Why earn a degree in unmanned aircraft system operations?

Application Deadlines
Aug. 16
Dec. 15
May 1

With 50 years of experience in aviation education, training, and research, UND was the first to offer a UAS degree in 2009. We continue to be national leaders in UAS education today. You'll gain expertise to work in a crew environment as a Pilot operator, sensor operator, or other key team member of unmanned aircraft systems. You'll also gain a clear understanding of National Airspace System (NAS) safety and operations procedures.

UND is one of the first universities to enter into a long term relationship with the Federal Aviation Association (FAA) and become part of the Unmanned Aircraft Systems Collegiate Training Initiative (CTI-UAS) program. We are poised to deliver up-to-date UAS education that matches the requirements of the NAS. This ongoing collaboration with the FAA will further ensure UND students are qualified to enter into careers involving Unmanned Aircraft Systems.

Our Grand Forks campus has been called "the Silicon Valley of unmanned aircraft systems" by the New York Times. UND students are given the opportunity to interact with small and large UAS companies such as Northrop Grumman, General Atomics, and Customs Border Protection. Flights are conducted regularly where UND flight students are jointly flying next to Unmanned Aircraft in the National Airspace System.

UND's UAS Aviation Degree

UND offers a comprehensive UAS Aviation degree. It includes relative topics such as: human factors, crew resource management, autonomous systems, counter UAS applications, experience in small, medium and large UAS, safety management, and aircraft systems.

The UAS program offers two career tracks to specialize in:

  • Advanced high altitude, autonomous commercial systems
  • The emerging and dynamic small UAS market

Non-aviation majors also have the opportunity to obtain a minor in UAS Operations to use in their particular discipline.

AABI Accredited Program

UND Aerospace was the first four year degree UAS Operation program to receive Aviation Accreditation Board International (AABI) Accreditation for Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS). 

Student Achievement Data

Unmanned Aircraft System Operations at UND

  • Learn the skills to perform and coordinate strategies in UAS operational environments, as well as solve problems as they arise.

  • Gain UAS airmanship skills commensurate with a Commercial Pilot Certificate with Instrument Rating.

  • Gain essential knowledge in UAS related topics such as industry trends, ground and flight systems, remote sensing, aerodynamics, human factors, safety, crew resource management, UAS law and policy. These are all key principles common to UAS operations.

  • Gain a working knowledge of UAS technologies and their application in governmental and civil operations.

  • UND was among the first institutions selected for the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) new Collegiate Training Initiative for unmanned aerial systems (UAS).

  • UND received the most FAA grants to study drones in 2021. UND is the lead research university on mitigating GPS and automatic dependent surveillance-broadcast risks, shielded UAS operations-detect and avoid (DAA), and UAS flight data.

What can you do with a degree in UAS?


Average starting salary for a UAS pilot

CNN Money


Global UAS market by 2024


As the only university-accredited for UAS by AABI, UND has been at the forefront of educating the first generation of UAS pilot operators and professionals in related fields. With large employers in various industries seeking the unique and specialized UAS skills to deploy and manage program, graduates can expect plentiful opportunities.

UND graduates with a B.S. in Unmanned Aircraft System can expect exciting opportunities in several industries, including:

  • Oil and Gas
  • Windmill Inspection
  • Construction
  • Agriculture
  • Military and defense
  • Law enforcement
  • Firefighting
  • Transport
  • Surveillance
  • Aerial photography
  • Air and rescue

When You Major in Unmanned Aircraft System Operations

An Unmanned Aircraft System Operations degree gives you the strategic skills you need, including:

  • Commercial Aviation
  • Strategic Planning
  • Operations Management
  • Flight Training
  • Aviation

Unmanned Aircraft System Operations alumni have gone on to a variety of successful careers with:

  • General Atomics
  • Northrop Grumman Corporation
  • AV Flight Services, Inc.
  • Northern Plains, LLC
  • Aai Corporation

UAS Courses

Leader in Action

Eric Goetsch assisted in the reconnection of power to Hurricane Harvey victims in Texas as UAV Operator with SkySkopes.