The 20 Best UAV Schools/Colleges with Drone Programs in 2023

February 22, 2022

Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV), also known as ‘Drones,’ have made their way into product delivery, surveillance, aerial photography and videography, agriculture, drone racing, geographical explorations, wildfire mapping, and more. Today, they remain one of the most exciting and emerging areas in modern tech.

The Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI) estimates that the Unmanned Aircraft Systems industry will generate more than 100,000 new job opportunities by the year 2025.

The increase in production of unmanned systems will create additional revenue totaling more than $82 billion in economic impact from 2015-2025.

Considering the ever-increasing demand for professionals in this field, colleges across the United States are now offering educational programs ranging from associates to full-fledged doctoral degrees.

A formal education program in unmanned aerial systems can help you achieve high-paying roles like UAV pilots, design and operations of unmanned systems, military drone pilots, and research.

If you’re excited about building cutting-edge technology, robotic flying machines, and remotely-operated autonomous systems engineering, a professional degree can give flight to your career.

In this article, we’ll be looking at some of the top colleges in the country that offer programs in unmanned aircraft systems operations, design, and allied domains. Please note that this list is not based on any ranking criteria.

Accredited vs. Non-Accredited Drone Colleges

To operate a drone under the Small UAS Rule (Part 107) of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), you must obtain a Remote Pilot Certificate from the FAA. This certificate establishes that you comprehend the guidelines, understand the procedures for flying drones safely as well as their operating requirements.

Currently, only 41 schools across the US are a part of the Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Collegiate Training Initiative (UAS-CTI), an initiative organized by the FAA.

Some non-accredited drone colleges may cost less than accredited schools. While that should not be a deciding criterion alone, you will incur higher expenses if you have to relocate to a place for an FAA-accredited school.

If your geographical location and costs are concerning, you can compliment non-accredited colleges with the mandatory Remote Pilot Certificate from the FAA.

Accredited and non-accredited colleges across the US are offering certificates, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees on piloting, engineering, and fixing drones. Students in search of a drone education college have several schools to choose from.

Drone-specific courses prepare learners for the FAA’s Section 107 Commercial Small Unmanned Aircraft System (SUAS) exam for pilot certification.

It is not mandatory that you only get your degree from a UAS-CTI school to obtain your drone pilot license. You can read the complete FAA guidelines here.

Top Unmanned Aircraft Systems/Drone Training Colleges: Accredited

Listed below are a few schools that are a part of the Unmanned Aircraft Systems-Collegiate Training Initiative Program (UAS-CTI). 

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has partnered with several schools that offer degrees specifically in Unmanned Aircraft Systems Science.

Colleges that provide a certificate, bachelor’s or associate’s in UAS or a degree in mechanical and aerospace engineering with minors in UAS qualify for the FAA-CTI program. The curriculum in FAA-CTI schools features a drone-related curriculum that includes design and operations, maintenance, hands-on flight practice, federal policies, etc.

These are the accredited schools that offer a UAV/drone program:

1. New England Institute of Technology, East Greenwich, Rhode Island

The New England Institute of Technology is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education. The credential is recognized by the federal government and allows NEIT to participate in federal financial aid programs.

NEIT also offers a comprehensive Associate in Science Degree in Electronics, Robotics, and Drones Technology (ERD).

Students start with electronic foundation core courses and go on to learn advanced subjects like aerial drones, robotics, microcontrollers, the Internet of Things (IoT), and programmable automation systems.

Prospective graduates receive instruction and training that can help them obtain one or more of the following certifications:

  • FAA 107 Remote Pilot Certificate
  • FANUC Robot Operator & Technician Certificate

Graduates of the course can seek entry-level career opportunities in unmanned aircraft systems, data collection (for law enforcement or real estate), remote sensing, drone industry, search and rescue, and navigation. Alternatively, students can also explore careers as an R&D technician, instrumentation technician, or systems technician.


Earn your degree in Engineering Technology from NEIT and begin your new career path today!




New England Institute of Technology

2. Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Daytona Beach, Florida

Embry-Riddle offers two career paths for prospective students-building drones and unmanned aerial vehicles or being a UAV Pilot.

The Bachelor of Science Program at the institute gives you the option of choosing pilot or non-pilot, depending upon your preference. It is also the first university in the country to offer a postgraduate master’s program in drone technology.

You must complete a total of 122 credit hours spanning over eight semesters to obtain your bachelor’s degree. However, you can choose between online classes or on-campus lectures at Daytona Beach, FL, or Prescott, Arizona.

Through its ROTC program, the university graduates more pilot cadets than any other institute in the country besides military academies.

3. Indiana State University, Terre Haute, Indiana

While the legacy at Indiana State University dates back to 1865, it only recently started its state-of-the-art ‘Center for Unmanned Systems and Human Capital Development’ to impart quality drone education. There, you can pursue a specialized Bachelor of Science in Unmanned Systems or a minor in the UAS.

To complete the major, students must complete 49 credits-21 in core unmanned system courses and 28 in core aviation management courses. The subjects include air traffic control systems, flight path management, advanced unmanned aerial systems operations, payload, sensors, etc.

4. Kansas State University, Salina, Kansas

The Kansas State University Salina Aerospace and Technology campus, also known as Kansas State Polytechnic, is one of the most reputed institutes in the U.S.

It works in collaboration with the Department of Defense, offering students a unique opportunity to participate in actual missions at restricted spaces like the Smoky Hill Weapons Range and the National Airspace System.

KSU holds the distinction for having the most Master Certified Flight Instructors than any other university in Kansas. Students learn to build, assemble, and perform flight testing of their UAS. The school also has its own fleet of gas-powered and electric engine drones and aircraft.

5. Liberty University, Lynchburg, Virginia

If you’re looking to study at your own pace, Liberty University‘s online programs are a great option. The hybrid programs in Unmanned Aerial Systems at the institute allow you to pursue commercial flight training with the convenience of completing the theoretical courses online.

As a part of their bachelor’s degree, students construct the standard engineering systems for UAVs. After completing the program, eligible graduates receive the Dragon Eye Certification, similar to a Department of Defense training program for marines.

The university also boasts dedicated airspace where students can learn to fly test flights and use flight simulators.

6. Green River College, Auburn, Washington

Green River College‘s Aviation Technology division offers certificates and associates programs in UAS technology. You can also apply for the Bachelor of Aeronautical Science degree at the school if you’re looking for a more comprehensive program.

The Associate of Applied Science in Unmanned Aerial Systems degree requires students to complete 90 credits in core courses such as flight simulations, aviation history, aerodynamics, safety, and use of commercial drones. 

If you want a short-term course, you can opt for the Unmanned Aerial Systems Basic Operator Certificate program, which covers basic subjects like drone operations, private pilot ground duties, and computer applications.

7. Northwestern Michigan College, Traverse City, Michigan

Northwestern Michigan College has a sprawling campus featuring Roger’s observatory, Dennos Museum Center, Lobdell’s Teaching Restaurant, etc. It is one of the highly-rated colleges for Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) operator training program.

Students must complete at least 64 credit hours to obtain their Associate’s degree in the aviation domain. The coursework includes theory lectures and hands-on training on a wide range of UAS equipment, including advanced commercial-grade crafts used in the drone industry.

You can also specialize with an Engineering Technology degree with specialized courses such as hydraulics, programming, electronics, and robotics of unmanned aircraft systems.

8. Middle Tennessee State University, Murfreesboro, Tennessee

Middle Tennessee offers a Bachelor’s in Aerospace with a specialization in Unmanned Aircraft Systems Operations. 

The university is well-known for its vast student-friendly technological research resources, such as its 250,000 sq. ft. science building and the NASA-funded FOCUS lab. While the college invested $147 million for its science building, it also purchased 25 planes for hands-on experiential training for students.

Along with core aerospace subjects, students can expect to learn the design and construction of a drone, manned pilot training, and internship opportunities with partnering industries at the institute.

9. Central Oregon Community College, Bend, Oregon

Central Oregon offers a full-time Associate of Applied Science in Unmanned Aerial Systems Operations. You can get hands-on training in small UAV design and large UAS platforms simulations. The coursework at the school also includes spatial data collection, remote sensing, data analysis, and advanced training in practical piloting.

There are several quadcopter models for training and application that will help you learn how to perform UAS operations, ground support equipment testing, troubleshooting, and maintenance.

As a part of your Capstone class, you have to spend one week at a UAV company to learn the real-life challenges, processes, and standard operating procedures.

10. The University of North Dakota, Grand Forks, North Dakota

The University of North Dakota is the largest institution in the state, offering an array of educational programs. Students can complete their Bachelor’s in Aeronautics majoring in UAS operations. The institute has 40+ years of know-how in aviation-centered courses.

With more than 13,000 square miles of airspace and entry to the controlled airspace over the Camp Grafton Training Area, you get ample space for flight testing and operations. The Bachelor’s program requires you to complete 125 credit hours to obtain your degree.

However, students can also pursue minors in professional flight, business aviation or aviation management.

11. The University of Maine at Augusta, Augusta, Maine

The University of Maine at Augusta (UMA) offers several tracks for prospective students. For instance, you can choose a Bachelor of Science with a Major in Unmanned Aircraft. Graduates must complete 31 credit hours to earn their major and a certificate in small UAS operations.

Or, suppose you already possess a pilot’s license but still want to obtain your bachelor’s. In that case, you can enroll in UMA’s fast-track programs that allow you to earn 41 credits for your technical flight operation or military training.

An individual who intends to become a professional drone pilot and get their FAA Part 107 certificate can participate in the school’s 8-course Commercial Drone course.

Lastly, UMA also allows you to add a UAS minor to any college degree at the university, which can help improve your career prospects.

The University of Maine at Augusta
Source: UMA

Top Drone Training Colleges: Non- Accredited

In this section, we’ll look at schools that are not a part of the Federal Aviation Administration-Collegiate Training (FAA-CTI). These training institutes have an extensive curriculum that allows you to pursue roles in unmanned systems engineering as well as make a career in instrumentation, embedded systems, computer science, and allied sectors.

1. Oklahoma State University, Stillwater, Oklahoma

Oklahoma State University (OSU) is one of the pioneers of aviation education. It was the first university to offer the Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) concentration at the graduate level.

Currently, you can enroll in either Master of Science in Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering or pursue a PhD in the same with UAS as your focus area.

The campus boasts a dedicated UAS facility with a hangar, control room, runways, and open flight area. Students can also participate in popular UAS events at the university, such as Speedfest and Unmanned Airspace innovation challenge.

If you’re interested in research, you can pursue a wide area of topics such as aerodynamics, unmanned aerial systems design, communications, and operations.

2. South Dakota State University, Brookings, South Dakota

The Department of Geography at the South Dakota State University offers a wide range of certificates and degree programs with hands-on research and lab work.

Geographic information and remote sensing research are the two main areas of the department.

To obtain your Unmanned Aircraft Certificate, you must complete the three required core courses and an elective spanning over 12 credits. The certificate helps prepare students for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Part 107 small Unmanned Aircraft Systems license.

Your certificate program includes a mix of theory classes, lab research, fieldwork, and online coursework.

3. LeTourneau University, Longview, Texas

LeTourneau University‘s College of Aviation and Aeronautical Science is one of the most distinguished institutions in Texas. Students can choose from one of their 17 bachelor’s, associate’s, training, or fast-track flight programs.

The Bachelor of Science degree program offers a Major in ‘Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems.’

Depending upon your career aspirations, you can select the electronics, pilot or technician track as part of your degree. You must fulfill 126-132 credit hours as per your specialization. The course covers aviation operations, unmanned aircraft design, flight control systems, and aviation safety.

4. Troy University, Troy, Alabama

Troy University has a legacy dating back to 1887 when it first opened its doors as a teachers’ education institute. Presently, the university holds five colleges and a grad school that offer several career-enriching programs for students.

The Bachelor of Applied Science in Resource and Technology Management – Aviation Ops is the latest addition to the bouquet of programs at the university.

Along with general education requirements, students must complete 60 core + 5 elective course credit hours to earn their UAS degree. Additionally, you must fulfill 18 hours of course credit requirements for the emphasis on unmanned aerial systems.

5. Lewis University, Romeoville, Illinois

The Bachelor of Science in UAS at Lewis University has always been one of the ranked aviation programs in the United States. Core aviation courses constitute 80 of the total 128 total credit hours in the degree.

Students must complete 22 credits if they wish to take UAS as their minor specialization. However, if you’re seeking admission for the minor program, you must possess a background in aviation.

One of the most exciting parts of the curriculum is the senior capstone projects, where students get to build and test their own small unmanned aerial vehicles. With an on-site airport on the campus for test flights and operations, students can get hands-on experience in modern, hi-tech aviation technology.

6. The University of Louisiana at Monroe, Monroe, Louisiana

The University of Louisiana started the Aviation specialization in 1939 when it helped train WW2 pilots. Since then, there have been several developments, with the latest addition being the Bachelor of Science in Aviation with a Major in UAS.

Students who wish to obtain their private pilot certificate can also enroll in the post-baccalaureate certificate program in UAS. You’ll learn many exciting drone courses and their applications in agriculture, business, and field monitoring during the course of your studies.

The university also requires aviation major students to obtain their minor in business which requires a minimum of 15 credit hours of business courses.

7. Kent State University, Kent, Ohio

Kent State‘s College of Aeronautics and Engineering holds the unique distinction of an Aviation Accreditation Board International (AABI) accreditation for its Aeronautics programs.

The university recently entered into a collaboration with the U.S. Army Research Laboratory to study unmanned aircraft propulsion scalability.

The minor in UAS course at Kent State requires students to complete 16 credits in unmanned systems management, sensors, controls and communications, and flight operations. However, to enroll in the minor class, you must attend pre-requisite classes in flight theory, aviation, air traffic control, and flight dynamics.

8. Unmanned Vehicle University, Phoenix, Arizona

The Unmanned Vehicle University is a one-of-its-kind university with programs ranging from certificates to doctoral degrees in UAS. There are several unique features of the university, such as non-reliance on standard textbooks. Instead, the study material comprises the instructors’ practical knowledge and experience.

You can also enroll in the online UAS Project Management course at the school to further your knowledge of the field.

Students also have plenty of research opportunities in designing commercial drones, collision avoidance technology, security, drone photography and cinematography, and computer science-integrated development.

9. Spartan College of Aeronautics and Technology, Tulsa, Oklahoma

Spartan College‘s primary area of focus revolves around training successful pilots. More than 90,000 professional pilots and technicians have already received their training at Spartan and are currently working in highly sought-after industries.

The newest addition at the college is its Associate of Applied Science in Aviation Electronics Technology, which involves unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) electronics. Students will learn to build an electronic trainer, F.M. receiver, and assembly and programming of drones as a part of their curriculum.

You can obtain your degree at Spartan in just 15 months.

Career Opportunities in Drone Technology

After completing your drone program, you can pursue several job roles in diverse fields. Some of the areas where drone pilots and technicians can work are:

  • Military: Military drone pilots in the military use drones for surveillance, identifying breaches across borders, peacekeeping, search and rescue operations, etc.
  • Seismic and Geographical Research: Drones can help map and model terrains, natural features, artificial structures, topographical depth, and more, which can be highly beneficial for agricultural, geothermal, and industrial applications.
  • Real Estate: Drones help capture attractive aerial video and property walkthroughs, which can work wonders in marketing, providing tons of opportunities for drone pilots.
  • Film and Television: While capturing aerial shots using helicopters can be very expensive; drones can help achieve similar results at a fraction of the cost. The low cost combined with stunning imagery makes drones a highly preferred medium.
  • Package Delivery: Drone delivery is one of the latest advancements in UAVs, with Amazon already announcing the launch of Prime Air, which aims to deliver packages in less than 30 minutes using drones. Several other companies are exploring the possibilities in this field.

Why is a Drone Technology Degree Valuable?

A drone technology degree sets you apart from other UAV pilots. While most individuals obtain their pilot license, the number of people who can design, repair, and innovate. With a degree in drone tech, you can learn in-demand skills and diversify your career options.

Industries and federal agencies are heavily investing in the research and development of autonomous flying vehicles.

Prospective students have the unique opportunity to be a part of cutting-edge technology and play a role in shaping the exciting future of drones.


Unmanned Aircraft Systems or Drones are a modern, cutting-edge technological solution to industrial and commercial challenges. A degree in drone technology from a reputed institute can pave the way for a rewarding career with vast possibilities. Along with the art of flying, you can also learn the essential skills for designing, repairing, and building drone control systems at drone schools.


Earn your degree in Engineering Technology from NEIT and begin your new career path today!





What Are the Career Options with a UAV/Drone Technology Degree?

A degree in drone technology can help you become a UAV pilot, unmanned systems engineer, drone repair technician, instrumentation technician, and much more.

How Long Does It Take to Become a UAV Pilot?

You can become an FAA-approved UAV pilot once you obtain your FAA Part 107 Remote Pilot Certificate. Before you apply for your license, you must pass the FAA’s initial aeronautical knowledge exam: “Unmanned Aircraft General – Small (UAG).”

Eligibility requirements include:

  • At least 16 years of age
  • Able to read, write, speak, and understand English
  • In the physical and mental condition for safely flying a drone

A certificate course, Associate’s, or Bachelor’s degree can help build the necessary knowledge for passing your UAV pilot certification. These courses can take anywhere between one to four years.

Are There Online Courses in Drone Technology?

Several universities and institutes offer entirely online programs in UAV/Drone management areas. Alternatively, you can also opt for hybrid degrees that allow you to complete the theory classes online while requiring you to attend lab and training hours on campus.