study drones

41 FAA-approved colleges and universities where you can study drones

If you want to study drones in college, one of these 41 colleges and universities is likely for you.

That’s because these 41 schools are participants in what’s called the Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Collegiate Training Initiative (UAS-CTI). The initiative is organized by the Federal Aviation Administration and is designed to both better allow schools to partner with the FAA and to help students “pursue their aviation career goals” specific to drones.

To qualify for a spot on the list as an FAA-approved school under UAS-CTI, schools must offer a bachelor’s or associate degree in UAS, or a degree with a minor concentration or a certificate in UAS. Schools must also offer drone-related curriculum including hands-on flight practice, maintenance, uses, applications, privacy concerns, safety and federal policies.

The 41 colleges and universities where you can study drones (and that are currently participating in the FAA’s UAS-CTI program) are:

  • Atlantic Cape Community College, Mays Landing, New Jersey
  • Austin Community College, Austin, Texas
  • Big Bend Community College, Moses Lake, Washington
  • Blue Mountain Community College, Pendleton, Oregon
  • Blue Ridge Community and Technical College, Martinsburg, West Virginia
  • Carroll Community College, Westminster, Maryland
  • Central Oregon Community College, Bend, Oregon
  • Clark State Community College, Springfield, Ohio
  • Dakota College, Bottineau, North Dakota
  • Elizabeth City State University, Elizabeth City, North Carolina
  • Embry Riddle Aeronautical University, Daytona Beach, FL, Prescott, AZ, and Worldwide Campus
  • Florida State University, Tallahassee, Florida
  • Fullerton College, Fullerton California
  • Green River College, Auburn, Washington
  • Gulf Coast Community College, Panama City, Florida
  • Hazard Community and Technical College, Hazard, Kentucky
  • Hinds Community College, Raymond, Mississippi
  • Idaho State University, Pocatello, Idaho
  • Indiana State University, Terra Haute, Indiana
  • Kansas State Polytechnic, Salina, Kansas
  • Liberty University, Lynchburg, Virginia
  • Middle Tennessee State University, Murfreesboro, Tennessee
  • Mira Costa College, Carlsbad, California
  • Mitchell Technical College, Mitchell, South Dakota
  • Mountain Empire Community College, Big Stone Gap, Virginia
  • Mountwest Community and Technical College, Huntington, West Virginia
  • Niagara Community College, Sanborn, New York
  • North Carolina State University, Raleigh, North Carolina
  • Northeastern Technical College, Cheraw, South Carolina
  • Northland Community and Technical College, Thief River Falls, Minnesota
  • Northwestern Michigan College, Traverse, Michigan
  • Oklahoma City Community College, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
  • Palomar College District, San Marcos, California
  • Santa Rosa Junior College, Santa Rosa, California
  • Southern West Virginia Community and Technical College, Mount Gay, West Virginia
  • Southwestern College, Chula Vista, California
  • Tallahassee Community College, Tallahassee, Florida
  • University of Maine at Augusta, Augusta, Maine
  • University of North Dakota, Grand Forks, North Dakota
  • WSU Tech, Wichita, Kansas
  • Yavapai College, Prescott, Arizona

An initial batch of 26 schools were first announced as UAS-CTI participants back in August 2020. A month later, the FAA added 14 more colleges and universities to the list.

Among the newcomers on the second list is drone university heavyweight Kansas State University. Even though the school is just joining the UAS-CTI list, Kansas State University Polytechic Campus has long been a leader in drone education. It was the first university in the nation to receive a BVLOS waiver from the FAA in 2018, the first university approved for commercial drone flight training, and the first university to offer beyond visual line of sight training to students.

“We value our FAA relationships,” said Kurt Carraway, UAS department head at Kansas State Polytechnic Campus. “As soon as we became aware of the FAA’s initiative to establish a UAS-CTI, we knew we wanted to be a part of the program.”

The UAS-CTI program itself is quite new, having been launched in April 2020 as part of the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018 (Public Law 115-254), which required the FAA to establish a drone training initiative program focused at the collegiate level to help setup students for careers in drones.

To be sure, those aren’t the only schools that let students get involved with drones. University of Alaska-Fairbanks and Virginia Tech have a big role to play in the drone industry as one of just a handful of participants in the FAA’s test site program. And this summer, the FAA awarded a combined $3.3 million to seven universities in the U.S. to go toward researching using drones for disaster preparedness and response.

  • Mississippi State University –lead university: $1,290,410
  • University of Alabama–Huntsville –lead university: $1,101,000
  • New Mexico State University: $234,000
  • University of Alaska, Fairbanks: $245,000
  • North Carolina State University: $124,979
  • Oregon State University: $165,000

Do you wish you could have gone to college specifically to study drones? Or are you happy with your current education? Leave a comment below!

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