Virginia tech aerospace engineering schools ranking

Last Updated on December 15, 2022 by Omoyeni Adeniyi

The Aerospace & Aeronautical Engineering major is part of the engineering program at Virginia Tech.
We’ve pulled together some essential information you should know about the program, including how many students graduate each year, the ethnic diversity of these students, average starting salaries, and more. In addition, we cover how Virginia Tech ranks in comparison to other schools with aerospace engineering programs.

Aerospace & Aeronautical Engineering Degrees Available at Virginia Tech

  • Bachelor’s Degree in Aerospace Engineering
  • Master’s Degree in Aerospace Engineering
  • Doctorate Degree in Aerospace Engineering

Virginia Tech Aerospace Engineering Rankings

The bachelor’s program at Virginia Tech was ranked #10 on College Factual’s Best Schools for aerospace engineering list. It is also ranked #1 in Virginia.

Ranking TypeRank
Most Popular Colleges for Aerospace & Aeronautical Engineering4
Best Value Colleges for Aerospace & Aeronautical Engineering6
Best Aerospace & Aeronautical Engineering Colleges for Non-Traditional Students8
Best Colleges for Aerospace & Aeronautical Engineering10
Best Aerospace & Aeronautical Engineering Colleges for Veterans14
Most Focused Colleges for Aerospace & Aeronautical Engineering17
Highest Paid Aerospace & Aeronautical Engineering Graduates28

Popularity of Aerospace Engineering at Virginia Tech

During the 2018-2019 academic year, Virginia Tech handed out 157 bachelor’s degrees in aerospace and aeronautical engineering. Due to this, the school was ranked #4 out of all colleges and universities that offer this degree. This is an increase of 60% over the previous year when 98 degrees were handed out.

In 2019, 26 students received their master’s degree in aerospace engineering from Virginia Tech. This makes it the #22 most popular school for aerospace engineering master’s degree candidates in the country.

In addition, 10 students received their doctoral degrees in aerospace engineering in 2019, making the school the #11 most popular school in the United States for this category of students.

How Much Do Aerospace Engineering Graduates from Virginia Tech Make?


Salary of Aerospace Engineering Graduates with a Bachelor’s Degree

Aerospace Engineering majors who earn their bachelor’s degree from Virginia Tech go on to jobs where they make a median salary of $62,000 a year. This is less than $62,500, which is the national median of all aerospace engineering majors in the nation who earn bachelor’s degrees.


How Much Student Debt Do Aerospace Engineering Graduates from Virginia Tech Have?


Student Debt of Aerospace Engineering Graduates with a Bachelor’s Degree

While getting their bachelor’s degree at Virginia Tech, aerospace engineering students borrow a median amount of $27,888 in student loans. This is higher than the the typical median of $23,446 for all aerospace engineering majors across the country.


The typical student loan payment of a bachelor’s degree student from the aerospace engineering program at Virginia Tech is $289 per month.

Aerospace Engineering Student Diversity at Virginia Tech

Take a look at the following statistics related to the make-up of the aerospace engineering majors at Virginia Tech.

Virginia Tech Aerospace & Aeronautical Engineering Bachelor’s Program

During the 2018-2019 academic year, 157 students graduated with a bachelor’s degree in aerospace engineering from Virginia Tech. About 90% were men and 10% were women.

Virginia Tech Gender Breakdown of Aerospace & Aeronautical Engineering Bachelor's Degree Grads

The majority of bachelor’s degree recipients in this major at Virginia Tech are white. In the most recent graduating class for which data is available, 72% of students fell into this category.

The following table and chart show the ethnic background for students who recently graduated from Virginia Tech with a bachelor’s in aerospace engineering.

Ethnic Diversity of Aerospace & Aeronautical Engineering Majors at Virginia Tech
Ethnic BackgroundNumber of Students
Black or African American1
Hispanic or Latino5
Non-Resident Aliens5
Other Races19

Virginia Tech Aerospace & Aeronautical Engineering Master’s Program

During the 2018-2019 academic year, 26 students graduated with a bachelor’s degree in aerospace engineering from Virginia Tech. About 85% were men and 15% were women.

Virginia Tech Gender Breakdown of Aerospace & Aeronautical Engineering Master's Degree Grads

The majority of the students with this major are white. About 77% of 2019 graduates were in this category.

The following table and chart show the ethnic background for students who recently graduated from Virginia Tech with a master’s in aerospace engineering.

Ethnic Diversity of Aerospace & Aeronautical Engineering Majors at Virginia Tech
Ethnic BackgroundNumber of Students
Black or African American0
Hispanic or Latino0
Non-Resident Aliens4
Other Races1

Virginia Tech’s Kevin T. Crofton Department of Aerospace and Ocean Engineering earns top placement in two world rankings

Two international organizations have ranked the aerospace engineering program in the Kevin T. Crofton Department of Aerospace and Ocean Engineering among the top 10 such programs globally.

The Center for World University Rankings (CWUR) listed Virginia Tech fifth and Shanghai Global Rankings listed the university 10th in aerospace engineering, alongside several other top institutions, such as Georgia Institute of Technology, University of Michigan, California Institute of Technology, Delft University of Technology, and Technion-Israel Institute of Technology.

“The department’s collaborative research efforts position us as a major world leader in several strategic thrust areas, including autonomous aerial and marine vehicles, multidisciplinary design optimization of aircraft and ships, advanced propulsion systems, wind energy aerodynamics and aeroacoustics, small satellites and space missions, and cyber-physical security,” said Eric Paterson, head of the Kevin T. Crofton Department of Aerospace and Ocean Engineering. “We have outstanding faculty and students and a productive department. These quantitative polls validate where we stand and the work we continue to do.”

Virginia Tech aerospace and ocean engineering students are in high-demand for dynamic jobs that address multifaceted problems of the 21st century. Graduates work in such diverse fields as autonomous vehicles, space launch systems, green aviation and shipping, renewable energy, space-based remote sensing, and national defense, among others.

Unlike reputational rankings, which are based upon votes, Shanghai Ranking and CWUR apply quantitative techniques to determine world rankings. In the Shanghai Ranking system, school accomplishments are weighted according to total number of papers published in an academic subject, number of papers in top journals, impact of publications as measured by citations, faculty awards, and internationally collaborated work. The aerospace engineering category, in particular, heavily emphasizes publications in top aerospace engineering journals of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics.

The CWUR ranking system also applies points to several factors, including research article impact and innovation (in the form of patents); however, it also takes into account alumni employment and quality of education as determined by alumni recognition. At Virginia Tech, nearly three out of four alumni acquire full-time employment immediately following graduation, and the remaining quarter either further their education in graduate school or move into military service.

Virginia Tech aerospace graduate student, Ning Liu, installs a plenum probe.
Virginia Tech’s aerospace and ocean engineering department has more than 550 undergraduate students and 175 graduate students. The program has extensive facilities, including the world-class Virginia Tech Stability Wind Tunnel; specialized wind and water tunnels for hypersonic, supersonic, subsonic, and drag-reduction research; Space@VT – a space science and engineering lab; the advanced power and propulsion lab; a high-quality machine shop and 3-D printers for additive manufacturing; and a flight-test runway and hanger for unmanned aircraft.

In November 2016, Virginia Tech named the department in honor of alumnus Kevin T. Crofton, president and chief executive officer of SPTS Technologies Ltd., in recognition of his extraordinary philanthropy. Crofton, a native of Fincastle, Virginia, committed $14 million to the department and $1 million to the university’s Division of Student Affairs.

Crofton’s generous donation supports the recruitment and significant investment into the research program of an internationally recognized scholar, Mark Psiaki, Virginia Tech professor of aerospace and ocean engineering, who has been named the Kevin T. Crofton Faculty Chair of Aerospace and Ocean Engineering.

This fall, eight undergraduates and two graduate students majoring in aerospace and or ocean engineering received Crofton scholarships. Students of high academic standing are chosen on the basis of financial need and underrepresentation in the College of Engineering.

According to Paterson, “the fields of aeronautics, astronautics, and hydronautics have more in common than ever, and we are in a strong position to develop fundamental technology associated with design and operation of next-generation airplanes, ships and submarines, spacecraft, and related systems.”

These Are the 10 Best Colleges for Aerospace Engineering

Virginia Tech's Kevin T. Crofton Department of Aerospace and Ocean  Engineering earns top placement in two world rankings | Virginia Tech Daily  | Virginia Tech
  1. Rensselaer Institute of Technology (Troy, New York)

photo by Wesley Fryer via Wikimedia Commons
An outstanding aspect of the Rensselaer experience is their BS-PhD program. In this unique program, students can enroll at RPI for a doctoral degree immediately after completing a Bachelor’s degree. This provides students an unparalleled opportunity for research at a prestigious university while getting paid to do so (at the PhD level).

The engineering program at RPI, known as MANE (Mechanical, Aerospace, and Nuclear Engineering) enrolls nearly 1600 students, approximately 1400 being undergraduates.

The university as a whole has some of the most distinguished faculty working in science today. They include five National Medal of Science winners, a Nobel Prize winner, six National Medal of Technology recipients, members in the National Inventors Hall of fame, and more.

Interestingly, according to the school’s website, Rensselaer is home to the nation’s most powerful university-based supercomputers.

  1. Virginia Polytechnic Institute (Blacksburg, VA)

photo via Wikimedia Commons
At Virginia Polytech, students in the aerospace engineering program have recently built satellites deployed into space. Amazing opportunities like this are at the core of the Virginia Tech experience; much of the program’s focus is around building vehicles for space, air, and ocean.

Speaking of ocean, Virginia Polytech is home to a major in Ocean Engineering, which in fact is very similar to their Aerospace curriculum. Because of this, students can dual major in Aerospace and Ocean Engineering at the school.

Uniquely, Virginia Polytech as a whole consistently scores high in metrics for student happiness. According to the Princeton Review in 2017, Virginia Tech is the 7th-happiest campus, 4th-best food campus, and 1st overall for quality of life.

Virginia Polyech’s aerospace engineering program is consistently ranked among the top in the world; US News ranked it recently in its top 20, and Best Value Schools ranked it number two on their list.

  1. Stanford University (Palo Alto, CA)

photo by King of Hearts via Wikimedia Commons
Stanford has one of the most compelling Aerospace Engineering programs in the world. Research at the school includes work on cyber safety for transportation, future aircraft design, space systems, and much more.

Faculty and alumni from Stanford’s aerospace engineering program are among the most celebrated in the world. Many graduates of Stanford have gone on to win Guggenheim fellowships, entrance into the National Academy of Engineering, and more. Amazingly, 11 percent of the nation’s PhD in aerospace engineering graduate from Stanford.

Stanford is home to some of the impressive facilities for studying aerospace engineering in the country. They include the Aerospace Computing Lab, which is used in the design of aircraft and other aerospace products, the Aerospace Design Laboratory, and even an experimental Flight Room.

Top 10 Ranking Aerospace Engineering Schools

Virginia Tech College of Engineering moves upward in national ranking | Virginia  Tech Daily | Virginia Tech
1Georgia Institute of Technology-Main CampusAtlanta, GA
2Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State UniversityBlacksburg, VA
3Purdue University-Main CampusWest Lafayette, IN
4Rensselaer Polytechnic InstituteTroy, NY
5Wichita State UniversityWichita, KS
6University of Washington-Seattle CampusSeattle, WA
7The University of Texas at AustinAustin, TX
8Texas A & M University-College StationCollege Station, TX
9University of Cincinnati-Main CampusCincinnati, OH
10United States Naval AcademyAnnapolis, MD


To begin, we acquired a list of all the colleges and universities in the United States that offer bachelor’s degrees in aerospace engineering (courtesy of College Navigator). Next, we compared this set to a list of all ABET-accredited programs. Schools needed to have earned specific accreditation for their aerospace engineering degrees in order to qualify; it was not sufficient to have an ABET-accredited general engineering curriculum. From here, we collected data on five equally weighted metrics:

Graduation Rate: Specifically, graduation rate refers to the percentage of students who earn their degree within 150% of normal time, defined to be six years for a typical four-year undergraduate degree. While this statistic is not specific to aerospace engineering programs, we thought it was important to include it as an indicator of overall student success, as well as of the schools’ performance on measures of student “output” (as opposed to measures of “input,” ex. selectivity). Source: College Navigator.

Accreditation Date: Achieving accreditation status is a big deal for academic programs; it serves as an indication that the curriculum meets rigorous, nationwide standards and demonstrates an ability to prepare students for relevant career fields. In order to make the most of this metric, we looked at each degree’s accreditation date. In general, schools that have been accredited for longer periods of time also have more comprehensive programs, have had more opportunities to revise and enhance the curriculum, and have had more time to attract top-tier faculty. Source: Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET).

Degree Popularity: Many colleges – especially large universities – offer a vast array of engineering degrees. When freshman engineering majors have so many options, what does it take for them to choose sky and space over other specialties? We considered that particularly robust aerospace engineering programs likely attract a large number of aspiring engineers, relative to other engineering degrees available at the school. Thus, we assessed schools on degree popularity, or the percentage of students earning aerospace degrees out of all engineering degrees awarded in the most recent school year. Source: College Navigator.

Engineering Popularity: On a related note, we also considered the benefit of attending a college or university with broad strengths in engineering and STEM on the whole, such as tech institutes. In general, these schools funnel more money into their engineering programs, have more and better engineering facilities, and house a larger population of like-minded engineering students. Thus, we assessed schools on engineering popularity, or the percentage of students earning an engineering degree (of any kind) out of all undergraduate degrees awarded in the most recent school year. Source: College Navigator.

Net Price: Of course, no best value ranking would be complete without an assessment of cost. We judged schools on their overall affordability by looking at their self-reported net price. Note that this figure is distinct from tuition, in that it “is generated by subtracting the average amount of federal, state/local government, or institutional grant or scholarship aid from the total cost of attendance. Total cost of attendance is the sum of published tuition and required fees (lower of in-district or in-state), books and supplies, and the weighted average for room and board and other expenses.” Source: College Navigator.

We gave each school points for their performance in each of the aforementioned categories, then summed the amounts to calculate raw totals. Lastly, we “curved” these calculations so that the school with the most points received an A+ score (or 100 points), adjusting the other scores in kind. You can find the 25 highest-scoring schools below, along with descriptions of their top aerospace engineering degree programs.COLLAPSE ALL EXPAND ALL

  1. Georgia Institute of Technology-Main CampusLOCATIONAtlanta, GATUITION$$$$$
  2. Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State UniversityLOCATIONBlacksburg, VATUITION$$$$$
  3. Purdue University-Main CampusLOCATIONWest Lafayette, INTUITION$$$$$
  4. Rensselaer Polytechnic InstituteLOCATIONTroy, NYTUITION$$$$$
  5. Wichita State UniversityLOCATIONWichita, KSTUITION$$$$$
  6. University of Washington-Seattle CampusLOCATIONSeattle, WATUITION$$$$$
  7. The University of Texas at AustinLOCATIONAustin, TXTUITION$$$$$
  8. Texas A & M University-College StationLOCATIONCollege Station, TXTUITION$$$$$
  9. University of Cincinnati-Main CampusLOCATIONCincinnati, OHTUITION$$$$$
  10. United States Naval AcademyLOCATIONAnnapolis, MDTUITION$$$$$

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