-effective. Also, while there are many positions in aerospace engineering in the United States, the companies are concentrated in a few places, which may limit flexibility.

Salary for an Aerospace Engineer

The question of salary for an aerospace engineer must be answered in generalities relying on several factors, including:

  1. experience,
  2. specialty and
  3. the employer.

Salary offers depend on where you are, how many years of experience you have, and how well one utilizes their skill set. Aerospace Engineers earn a median hourly wage of $51.84. Hourly wages typically start from $32.62 and go up to $76.30. Annually, earn a cumulative median salary of $107,830 per year. Salaries typically range from $67,850 to $158,700 per year. In the US, salaries start around $60K, going up to as high as $145K for an experienced person with 20 years or more and good negotiation strength.

If an aerospace engineer has management and people skills, the ability to perform project management and control budgets, that is huge leverage for them. If you hold a Master’s degree and work in a respectable company in Europe, your beginning income will be around 35k-45k Euros per year. If you work in research, you may expect to earn roughly 25–35 thousand Euros per year. But after 5 or 10 years since your BS, your salary offers will depend entirely on your reputation.

And believe me, engineers talk about their colleagues. Aerospace engineering degrees typically align with about 80% of mechanical engineering. The remaining 20% are problem sets that are specialized in aerospace (in structures, electronics, aerodynamics, astrodynamics, etc.). So it is better to do a B.E in Mechanical Engineering and if you’re interested you can pursue a Masters in Aerospace Engineering.


Aerospace engineering is one of the most trending courses in the USA with two major branches i.e aeronautical engineering and astronautical engineering. Top universities offer MS in aerospace engineering in the USA, along with it if you study this course in the USA, you get to apply to various scholarships also. Components of an impressive application will include high school grades, ACT/SAT scores, IELTS/TOEFL scores, Letters Of Recommendation, personal essays, extracurriculars, etc Mentors who are already studying at your dream universities in the US will guide you at each step of the application process.

FAQs for Aerospace Engineering.

What Can I Become in 2022 If I Pursue an Aerospace Engineering Degree?

If you work for an aircraft company, there will be many different areas you can specialize in, including Structures (wings, airframes, etc.)

Is it better to pursue a mechanical engineering or an aeronautical engineering degree?

Choosing a major should be based on interests and passions. If you’re interested in aircraft and spacecraft and want to learn only about them and the physics and engineering behind them, go to schools with programs for Aerospace Engineering. However, getting a degree in mechanical engineering provides a good basis for Aerospace.

What should I be aware of before pursuing a career as an aircraft engineer?

Aerospace engineering is one of the most trending courses in the USA. If you work for an aircraft company, there will be many different areas you can specialize in, including Structures (wings, airframes, etc.).

What careers can I have as an Aerospace Engineer that would produce large salaries?

The salary of an Aerospace Engineer varies widely with specialty, experience, location, and several other factors. The basic salary in an engineering company would be around 35k-45k Euros per year. If you are doing research you earn a little less around 25–35k Euros per year.

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