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Distance learning: master of science in aerospace engineering

The wing of an airplane flying over clouds

What is aerospace engineering? 

Virginia Tech’s tradition of outstanding design in aerospace engineering emphasizes

  • aerodynamics
  • structures
  • propulsion
  • flight mechanics

"The online M.S. degree in Aerospace Engineering is offered in a convenient, flexible format that accommodated my working full-time and starting a family. The…staff and faculty were supportive and prompt at answering questions, which made the online experience very rewarding. The degree has been a valuable investment in my future that would not have been available to me in a traditional face-to-face format. Even in a virtual environment, the staff and faculty truly made me feel like a Hokie.”

-Vanessa Aubuchon, Aerospace Engineering

Graduate, 2013


Required courses for an M.S. in aerospace engineering online

Breadth Requirement: All MS AE students are required to take at least one course each in three out of the four disciplinary areas identified below.



Fluid Mechanics
•    AOE 5104, Advanced Aero and Hydrodynamics;
•    AOE 5114, High Speed Aerodynamics;
•    AOE 5124, Aero and Hydroacoustics;
•    AOE 5135, Vehicle Propulsion;
•    AOE 5144, Boundary Layer Theory.



Dynamics and Control
•    AOE 5204, Vehicle Dynamics and Control;
•    AOE 5744, Linear Systems Theory;
•    AOE 5754, Applied Linear Systems;
•    AOE 5774, Nonlinear Systems Theory;
•    AOE 5234, Orbital Mechanics.



Structures and Materials
•    AOE 5024, Vehicle Structures;
•    AOE 5034, Mechanical and Structural Dynamics;
•    AOE 5054, Stability of Structures;
•    AOE 5064, Structural Optimization.



Applied Physics
•    AOE 5174, Introduction to Plasma Science;

•    AOE 5654, Introduction to Space Science I: The Solar Wind and Magnetosphere;
•    AOE 5664, Upper Atmosphere and Ionosphere;
•    ECE 5194, Remote Sensing: Principles and Techniques.



Math Requirement: All MS Students are required to take at least one course (of three credits or more) focused on graduate-level mathematics, statistics, or numerical methods. A sample list of courses satisfying this requirement is given in Appendix B. The MS Advisory Committee can approve other courses that have majority of their learning outcomes on advanced mathematics, statistics, or numerical methods.


Non-thesis MS AE students must take at least two additional graduate courses in AOE. See Appendix C for a list of courses to take for a specialization in (i) Fluid Mechanics, (ii) Dynamics, Controls, and Estimation, (iii) Structures and Materials, and (iv) Space Engineering.


Students are required to complete one of two tracks:

  • Students must complete 9-12 credits of approved electives.
  • Students must complete 6-10 credits of AOE 5994: Research and Thesis.
  • Students must complete a master's thesis on a topic agreeable to both the student and an academic advisor.
  • Students must complete a minimum of 12 credits of graded course work numbered 5000 and higher.
  • A maximum of 6 credits of AOE 5974: Independent Study and AOE 5984: Special Study are allowed.
  • A maximum of 6 credits of approved 4000 level course work is allowed.
  • Students must complete 18 credits of approved electives.
  • Students may complete 3-6 credits of AOE 5904: Project and Report.
  • Students must complete a minimum of 12 credits of graded course work numbered 5000 and higher.
  • A maximum of 9 credits of AOE 5974: Independent Study and AOE 5984: Special Study are allowed.
  • A maximum of 6 credits of approved 4000 level course work is allowed.
  • It is strongly recommended that students who wish to take AOE 6744: Linear Control Theory, first take AOE 5744: Linear Systems Theory or an equivalent course on linear, time-varying systems.

Online course offerings

  • AOE 5024 - VEHICLE STRUCTURES (Summer, every other year)
  • AOE 5104 - ADVANCED AERO AND HYDRODYNAMICS (Fall)
  • AOE 5204 - VEHICLE DYNAMICS AND CONTROL (Fall)
  • AOE 5074 - ADVANCED SHIP STRUCTURAL ANALYSIS (Fall)
  • AOE 5104 - ADVANCED AERO AND HYDRODYNAMICS (Fall)
  • AOE 5334 - ADVANCED SHIP DYNAMICS (Spring)
  • AOE 5034 - MECHANICAL AND STRUCTURAL VIBRATIONS (Spring)
  • AOE 5064 - STRUCTURAL OPTIMIZATION (Spring)
  • AOE 5114 - HIGH SPEED AERODYNAMICS (Spring)
  • AOE 5144 - BOUNDARY LAYER THEORY AND HEAT TRANSFER (Spring)
  • AOE 5234 - ORBITAL MECHANICS (Spring)
  • AOE 5304 - ADVANCED NAVAL ARCHITECTURE (Fall)
  • AOE 5314 - NAVAL SHIP SYSTEM DESIGN AND EFFECTIVENESS (Fall)
  • AOE 5315 & 5316 - NAVAL SHIP DESIGN (Fall and Spring)
  • AOE 5434G - ADVANCED INTRODUCTION TO COMPUTATIONAL FLUID DYNAMICS (Fall)
  • AOE 5444G - ADVANCED DYNAMICS OF HIGH-SPEED CRAFT (Spring)
  • AOE 5754 - APPLIED LINEAR SYSTEMS (Fall)
  • AOE 5764 - APPLIED LINEAR CONTROL (Spring)
  • AOE 5774 - NONLINEAR SYSTEMS THEORY (Fall)
  • AOE 6114 - TRANSONIC AERODYNAMICS (Spring)
  • AOE 6124 - HYPERSONIC AERODYNAMICS (Fall) 
  • AOE 6145 - COMPUTATIONAL FLUID DYNAMICS (Spring, every other year)
  • AOE 6444 - VERIFICATION AND VALIDATION OF SCIENTIFIC COMPUTING (Spring)
  • AOE 6744 - LINEAR CONTROL THEORY (Spring)