About the Ph.D. in Aviation

Parks College's marked another international milestone in aviation by conferring the first Ph.D. in Aviation in the world.


The information below is a summary of the degree requirements in the graduate education catalog.


The primary objective of the Aviation Ph.D. program at Saint Louis University is to provide a rigorous education that challenges graduates to reach beyond the conventional boundaries of professional aviation. In preparing graduates for careers involving discovery, the Aviation Ph.D. includes a foundation rooted in research methodologies followed by additional coursework in a “secondary discipline.” The intent of the secondary discipline is to compliment the body of knowledge surrounding aviation with additional coursework in related disciplines, allowing for a multidisciplinary approach to the dissertation.  

Ph.D. Degree Requirements

NOTE: All Aviation graduate courses are only offered exclusively online.

The Ph.D. in Aviation requires 63 credit hours (including 12 dissertation credits) and consists of the following:

      • 12 credits in Research Methodology courses
      • 12 credits in a secondary discipline
      • 3 credits in graduate reading

The Qualifying Exam

The Qualifying Examination will focus on topics related to the required courses and the student’s general preparation for graduate study and research. All qualifying examinations will be arranged and administered by the associated department chair. The Qualifying Exam will normally be a written examination and the intent is to determine if the student is prepared to continue doctoral studies. The result of the exam may be a pass, no-pass, or conditional-pass. The associated department chair will report the results of the Qualifying Examination to the Graduate Programs Director. The conditional-pass will normally require that the student correct specific weaknesses, and modify the Program of Study accordingly.

Defense and Dissertation

A Ph.D. student will develop a dissertation proposal under the supervision of the research mentor. Upon successfully passing the qualifying exam, they will present and defend their proposal.

  • The Secondary Discipline allows for students to choose coursework from related disciplines such as psychology, education or business to build a cross-disciplinary preparation appropriate for their doctoral research and dissertation.
  • During the development of program proposals, aviation Ph.D. candidates will have assistance from a faculty team in the selection of courses and focus for the dissertation.

The associated academic department administers the dissertation proposal exam. The results are reported to the Graduate Program Director. On successfully completing the Proposal Exam, the student becomes a Ph.D. degree candidate.

Dissertation Defense

Upon completion of the dissertation, a final public defense is held. Following the open forum seminar-style presentation, the student will continue the defense in a private session with the Guidance Committee.

Normally Ph.D. degree students will publish with their Faculty Mentors during the dissertation research. Although not a rigid requirement, Ph.D. degree candidates are expected to submit a minimum of one manuscript for journal publication prior to completing the degree.


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