Building upon 35 years of collegiate aviation experience, Jacksonville University has introduced its first aviation graduate degree. The Master of Science in aviation leadership launched this semester and is already gaining traction with existing and incoming students. The degree is housed within the Davis College of Business and is modeled after the college’s Master of Science in organizational leadership.
According to Capt. Matt Tuohy, director of the School of Aviation for Jacksonville University, the creation of the aviation leadership degree was the next logical step in what has been a hugely popular and successful curriculum. “Until now, we have had two undergraduate programs in flight operations and aviation management, and we are making sure that students get an absolutely spectacular start in this field. We’ve got that covered, but like anything else, you want to grow, and expanding into the graduate arena is another arrow in our quiver, not just for the university but for the students who will eventually enroll.”
Once enrolled, students will benefit from a leadership-centric curriculum uniquely applied to the aviation industry and based on a strong business foundation. They will have access to one-of-a-kind industry partnerships and will gain the leadership tools necessary to take the next steps in their careers. They will also be welcomed into the supportive and personable learning environment of Jacksonville University.
“We have a special niche in that we really value our small class sizes,” Tuohy said. “You get to know your professors, and your professors get to know you and that’s carried through to the online classes. You’re not going to have 150 people in a class. They’re going to be small, and you’re going to get the same individual attention as you normally would.”
The new degree program is flexible enough to be completed part-time in two years or full-time in one year. Classes are offered on-campus, online or in a hybrid format, which appeals to working aviation professionals who wish to pursue an advanced degree while progressing in their careers and increasing their marketability. There is also considerable interest among JU students who graduate with approximately 220 hours of flight time and who wish to stay in the area while working toward the 1,000 flight hours required by airlines. Some international interest has been seen as well and is expected to increase as the program is promoted.
As it grows, the aviation leadership degree will certainly benefit from the stellar reputation of Jacksonville University’s undergraduate aviation programs, which are accredited by the Aviation Accreditation Board International. This designation places them among the top collegiate aviation programs in the nation. With many of the same highly qualified faculty and corporate connections, the master’s in aviation leadership is bound to follow suit, and pursuing full accreditation is one of the program’s early goals.
It’s first goal, however, is to attract and educate students, and to produce graduates who will work in the upper echelons of the aviation industry, graduates who are recognized as leaders and who can appreciate the nuances between management and leadership. “There is a difference,” Tuohy maintained. “Most people learn this the hard way through years of experience, but with this program, we’re giving students what they need to build their own leadership styles earlier in their careers and within the framework of an advanced degree that will make them more promotable and able to progress at a more rapid rate.”
Jacksonville University is currently accepting applications for its Master of Science in aviation leadership through its Graduate Fast Application. More information about this program and the university’s undergraduate aviation degrees can be found here.
By Jacqueline Palsha
Director of Communications