Kansas State University Salina Adds Aviation Management Degree

Longtime AAAE senior executive Spencer Dickerson will lead the bachelor’s degree in aviation management program.

A Black female student points at the tarmac as two CFIs look on. A training aircraft and a hangar are in the background

The new bachelor’s degree in aviation management at K-State Salina will train future leaders for the aviation industry. [Photo: K-State Salina]

With workforce demands in all aviation industry sectors rising worldwide, Kansas State University Salina Aerospace and Technology Campus has added a bachelor's degree in aviation management to meet the industry’s needs. The university is accepting applications for the new program with classes scheduled to begin in January.

"Being employed at airports provides long, fulfilling careers," said Spencer Dickerson, a professor and aviation industry expert leading the new program, in a released statement. "There will be significant workforce opportunities through the entire aviation industry ecosystem to meet wide-ranging domestic and global challenges. This degree looks at what the industry lacks currently and fulfills those needs with a capable workforce that will be ready to lead."

According to Dickerson, the program is designed to prepare graduates for careers as director of aviation, airport director, airport manager, director of airport operations, director of airport security, airport chief financial officer, director of airline operations, director of fixed base operations, and many more rewarding opportunities.

Dickerson is uniquely qualified to lead the program. He served in senior management positions at the American Association of Airport Executives (AAAE) since 1981—most recently, as senior executive vice president for global operations. AAAE is the world’s largest professional organization representing the people who manage commercial service, reliever, and general aviation airports. Dickerson also spent time as executive director of the U.S. Contract Tower Association, which represents 253 airports that participate in the FAA’s Contract Tower Program. 

Students at K-State Salina now have six aviation-related bachelor's degrees to choose from. [Photo: K-State Salina]

Dickerson’s experience and the unique format of the aviation management degree support K-State Salina's mission to “develop global leaders and foster talent development and innovation in aerospace and technology,” according to a university news release. 

For more information on the new degree visit salina.k-state.edu.

"We are excited to offer this opportunity to individuals who desire a career in the aviation industry,” said Terri Gaeddert, K-State Salina associate dean for academics and student success, in a released statement. "As one of the only universities in the country offering such a degree, graduates will gain a unique advantage by having opportunities to learn from industry leaders and professionals, as well as take advantage of K-State Salina's location, on the former Schilling Air Force Base, and home to an active airport."

The degree affords students the flexibility of either learning in person at the Salina campus or online. Students can choose between two degree paths: taking the four-year program from K-State Salina or transferring up to two years of credits from an approved outside institution.

The professional pilot program at K-State is its largest by enrollment. [Photo: K-State Salina]

A branch of Kansas State University, K-State Salina Aerospace and Technology Campus was founded in 1991, the result of a merger between the Kansas Technical Institute and Kansas State University. An FAA Part 141-approved school, the campus is largely aviation focused. Its flight (professional pilot) program is its largest by enrollment, according to K-State Salina communications and social media specialist Jeremy Bohn, who also provided the following statistics.

By the Numbers (2021-22)

Total campus enrollment741 students
Students pursuing an aviation-related degree58 percent
Student geographic makeup67 percent (Kansas); 25 percent (out of state); 8 percent (international)
No. of aviation-related bachelor's degrees6 (two are UAS-related)
No. of master's degrees2 (the newest one, a master's in aeronautics, launched earlier in 2022)
SOURCE: Kansas State University Salina Aerospace and Technology Campus

Sara is the former copy chief at FLYING. She fell in love with aviation over a decade of working as editor of Lift, the flagship magazine for Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. She holds a M.S. in Mass Communication and is passionate about authentic storytelling—and making sure that “every I is dotted and every T is crossed.” Follow Sara on Twitter @sarawithrow.

Subscribe to Our Newsletter

Get the latest FLYING stories delivered directly to your inbox

Subscribe to our newsletter