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, Commercial Pilot certification, Multi Engine rating, and Certified Flight Instructor certification. 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.


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.

Questions about the R-ATP can be answered here:

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.

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

The Diamond DA20 Katana, DA40 Star, and the DA42 Twin Star (subject to substitutions).

CSU has proudly partnered with Carolina Sky Flight Training.

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.  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:

The Aeronautics course catalog lists all the courses with descriptions here:  The example curriculum roadmap is published on the CSU website, click on “View Program Overview”:

Carolina Sky Flight Training 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.

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.

Summerville Airport and Berkeley County Airport.

All airfields are normally less than 30 minutes driving time from the campus.

Students are responsible for their own transportation to and from the airports for their flight labs.

Click on the “Transfer Equivalency Guide” on this link to see the current Liberal Art Core requirements:

See Policy R-18 at this link:

Due to aircraft and flight instructor limitations, the program is currently limited to around 30 new students per academic year.

There is no minimum flight experience requirement to apply.

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).

To qualify for a R-ATP, you must complete these two courses at CSU in the Part 141 program.

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.

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.

Yes, the Professional Pilot degree program is approved for VA funding. The Instrument and Commercial flight labs are eligible for funding. For details, please contact
Veterans Services at

Yes, students are encouraged to apply to instruct and fly, part-time, for Carolina Sky Flight Training during their academic career.

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.

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.

Yes, since the flight labs are university courses and are paid through student accounts.

Normally, aeronautics classes have 15-35 students.

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.  Carolina Sky Flight Training has adopted the iPad mini in a Pivot case as the electronic flight bag of choice.  Many students choose AVEMCO as their renter’s insurance.  The instructors at Carolina Sky will help you with all these purchases when you arrive.

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.

If the aircraft make/model matches those in use for a particular course, you may reach out directly to Carolina Sky Flight Training and determine if this is feasible.  These requests will be handled on a case-by-case basis.

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.

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.

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.

Regular admission requirements for CSU are listed here.

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. 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.

Students must be “Regular” admits to begin flight training. Any student admitted under “No Scores,” “Provisional,” or “Bridge” will be unable to register for flight labs until they become a “Regular” admit. These students are encouraged to complete placement exams, submit additional standardized test scores, and/or provide transfer coursework to the Office of Admissions to adjust their admission status.

U.S. citizenship is not required to be accepted into the Aeronautics program. However, under the TSA Flight Training Interim Final Rule, persons seeking flight training must undergo a security threat assessment if they are not citizens or nationals of the United States, and if they wish to receive flight training in the United States or its territories, whether or not training will lead to an FAA certificate or type rating; and/or they wish to receive flight training from an FAA-certificated facility, provider, or instructor that could lead to an FAA rating, whether in the United States or abroad. See the TSA website for more information. Also, see the CSU International Students website for details.

Note: The Professional Pilot program is not approved by the Department of Homeland Security SEVP, thus, international students with an F-1 visa will not be admitted. There is no estimated date of approval.

All flight students must possess, at a minimum, a Class III Medical Certificate issued by the Federal Aviation Administration. Initially, a Class I Medical Certificate is encouraged so that students are assured that they can pass this requirement before investing significant time and funding into an airline career path.

Students must be physically able to reach the controls and obtain a full rudder deflection in the aircraft they will operate. Very tall students may be unable to fly the smaller aircraft and may incur additional expenses to accommodate. Prospective students who weigh more than 225 pounds should contact the Aeronautics department to determine if the total aircraft weight can remain within manufacturer limits. In all cases, prospective students can make an appointment with our flight instructors to sit in the cockpits and evaluate their comfort and overall safety. To schedule an appointment, please use the campus visit link.

We kindly ask that tattoos containing lewd, profane, racially discriminatory, hateful, or pornographic elements be covered during your time as a CSU student. Body piercing devices that interfere with flight training and present hazards during aircraft ingress and impede emergency egress are prohibited during flight operations.

The Professional Pilot academic degree program is approved for VA funding. Please contact the Office of Veteran Services for details.

Yes! In fact, the Professional Pilot degree is designed to be a 12-month program. Students who flight train over the summer months have priority to continue flight training in the Fall. Students who elect to break their training over the summer may be delayed in registering for their next flight lab based on aircraft and instructor availability. Students may continue to reside in the dorms over the summer, as well.

Students can expect to begin flight training within the first academic year of acceptance, including the summer term. Flight lab slots are limited by aircraft and instructor availability.

Absolutely! There are 8 semesters of flight training required for graduation and 11 semesters available in 4 years, including summer terms.


Charleston Southern University’s accreditation can be found here.


Charleston Southern’s Aeronautics program is the first and currently the only program of its kind at any South Carolina university. Each academic aviation course (Private Pilot, Instrument, Commercial, Multi-Engine and Flight Instructor) is a 3 credit-hour academic course. Each semester at CSU will include a 2 credit-hour flight lab, whereby you will fly a minimum of 2-3 times per week in pursuit of your FAA qualifications.

As an Aeronautics major, you’ll take courses like…

  • FAA Ground and Flight Training
  • Aviation Safety & Safety Management Systems
  • Airport Management
  • Global Navigation
  • Aviation Regulation & Law
  • Aerodynamics

Graduates are equipped for a variety of career paths.

  • Airline Pilot
  • Commercial/Contract Pilot
  • Military Pilot
  • Missionary Pilot
  • Flight Instructor
  • Aerospace Leader & Manager
Students in a lab injecting a chemical into a vile.

The College of Science and Mathematics

Charleston Southern’s College of Science and Mathematics ensures through its curricula and course offerings that students in all majors demonstrate an understanding of the continuing role of science and mathematics in human progress. In addition, it provides majors in science and science related fields with the necessary skills for successful careers in their chosen major or for further study in graduate school or professional programs.

A view of the Science Building, take from a drone, at CSU.
explore our facilities

Science Building

The Science building allows all students access to up-to-date laboratories and modern equipment for teaching. 

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