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"CFI and student in front of airplane"

The South Dakota State University aviation program is four year program that produces quality graduates who are well prepared for careers in the aviation industry. The 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.

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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 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. Learn more about the R-ATP regulation.

Aviation Education Mission Statement

The aviation education program 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 forming multi-engine commercial pilots and instructors who are able to apply their core educational experience to the aviation profession.

Aviation Program Educational Outcomes/Goals

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

  • Apply the general education experience 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.

sdsu airplanes


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 specialization.

Check out course descriptions and program requirements for the aviation education specialization and the aviation minor.

There are additional costs associated with the aviation education major. Please see the costs page for more information. There are no additional admission requirements to enroll in the Aviation Program.

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Aviation Faculty

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Current SDSU Aviation Stats:

  • Full and part time flight instructors: 29 CFI’s
  • 15 airplanes
    • Twelve Cessna 172 Skyhawk aircraft (primary training with G500 or G1000 avionics)
    • Two Piper Seminole aircraft (multiengine training, G1000 avionics)
    • One American Champion Citabria (optional tailwheel training)
    • One Basic Aviation Training Device (Redbird TD)
    • One Advanced Aviation Training Device (Frasca RTD)
  • Aviation Education Specialization is AABI Aviation Accreditation Board International accredited

SDSU Aviation Student Achievement Data