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Social Sciences Air Transportation

Degree: BA

Campus: Columbus

College: Arts and Sciences

The social sciences air transportation major at Ohio State provides students a broad understanding of how aviation affects and is affected by social forces like the economy, international affairs and government policy. The academic core of air transportation studies includes an introduction to the transportation industry, the sciences of physical conditions, aircraft and flight, as well as an introduction to the social, economic and political considerations that help to explain the regulations and other measures of industry structure. 

The major features courses from both the Center for Aviation Studies (CAS) and the Department of Geography, which are supplemented by social science electives in communication, economics, international studies, political science, psychology and sociology.

While it is not required in order to complete the major, students in air transportation have the opportunity to earn flight ratings toward the Center for Aviation Studies Professional Pilot Certification through the center's FAR Part 141 certified professional flight education curriculum. For more information about the Professional Pilot Certification, as well as industry-partnered research, internship and career opportunities, visit The Ohio State University's Center for Aviation Studies.

Resources in the Department of Geography and the Center for Aviation Studies:

  • Dedicated tenure-track faculty in the area of air transportation and related sciences. Faculty members in the Department of Geography conduct major-relevant research. For example, one faculty member is researching the social dimensions of transportation and the development and application of GIS and spatial analysis techniques to model transportation patterns, and another is conducting research on the economic impact of the business aviation sector and how non-aviation companies benefit from locating near community airports.
  • The Ohio State University Airport is one of the leading general aviation facilities in the nation, providing educational opportunities and aircraft services to many of central Ohio’s pilots and businesses. The airport is home to 230 aircraft, and it generally ranks in the top five airports in Ohio in the number of take-offs and landings. Having access to this airport gives students first-hand knowledge about airline management, fixed-base operations and airport maintenance. 
  • Partners in public and private industry collaborate with Ohio State on research projects and academic programs and provide internships and career opportunities for undergraduate students, including pipeline and cadet programs for flight students as soon as they complete their private pilot certificates. The Center for Aviation Studies partners with companies, industry organizations and federal agencies that represent the breadth of the aviation industry.

Upon admission to the university, students can declare a major in social sciences air transportation within the College of Arts and Sciences. 

Freshman year

  • Aircraft Performance and Weather
  • Aviation Communications  
  • Economic and Social Geography   
  • Introduction to Aviation Industry    
  • Private Pilot Fundamentals    

Sophomore year

  • Aviation Management and Marketing    
  • Aviation Regulations    
  • Cartography and Map Design
  • Transportation Security    

Junior year

  • Aviation Human Factors and Safety
  • Fundamentals of Geographic Information Science        
  • Weather, Climate and Global Warming     

Senior year

  • Aviation Capstone
  • Geography of Transportation     

Students graduating from Ohio State with a bachelor’s degree in social sciences air transportation will be prepared to find employment in the airline industry as flight dispatchers, flight attendants, airport operation planners, air traffic controllers, safety inspectors, airline schedulers, national transportation safety board accident investigators and airport directors. If students are interested in pursuing a professional pilot certification, they may start their flight training labs as part of their air transportation degree. This certification would allow them to apply for careers as a flight instructor or pilot for charter flights, regional and national airlines, industrial aviation, business aviation, cargo aviation, and specialized flying.

Due to the broad social science background and geographic perspectives offered by courses in the air transportation studies degree, graduates of this program are prepared for positions in a variety of fields beyond the airline industry. Graduates will have a foundation in geographical information science and spatial analysis and competencies in business and communication that are highly recommended for advancement in any government agency or private business.