Parks offers new online degree

This fall Saint Louis University’s Parks College of Engineering and Aviation is offering a new, completely online Master of Science degree program in aviation safety management. The program is the first of its kind in the United States.

The program has been in development for four years but has recently become even more important with the nation’s concern for airline safety. The Federal Aviation Administration now requires airlines to hire aviation safety managers; however, until now, there were no degree programs available at the master’s level.

“Aviation safety has always been a very important part of the aviation industry,” said Gary Northam, chair of Aviation Science. “Now more and more employers are expecting workers to have advanced training in this area.”

While other schools have similar master’s programs, SLU is the first school to focus its attention on the management sector of creating and carrying out a safety program based on the new FAA guidelines.

The 30-hour degree program is designed for those with aviation experience, said Northam, such as aviation professionals who want to move into top safety management positions and to “upgrade their knowledge and skills.”

Keeping the courses online will allow busy professionals across the country to enroll in the program, as opposed to sitting in a classroom.

The course work is designed to focus on seven aviation-safety management issues such as safety data collection and analysis, corporate safety culture, the role of safety director as advisor to senior officials, safety philosophy, risk management, incident/accident issues and human factors.

Northam thinks that the program will help to bring more public interest to SLU and Parks College. “I think any kind of high-profile offering will increase attention to the University,” Northam said. “I think the program will be of very high quality, plus it will be online.”

Northam also said that a number of people have already expressed interest, including alum and those in the local aviation industry. Online applications should be available soon. Those interested will have to meet the requirements for entrance into SLU’s Graduate School, as well as provide transcripts, resumes, recommendations and references.

The degree will take approximately two to three years for part-time students to complete.