About Aviation

A Commitment to Excellence

Celebrating our 30th anniversary in 2012, the University of Dubuque's Aviation Programs have been graduating people to take leadership roles in the ever-expanding field of air transportation. To provide every student with world-class opportunities, we make sure our students are exposed to the best practices and latest techniques. UD aviation students now fly the latest model Cessna 172s, receive their instrument training in new, modern aircraft, and pilot one of the best high-performance complex trainers available. We never stop improving our technology and integrating new equipment including a state-of-the art Aerosim CRJ200 Level 5 compliant Flight Training Device (FTD). In addition to securing the latest equipment, we hire outstanding teachers and flight personnel. Courses are constantly evaluated, up-dated, and keyed to changes in the aviation industry. We insist on training and safety excellence and adhere to clearly defined standards of fiscal and safety program accountability. Finally, we emphasize learning in an ethical environment -- critical in aviation, where even small errors and omissions cannot be tolerated.

Why a Career in Aviation?

Today, the sky is literally the limit for opportunities in aviation. The airlines experienced their greatest year for hiring pilots in 1998 then broke the record in 1999. After the tragic events of September 11, 2001, the industry has realized dramatic changes. The FAA reports a projected increase across the board in active commercial and airline transport pilots for the next decade. A promising job market in the airlines and business aviation is projected to continue. With all these opportunities, students preparing for aviation careers face a decision: To fly, or to work in some other capacity for an airline or support company. Depending on the answer, they can choose to pursue a Bachelor of Science degree in either Aviation Management or Flight Operations.

Aviation Management

Being a pilot appears has its advantages, but the hours are often irregular and one is away from home much of the time. Fortunately, there are many other opportunities in aviation. After all, aviation businesses have to be managed just like other firms. Aviation Management majors study basic business management courses, such as accounting, economics, organization, and marketing. They focus on operations at the airlines and other businesses that serve the nation's airports. They learn to manage crucial maintenance and safety programs. They learn everything needed to be successful with an airline, a management firm, marketing firm, aircraft policing firm, or other kinds of companies associated with the aviation industry.

Flight Operations

Students who are serious about flying choose the Flight Operations major. They graduate with a commercial pilot's license with either a certified flight instructor instrument rating or multi-engine training, or both. They gain a strong background in safety, but the emphasis is on safe practices rather than safety management. They receive crew resource training and a background in accident investigation. They study aerodynamics, an applied physics course. They also take courses in corporate aviation or airline management, depending on which path they plan to pursue. 


A major benefit of the UD Aviation Program is our access to challenging internships that give students a chance to experience the aviation industry, help them decide which jobs are right for them, and sometimes lead directly to employment opportunities. The University of Dubuque is strategically located in the center of three large cities: Minneapolis, Chicago, and St. Louis. In addition, Dubuque itself has an airport and several businesses with corporate flight departments, some of which cooperate with us by providing internships. Our students may choose among internships with American Airlines, TWA in St. Louis, Northwest Airlines in Minneapolis, some of the corporate operators at the Dubuque Regional Airport, and other cooperating companies. There is ample opportunity to match internships to personal career goals. Internships are one reason why UD Aviation majors have little trouble launching their careers. For example, in a recent spring, 19 students graduated from the flight and management programs. Within a few months, 18 were working in the aviation industry. Graduates in Flight Operations are flying for Northwest Airlink, Skyways, Chautauqua, FedEx, American Eagle, and Express Jet, to name a few.

Bridge Program With American Eagle

American Eagle recognizes the quality of training the University of Dubuque provides and the airline-ready pilots the program produces.  American Eagle Airlines agrees to guarantee interviews, provided American Eagle Airlines is interviewing, to pilots graduating from the University of Dubuque who meet the following requirements:

  • Bachelor of Science Degree in Flight Operations or Aviation Management
  • Minimum 3.0 cumulative GPA
  • FAA Commercial Pilot Certificate with Multi-engine and Instrument Ratings
  • FAA First Class Medical with no waivers
  • 500 hours total flight time (Does not include simulator)
  • 75 hours multi-engine (Does not include simulator)
  • 250 PIC (Does not include simulator)
  • Completion of CRM course/CRJ-200
  • Letter of recommendation from the Flight Department 

What's Special About UD?

The UD Aviation Program is comparatively small; and the instruction, even on the flight line, is personal. Students can demonstrate their excellence by joining our flight team, which recently qualified for the national SAFECON competition in 2011. They can also become members of Alpha Eta Rho, a close-knit national service fraternity for those who share a passion for aviation. Our training facilities are excellent. We operate at an airport with an Air Traffic Control Tower, a complete set of instrument approaches, as well as a maneuvers training area just outside the airport traffic area. From engine start to engine shutdown, you have continuous training with no wasted travel time. Finally, and most important, the professional education provided by the University of Dubuque is grounded squarely in the liberal arts. In an age of technology and specialization, UD continues to stress a broad education. We insist that our graduates learn more than management and flight skills. They are also required to develop the social, intellectual, and moral dimensions essential for succeeding in their professional and personal lives.

Aviation Programs are Internationally Accredited

The Flight and Management programs are accredited by the Aviation Accreditation Board, International (AABI). 

What does Aviation Accreditation mean?

AAB international accreditation represents the highest standard of achievement for aviation schools worldwide.  This prestigious accreditation assures quality and promotes excellence and continuous improvement in undergraduate education for all aviation disciplines.  To receive accreditation an aviation school must meet the following criteria:

  • Demonstrate that faculty and staff members are qualified and current in their fields;
  • Maintain a high-caliber curriculum that is current and relevant;
  • Measure learning outcomes and continuously strive for improvement;
  • Cultivate a culture of safety that permeates all flight and ground activities by faculty, staff, and students;
  • Collaborate with industry to assure employers that graduates possess a broad background in the aviation industry as well as skills needed for aviation specializations; and
  • Provide for aviation programs to periodically perform a comprehensive self-analysis to achieve their objectives.