Majors, Minors, and Certificates

Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Aerospace Engineering

The bachelor of science degree in Aerospace Engineering is designed primarily for those students who are interested in the analysis, design, and operation of aircraft and space vehicles, and who are interested in becoming the next generation of innovative aerospace engineers and leaders in an ever-evolving, critical industry.

Through a combination of comprehensive coursework and extensive hands-on experience, students learn the theories and practices of the fundamental subjects of aerospace engineering:

  • Aeronautics
  • Astronautics
  • Aerodynamics and fluid dynamics
  • Aerospace materials and structures
  • Dynamics and control
  • Aircraft stability and control and/or orbital and attitude dynamics and control
  • Air-breathing and rocket propulsion
  • Aircraft systems design and/or spacecraft systems design

Project-based activities emphasize the development and use of teamwork and communications skills for effective problem-solving.

In the first two years of study, aerospace engineering students take many courses in common with other engineering majors, including mathematics, physics, and chemistry. Because engineering practice changes rapidly, emphasis is placed on these foundational physical and scientific principles and methods to provide students with a basic education for the engineering profession, and to form the soundest and broadest base for future work in aerospace engineering.

Depending upon the technical course selections made in the fourth year, a student may emphasize aeronautics or astronautics, and specific technical areas within these fields, including aerodynamics, structural mechanics, flight mechanics, propulsion, controls, and software.

The program is structured to ensure students develop professional excellence, innovative engineering thinking, and gain deep technical knowledge in the core disciplines and integrative systems of aerospace engineering to fully prepare them for a responsible, rewarding career that will have a positive impact on society. Two to three years after obtaining a B.S. in aerospace engineering, graduates should be one or both of the following:

  1. Employed in the customary settings such as large and small aerospace firms, government laboratories, or nontraditional positions that also require the use of systems-engineering approaches to problem-solving
  2. Pursuing graduate study in aerospace engineering or related fields

Expected Student Outcomes:

The Aerospace Engineering program will provide students with:

(1) an ability to identify, formulate, and solve complex engineering problems by applying principles of engineering, science, and mathematics

(2) an ability to apply engineering design to produce solutions that meet specified needs with consideration of public health, safety, and welfare, as well as global, cultural, social, environmental, and economic factors

(3) an ability to communicate effectively with a range of audiences

(4) an ability to recognize ethical and professional responsibilities in engineering situations and make informed judgments, which must consider the impact of engineering solutions in global, economic, environmental, and societal contexts

(5) an ability to function effectively on a team whose members together provide leadership, create a collaborative and inclusive environment, establish goals, plan tasks, and meet objectives

(6) an ability to develop and conduct appropriate experimentation, analyze and interpret data, and use engineering judgment to draw conclusions

(7) an ability to acquire and apply new knowledge as needed, using appropriate learning strategies

Overall, students will gain a broad education necessary to understand the impact of aerospace engineering solutions in a global, economic, environmental, and societal context, and they will develop the required skills to implement them successfully in a professional or academic setting. A wide range of careers for aerospace engineering graduates exist in large and small aerospace firms, government agencies and laboratories, and academia.

View the sample academic plan.

Undergraduate Minor in Information Sciences and Technology for Aerospace Engineering (ISASP)

The role of software in the practice of aerospace engineering is critical and continues to grow rapidly. The effective design, development, and manufacturing of aerospace systems rely heavily on computers, software, and digital information. Some aircraft cannot fly without their onboard computers, and many future aerospace vehicles will be unmanned, resulting in even greater software challenges.

Providing undergraduate aerospace engineering students the opportunity to learn more about information sciences and technology by earning a minor in Information Sciences and Technology will not only enrich their educational achievements, but it will also make them more valuable to potential employers, and help them succeed in professional employment or graduate school. They will better appreciate the entire aerospace system better, and will be better equipped to work side-by-side with experts in the computing and software fields.

View ISASP information on the Penn State Bulletin.

Specific questions regarding the ISASP minor may be directed to:

Lyle N. Long
Professor of Aerospace Engineering and Mathematics
The Pennsylvania State University
229 Hammond Building
University Park, PA 16802

Undergraduate Certificate in Space Systems Engineering

The Space Systems Engineering Certificate program is primarily designed for students in the College of Engineering who wish to be recognized for completing a core set of courses in space systems engineering-related topics and for participating in a space systems project. The project work is to be documented through a report.

This certificate program, under the direction of, and jointly administered by the electrical engineering department's Communications and Space Sciences Laboratory (CSSL) and the aerospace engineering department, is designed to help prepare students for a career in the space industry. It is also relevant to students with an interest in systems engineering and who wish to bolster their credentials.

More information about the program can be found here.



The Penn State Department of Aerospace Engineering, established in 1961 and the only aerospace engineering department in Pennsylvania, is consistently recognized as one of the top aerospace engineering departments in the nation, and is also an international leader in aerospace education, research, and engagement. Our undergraduate program is ranked 15th and our graduate programs are ranked 15th nationally by U.S. News & World Report, while one in 25 holders of a B.S. degree in aerospace engineering in the U.S. earned it from Penn State. Our students are consistently among the most highly recruited by industry, government, and graduate schools nationwide.

The department is built upon the fundamentals of academic integrity, innovation in research, and commitment to the advancement of industry. Through an innovative curriculum and world-class instruction that reflects current industry practice and embraces future trends, Penn State Aerospace Engineering graduates emerge as broadly educated, technically sound aerospace engineers who will become future leaders in a critical industry

Department of Aerospace Engineering

229 Hammond Building

The Pennsylvania State University

University Park, PA 16802

Phone: 814-865-2569