Date of Award

January 2021

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Educational Foundations & Research

First Advisor

Robert Stupnisky


Three studies in this dissertation examined the career aspirations of collegiate aviation students: student motivation with respect to career aspirations, military aviation career aspirations, and student perceptions of career pathway programs. Findings from each of these studies are valuable to students pursuing careers in aviation and industry partners seeking to fill pilot positions. Each of these reports highlights the desire of current collegiate aviation students to have a career that supports their values of remaining close and connected to their family and friends. In the first research, aviation graduates report crew base and hourly pay as the most important factors when choosing a regional airline. An analysis of the motivation scales indicated that extrinsic – identified and intrinsic motivation styles were most common of aviation degree students who tend to be highly self-driven towards their career goals. Findings of the second study showed patriotism or a desire to serve their country influences a collegiate student to pursue a career in military aviation. For those students not seeking a career in military aviation, a perception of physical limitation and a lack of career control are contributing factors. Results of the final study showed that students consider career pathway programs to be advantageous in accelerating their career path. The Delta Propel and SkyWest pathway programs are perceived as the most effective programs for career advancement.