Four-year aviation degrees on tap

Students at Orange Coast College can now enroll with Southern Illinois University to earn a bachelor's degree in aviation management.

Orange Coast College has partnered up with Southern Illinois University to give aviation students a chance to earn a bachelor’s degree in aviation management.

Aviation students can earn a bachelor’s degree from SIU, a long established and accredited university, on the OCC campus.

“The SIU Aviation Management Extended Campus program began almost 50 years ago as a service to help active duty military build on technical training and earn a bachelor’s degree,” Stanley Harriman, an aviation science instructor at OCC said.

Today, there are six sites across the United States helping students at two year institutions.

Incoming freshmen start by earning one of the OCC aviation science associates degrees and then proceed to enter the SIU aviation management degree program.

“They must have or be close to finishing an AA degree or the equivalent,” Harriman said.

The AVM degree requires two years of community college plus the 16-month program and 120 credit hours.

“Forty-eight of the hours are earned by taking 12 seated courses on the weekends, and four independent study research courses from SIU. The rest of the hours can be earned by taking general education and elective courses at OCC,” Harriman said.

According to Harriman, 48 of the hours are earned by taking 12 courses every other weekend, with few back to back periods over the 16-month program.

“It’s not that hard because our group has gotten very close with each other and we motivate each other, and are also available for one another for assignments and projects,” Ryan Moore, a 24-year-old aviation science major said.

Compared to other colleges, the aviation science program is affordable because the majority is at a community college rate.

“Only 48 hours are at the SIU extended campus tuition/fee rate, which is less than what an on-campus SIU student will pay,” Harriman said. “The SIU tuition rate is an in-state rate and the other 72 hours will be at the OCC tuition/fee rate.”

SIU also offers several scholarships just for aviation students to help with the cost of the program.

The partnership will help reduce the required flight hours for the Restricted Airline Transport Pilot certificate by 500 hours down from the normally required 1,500, allowing students to earn a degree faster.

Aviation students can expect to gain the advanced knowledge to enter entry-level management jobs in aviation.

“My favorite part is being able to apply the knowledge I have been learning from the program to my job,” Moore said. “it is worth it because you start working right away in the aviation industry.”

Prospective students are encouraged to meet with Lori Armstrong, the OCC/SIU onsite adviser.

“Students are encouraged to apply at least two semesters before they are planning to transfer,” Armstrong said.

Once students near completion of an associates degree, they can begin the process of applying for admission for the SIU aviation management degree online at

“Anyone with a technical aviation background, or an aviation associates degree, and a passion for aviation is eligible for the program,” Harriman said.

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