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SDSU Aviation Aircraft with South Dakota State University on hangar

The South Dakota State University Aviation Program is a top-grade 4-year program that produces quality graduates who are well prepared for careers in the aviation industry. The SDSU Aviation Program offers students high quality aviation training at competitive rates. Students in the program graduate with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Aviation and may choose between two specializations as they work to further hone their educational experience.

The Aviation Education Specialization is for students who wish to become Certified Flight Instructors and later be professional pilots in industry. Many of our graduates are in the airlines, military, government, and corporate workplaces. Top performing students of this option are often brought on as flight instructors in the SDSU program during their junior and senior years. It is a wonderful opportunity for individuals to instruct and improve the very program they are a part of. The SDSU Aviation Education specialization is accredited by the Aviation Accreditation Board International (AABI).  Students completing the Aviation Education degree are eligible to apply for a restricted privileges airline transport pilot (R-ATP) at graduation.  To learn more about the R-ATP regulation click here.

Aviation Education Mission Statement

The Aviation Education Program at South Dakota State University is committed to preparing safe, innovative, professional aviation educators who enhance human potential through transdisciplinary, learner-centered education in South Dakota and beyond.  We assure this by creating multiengine commercial pilots and instructors who are able to apply the general education core to the aviation profession.

Aviation Program Educational Objectives

Each graduate of the aviation education program will be able to:

  • Apply the general education core to the aviation profession.

  • Demonstrate instructional knowledge in single and multi-engine aircraft to the FAA commercial pilot standard.

  • Demonstrate instructional knowledge through creating and teaching relevant aviation topics to colleagues.

Additionally, all students will participate in a senior capstone course that is designed to bridge the gap between their educational experience and future career. Students are evaluated using direct and indirect assessment to assure competency within the profession using a comprehensive assessment plan.

The Aviation Maintenance Management Specialization is focused on students who wish to repair and maintain aircraft. SDSU has partnered with approved FAA A&P programs across the United States to offer a four-year degree in aviation maintenance management. Students must first complete an Airframe and Powerplant license and then transfer to SDSU to finish up the degree requirements. Students may work for the Chief of Aviation Maintenance at SDSU prior to graduation. This is an excellent opportunity for maintenance students to gain real-world experience. Please contact any Aviation Program faculty before enrolling in this major.

Check out course descriptions and program requirements for the Aviation Education Specialization, the Aviation Maintenance Management Specialization, and the Aviation Minor in our Course Catalog.

View our current program guides for Aviation Education Specialization and Aviation Maintenance Management Specialization. There are additional costs associated with the aviation education major. Please contact one of the aviation faculty for up-to-date information. There are no additional admission requirements to enroll in the Aviation Program.

Also, check out what's happening at the Brookings Airport via our Facebook page.

Aviation Faculty

To learn more about the program, contact Dr. Cody Christensen, program coordinator.

Click here for more information about our Aviation Education specialization that is AABI Aviation Accreditation Board International accredited.

Current SDSU Aviation Stats:

  • Full and part time flight instructors: 15 CFI’s
  • Four Cessna 172 aircraft with NAV III (G-1000 glass panel) (primary training)
  • One Cessna 172 aircraft with NAV II (round dial) (primary training)
  • One Piper Arrow aircraft (complex training)
  • One Piper Seminole aircraft (multiengine training)
  • One Basic Aviation Training Device (Redbird TD)
  • One Advanced Aviation Training Device (Frasca)
  • One Advanced Aviation Training Device AATD (Paradigm Shift Solutions)

Enrollment Data

Full time students enrolled in Aviation Education in the

  • Fall 2017 semester: 98 students
  • Fall 2016 semester: 69 students
  • Fall 2015 semester: 55 students
  • Fall 2014 semester: 54 students

Graduation Data:

  • Spring / Summer / Fall 2017: 7 Aviation Education graduates
  • Spring / Summer / Fall 2016: 3 Aviation Education graduates
  • Spring / Summer / Fall 2015: 12 Aviation Education graduates

Last year 85% of Aviation Education graduates were initially employed as flight instructors at SDSU after graduation and one was a corporate pilot (100% job placement).  Within one year of graduation, our graduates transitioned as corporate pilots (2), professional flight instructors (3), and freight pilots (2). 

Estimated average graduate salary is $40,200.