Outstanding Design

Outstanding Design requires a comprehensive background in the following areas of study:

Aerodynamics: Subsonic, supersonic and computational aerodynamics are all a part of the AE program at Virginia Tech. Students learn to use state-of-the-art computational and experimental facilities for flows from 10 mph to Mach 10.

Structures: Light yet super-strong, modern aerospace structures employ composite materials and innovative geometries. AE students learn the latest numerical techniques for structural analysis.

Propulsion: From props to jets to rockets, AE students use their background in physics, thermodynamics and fluid dynamics to understand and analyze the propulsion systems of the future.

Flight Mechanics: Key to making the aerospace systems of tomorrow go faster, further, higher and deeper into space is understanding astrodynamics, aircraft performance, stability and control.

Electives: Other courses include design optimization, automatic flight control, computational aerodynamics, computational structural analysis, and aerospace manufacturing.


Virginia Tech offers courses toward the Master of Science degree in Aerospace Engineering concentrating on aerodynamics, structures, propulsion, and flight mechanics. Courses will be offered using an internet only delivery method. There will be both synchronous (two-way, live communication between student and professor) and asynchronous (downloadable, prerecorded lectures) components. Presentation materials will be packaged into downloadable modules that you can view at your convenience. One hour each week, there will be a live internet meeting of the class where you can interact with the professor. During this session, the professor will present interactive materials, answer questions on the lectures, go over homework, etc. You will need access to an internet connection, a computer with speakers, and a microphone (a headset is a highly recommended option). The software required for this connection will be a browser plug-in that we provide. Instruction is by both faculty and practicing professionals.

Thirty credit hours are required for the M.S. degree. The coursework must include four core courses (12 credits). These will be offered on a two year rotation, one each in the fall and spring semesters. (Some may be offered more often.) The suggested load is 1 or 2 courses per semester. A final comprehensive oral exam will be required of all students upon completion of the degree requirements. Guidelines for the oral exam are described in the AOE Graduate Study Policies and Procedures Manual. Non-thesis option Masters of Science students may also reference the AOE Non-Thesis Final Examinations document for more information.

The required courses are as follows:

  • AOE 4404: Applied Numerical Methods – Spring 2016
  • AOE 5024: Vehicle Structures – Summer 2016
  • AOE 5104: Advanced Aero and Hydrodynamics – Fall 2015
  • AOE 5204: Vehicle Dynamics and Control – Fall 2016

List of Approved Electives:

  • 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 5434G: Advanced Introduction to Computational Fluid Dynamics (Fall)
  • AOE 5774: Nonlinear Systems Theory (Fall)
  • AOE 6114: Transonic Aerodynamics (Spring)
  • AOE 6124: Hypersonic Aerodynamics (Fall)
  • AOE 6145: Computational Fluid Dynamics (Spring)
  • AOE 6444: Verification and Validation of Scientific Computing (Spring)
  • AOE 6744: Linear Control Theory1 (Spring)


Students are required to complete one of two tracks:

Track A: Master of Science Thesis

  • 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.

Track B: Master of Science Non-Thesis

  • 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.


1It 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.

Vanessa Aubuchon, Aerospace Engineering
Graduate, 2013

"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 material and expectations were equally as challenging as a face-to-face course, and 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."