Ph.D. in Aviation

Ph.D. in

Aimed at producing the next generation of scholars to teach and conduct aviation research, this program is designed to help working professionals elevate their careers.

The mission of the Ph.D. in Aviation program is to produce outstanding scholars for careers in research and teaching in the aviation field.

At Embry-Riddle, Ph.D. in Aviation students take part in a rigorous, research-driven program that pushes them to their greatest potential.

The Embry-Riddle Ph.D. in Aviation program allows highly qualified students and professionals from diverse backgrounds and aviation career paths to immerse themselves in this high-powered world of aviation.

As the nation’s first Ph.D. program in Aviation, this degree is designed to educate students and professionals in conducting state-of-the-art research in all areas of this important field of study, extending the aviation body of knowledge. 

Your academic journey will focus on building skills and foundational knowledge to conduct research in Aviation Safety, Aviation Human Factors, Aviation Operations and Intradisciplinary Studies.

The program has been designed to accommodate working professionals who seek to advance their knowledge and conduct high-quality research in aviation while being employed; the flexible, mainly online and hybrid delivery of this program enables students to continue professional careers while pursuing doctoral education.

The program consists of 60 graduate credit hours, 36 of which will come from online courses designed to provide Ph.D. students with aviation knowledge in their intended specialization. Eighteen credit hours are earned completing the dissertation — an extensive, real-world research project.

Application Deadline

The deadline for applications and all supporting documents is February 1st for the following August cohort. The application package is considered an indication of your ability to perform in a challenging, professional environment. It should be carefully and thoroughly prepared, completed and submitted on or before the deadline of February 1st.


About Aviation at the Daytona Beach, FL Campus

The Ph.D. in Aviation program at Embry-Riddle takes place as a part of the world’s largest aviation-oriented university — Embry-Riddle's Daytona Beach Campus, which has extensive experience in graduate education and leading-edge research. The Ph.D. in Aviation degree is housed in the College of Aviation.

Program Educational Goals

Graduates of the Ph.D. in Aviation degree program will:

  1. Contribute at the high levels of performance and productivity in academic, business or scientific fields of aviation.
  2. Conduct and disseminate scholarly research addressing contemporary or future problems in the global aviation industry.
  3. Actively participate in national and international bodies to sustain continuous improvement in aviation.
  4. Perform professionally and effectively across multicultural and multidisciplinary units in aviation.


The program offers four areas of specialization:

  • Aviation Safety: This specialization focuses on safety management systems, safety management practices and tools in aviation, and national and international aviation safety regulations.
  • Aviation Human Factors: This specialization focuses on human factors theories and principles, human factors practices in aviation, and human-centered design concepts for real-world aviation technologies.
  • Aviation Operations: This specialization focuses on current practices and future trends in aviation, operations research and decision-making tools, multicultural team operations, and aviation organizational dynamics.
  • Intradisciplinary: For students with a broader interest in aviation, this specialization offers a cross-disciplinary approach to aviation where they can build a curriculum appropriate for their educational needs.

The program consists of coursework, residencies, qualifying examination and dissertation.

  • Coursework – 36 credit hours: The coursework consists of four core courses, specialization courses and elective courses.
  • Residency – 6 credit hours: Students are required to complete a minimum of three Residency seminars at the Embry-Riddle Daytona Beach campus. 
  • Qualifying Examination: The exam is administered over a two-day period and tests the student’s mastery of completed course subject matter and preparation to conduct dissertation research.
  • Dissertation – 18 credit hours: Students work on the dissertation research under the advisement of the Dissertation Advisory Committee. The student must complete and defend the dissertation successfully.


Students are required to complete three five-day on-campus Residency seminars. The seminars include multiple activities and allow students to network face-to-face with other students, faculty and staff while participating in sessions that prepare them for the next phase of the program. The residencies are scheduled during mid-August.

Learn more about the Daytona Beach, FL Campus


60 Credits

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Important Dates

Application Deadline

  • Summer 2025 Cohort:
    Deadline is February 1, 2025

Residency 2024

  • August 12-16


We welcome you to apply to the Ph.D. in Aviation program. The Ph.D. application process is competitive, with limited positions in the program available.

Students are admitted only during the Summer E semester each year, which is the Residency Seminar in August. Then, the student will begin taking courses in the Fall semester.

The application package is considered an indication of your ability to perform in a challenging, professional environment. It should be carefully and thoroughly prepared. 

The Admissions Committee carefully considers all applications completed by February 1.

Are you ready to become one of the world's leading authorities on aviation? Begin the application process to be considered for the Ph.D. in Aviation program.


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Student speaking with advisor
Pilot and co-pilot in cockpit


The School of Graduate Studies offers a residential option for Ph.D. students who desire to study on the Daytona Beach campus during required semesters. All residential students must follow the degree requirements on the Ph.D. in Aviation website.

International Residential Students

International students interested in the residential option must go through the admission process as other applicants and meet the requirements for international applicants. Once they are admitted to the program, they can apply for an F-1 visa. See the links below for the detailed requirements for international students.

Ph.D. Assistantship

The School of Graduate Studies may provide Ph.D. assistantship positions to selected, qualified residential students. They are designed to assist Ph.D. students with the enrollment cost in the Ph.D. program and to provide research experiences that contribute to an enrichment of the academic experience. The number of assistantships available each year depends on the program’s budget availability and must be approved by the Dean of the College of Aviation.

Assistantship Application

To be eligible for a Ph.D. assistantship, applicants must have been admitted to the Ph.D. in Aviation program. A position announcement will be sent to applicants with complete admission applications in early March when the positions are confirmed. Applicants interested in the assistantship position must submit a separate letter of assistantship application explaining their qualifications and why they think they are a good fit. The admission committee will review all applications and select final applicants for web conference interviews. After the interviews, the committee will submit recommendations to the Associate Dean for the School of Graduate Studies. The final selection will be reviewed and approved by the Dean of the College of Aviation.

Ph.D. residential students will receive the Ph.D. assistantship, which covers tuition waivers, residency fees and an annual stipend for up to four years, pending budget availability and satisfactory performance. The student is responsible for other costs, including health insurance.


To be eligible to receive and maintain this assistantship, the student needs to comply with the University Academic Doctorate Policies APD-09, Ph.D. Research and Teaching Assistantships. Specifically, during the assistantship appointment, the student is expected to:

  • Reside in the Daytona Beach area and maintain daily office hours at the Ph.D. Residential Students office.
  • Perform tasks assigned by the Program Coordinator and/or academic advisor, including but not limited to assisting faculty in funded research projects and journal publications, and supporting the School of Graduate Studies in academic and promotional activities.
  • Work 20 hours per week to support faculty and the program in the aforementioned assigned tasks.
  • Sign an annual 12-month contract and perform the assigned tasks satisfactorily during this contract appointment. The contract is renewable annually, pending budget availability and satisfactory performance.
  • Be registered as full-time students as determined by the program.
  • Be enrolled in a Ph.D. degree program and be performing satisfactorily. Satisfactory performance includes maintaining a CGPA of 3.20 or higher, passing the Qualifying Exam on time and progressing well with the dissertation research.
  • Meet with the academic advisor to complete the annual performance evaluation at the end of each contract year.

Other Employment

While holding a funded assistantship, a student’s total University employment (including the assistantship) may not exceed 25 hours per week. Students holding an assistantship may have other University employment, but it must be approved by Associate Dean for the School of Graduate Studies. Employment outside the University while holding a funded assistantship is generally not allowed. Exceptions to this rule must be approved by the Office of the Provost.

International students are not allowed to work outside of the University, and the total University employment must not exceed 20 hours per week to remain in lawful F-1 status.


Earning a Ph.D. in Aviation from Embry-Riddle comes with costs, but we’ve worked to make it as easy as possible for students to receive assistance and pay for their tuition and other expenses.

Many of our students earn grants, scholarships, and fellowship funding throughout their tenure in their program from various entities.

Veterans are eligible to receive Financial Aid through several federal programs, and other students can receive aid from the government and private lenders.

We also break down the Estimated Cost of Attendance to see what expenses to expect during an online semester or on-campus residency.

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Embry-Riddle is the world’s largest aviation-oriented university and has extensive experience in graduate education and leading-edge research.

The Ph.D. in Aviation program draws its faculty mainly from the Daytona Beach, Florida, campus and the Worldwide Campus of Embry-Riddle.

The doctoral faculty members are nationally and internationally recognized scholars in aviation and closely related disciplines and in research methods.

These faculty members have extensive teaching, research and publication records in their disciplines.

Faculty members also participate in professional development to build their skills as instructional designers and facilitators and work with exceptional instructional designers to develop rigorous, engaging and meaningful courses.

Also, learn more about the Ph.D. in Aviation Advisory Board.

Headshot of Frank Ayers.

Dr. Frank Ayers

Adjunct Faculty and Professor of Aeronautical Science

Read More about Dr. Ayers

Headshot of Bruce Conway.

Dr. Bruce Conway

Adjunct faculty and Professor and Associate Dean, College of Aeronautics, Worldwide 

Read More about Dr. Conway

Headshot of Andy Dattel.

Dr. Andy Dattel

Associate Professor of School of Graduate Studies

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Headshot of David Esser.

Dr. David Esser

Adjunct faculty and Professor of Aeronautical Science

Read More about Dr.  Esser

Headshot of Mark Hampton.

Dr. Mark Friend

Professor of School of Graduate Studies and Program Coordinator for the M.S. in Occupational Safety Management 

Read More about Dr. Friend

Headshot of Steven Hampton.

Dr. Steven Hampton

Professor of School of Graduate Studies and Associate Dean for Research & Graduate Studies 

Read More about Dr. Hampton

Headshot of Dahai Liu.

Dr. Dahai Liu

Professor of School of Graduate Studies

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Headshot of Kadie Mullins.

Dr. Kadie Mullins

Adjunct faculty and Executive Director of Administrative Assessment

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Headshot of Jane Pan.

Dr. Jane Pan

Assistant Professor of School of Graduate Studies

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Headshot of John Sabel.

Dr. John Sabel

Adjunct faculty and Adjunct Assistant Professor, College of Business, Worldwide

Read More about Dr. Sabel

Alan Stolzer

Dr. Alan Stolzer

Professor of School of Graduate Studies and Dean, College of Aviation

Read More about Dr. Stolzer

Headshot of Jennifer Thropp.

Dr. Jennifer Thropp

Associate Professor of School of Graduate Studies

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Headshot of Dothang Truong.

Dr. Dothang Truong

Professor of School of Graduate Studies and Program Coordinator for the Ph.D. in Aviation

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Headshot of Scott Winter.

Dr. Scott Winter

Associate Professor of School of Graduate Studies and Program Coordinator for the M.S. in Unmanned Systems

Read More about Dr. Winter