Your Future in Aeronautics
Have you dreamed of becoming a pilot, of “slipping the surly bonds” of earth to soar with the eagles? Our fully accredited, Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)-certified Bachelor of Science in Aeronautics – Professional Pilot program will train you to become a world-class professional aviator, and will set you on an exciting, fulfilling, and rewarding career path in aviation. Studies show that dollar-for-dollar your investment in your future as a professional aviator will yield a higher return on investment than medical school or law school. Your skills will be immediately marketable upon graduation world-wide, with a forecast airline pilot shortage of over 600,000 commercial pilots internationally, and over 200,000 in the U.S. alone; this shortage has only been exacerbated by the recent global health crisis.
During your time as a student pilot in the Aeronautics – Professional Pilot degree program, you will fly in beautiful, sunny and warm Charleston every semester, and will study aircraft operations, safety of flight, aircraft systems, aerodynamics, and meteorology among many other aeronautics courses. Through hard work, focus, and discipline, you will earn your Federal Aviation Administration Private Pilot certification, Instrument Rating, and Commercial Pilot certification. By your final year, you will choose from three tracks within the Professional Pilot program: Commercial (airline), Military or Missionary. Through these tracks you may also earn your FAA Multi-Engine Rating, Flight Instructor certification, Remote Pilot Operator certification, Aerobatics endorsement, or take an introductory course in Military or Missionary aviation. Once graduated, you may have the opportunity to work as a flight instructor with CSU until you can meet the FAA-required 1000 flight hours to become an airline pilot with a Restricted Airline Transport Pilot (R-ATP) certification.
As a student pilot, you can rest assured that you will be part of a highly professional aviation program, with top-notch flight instructors, modern and exquisitely maintained Diamond DA-20, DA-40 and DA-42 aircraft, and a flight safety program that is foundational to everything you do, from your first class to your final check ride. Through your participation in our exciting, challenging, and professional program, you will grow not only as a student, but as a future aviator and servant-leader of character, integrity, and discipline.
- Why should I enroll in a Part 141 school when I can go and get my certificates from a Part 61 flight school downtown?
If you graduate from an FAA-approved degree program at CSU, you will be eligible to receive your R-ATP at 1,000 or 1,250 hours versus an unrestricted ATP at 1,500 hours.
- Can you explain the Restricted Airline Transport Pilot certificate and the process to obtain it, step-by-step?
Questions about the R-ATP can be answered here: https://www.faa.gov/pilots/training/atp/
- I heard you do not need a college degree to fly for the airlines. Is there any advantage to having a college degree when applying for an airline job?
Correct, you do not need a college degree to fly for the regional (smaller) airlines, though a 4-year degree (or equivalent military or professional experience) is still highly desired for employment at any legacy carriers (American, United, Delta), FedEx or UPS. However, the benefit of this program lies mainly in the qualification for a R-ATP certificate. Also, having a college degree allows for more leadership opportunities in the industry and an alternate path to follow in the event of an unfortunate medical disqualification in the future.
- Does CSU have any partnerships with airlines or industry partners that guarantee job placement after graduation?
CSU hosts many airline recruiters and industry partners at career events during the semester, though there are no formal flow-through agreements at this time. Through our aeronautics career events, many of our students have interviewed with and been accepted into cadet/apprenticeship programs at various regional airlines, and the aviation industry is booming (see this article from Boeing https://www.boeing.com/commercial/market/commercial-market-outlook/).
- What aircraft(s) will I be flying in this program?
The Diamond DA20 Katana, DA40 Star, and the DA42 Twin Star.
- What flight school have you contracted to teach the flight labs?
CSU has proudly partnered with CRAFT Flight Training and Simulation.
- How much are the flight labs? Is this fee in addition to the regular tuition?
As with every other collegiate aviation program in the country, the flight lab fees are in addition to regular tuition. Flight lab fees are paid through the CSU Student Accounts and are therefore eligible for all forms of financial aid (exception: CSU’s program is awaiting final approval for use of VA funds, expected in 2022/23). The flight lab fee schedule is published on the CSU website, click on “View Program Overview”, and is subject to change from semester to semester: https://www.charlestonsouthern.edu/academics/college-of-science-and-mathematics/aeronautics/
- Are the tracks (Commercial, Mission, Military) completely different degree programs?
All three tracks fall under the Professional Pilot degree program. The only difference is 3 courses (7 credit hours). See the course catalog for details: https://catalog.csuniv.edu/preview_program.php?catoid=29&poid=2712&returnto=743
- Can I change my mind about my chosen track after I have applied?
Yes, the Office of the Registrar can assist with this transfer.
- What kind of classes will I be taking? Do you have an example curriculum roadmap for a student to follow?
The Aeronautics course catalog lists all the courses with descriptions here: https://catalog.csuniv.edu/preview_program.php?catoid=29&poid=2712&returnto=743. The example curriculum roadmap is published on the CSU website, click on “View Program Overview”: https://www.charlestonsouthern.edu/academics/college-of-science-and-mathematics/aeronautics/
- Why did you decide to go with Diamond aircraft and not Cessna, Cirrus, etc.?
CRAFT Flight Training & Simulation has chosen Diamond as their fleet of choice due to the modern aircraft design, training capacity, low cost of operation and advanced avionics. Most importantly, the Diamond platforms have an industry-leading safety record. https://www.diamondaircraft.com/en/flight-school-solution/safety/
- Do you use simulators in your flight training programs?
Yes, with the Redbird simulator, you can instantly be transported to the airport you want to practice – ATC won’t be too busy, or vector you around the sky to fit you in with other traffic. Your instructor can move you back to the same location over and over until you have mastered that part of the approach, and it’s all in virtual instrument meteorological conditions (IMC). The simulator will force you to develop good scanning techniques, and at a third of the cost of a rental airplane.
- What airfield(s) do you operate from?
Summerville Airport, Berkely County Airport and Charleston International Airport.
- How far away are the airfields from the campus?
All airfields are normally less than 30 minutes driving time from the campus.
- How do students get from campus to the airfields?
Students are responsible for their own transportation to and from the airports for their flight labs.
- How do I know what college-level classes will give me equivalency credit when I apply?
Click on the “Transfer Equivalency Guide” on this link to see the current Liberal Art Core requirements: https://www.charlestonsouthern.edu/academics/registrar/transfer-credit/
- Can I enroll at CSU and then take classes over the summer back home at my technical college to save money?
See Policy R-18 at this link: https://www.charlestonsouthern.edu/academics/registrar/academic-policies/
- How many students per year do you allow into the Professional Pilot program?
Due to aircraft and flight instructor limitations, the program is currently limited to around 30 new students per academic year.
- Do you need flight experience to apply to the program?
There is no minimum flight experience requirement to apply.
- I have my Private Pilot Certificate already; can I get equivalency credit for it in this program?
Yes, if you have passed your FAA Written Examination for Private Pilot Airplane, you will get credit for AERN 160 (3 credit hours). If you have your Private Pilot Airplane Certificate, you will also receive credit for AERN 161L (2 credit hours) and AERN 162L (2 credit hours).
- What about an Instrument rating or Commercial certificate?
To qualify for a R-ATP, you must complete these two courses at CSU in the Part 141 program.
- I heard that aviation programs are math intensive. How hard is the math curriculum?
The highest math course required for the degree completion is Precalculus. Pilots must be moderately proficient in algebra for performance and weight-and-balance calculations, but compared to other technical degrees, the math requirement is not generally considered intensive.
- I was just told that the Professional Pilot program is full. What can I do to move forward with my academic and aviation career?
Due to an unprecedented demand, the Professional Pilot program has been filling up early in the academic year. Some students desire to start their academic careers while on the waitlist by applying to the Aerospace Management degree program. The curriculum is nearly identical to the Professional Pilot program for the first year (except for the flight labs). In this way, the student may pursue their Private Pilot certificate on their own over the summer to keep pace with the other students in the Professional Pilot program. In their sophomore year, the student may apply for a transfer of degree programs to continue with Instrument and Commercial flight training. Although this path makes the student more competitive for slots in the next year, there is no guarantee of a major transfer since the selection is merit-based. See the course catalog for Aerospace Management here: https://catalog.csuniv.edu/preview_program.php?catoid=29&poid=2876&hl=aeronautics&returnto=search
- If I am on a waitlist, am I guaranteed to be accepted into the Professional Pilot program next semester/year?
Due to the high volume of applicants, there is no guarantee of acceptance into the Professional Pilot program.
- How can I tell what number I am in line for the waitlist?
There is no sequential queue for acceptance into the Professional Pilot program. The acceptance method is merit-based and draws from the pool of current applicants and those waitlisted.
- How can I increase my chances of being selected for the Professional Pilot Program?
Increased grade point average, SAT, ACT, previous flight experience (up to Private Pilot certificate), and current enrollment at CSU contribute to increased chances of being selected.
- I would like to use my Veteran’s Administration benefits to pay for this degree and the flight labs, but I heard this is not possible. Why not?
While the Professional Pilot degree program is fully academically accredited, it is not yet approved for utilization of VA educational benefits. In order to be eligible, CRAFT Flight Training must secure approval by the South Carolina State Approving Agency (SAA) for the Veteran’s Administration. Although the appropriate applications have been submitted by CRAFT Flight Training, the SAA has not yet approved the program for funding. There is no estimated date of approval.
- After I get my Certified Flight Instructor certificate, can I start flying for hire while I am enrolled in this program?
Yes, students are encouraged to apply to instruct and fly, part-time, for CRAFT during their academic career.
- How does the flight lab scheduling work?
Flight labs are like any other registered course: you will receive a hard-scheduled slot, such as Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 8:30-10:30. For example, if your Monday flight is cancelled, you would fly again on Wednesday. There are enough time slots allotted to compensate for unplanned cancellations.
- I heard that the flight lab fees are just estimates and I might have to pay more to complete each of my flight labs. Why is it not a flat rate?
That is correct, the flight lab fee is an estimate of how much it will cost you to complete your requirements. Some students can finish with an amount left in the account, which would be transferred back to their student account at the end of the semester. Other students may have to add funds during the semester for various reasons including, slower progression, illness, regression, etc. Flat-rate fees are not advantageous to the students who are able to complete the labs with less than the estimated fee.
- Can financial aid and/or loans apply to flight labs?
Yes, since the flight labs are university courses and are paid through student accounting.
- How many students are currently enrolled in the Aeronautics program?
As of the Fall 2022, there are 101 students enrolled in Aeronautics.
- How many students are usually in an aeronautics class?
Normally, aeronautics classes have 15-30 students.
- Will I be provided all the flight equipment required, or do I need to purchase these on my own? Do you have any recommendations on what I should purchase?
You will be responsible for your own professional flight equipment, such as an aviation headset, electronic flight bag, and aircraft renter’s insurance to name a few. Aviation headset choices are very personal, but most aviators agree that active noise reduction is highly desirable. CRAFT has adopted the iPad mini in a Pivot case as the electronic flight bag of choice. Most students choose AVEMCO as their renter’s insurance. The instructors at CRAFT will help you with all these purchases when you arrive.
- Can I be enrolled in the Professional Pilot program and in AFROTC, athletics, etc?
Although there are no restrictions about being enrolled in an athletic program and the Professional Pilot program at the same time, students find the schedule demanding and rigorous. There are many students enrolled in AFROTC or who participate in other student activities (band, choir, student clubs, etc.) and the Professional Pilot program.
- I have my own airplane. Can I use it for my flight training?
If the aircraft make/model matches those in use for a particular course, you may reach out directly to CRAFT and determine if this is feasible. These requests will be handled on a case-by-case basis.
- How many hours should I have when I graduate?
The flight syllabi call for just over 200 hours of flight time for Private Pilot, Instrument, Commercial, Multi-Engine and CFI. However, it is assumed that students will also fly as instructors before they graduate and over summer breaks, so the total number will vary greatly with each student.
- If I choose to fly over the summer, can I remain in the dorms?
If you are enrolled in academic flight labs offered by CSU, then the dorms are an option over the summer.
- How should I get to 1,000 hours of experience for my R-ATP after I graduate?
The most common pathway for building your flight experience toward ATP certification is the certified flight instructor (CFI) path. CFI jobs are plentiful as the demand for training increases and as CFIs transition to the airlines. Like airline starting salaries, CFI wages have increased. It is possible to earn a respectable wage in the CFI ranks and pursue a rewarding career. And most airline recruiters and human resource professionals will agree that the experience gained as a CFI will serve you well into the future. Alternate routes for gaining additional experience toward ATP certification include private or business aviation pilot jobs, aerial surveying or mapping, freight, charter, and even investing in your own airplane.
- How many hours per month do CFIs usually log?
The number varies greatly from instructor to instructor, but it is generally accepted that CFIs average about 70 flight hours per month when actively trying to build hours.
- What are the admission requirements for the Professional Pilot program?
Regular admission requirements for CSU are listed here: https://catalog.csuniv.edu/content.php?catoid=29&navoid=730&hl=international&returnto=search.
Additionally, the applicant must be fit to obtain a Class III medical certificate from an Aviation Medical Examiner. For more information on FAA medical certificates, see the FAA website: https://www.faa.gov/licenses_certificates/medical_certification/faq/. If you have any questions or concerns about your qualifications, it is highly recommended to obtain this certificate before applying. Class III certificates are good for 60 months for pilots under age 40, and 24 months for applicants who are age 40 or older.
Finally, there is an internal aeronautics review of all applications, whereby students are either admitted or waitlisted. While no hard criterion is applied, it is a review of the comprehensive application to include grade point average, test scores, performance in stem related classes, flight experience, extracurricular activities, and other relevant experience.
Charleston Southern University’s accreditation can be found here.