B.S. in Aerospace Engineering

All students must complete the unified set of general requirements for all engineering majors. These courses are often completed during the first two years in SEAS, with the exception of STS 4500 and 4600, which are taken during the fall and spring of the fourth year, respectively.

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The Undergraduate Curriculum

The Aerospace Engineering curriculum provides a thorough background in fluid dynamics, structures, propulsion, controls, flight dynamics and design. The curriculum provides flexibility with regard to all areas of potential aerospace practice by emphasizing applied science, design, and technology while providing a firm foundation in mathematics and physics. With a strong science and mathematics based education, aerospace engineers have also found employment opportunities outside of the traditional aerospace industry. Many work in oceanography, biotechnology, weather prediction, energy conservation, and in the petrochemical, nuclear or automotive industries. In addition, the aerospace design provides an excellent background for business, law or medicine. Of course, people with the ambition to become pilots, either military or commercial, find the aerospace degree very attractive.

Aerospace engineering principles are reinforced and integrated through design assignments and  significant “hands-on” experience with the latest in test equipment and modern experimental methods. A two-semester lab sequence in the third year builds on a basic skills and science background to develop an appreciation for measurement techniques and apparatus as well as to demonstrate aerodynamic concepts.  Students also develop communications skills and learn about the complex cultural, legal, ethical and economic factors which influence the engineering profession. Students who wish to may select courses that satisfy the requirements of a minor area of study (e.g., mechanical, bio-medical, environmental management, economics).

Aircraft Design

The 4th year aerospace undergraduates spend the year designing an aerospace vehicle. This experience is a culmination of all the engineering courses that they have taken at UVa. The image below is a supersonic commercial airliner, designed to fly overland at supersonic speeds with low sonic boom. This design won first place in a national NASA aircraft design competition.

While many courses in the program contain elements of design, the curriculum is capped by a year-long design course. This course brings together most of the aerospace subjects taken and requires the students, working in teams, to demonstrate their creativity as well as their basic knowledge. The course is often culminated by the public presentation of the final aircraft design to a panel of judges and by entry in a national competition. Our students continue to excel at such competitions (1st place in 2009 and 3rd place in 2010 in the NASA’s National Aircraft Design Student Competition).


Research Experience for Undergraduates Research is an important component of our undergraduate program in Aerospace Engineering. Many students are involved in hands-on research in one of the many active research laboratories within the department, either as paid research assistants or eager volunteers.

From the Aerospace Research Lab, to the Morphing Structures Lab, or the Combustion Lab—-opportunities abound. Our students have won more Harrison Research Awards than any other department in SEAS, as a testament to the many excellent opportunities that exist. Many students even begin this research in their second or third year, preparing them for outstanding senior thesis projects.  Twice over the last decade a UVa 4th-year has been recognized as the outstanding aerospace student in the US, and numerous times a student has been recognized as the outstanding student in the mid-Atlantic region by the Sigma Gamma Tau Aerospace Honor Society.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

The 19-hour credit limit is a reasonable upper bound on the load an engineering student can undertake with success. However, after discussing with your advisor, students with a strong academic record may request permission to take an overload (>19 hours) through a form available at the School of Engineering Undergraduate Office. An e-form is available at Registration Forms | University of Virginia School of Engineering and Applied Science).

Normally, no. However, for some classes with minimal overlap, e.g. if the lecture portion of an MAE lab course conflicts with another course, it may be possible. If you need this accommodation, discuss it first with the course instructors to develop a plan to de-conflict exams and other course requirements. If they approve, fill out a time conflict override form available as an e-form from   Registration Forms | University of Virginia School of Engineering and Applied Science).

Underclassmen can make requests to go reduced load (7-11 hours/semester) or part time (6 hours or less) to Dean Will Guilford (whg2n@virginia.edu) after discussing plans with your advisor.  In most cases, this decision will result in a delay in graduation, so this should only be taken in extenuating circumstances.

Fourth year students who do not need to be full-time to fulfill their graduation requirements can contact SEAS Registrar, Jesse Rogers (jr7up@virginia.edu) with their plans.

Students may use the Reduced Course Load Request Form to make the request.

In any case, students are encouraged to research the implications of this decision on student housing, financial aid, athletic eligibility, and benefits.

A “D” grade is considered a passing score, albeit indicating some significant weaknesses. Aerospace engineering or mechanical engineering undergraduate programs accept D-level work for individual courses. However, a cumulative 2.0 (C average) GPA is required to remain in good academic standing and to graduate.

Keep in mind that other departments may require a C or better in prerequisites for their electives. 

You may consider retaking a course to improve your prerequisite knowledge for follow-on courses. Grades for both original and repeated courses appear on your transcript and factor equally in GPA calculations.

The School of Engineering maintains a Transfer Equivalency List of pre-approved courses within the US at Transfer Credit Equivalency List | University of Virginia School of Engineering and Applied Science and overseas from Transfer Credit Tables | University of Virginia School of Engineering and Applied Science.

Students should always get pre-approval on transfer credit for any course, not on the pre-approved list

You must send an official transcript to the School of Engineering registrar after the final grade is posted.  Additional information can be found at Transfer Credit Equivalency List | University of Virginia School of Engineering and Applied Science.

You can satisfy the missing credit with an additional Math/Science/Technical course at an equal or higher level, i.e. with a higher course number. This is in addition to elective requirements for the mechanical or aerospace engineering major.

Exceptions to the required AE and ME curricula are rare.  However, students may submit an Engineering Curriculum Modification request found as an e-form from Registration Forms | University of Virginia School of Engineering and Applied Science.   Note that the modification will need to be endorsed by your advisor and approved by the Undergraduate Program Director: Profs. Haibo Dong (hd6q@virginia.edu) or Natasha Smith (nls5m@virginia.edu) for Aerospace Engineering and Mechanical Engineering respectively

The information contained on this website is for informational purposes only.  The Undergraduate Record and Graduate Record represent the official repository for academic program requirements. These publications may be found here.

Licensure Disclosure

  • As a member of the State Authorizations Reciprocity Agreement, the University of Virginia (UVA) is authorized to provide curriculum in a distance learning environment to students located in all states in the United States except for California. (34 CFR 668.43(a)(6)& 34 CFR 668.72(n)).
  • Upon completion of an engineering degree program which prepares graduates for licensure or certification, graduates may be eligible for initial professional licensure in another U.S. state by applying to the licensing board or agency in that state. Please visit the University’s state authorization web pages to make an informed decision regarding which states’ educational requirements for initial licensure are met by this program. (668.43(a)(5) (v)(A) - (C))
  • Enrolled students who change their current (or mailing) address to a state other than Virginia should update this information immediately in the Student Information System as it may impact their ability to complete internship, practicum, or clinical hours, use Title IV funds, or meet licensure or certification requirements in the new state. (34 CFR 668.402).