Editor's note: Military Times is supplementing our Best for Vets series of survey-based rankings with themed computer-based rankings from College Factual. College Factual uses public databases to evaluate colleges. These rankings were not compiled by Military Times.
Engineering is a lucrative and growing career field with many different options available. Veterans or active-duty military students who have interest or prior experience in aerospace or aviation should think about pursuing a major in aerospace and aeronautical engineering.
Careers for experienced aerospace engineers in the field can pay more than over $100,000. Aerospace and aeronautical engineers can find jobs working for the government or for private companies developing, designing, building and testing space and aircraft. Read the story of an Army officer in the University of Colorado Boulder doctorate PhD program on her way to becoming the first female academy professor in physics and nuclear engineering at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y.
Interested in learning more? College Factual has put together a list of veteran-friendly colleges for getting a degree in aerospace and aeronautical engineering.
To come up with this ranking, College Factual measures the quality of the aerospace engineering program by looking at average salaries of graduates, graduation rates, student loan default rates, as well as the popularity, depth and breadth of the program offered. Read more about the methodology here. Salaries are estimates with data provided by Payscale.
Army space operations officer Lt. Col. Diana Loucks is a University of Colorado Boulder aerospace engineering Ph.D. student on her way to becoming the first female academy professor in physics and nuclear engineering at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y. She graduated with a master's in aerospace engineering from CU-Boulder in 2008. "When I was searching online for universities with programs in aerospace engineering," she says in a profile on the university's website, "the top two universities that popped up were CU-Boulder and MIT. I chose CU thanks to the diversity of its programs and ability to absorb students with varied academic backgrounds."
Photo Credit: Glenn J. Asakawa/University of Colorado
To measure support for veterans and active-duty students, College Factual looks at a variety of factors, including how affordable the school is for those using the Post-9/11 GI Bill, numbers of veterans and active-duty service members studying at the school, policies that favor veterans, support services offered, and the availability of flexible learning options. You can read more about the methodology behind the ranking here.
Below, we've included a list of the top 10 veteran-friendly schools to study aerospace and aeronautical engineering, but this list is by no means exhaustive.
1. Arizona State University, Tempe, Ariz.
Arizona State is a public university with a large veteran population making use of the GI Bill. The school also participates in four different federal programs setting standards for military education. ASU offers different engineering programs, including a Bachelor of Science in Aerospace Engineering with a concentration in either aeronautics or astronautics. Graduates from the aerospace engineering program can expect average early-career earnings of $64,000, which jumps to over $100,000 mid-career. ASU also offers master’s and Ph.D. PhD programs in aerospace engineering.
2. University of Oklahoma, Norman, Okla.
The University of Oklahoma is a large and diverse public university. The university participates in the Principles of Excellence and the DOD Memorandum of Understanding and keeps costs affordable for all students, especially those who can make use of the GI Bill. Students can earn a bachelor's in aerospace engineering or choose a five-year accelerated bachelor's to master's program. Graduates with a bachelor's in aerospace engineering from the University of Oklahoma report average earnings of $60,000 in their early career.
3. The University of Texas at Austin, Austin, Texas
Located in the vibrant city of Austin, the University of Texas at Austin is a great choice for those seeking a large and diverse university. The university has a large population of veteran students and participates in both the DoD Memorandum of Understanding as well as VetSuccess on Campus. It offers veterans and active-duty service members in-state tuition regardless of the student's home state. The university has a large engineering program and offers both bachelor's and master's degrees in aerospace engineering. Graduates from the aerospace program average early-career earnings of $61,000.
4. San Diego State University, San Diego
San Diego State is another large public university located in a major city. SDSU supports a large population of veterans and is part of four different federal programs setting educational standards for veteran and active-duty military students. The university offers undergraduate and graduate degrees in aerospace engineering. Graduates with a bachelor's degree in this subject report average earnings of $62,000 in their early career.
5. Pennsylvania State University, University Park, Penn.
Penn State was founded in 1855 as a college of agricultural science. Since then, the university has expanded to offer degrees up to the Ph.D. PhD level in a wide variety of subjects. The school has a large engineering department and offers undergraduate and graduate degrees in aerospace engineering. Graduates from the aerospace engineering program report average early-career earnings of $65,000. Penn State has many GI Bill recipients on campus and participates in three important federal programs for veterans. The school does participate in the Yellow Ribbon Program, but there are some limitations on awards.
6. Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa
Iowa State is a large university located in the small city of Ames. The university offers a bachelor's in aerospace engineering as well as an online option for a master's degree in the subject. Iowa State participates in three federal programs setting standards for veteran education and is part of the Yellow Ribbon Program, with some limitations. Average earnings for aerospace graduates from Iowa State in their early career are $60,000 per year.
7. University of Arizona, Tucson, Ariz.
The University of Arizona is a large and affordable public school located in a bustling city atmosphere. UA offers both undergraduate and graduate degrees in aerospace engineering. The school participates in three federal programs for veterans and grants in-state tuition to military and veteran students, making costs very affordable. Graduates with a bachelor's in aerospace engineering earn average early-career salaries of $65,000.
8. University of Florida, Gainesville, Fla.
The University of Florida participates in three federal programs setting standards for veteran education. The maximum GI Bill benefit is more than enough to cover in-state tuition, but students who apply out-of-state may have to pay some tuition out of pocket unless they can qualify for financial aid. Graduates with a bachelor's in aerospace engineering from Florida earn an average of $63,000 in their early career.
9. Mississippi State University, Mississippi State, Miss.
Mississippi State is a large university located in a small town. Graduates of the aerospace engineering program earn average early-career salaries of $69,000. MSU is part of three federal programs for veteran education and keeps costs affordable for all students, including those making use of the GI Bill. The school offers graduate and undergraduate programs in aerospace engineering.
10. University of Colorado Boulder, Boulder, Colo.
CU-Boulder offers a bachelor’s in aerospace engineering as well as a concurrent BS to MS program, master’s and doctorate PhD programs. Graduates from CU-Boulder with a degree in aerospace engineering earn average early-career salaries of $67,000. The university participates in three different programs for veteran education and grants veterans in-state tuition, making it a very affordable and friendly choice.