Aviation, Ph.D.

Saint Louis University's Ph.D. in aviation science is offered in an entirely online format, making it ideal for working professionals.

Program Highlights

  • Ph.D. students in aviation science at Saint Louis University complete coursework before scheduling a qualifying exam that focuses on topics related to the coursework and assesses general preparation for graduate research.
  • Upon successfully passing the qualifying exam, students develop a dissertation proposal under the supervision of a research mentor. Students then present and defend the dissertation proposal.
  • After conducting research and writing a dissertation, students defend the dissertation in a public forum and then privately to the committee.

Curriculum Overview

Students will work with their advisor and Ph.D. committee to determine the specific coursework to complete the program. Those students holding an appropriate Master of Science degree may include a maximum of 27 credits of the associated M.S. degree course credits, but not the thesis or project credits, in the 63 credits required for the Ph.D. degree.  


Graduates with a Ph.D. in aviation science are uniquely qualified to conduct aviation-related research in academia, government and industry.

Admission Requirements

Begin your application for this program at www.slu.edu/apply.

Most admitted students meet the following criteria:

  • Undergraduate GPA of at least 3.0
  • A four-year undergraduate degree in aviation or a field related to the desired graduate program

Application Requirements

  • Online application form and fee
  • Official transcript(s) of all previous degrees
  • Three letters of recommendation (preferably from recent instructors)
  • A writing sample solely authored by the applicant that has been preferably composed within the last two to three years. The sample should relate to a contemporary issue in aviation or describe the student’s proposed research agenda and how that contemporary issue or proposed research agenda matches the research currently being conducted by faculty in the Department of Aviation Science. Submissions should be formatted in APA style, be between 3,500-4,500 words, and include an abstract of fewer than 300 words.
  • Curriculum vitae/résumé
  • Professional goal statement

Requirements for International Students

All admission policies and requirements for domestic students apply to international students along with the following:

  • Demonstration of English Language Proficiency
  • Proof of financial support, including:
    • A letter of financial support from the person(s) or sponsoring agency funding the time at Saint Louis University
    • A letter from the sponsor's bank verifying that the funds are available and will be so for the duration of study at the University
  • Academic records, in English translation, of students who have undertaken postsecondary studies outside the United States must include the courses taken and/or lectures attended, practical laboratory work, the maximum and minimum grades attainable, the grades earned or the results of all end-of-term examinations, and any honors or degrees received. WES and ECE transcripts are accepted.

Application and Assistantship Deadlines

The department only reviews applications for the fall semester. To be considered for enrollment in the fall semester, submit application materials by May 31.

Admitted students who want to be considered for an assistantship must submit a separate application for assistantship consideration by March 1.

Review Process

Once the online application is complete, and all the materials are received, the application is reviewed by the Parks College Office of Graduate Education and Research before being sent to the Department of Aviation Science for a recommendation. The final decision is made by Parks’ associate dean of graduate education and research.

Admissions decisions are made based on the background and educational experience of students. Applications are reviewed when completed, and decisions are generally made within a few weeks.

Apply Now

Scholarships and Financial Aid

The School of Science and Engineering offers graduate fellowship awards and assistantships each year. Assistantships provide tuition, stipend and health insurance. There are also many opportunities for students to receive funding through external research grants that are managed by individual faculty.

For more information, visit the student financial services office online at www.slu.edu/financial-aid.

  1. Graduates will be able to assess relevant literature or scholarly contributions in the field(s) of study.
  2. Graduates will be able to apply the major practices, theories, or research methodologies in the field(s) of study.
  3. Graduates will be able to apply knowledge from the field(s) of study to address problems in broader contexts.
  4. Graduates will be able to articulate arguments or explanations to both a disciplinary or professional audience and to a general audience, in both oral and written forms.
  5. Graduates will be able to evidence of scholarly and/or professional integrity in the field of study.

The courses in SLU'S Doctor of Philosophy in Aviation curriculum are taught in an entirely online format. The aviation Ph.D. program requires a total of 63 credits beyond a bachelor's degree, including:

  • 12 credits of dissertation research
  • At least 12 credits of coursework in research methodologies
  • At least 12 credits in a second discipline complementary to the knowledge of aviation

Students will work with an adviser and Ph.D. committee to determine the specific coursework to complete the Ph.D. in aviation. If students have an applicable master’s degree, 27 credits of that program may count towards the 63 credits necessary, with department approval. No research or project credits will be counted towards the Ph.D.

Continuation Standards

Students must maintain a cumulative grade point average (GPA) of 3.00 in all graduate/professional courses.

Roadmaps are recommended semester-by-semester plans of study for programs and assume full-time enrollment unless otherwise noted.  

Courses and milestones designated as critical (marked with !) must be completed in the semester listed to ensure a timely graduation. Transfer credit may change the roadmap.

This roadmap should not be used in the place of regular academic advising appointments. All students are encouraged to meet with their advisor/mentor each semester. Requirements, course availability and sequencing are subject to change.

Plan of Study Grid
Year One
ASCI 5150 Aviation Incident and Accident Analysis 2 3
ASCI 5220 Aviation Safety Programs 2 3
Critical course:  ASCI 5030 Aviation Security Management 2 3
ASCI 5470 Quantitative Data Analysis 1 3
Year Two
ASCI 5040 Human Factors in Aviation Safety 2 3
Critical course:  ASCI 5460 Qualitative Data Analysis 1 3
Critical course:  ASCI 5020 Aviation Safety Data Analysis 2 3
ASCI 5980 Graduate Reading Course 3 3
Ph.D. Qualifying Exam  
Year Three
ASCI 6990 Dissertation Research 0-6
ASCI 6990 Dissertation 6
Ph.D. Proposal Defense  
Ph.D. Dissertation Defense  
 Total Credits30-36

Course Composition

Advanced Standing: 27
1Research Core: 9
2Aviation Core:12
3Graduate Reading: 3

Total Credits: 63


  • All coursework is offered online.
  • The Ph.D. in aviation is a 63-credit hour program.
  • Up to 27 credit hours from a closely aligned M.S. program taken prior to the start of the Ph.D. program may be transferred into the Ph.D. program as advanced standing credit and must include 3 credit hours of research methodology and 3 credit hours of introductory statistics.
  • The ASCI 5980 Graduate Reading course must be taken in the last semester of coursework prior to taking the Ph.D. qualifying examination, which is a requirement of the program.
  • The Ph.D. dissertation defense is a graduation requirement taken at the conclusion of your research.