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Comparative analysis of the top aviation courses in France, with extensive information about schools and their aviation degrees

This report takes an in-depth look at some of the top schools for aviation and aeronautics courses in France, including comparisons of costs, the courses offered, the content of each course, and how long each course takes to study.


Silver French Rafale Marine pre flight check
Silver French Rafale Marine pre flight check

For at least the next decade, the French aviation and aeronautics sector will attempt to meet the demand for air transportation, which is expected to increase steadily through 2026. This growth will continue to offer promising job prospects for commercial and private airline pilots, aeronautics professionals and airport employees.

Along with the rapid increase in air travel, innovation in aircraft manufacture and emerging technologies are opening up new fields and career opportunities for aeronautical engineers, aviation mechanics and avionics professionals trained in a particular type of aircraft.

France’s aviation and aeronautics sector is in a particularly strong position in the areas of global aircraft manufacturing and research and development – aeronautics is now the nation’s leading export sector. And there’s much at stake, with general aviation bringing €4 billion into the French economy.

In 2008, the Council for Civil Aeronautical Research (CORAC) was established to promote cooperation in the sector, [1] which has committed to reducing air traffic noise and carbon emissions by 2020. CORAC is busy coordinating research and innovation in five major technological areas: helicopters of the future, composite aircraft, new generation engines, extensive modular avionics and all-electric aircraft.

Another standout performance from the sector has been in the area of job creation – 187,000 individuals were employed in aviation [2] at the end of 2016, with 10,000 new jobs created that year. In fact, the French aeronautics industry has created 2,500 jobs each year [3] on average since 2008.

About 41% of jobs in the sector are filled by engineers and managers, [4] while there is a shortage of technicians, welders and metal workers, particularly for small and medium-sized aeronautical sub-contractors. Aerospace companies, often partnering with local and national authorities, are trying to find a solution to this challenge. [5]

Keeping in mind that a Bachelor’s degree is a commitment of both time and finances, while a graduate degree is an even lengthier undertaking, it’s important to choose the best educational institution for your studies.

This comparative analysis of a cross-section of six French aviation and aeronautics schools gives you key information and insights into the courses available to students. The report is split into four sections: a comparative table summary of what each school offers aviation students, a brief history of aviation education in France, additional information for each school’s aviation courses, and perspectives on the future of aviation and how this will affect training in years to come.

Summary of the top aviation and aeronautics courses at French schools


French Engineering Schools Ranking 2018

Aviation programmes offered

Pilot training programmes offered

Aviation facilities

Cost per year of studies

Cost of accommodation per year

Course length



Aeronautics and Aerospatial Engineering (MSc)

Aerospace Engineering (MSc)

Experimental Flight Test engineering (MSc)

Advanced Manufacturing Processes for Aeronautical Structures (MSc)

Aeronautical Maintenance and Support-Engineering & Management (MSc)

Aerospace Project management (MSc)

Aviation Safety Aircraft Airworthiness (MSc)

Aeronautical And Space Structures (MSc)

Embedded Systems (MSc)

Helicopter, Aircraft and Drone Architecture (MSc)

Systems Engineering (MSc)

Aeronautical Engineering (MSc)

Space Systems Engineering (MSc)

Advanced Degree in Aeronautical Engineering (MSc)

Fleet of nine aircraft simulators

Autonomous system platform for micro-drones and robots

Flight simulators and neuroergonomics platform

Wind tunnels, aeroacoustics wind tunnel

Turbofan test bed

Software-defined radio room

Ground station for satellite tracking and operation

Satellite command and control centre

French & EU students: €4,800

International students: €10,800

€500-€850 living in ISAE residence, including room, three meals a day, internet, gym, TV lounges, 24/7 support, parcel desk and laundry room

Two years full-time



Aeronautical Engineering (MSc)

Aerospace Engineering (MSc)

Automotive & Aeronautics Design (specialist programme)

Aeronautical Operations and Maintenance (Post-MSc)

Embedded Lighting Systems (Advanced MSc)

Aeronautical Engineering (MSc) + Airline Pilot Training


Research labs

Wind tunnels

French students: €7,990

International students: €13.000

Theory and flight training cost: €66,982

€450-€800 living on campus, including room, three meals a day, internet and laundry room

One year full-time

Centrale Nantes


Diplôme d'Ingénieur (equivalent to a MSc Engineering) with aeronautical option

Expert in Composite Materials Engineering and Production Methods (Advanced MSc)


Wind tunnels

Dynamic and static test centre

Rapid manufacturing platform

All students: €2,500

€450-€850 living on campus, including room, two meals a day, Wi-Fi, computer rooms, 24/7 surveillance and support, residence-specific amenities and laundry room

Three years full-time

Institut Polytechnique des Sciences Avancées(IPSA)


Engineering degree (BEng)

Aerospace Engineering (BSc)

Aerospace Engineering (Masters)

Wind tunnels

Research labs

Smart computers

All students: €5,500

No details available

Three years full-time

École Nationale Supérieure de Mécanique et d'Aérotechnique (ISAE - ENSMA)


Aerospace Technology with Management

Aeronautical Mechanics and Energetics (MSc)

Aeronautical Mechanics and Energetics (MSc)

Research labs

French Students: €601

International students: €7,300

€450-€800 living on campus, including room, one meal a day, Wi-Fi, residence-specific amenities and laundry room

Two years full-time



Graduate Engineering (BEng)

Airport Management (MSc)

Aviation Safety - Aircraft Airworthiness (MSc)

Aerospace Project Management (MSc)

Unmanned Aircraft Systems Services and Management (MSc)

Safety Management (MSc)

Strategic Aviation Leadership (MSc)

Aircraft Life Management & Maintenance (MSc)

Airline Operation Management (MSc)

Aviation Safety Management (MSc)

Aerospace Systems - Navigation and Telecommunications (MSc)

International Air Transport Operations Management (MSc)

Airline Pilot Degree (only for Graduates or foundation students)

Fleet of 121 aircraft

Type-specific flight simulators

Advanced air traffic control simulators

Aerodynamics, electronics

computing and language facilities

Four research labs

€1,300 (All students)

Entry test; very limited number of slots

€500-€900 living in ENAC residences, including room, three meals a day, residence-specific amenities and laundry room

Three years full-time

The comparison table provides several key findings that are useful to students applying for aviation courses at top French Schools:

  • Of the six schools surveyed, all offer graduate degree programmes and five offer advanced graduate degrees. The prevalence of graduate and advanced graduate degrees, along with an increasing choice of specialisations, indicates that schools are responding to the rapid shifts in innovation and technology taking place within the aviation industry.
  • On average, 90% of students from the surveyed universities are hired within a year of graduation, attesting both to the high calibre of graduates and the strong demand for aviation, aeronautics and aerospace professionals.
  • Despite the differences between various schools’ aviation and aeronautical courses, all tend to offer students similar resources, from aircraft fleets and flying clubs to flight and engine simulators. This indicates that aviation schools are realising the increasing importance of meeting industry needs by equipping their labs with the latest technologies.

History of aviation education and aviation schools in France

Image depicts first hot air balloon flight over Marseilles, France, in 1783. The balloon is named a Montgolfiere after its inventors Joseph and Jacques Montgolfier
Image depicts first hot air balloon flight over Marseilles, France, in 1783. The balloon is named a Montgolfiere after its inventors Joseph and Jacques Montgolfier
  • Two of the world’s first aviation experimental designers were French – Joseph and Jacques Montgolfier [6] invented the hot-air balloon in the 18th Century.
  • In 1783, François Rozier and the Marquis d'Arlandes flew over Paris in the first human flight in a hot-air balloon. [7] Two years later, Jean-Pierre Blanchard crossed the English Channel from Dover to Calais on board a hydrogen balloon with John Jeffries, the first passenger to fly from the U.K. to France. [8]
  • Soon after the Royal Aeronautical Society was set up in London in 1866, similar societies were established in France, [9] the USA and Germany.
  • Colonel Jean-Baptiste Roche, an officer of the French army and vice-director of the Engineering School of Versailles, opened The Graduate School of Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering in Paris in 1909, which began offering the first established degree in Aeronautical Engineering. An École Nationale (the highest designation and recognition for a French institute of higher education), in 1972 the school became the National School of Aeronautics and Space (SUPAERO).
  • In 1909, Louis Blériot accomplished France’s first fixed wing flight [10] from Calais to Dover. It took the 37-year-old auto-parts maker and part-time aeroplane designer 37 minutes to cross the English Channel and safely crash-land on a cricket field near Dover Castle. This was the first successful international flight over water.
  • CASA went on to become a founding member of the European Aerospace Defense and Space Company (EADS) in 1999.
  • Today the landing gear for EADS-Airbus planes is produced in Spain, along with parts and modules for launchers, satellites and the International Space Station.
  • A year later, the first formal courses in aerodynamics at academic level were taught in France by Professor Lucien Marchis at the University of Paris.

Aviation and aeronautics courses at top schools in France

ISAE-Supaéro offers seven graduate and 14 advanced graduate degrees in aviation and aeronautics

Chair board of  ISAE-Supaero Polytechnic School, Zodiac Aerospace and BNP Paribas creating a technology-related, innovating and entrepreneurial course.
Chair board of ISAE-Supaero Polytechnic School, Zodiac Aerospace and BNP Paribas creating a technology-related, innovating and entrepreneurial course.

ISAE-Supaéro is one of the world’s leading aerospace engineering schools. Located in Toulouse and overseen by the French Ministry of Defence, it is a member of the ISAE group; an aerospace training and research cluster that specialises in the fields of aeronautics, space and guided transport. The school has a joint programme with French aerospace lab ONERA and engineering school École Nationale de l'Aviation Civile (ENAC), which delivers graduate and PhD programs through the Toulouse graduate School of Aerospace Engineering (TSAE). [11]

Master of Science in Aerospace Engineering[12] students focus on a core curriculum of Sciences and Engineering, Project Management and Systems Engineering, and Foreign Languages. Students are able to focus on four areas of study out of a selection of 19 and later choose to specialise in one of seven areas that include Aerospace Systems and Control, Embedded Systems and Next-Generation Satellites Services.

Students develop their scientific skills by taking part in research projects in ISAE-Supaéro laboratories, while on-the-job skills are achieved through internships in the aerospace industry.

The master thesis is completed in a company or a research laboratory in the fourth semester. The goal of the thesis is for students to demonstrate the knowledge and skills they will need to successfully meet today’s scientific and industrial challenges. It’s possible to pursue PhD studies through the Toulouse Graduate School of Aerospace Engineering [13] following successful completion of the Master’s degree.

ISAE-Supaéro also offers advanced Master’s courses as part of the Advanced MSc in Aerospace Engineering & Management programme, or Mastère Spécialisé®. This collective trademark is owned by the Conférence des Grandes Écoles (CGE); a network of some of the finest French engineering schools. Following a highly rigorous accreditation process, the programme[14] is taught in English and takes place over a year following the completion of a Master’s degree. Graduates can choose from a range of subjects for their Advanced Master’s degree, including aeronautical engineering and manufacturing.

ISAE-Supaéro has an interdisciplinary approach to its Master’s and Advanced Master’s degrees. All programmes combine rigorous academic instruction with advanced research [15] based on industrial and social sustainable development objectives, while also observing every aspect of aerospace system performance: security, safety, resilience, competitiveness, virtualisation (digital), new technologies and innovative processes, services and concepts.

Teaching and research departments cover both specialised and multidisciplinary scientific topics in these key areas: aerodynamics; energetics and propulsion; aerospace vehicles design and control; mechanics, structures and materials; complex systems engineering; electronics, optronics and signal processing; and humanities and languages.

Students benefit from an array of scientific and research facilities and equipment, many of which are unique in Europe. [16] These include a turbofan test bed, research platform in embedded systems engineering, three-axis totally configurable aircraft simulator, Terahertz imaging system, autonomous system platform for micro-drones and robots, a fleet of nine aircraft, and ground station for satellite tracking and operation.

ISAE-Supaéro has a partner-based research turnover of €28 million [17] and 43 faculty who are certified to oversee and direct research students. To date, the ISAE-Supaéro research programme has resulted in 23 patents and inventions.

For those looking to achieve a pilot’s license, the school has a fleet of nine aircraft located just 10 minutes from campus. Here students can earn a variety of flight licenses and take part in aviation activities including powered aircraft gliding, parachuting and paragliding.

The school offers Master of Science students financial support and scholarships [18] through the ISAE-Supaéro Foundation and its partners. Scholarships include the ISAE-Supaéro Foundation Scholarship, CEDAR Excellence Scholarship, ARISE Excellence Scholarship, MBDA Program of Excellence for India at ISAE-Supaéro, and GIFAS Program of Excellence Toulouse School of Aerospace Engineering.

If you believe you have what it takes to become one of the aeronautic greats of tomorrow, speak to us about applying for a course and we’ll do our best to provide some helpful advice. Air Charter Service (ACS) also provides aviation and flying scholarships for many of the best aviation schools in France and around the world. Find out more on our Aviation Scholarships and Student Grants page.

ESTACA offers two graduate degrees, one post-master degree, and two advanced master degrees in aviation and aeronautics


ESTACA is another member of the ISAE group. Based in Paris, this prestigious engineering school trains automotive, aeronautical, railway and aerospace engineers.

TThe school’s Engineering School offers a Master of Science in Aeronautical Engineering, which prepares graduates for a career in aircraft design and operation. This could mean engaging with the technical performance of a development programme, conducting tests on the ground or during flight, developing new production methods, optimising quality processes or sourcing and negotiating contracts. Students can add additional airline pilot training to the course, including flight training for the Airline Transport Pilot License (ATPL) and theoretical training.

ESTACA also offers a Master of Science in Aerospace Engineering, [19] which trains students to work on the construction of launchers, thrusters and spacecraft (such as satellites, probes, shuttles and orbital stations) and the launch and operation of satellites.

The Automotive and Aeronautics Design Programme [20] is a specialist course taught over one semester, which answers the industry’s need for international engineers with technologically advanced computer skills. The programme is available to students with either a bachelor’s degree or three-year engineering degree.

The aviation industry is under continuous pressure to develop innovative improvements to aeronautical operations and maintenance. Taught in English, ESTACA’s Post-Master of Science in Aeronautical Operations and Maintenance is designed to meet this challenge by producing engineers with a global view of the legal and economic environment in which airlines operate, as well as an in-depth understanding of operations and maintenance processes.

Also taught in English, the Advanced Master of Science in Embedded Lighting Systems trains graduates in innovative new lighting technologies like LED and the functionalities of complex lighting systems. Developed in partnership with the Institut d’Optique Graduate School and STRATE Design School, this advanced international programme offers cross-skilled engineers research-focused training that is actively supported by industry partners.

ESTACA’s graduate degree programme collaborates with industry partners [21] by offering them technical and scientific expertise in the key areas of research at the school. Industry collaboration and partnerships typically involve funding from industry in exchange for testing and research carried out at the school by postgraduate and doctoral students, and faculty members. This is intended to benefit an industry partner by helping them to develop and test new products or improve the performance of existing products or services.

ESTACA is home to several student associations that offer an extra-curricular outlet for pupils’ passion for aviation and aeronautics. Members of the Aeronautical Group [22] can participate in activities like reconstructing the first seaplane, which made its maiden voyage in 1909; while the Flying West[23] aeronautical association helps to prepare students for their pilot’s license and runs aircraft renovation projects. The ESTACA Modelling Association offers the chance to build and fly miniature remote-controlled aeroplanes and gliders.

ESTACA has an excellent post-graduate employment rate. According to a survey carried out in 2018 by the Conference of Grandes Ecoles, 98% of the school’s students are hired within two months of graduating. [24]

If you believe you have what it takes to be one of the aeronautics innovators of tomorrow, then speak to us about applying for an aviation course and we’ll do our best to provide some helpful advice. ACS also provides aviation and flying scholarships for many of the best aviation schools in France and around the world. Find out more on our Aviation Scholarships and Student Grants page.

Centrale Nantes offers a graduate degree with specialization and an advanced graduate degree in aeronautics

Centrale Nantes logo
Centrale Nantes logo

École Centrale de Nantes, or Centrale Nantes, is one of France’s top engineering schools. Established in 1919 in the western French city of Nantes, this Grande École offers world-class training to rigorously selected students.

The school offers a 'Diplôme d'Ingénieur', [25] (equivalent to a Master of Science in Engineering) to students who have successfully completed five years of higher education. The first year includes general engineering training; while in the second and third years students can choose to specialise in aeronautics, [26] learning about the challenges created by the continuous increase in civilian air traffic and developing the necessary skills in aerodynamics, fluid-structure interaction and composite materials to help address these issues. Third-year students also study a professional option [27] alongside their chosen specialisation, in order to familiarise them with a particular sector or company function.

Centrale Nantes also offers an Mastère Spécialisé® Advanced Master of Science in Expert in Composite Materials Engineering and Production Methods, [28] which covers the thermomechanics of continuous media; numerical models; thermokinetics; and emerging materials and processes in the first semester. Courses include: homogenization; mechanical characterization; CND composites; materials and durability; and LCM Liquid Composite Molding. During the second semester, students undertake an internship which contributes to their thesis.

To be eligible for the programme, students must have achieved one of the following: a 'diplôme d'ingénieur' or an equivalent degree earned abroad, a two-year Master’s degree, a one-year Master’s degree or equivalent plus three years of professional experience.

Sciences pour l'ingénieur - Engineering Sciences (SPI) Doctoral School [29] (for which Centrale Nantes is the support institution) provides doctoral students with an opportunity to achieve three years of research training and an internationally recognized degree. Areas of specialization are: acoustics; robotics – mechanics; computer-integrated manufacturing – mechanics, energetics-thermal science-combustion; civil engineering; process and bioprocess engineering; industrial engineering; production processes; process and product optimization; mechanical engineering; fluid mechanics; mechanics of solids, materials, structures and surfaces; architecture and urban studies; materials engineering; and electrical engineering.

Centrale Nantes’ research programme [30] is committed to benefitting industry through the achievement of patents and licences, research partnerships, bilateral collaboration, and the sharing of joint teams and facilities. These facilities include: engine test benches, ocean test facilities; a SEM-REV Offshore Test Site; CRED – Dynamic and Static Test Center; a robotics platform; rapid manufacturing platform; composites platform; structural testing floor; supercomputer; and wind tunnels.

The school has 14 industrial training partners and 14 industrial research and training chairs. According to the Centrale Nantes website, 84% of graduates are employed within two months of graduation. [31]

Are you one of the aeronautics greats of tomorrow? Speak to us about applying for a course at your school of choice and we’ll do our best to provide some helpful advice. ACS also provides aviation and flying scholarships for many of the best aeronautics schools in France and around the world. Find out more on our Aviation Scholarships and Student Grants page.

IPSA offers a 5-year undergraduate to graduate degree in aviation and aeronautics

Institut Polytechnique des Sciences Avancées (IPSA) logo
Institut Polytechnique des Sciences Avancées (IPSA) logo

Institut Polytechnique des Sciences Avancées (IPSA) is an engineering college that offers a five-year graduate syllabus specializing in aeronautical and space systems.

The Master of Science in Engineering degree allows graduates to acquire a broad knowledge of general engineering as well as highly specialized skills in the fields of aeronautics and space. After successfully completing the degree, graduates are able to work in other technically advanced fields similar to aerospace – like automotive or maritime transport – that use closely related processes and technologies.

The five-year syllabus allows students to gain basic scientific skills in the first two years of the programme, and then specialize in a three-year engineering cycle to develop expertise in a field of their choice.

During the first undergraduate year of study, students explore the scientific fields of: mathematics, physics and chemistry, as well as Information Technologies and aeronautical subjects. Foreign languages, technical projects, and general knowledge are also part of the core curriculum. Mathematics is a large part of the curriculum in the second undergraduate year, along with physics and engineering sciences.

Year three of the undergraduate degree teaches the fundamental sciences of mathematics and physics, but this time with a practical focus. Students learn about General Mechanics, Analogical Signal Treatment and Turbojet Engines. Elective seminars expose students to different topics and fields in Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) in this phase of study.

The following three-year postgraduate engineering degree, taught at the Paris campus, delivers specialist aerospace systems engineering training. The first year of the postgraduate degree allows students to choose from several technological specializations: Energetics & Propulsion, Mechanics & Structure, Mechatronic Systems, and Embedded & Telecommunication Systems. Students also spend a semester abroad in a country of their choice, so they can experience a culture different to their own.

In years two and three of postgraduate studies, students choose from three curricula [32] (Aeronautical Systems Design, Space Systems Design, or Management & Industrial Logistics) which allows them to achieve specific expertise as they develop their final project (‘Projet de fin d’études’). A six-month internship is undertaken in the final year.

Research [33] at IPSA is dominated by three fields of enquiry: Mechatronics, Signals and Systems; Mechatronics, Energy and Aerodynamics; and Astronomy and Astrophysics. All research carried out by IPSA is collaborative (through close links to industry partners [34]) and is multidisciplinary. IPSA Paris is located on IONIS group's technology campus, along with ESME Sudria and ETNA.

Student Associations [35] are an important part of life and training at IPSA. For instance, Aero IPSA gives students the opportunity to design and build experimental rockets in partnership with the ‘Centre National des Etudes Spatiales’ (CNES). IPSA Fight is occupied with designing a full-size flight simulator for a Boeing 777 which can be used for training purposes at a later stage. I-TECH explores new technologies, drone innovation and the study of various automated mechanical systems, while IPSA Aéro RC constructs and flies radio controlled models of gliders, helicopters, and planes. MACH 0.1 teaches students to fly or gives them the opportunity to improve their skills with aero clubs in the region Île-de-France. The association also prepares students for the theoretical exam that forms part of the ‘Brevet d'Initiation Aéronautique’ (Certificate of Aeronautical Initiation).

If you believe you have what it takes to be an aeronautics innovator of the future, speak to us about applying for a course at the school of your choice, and we’ll do our best to provide some helpful advice. ACS also provides aviation and flying scholarships for many of the best aviation schools in France and around the world. Find out more on our Aviation Scholarships and Student Grants page.

ISAE–ENSMA offers 2 graduate degrees and 3 postgraduate research-orientated degrees in aeronautics

Outside the École Nationale Supérieure de Mécanique et d'Aérotechnique (ISAE–ENSMA) office building
Outside the École Nationale Supérieure de Mécanique et d'Aérotechnique (ISAE–ENSMA) office building

More than 6,000 engineers have successfully completed the graduate programme since the École Nationale Supérieure de Mécanique et d'Aérotechnique (ISAE-ENSMA) opened in 1948.

The Master of Science in Aeronautical Mechanics and Energetics (AME)[36] is focused on aeronautical transportation and energy. On completion of the two-year programme, students have a strong theoretical, numerical and experimental knowledge of energetics for turbine engines and materials able to perform in high temperatures. Final project work is carried out within partner companies or laboratories and counts towards the Master Thesis. Students with a bachelor’s degree in aerospace, mechanical or mechatronics engineering are eligible for the MSc AME degree.

The Bachelor of Science in Aerospace Systems Engineering[28] gives students extensive knowledge of aerospace science and technology – particularly airport and air navigation infrastructure, and air transport and air traffic management systems. Majors include air navigation and airports.

The Master of Science in Turbulence[37] introduces students to the science of turbulence – knowledge that can be applied to the many areas in which turbulence occurs, like environmental processes; combustion; engine technology; heat transfer; energy production; vehicle design; and most fluid, thermal and chemical systems. Students are exposed to turbulence theory along with advanced computational and experimental methodologies. The degree is taught in English and carried out over four semesters. The first semester takes place in Lille at Ecole Centrale and the second at Poitiers, shared by ENSI Poitiers and ENSMA. The aim is to expose students to two scientific and cultural environments. The final semester involves completion of the Master Thesis, which can be accomplished in France or abroad, at partner companies and schools.

ISAE-ENSMA offers three Postgraduate Research-Oriented Master’s Degrees [38] together with the University of Poitiers. The program is linked to research laboratories the Pprime Institute and LIAS research laboratories.

The first is a Master of Science in Air and Ground Transportation which provides students with advanced knowledge in aerodynamics, energetics, heat transfer, and the mechanics of structures and materials, as well as the ability to analyze and resolve complex problems, whether experimental, analytical or numerical.

The Master of Science in High Performance Materials trains young researchers in the field of Materials Science with two further specializations to choose from: the physics and chemistry of high performance materials, and engineering of high performance materials.

The Master of Science in Computer Science trains students in computer science research, with a focus on real time systems, databases, the human/machine interface, and software engineering.

For students who would like to complete a doctorate, ISAE-ENSMA has a joint Doctoral School with the University of Poitiers – the Ecole Doctorale SPI&A (Doctoral School [39] in Engineering and Aeronautics). The expertise of ENSMA in aeronautical engineering and ISAE-ENSMA’s membership in the GEA group (Grandes Ecoles Aéronautiques) contribute to SPI&A’s solid reputation in aeronautics.

The research programme [40] at ISAE-ENSMA is carried out at two laboratories [41] in partnership with the University of Poitiers and CNRS. This close relationship between teaching, research and industry, allows students to benefit from training that exposes them to the latest advances in mechanical engineering and energetics.

ISAE-ENSMA is a member of several national research networks [42] and takes part in a series of programs at Pan-European and international levels, as well as partnering with a number of bodies and institutions at regional level.

About 60% of ISAE-ENSMA graduates go on to work [43] in aeronautics and aerospace while others are employed in other sectors like mechanical engineering and ground transportation (25%), energy (10%) and industrial computing.

If you dream of a career in aeronautics, why not speak to us about applying for a course at one of the schools on your shortlist. We’ll do our best to provide some helpful advice. ACS also provides aviation and flying scholarships for many of the best aviation schools in France and around the world. Find out more on our Aviation Scholarships and Student Grants page.

ENAC offers 28 graduate degrees in aviation and aeronautics

ENAC logo
ENAC logo

Since opening its doors in 1949, ENAC’s reputation has grown steadily as the leading aeronautics and aviation school in Europe. [44] It offers students training, studies and research opportunities through 28 higher education programs ranging from Bachelor to Master of Science degrees, Aviation Advanced Master degrees, Master of Business and Administration as well as PhDs in aeronautics and aviation.

The Master of Science in Engineering [45] is a two-year programme aimed at students who already have a Bachelor degree. It is aimed at preparing graduate engineers to take their place in a sector that is all about inventing the air transport of the future, whether managing and directing projects, designing new products, implementing new systems, or solving the complex challenges facing the industry today.

ENAC Master of Science degrees are taught in English are open to a wide range of bachelors in engineering or science.

  • Master of Science in Aerospace Systems – Navigation and Telecommunication [46] (MSc AS-NAT)
  • Master of Science in International Air Transport Operations Management [47] (MSc IATOM) 
  • Master of Science in International Air Transport Operations Management [49] (MSc IATOM) in Abu Dhabi
  • Master in Human–Computer Interaction [49] (taught in French)

The Advanced Master of Science degree, or Mastère Spécialisé, is a post-Master’s programme created by the Conférence des Grandes Écoles. [50] It is a full-time, one-year programme, taught in English. The degree includes theoretical lectures, tutorials, case studies, an internship and an individual professional thesis. It attracts students or professionals who have a Master’s degree and would like to specialize or expand their knowledge and experience in a sophisticated environment in which industry needs and challenges have been clearly identified.

  • Advanced Master in Air Transport Finance Management [51]
  • Air Navigation System Engineering and Operations [52]
  • Airport Management [53]
  • Air Transport Management [54]
  • Air Transport/Airport Management in China [55]
  • Aviation Safety Aircraft Airworthiness [56]
  • Aerospace Project Management [57]
  • Unmanned Aircraft Systems Services and Management. [58] The first European Advanced Master on UAV exploitation and applications.
  • Safety Management in Aviation [59]
  • Strategic Aviation Leadership (France-Canada). [60] A unique McGill (Montréal, Canada) and ENAC program that prepares graduates to lead and manage the change that will reshape the aviation industry with the new Global Aviation Leadership program.

Advanced Masters offered in partnership with IATA:

  • Advanced Master in Aircraft Life Management & Maintenance – IATA [61]
  • Advanced Master Airline Operations Management – IATA [62]. Offered jointly by ENAC and IATA to answer new airline operational management challenges in the global air transport industry.

Advanced Masters offered in partnership with ICAO:

  • Advanced Master in Aviation Safety Management [63]

ENAC provides pilot training [64] for students who would like to set out on a career as an airline pilot. The programme is supported by an operational fleet of 116 planes, two flying experimental laboratories, eight aerodromes (two are equipped for research 2 3D), a 360-degree control tower, simulators, 40 approach simulation positions, 80 en-route simulation positions, 20 tower and airport control simulation positions, and an A320 flight simulator. Licences include:

  • Airline Transport Pilot Licence (ATPL)
  • Airline Pilote (EPL) for European citizens only
  • Multi-crew Cooperation (MCC) which focuses on the development of non-technical skills like decision-making, leadership and assertiveness, communication, workload management, and threat and error management.
  • Multi-crew Pilot Licence (MPL) develops strategic thinking and decision-making in conjunction with technical knowledge and skills.
  • ATR 42/72 Type Rating which allows graduates to act as an ATR 42/72 airline first officer.

ENAC gives students the opportunity to qualify an Air Traffic Controller (ATCo). [65] Basic training is held over 20 weeks and introduces trainees to all aspects of Air Traffic Services by covering all subjects required by ICAO and Eurocontrol rules and recommendations. Technical skills developed using ENAC’s BASIC Tower and BASIC Surveillance simulator training programs. Aerodrome Control RATING training is held over 10 weeks, following successful completion of the certified BASIC course. This is followed by 16 weeks of Approach Control RATING and En-Route Control RATING training.

Air Traffic Safety Electronics Personnel (ATSEP) [66] training at ENAC complies with ICAO SARPS and meets the written recommendations in 7192 E-2 ATSEP Training Manual. ENAC, through its expertise in three fields (Pilots, ATCO and ATSEP) is one of the main contributors to New Generation Aviation Personnel managed by ICAO.

The Advanced Technician Degree in Aviation (TSA) [67] is taught in French and opens up a number of professional fields in civil aviation with the Dirección General de Aeronáutica Civil (DGAC) or even the Bureau of Investigations and Analyses for Civil Aviation Security, reporting to the Ministry of Transport.

ENAC also offers Handling Agent and Flight Dispatcher [68] studies to prepare graduates to take charge of flight preparations and planning, support to freight, passenger management, ground handling, and planning crew. This includes calculating fuel requirements, maximum takeoff weight, and study of flight performance, choice of route, and load and balance. ENAC offers training via apprenticeship and the course is taught in French.

The research programme [69] at ENAC is vast, and includes more than 80 partnerships [70] with industry as well as research collaboration with other academic institutions, the French Civil Aviation Authority (DGAC), and 20 nations throughout Europe, Asia, North America, and Australia. The overarching goal of research at ENAC, is to address the scientific and technical challenges at the heart of the new generation of Air Transport Systems. All research efforts are supported by a combination of experimental, simulation, and training platforms.

If you would like to further your graduate studies in aviation or aeronautics, speak to us about applying for a course at one of our featured schools and we’ll do our best to provide some helpful advice. ACS also provides aviation and flying scholarships for many of the best aviation schools in France and all around the world. Find out more on our Aviation Scholarships and Student Grants page.

Summary and thoughts about the future of aviation studies

As the population continues to grow at a rapid pace, increasing numbers of people are choosing to travel by air. But the future of aviation is far more complex than simply supplying more aircraft and building bigger airports to accommodate this year-on-year growth.

Governments, organizations, and individuals are demanding that the aviation industry deliver air travel that is cleaner, quicker, more accessible and connected, increasingly customer-centric, safer, and far cheaper.

Add to this the increase in global conflicts that are driving demand for military aviation and defense items, and you have an industry that even as it changes at a rapid rate, is scrambling to keep up with the latest technologies and geopolitical shifts.

For example, just a few years ago centering a Master of Science degree on ‘embedded lighting systems’ was unheard of. Today, not only is this specialization offered to students of aeronautics, but Lufthansa has invested 500 million euros [71] in customizing and digitizing the flight experience for its customers.

The implication for students contemplating a future in aviation is that there have never been more opportunities for employment and career growth than there are today. And training – whether in aviation, aeronautics or aerospace – has never offered so many choices for specialization.

France has a rich and proud history not only in aviation but in aviation education. The popularity of the international aviation and exchange courses offered by the schools featured in this report is testimony not only to the strength of French aviation schools, but to the global nature of the industry. This is the result of shifting borders and boundaries,[72] as well as an increasing collaboration in the aviation sector between governments, regions, companies, organizations, and educational institutions. It is only by putting heads together that the challenges facing the sector today can be met in the future, and it is the industry’s professionals who will reap the honors and the rewards.

A quick word to the universities featured

Are you a representative of one of the schools featured in this study? If you’d like to provide us with more up-to-date information or get in touch for any other reason, feel free to reach out on our contact page, or call us on +33 (0)1 40 09 42 05.



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