Undergraduate Plan of Study Guide


The purpose of this document is to help you plan your undergraduate Aeronautics and Astronautics (BSAAE) degree program.

The basic requirements for the Bachelor of Science (BS) degree are separated into four different categories of courses:

The order and speed at which you complete the degree requirements is your choice, provided you adhere to the pre-requisite rules. In other words: there are many possible paths to graduation. This document provides the suggested eight semester arrangement of courses; however, it is up to each student to develop an individual plan with their academic advisor.

You must use the Student Educational Planner and myPurduePlan for degree planning purposes.

Basic Requirements

Required Courses (85 credits)

The BSAAE degree program has a minimum of 130 credit hours, including the First-Year Engineering Program requirements.

Pass-Fail Courses: Only General Education and Technical electives may be taken in the Pass/No Pass grade mode. All other courses within the AAE Plan of Study are required to be taken for a grade. 

GPA Rule: You must have a cumulative and AAE major GPA of at least 2.0 in order to graduate.

Either/Or Courses (10 credits)

There are four cases where students normally choose between two possible course options:

Junior Lab Requirement

  • AAE 33401: Aerodynamics Lab
  • AAE 35201: Structural Analysis Lab

NOTE: Students often choose their lab course before choosing their specialization area(s). The choice is normally based on your preference for AAE 33400: Aerodynamics or AAE 35200: Structural Analysis I.

Propulsion Requirement

  • AAE 33800: Thermal Sciences—required for students who plan to specialize in propulsion.
  • AAE 33900: Aerospace Propulsion—intended for students who do not plan to specialize in propulsion.

Vehicle Dynamics Requirement

  • AAE 42100: Flight Dynamics & Control—intended for students who want to emphasize Aeronautics.
  • AAE 44000: Spacecraft Attitude Dynamics—intended for students who want to emphasize Astronautics.

Vehicle Dynamics Requirement

  • AAE 45000: Spacecraft Design—intended for students who want to emphasize Astronautics.
  • AAE 45100: Aircraft Design—intended for students who want to emphasize Aeronautics.

General Education Electives (24 credits)

You must complete a general education program of at least 24 credit hours. Please see your academic advisor for the complete list of approved courses. The general education program consists of two components: foundational learning outcomes and programmatic requirements.

Foundational Learning Outcomes

You must select from the list of courses approved by the University Core Council (UCC) to satisfy the Foundational Learning Outcomes. Some of these courses overlap with required courses for AAE.

Programmatic Requirements

  • Sufficient credit hours to meet the minimum 24 credit hour requirement (once the Foundational Learning Outcomes are completed).
  • At least 6 credit hours must come from courses at the 30000-level or above, or from courses with a required prerequisite in the same department.
  • 3 credit hours of approved business-focused coursework and 3 credit hours of approved advanced written/oral communication coursework. Please see your academic advisor for the complete list of approved courses.
  • A grade of “C−“ or better is required in these courses. General Education electives can be taken in the Pass/No Pass grade mode.

Technical Electives

Technical Electives are generally selected from engineering, science, management, entrepreneurship, or technology. Please see your academic advisor for the complete list of approved courses.

Pre-engineering courses (e.g., MA 15300), General Education electives, and recreational courses are not permitted as Technical Electives.

Students entering Purdue Fall 2020 onwards

  • Three (3) credits technical electives
  • Three (3) credits statistics selective

Major/Minor or Specialization Selectives (15 credits)

Courses in this category must be chosen from AAE or closely related disciplines. The objective is for you to develop a concentration in sub-areas of aerospace engineering that will make you a more desirable employee or give you a head-start on graduate study. The required curriculum is divided into five areas:

  • Aerodynamics
  • Aerospace Systems Design
  • Astrodynamics and Space Applications
  • Autonomy and Control
  • Propulsion
  • Structure and Materials

See your academic advisor for the complete list of approved courses for each category.

Students entering Purdue before Fall 2017

Your Purdue transcript and diploma will show that your degree is “BS in Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering,” regardless of what areas of concentration (Major/Minor) you select. As far as Purdue University is concerned, your “major” is AAE, and your “minor,” if you choose to pursue one, might be, for example, Physics (see “Minors/Certificates outside AAE“ below). The internal Major/Minor designations are departmental, not university, categories.

With the Major/Minor electives, you choose two of the above categories to study in greater depth.

  • Your major electives are nine (9) credits chosen from one of the above categories.
  • Your minor electives are six (6) credits chosen from another of the above categories.

Students entering Purdue Fall 2017 and onwards

Instead of choosing two areas of concentration from the above categories, you will choose one Specialization Area and 6 credits of AAE Selectives.

  • Your Specialization Area is nine (9) credits chosen from one of the above categories.
  • Your AAE Selectives are six (6) additional credits chosen from any of the above categories.

Registration Policy and Procedures

Increasing the Maximum Credit Limit

Students with a cumulative GPA of 3.2 or higher may request an increase to their maximum credit limit for the upcoming semester. You must request and receive permission from your AAE academic advisor. Because increasing your maximum credit limit can lead to an extremely challenging semester, we treat each request on an individual basis, considering your particular circumstances.

  • Standard Fall/Spring Credit Limit: 18
  • Standard Summer Credit Limit: 9

Course Conflicts

On occasion, you may want or need to take two courses offered in the same timeslots. We do not recommended doing so, but on occasion it may be unavoidable. Please contact your AAE academic advisor for more information.

NOTE: You will not be waived from completing course requirements due to courses overlapping. You must complete all course requirements as set out by each instructor.

AAE Closed Courses

AAE does not use the Purdue waitlist system for AAE courses. If you need to enroll in a closed AAE course, please place your name on the AAE Closed Course Waitlist. We will do everything in our power to accommodate your request, but we also recommend developing a backup plan in the event we are not able to increase the capacity of the course. Please note that the traditional Purdue waitlist system is used for non-AAE courses.

Minors/Certificates outside AAE

Many departments at Purdue offer a minor or certificate. If you complete their requirements, your transcript will show that you have earned a “BS in AAE with a minor in X”. Minors/certificates typically consist of 5−6 courses in addition to your AAE requirements. Note: this minor has nothing to do with the AAE minor area of concentration.

The process for adding a minor/certificate to your academic record varies per department offering the program. Please see your academic advisor for more information.


  • It is best to declare a minor/certificate early to allow ample time to complete requirements.
  • Once you add a minor/certificate to your academic record, you are not required to complete it to graduate. Your academic advisor can remove it from your record.
  • Declaring a minor/certificate does not guarantee you space in your required courses.


For a full list of current Purdue minors, please click here.


For a full list of current Purdue certificates, please click here.

Engineering Honors Program

Qualified students may participate in the Engineering Honors Program. For more information, please click here.

Course Numbers and Levels

Senior Design

Senior Design (AAE 45000/45100) is typically taken during a student’s final semester. AAE 45000 is intended for students who want to emphasize Astronautics, while AAE 45100 is designed for students more interested in Aeronautics.

NOTE: Only AAE 45000/45100 will meet the AAE Senior Design requirement.

50000-Level Courses

These courses are dual-level courses, which can be taken by either undergraduate or graduate students. If you are interested in a 50000-level course, make sure that you have the required background before enrolling. It is common for students to take 50000-level courses as part of their undergraduate degree, especially to fulfill Major/Minor or Specialization Area(s)/AAE Selective requirements.

60000-Level Courses

Undergraduates need permission to enroll in 60000-level courses. Students in senior standing who have a cumulative GPA of 3.2 or higher are eligible to request permission. Please see your academic advisor for more information.

Combined BSAAE/MSAA Program

The Combined BSAAE/MSAA Program is an integrated five-year degree program in which qualified students can receive a Bachelor of Science (BS) and a Master of Science (MS) in Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering. The program provides a seamless transition from the BS to MS program for Purdue students where graduate courses taken as undergraduate electives are counted toward both the BS and MS degrees, thereby reducing the overall time required for the MS degree. This program is only available to students in the BSAAE program at the West Lafayette campus.

Special Credits

Excess Credit

A maximum of 12 credit hours of graduate coursework, earned with a grade of “B” or better, may be applied toward an advanced degree at Purdue if these credits are in excess of any requirements for the BSAAE degree (other graduate institutions may have different rules). (See University Regulations). Students who wish to use courses as excess credit must work with their academic advisor to plan accordingly.

Transfer Credit

If you are interested in registering for a course offered by a different institution, you should first look it up in the Purdue Transfer Credit Database to see how the credit will transfer back to Purdue. In order for the course to be used to meet AAE degree requirements, it must transfer as a Purdue equivalent course approved to meet the requirement. If the institution or course is not listed, it may mean your course has not been evaluated yet. Please see your advisor for additional information.

You must earn a “C−“ or better in order for a course to be transferred. Please note however, that the grade will not transfer and there will be no impact on your Purdue GPA.

NOTE: courses listed as “#XXXX” are considered undistributed credit, or courses which do not have a Purdue equivalent. These courses cannot be used to meet AAE degree requirements.

Please see your academic advisor for approval. Once the course is completed, you must send your official transcript to Purdue so that your credit may be awarded. Click here for instructions on sending your transcript to Purdue.

NOTE: If you are an incoming transfer student, please work with your advisor to determine exactly how your previous courses might transfer.

Cooperative Education and Internships

Cooperative Education (co-op) programs and external internships provide students with exceptional work integrated learning experience. Co-op students alternate semesters of on-campus academic study with sessions of a work assignment in industry. Students work with the same employer for the duration of their program, allowing for a deeper understanding and levels of responsibility within industry. The Office of Professional Practice (OPP) offers 3-session and 5-session programs. Those who participate in a co-op program gain 12-20 months of paid work experience by graduation.

Co-op students must register for an AAE placeholder course while on work assignment. This ensures you remain an active student in the Purdue system. Once you receive an offer letter, you will work with your academic advisor to register appropriately and to revise your plan of study.

Internships are another excellent opportunity for students to gain practical experience. Most internships occur over the summers. Some students will repeatedly intern with the same organization, while other students will intern at different organizations each summer, or alternate interning with summer courses or research.

Students participating in internships or other non-formal co-op programs may also register for an AAE placeholder course while on work assignment. This registration is especially important for non-US citizen students. Please see your academic advisor for additional information.