Florida Tech’s College of Aeronautics is consistently recognized as offering one of the best and most comprehensive university-based aviation programs in the country. In keeping with this notable distinction, Florida Tech was the first to establish the AvD degree and, to our knowledge, it is still the only doctor of aviation program in the country.
Students in the AvD program are generally full-time professionals in the aviation/aerospace industry. They enter this doctoral program for many reasons: some are seeking the AvD because their job requires a terminal degree, while others hope to advance their career in their current occupation. The program is not classroom-based, but is 100% online.
Candidates must already have a master’s degree to apply for this program, and the AvD takes a minimum of three years to complete. Along the way, however, you will acquire excellent research skills—how to plan, conduct, and report research on a variety of important aviation topics—to help you address the critical issues facing the aviation industry today. You’ll also be exposed to coursework that is directly and immediately applicable to your profession.
Earning a doctorate online is the perfect solution for working professionals with busy schedules. Florida Tech’s AvD program is highly interactive and brings students and faculty together—even from thousands of miles away—through engaging discussion boards and energetic live chat sessions with professors and peers for a sense of academic closeness that is often missing in other online programs. By combining traditional aviation expertise with a high-tech learning environment, Florida Tech gives students the best of both academic worlds: the benefits of the university’s history of excellence in aviation education, training, and research, in the convenience of an online environment.
Students seeking an AvD learn from professors who are not only highly experienced as commercial, private, and military pilots, but are also experts in at least one other area such as aviation law, safety, avionics, or environmental science, making this different from other online aviation programs in the country. Our faculty know the industry backwards and forwards—airport consulting, design, and management; airline management; aviation human factors; meteorology; and air traffic control.
Florida Tech professors have written and co-authored textbooks on aviation management and aviation safety, as well as journal articles and hundreds of citations on topics such as aeronautical decision-making, operational requirements for traffic awareness and avoidance, G-force-induced loss of consciousness, aviation accident investigation, aviation computer applications, and haptic feedback in aviation systems.
Florida Tech was among several universities selected to be part of the FAA Center of Excellence Partnership to Enhance General Aviation Safety, Accessibility, and Sustainability. PEGASAS, as it is known, is a research partnership between academia, industry, and the federal government, and covers a broad spectrum of aviation degree topics.
Florida Tech’s AvD program gives graduates access to cutting-edge industry research and knowledge, as well as an opportunity to build a network of professionals in aviation and business—an important benefit in a competitive industry and in any online aviation degree.
Florida Tech has been accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC), a regional accrediting agency recognized by the US Department of Education. Accreditation by SACSCOC is a statement of Florida Tech’s continuing commitment to integrity and its capacity to provide effective programs and services based on agreed-upon accreditation standards.
Most doctoral programs involve two components: coursework and research. For coursework, while the curriculum may change slightly from year to year, AvD students will learn the fundamentals of research in aviation; gain a background in statistics, quantitative reasoning, and modeling; do strategic analysis in aviation using game theory; and perform qualitative research.
After successfully completing all the required coursework, students must then successfully pass both written and oral comprehensive examinations. These exams represent a synthesis of the overall program’s coursework and are designed to assess whether students are academically prepared to begin the research component of the program. The research/dissertation phase includes creating a proposal, implementing a study, analyzing the data, writing the dissertation, and defending it.
All doctorates are called terminal degrees, because they are the highest degrees awarded. Academic degrees such as the PhD, or doctor of philosophy, is strongly research-based and grounded in theory. Professional doctorates, such as the JD for attorneys and the MD for medical doctors, do not necessarily have a research component, and for those that do, the research is generally more applied than theoretical, and is intended for the practitioner.
Although there is some overlap in the content of some of the courses (after all, they are both research-oriented doctoral programs), the PhD in Aviation Sciences and the AvD program are completely independent of one another. In addition to the coursework, the dissertation research for each program has a completely different focus: the PhD research is theory-oriented, while the AvD research is practitioner-oriented. AvD students’ dissertation research is oriented toward business/industry practitioners, and typically involves a practical field problem.
Research helps experts in many areas of aviation make the industry less complex and safer. It also helps consultants and experts predict and prevent scenarios that cause airline accidents, interruptions in service, technical challenges, and even such things as pilot shortages and fuel prices.
The AvD is designed to meet the inherent challenges of aviation and to advance the frontiers of aviation knowledge, going from research to real-world application in:
Merging airlines and expanding airports need aviation-savvy executives and consultants to lead them through industry challenges, and Florida Tech AvD candidates are uniquely equipped to fill these positions. From senior researchers at government agencies to executive-level positions, AvD graduates work as consultants and industry experts, researching and analyzing issues that affect the performance and safety of aviation. As graduates of the only AvD program in the country, Florida Tech students are in a class by themselves, ready to work alongside seasoned professionals tackling new and emerging issues in the private sector, commercial airlines, or the military.