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Study Aerospace Engineering Abroad - the Definitive Guide

Significant investments have been made by the Indian government to boost localised manufacturing in the aerospace engineering sector.

Mahesh Ramani

The Department of Aerospace Engineering at the Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore is India’s premier centre for aerospace research.

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Subject modules & entry requirements

Since the beginning of civilisation, humankind has been fascinated by the birds flying in the skies and has sought to emulate flight. We have seen inscriptions made on the walls of caves of flying beings and even renowned minds of the renaissance like Leonardo da Vinci attempted to create a flying machine. In India, there is a huge demand for trained and skilled aerospace engineers with a number of vacancies available in organisations like HAL, ISRO and the IAF. This subject guide looks at the best Aerospace Engineering programmes abroad.   

Postgraduate programme options

Students can choose from the MS in Aerospace Engineering, M.Tech in Aerospace Engineering, MSc in Aerospace Engineering and the M.Eng in Aerospace Engineering. Some institutions offer an integrated Aerospace Engineering programme that clubs together an undergraduate and postgraduate degree within five years.

How long will you study?

The MS in Aerospace Engineering is usually offered as a two-year programme. In the UK, the MSc in Aerospace Engineering is offered as a one-year programme.

What will you study?

A postgraduate programme in Aerospace Engineering will include modules on:

  • Aerospace materials engineering
  • Aerodynamics
  • Flight Dynamics
  • Fuel Systems
  • Airframe Structure
  • Computational Analysis
  • Physics

View all postgraduate programmes in Aerospace Engineering.

Typical entry requirements

Some of the top-ranked institutions to study aerospace engineering in the USA are:

  • California Institute of Technology
  • University of Texas at Austin
  • Cornell University
  • Stanford University
  • Princeton University

Some of the top-ranked institutions to study aerospace engineering in the UK are:

  • Imperial College London
  • University of Southampton
  • University of Bath
  • Loughborough University
  • Brunel University

English language proficiency

A score of 6.5 on the IELTS or 79 on the TOEFL is usually considered to be fair enough for admission into a postgraduate Aerospace Engineering programme. Some institutions may require a higher score of 7.0 on the IELTS.

GRE scores

To get into the top-ranked universities to study aerospace engineering a score of 1370 to 1390 on the GRE is essential. The next tier of universities would require a score of 1340 to 1360 on the GRE.   

Fees

The average cost of completing a postgraduate degree in Aerospace Engineering ranges between INR 25 lakhs to INR 60 lakhs based on the total duration of the programme. Students would have to earmark INR 8 lakhs a year for accommodation and living costs. The costs will vary dependent on the university and country of study. Prospective students are advised to explore all options regarding scholarships when they apply.

Subject specialisations

The popular subject specialisations on offer are listed below.

Aeronautics

Aeronautics focuses on the study of the science of flight. This is the most fundamental requirement in the design of aircrafts. View all postgraduate programmes in Aeronautics.

Aircraft Design and Maintenance Engineering

From unmanned stealth crafts used during wars to drones that are being used to deliver pizzas; the scope of aircraft design is quite varied. This specialisation continues to be extremely popular among Indian students. View all postgraduate programmes in Aircraft Design and Maintenance Engineering.

Avionics

Avionics is the study of the integrated electronic systems that are used in aircrafts. It is a closed field of study that blends computing, electronics and robotics. View all postgraduate programmes in Avionics.

Space Technology

With the success of the ‘Mangalyaan Project’ there is a heightened interest in the ‘space race’ and countries and space agencies across the world seek to emulate the success of India’s indigenous Mars Mission. The Space Technology specialisation prepares students for a career in spacecraft and rocket design. View all postgraduate programmes in Space Technology.   

Weapons Design Technology

The rising conflict between nations and the sheer need for self-preservation has pushed all countries to have an arsenal of high-quality weapons. Missiles, unmanned assault drones, stealth rockets and heat-seeking missiles are just the tip of the iceberg. In India, the DRDO is always on the lookout for efficient weapons designers. View all postgraduate programmes in Weapons Design Technology.

Career prospects

Unlike most other engineering fields, which have seen a vacillation in the growth of salaries, aerospace engineers in India have consistently been in high demand. In India, the aerospace engineering design sector and the manufacture of weapons is still heavily monitored and mostly under government control. Private players have made inroads into commercial and industrial aircraft design but rocket, satellite and spacecraft design and fighter jets for the air force are still see development at ISRO and DRDO. In India, job opportunities are available in these government organisation, academia and industries, which focus on making components for spacecrafts.  Base salaries for aerospace engineering graduates start at around INR 4 lakhs a year. An aerospace engineer with an international degree and working abroad earns around US$ 60,000 a year.

The opportunities for research, salaries and exposure to cutting edge technology is much better abroad and hence studying aerospace engineering and working abroad is a better bet than studying and working in India.

Famous aerospace engineers

Unarguably the one Indian who deserves to feature here is former President of India Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam. A scientist, he was a critical part of ISRO’s space programme, a part of India’s nuclear energy programme and a teacher respected by all. For a generation of young Indians, he single-handedly inspired them to study aerospace and aeronautical engineering.

Rakesh Sharma the first Indian to travel in space, Kalpana Chawla and Sunita Williams people of Indian origin who were part of NASA’s space missions are other important stalwarts whose names are linked with achievements in space travel. Sunita holds an MS in Engineering Management from Florida Institute of Technology and Kalpana Chawla earned a PhD in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Colorado at Boulder.

Professional associations

AeSI

The Aeronautical Society of India - AeSI is the flagship society for professionals in the aeronautics, aerospace and aviation industries. AeSI was established by India’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru in 1948. As per protocol the country’s prime minister acts as the Patron-in-Chief of AeSI.

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