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History of University of North Dakota Aviation Department

If you’re interested in a future in the aviation industry, it’s important to get the right education at a worthy institution. The University of North Dakota School of Aerospace has been a mainstay in the midwest’s aviation education segment for decades.  As such, let’s take a look at the history of UND’s aviation program and the outlook of its future, as it could help tip the scales on whether or not you attend.

History of University of North Dakota Aviation Department

History of the John D. Odegard School of Aerospace

Today, the majority of the school’s fleet of over 120 aircraft is based at nearby Grand Forks International Airport and is one of the largest fleet of civilian flight training aircraft in the U.S. But, the program has come a long way since its humble beginnings in the late 1960s. Following the donation of two planes, twelve students led by recent UND graduate John Odegard revitalized the collegiate flying club. The founding chairman and future dean, Odegard was fascinated by the world of aviation, working as a crop duster to pay for his undergraduate degree in accounting. He ultimately logged more than 10,000 hours in the air, flying any small plane he could. It was this passion and experience that led him to make important innovations in pilot training curriculum of the 1970s.  As the newly elected president of the University Aviation Association (UAA), Odegard became widely influential in the standardization of aerospace educational programs across the country. He promoted a form of “ab initio” or “from the beginning” style of teaching, where educators would mold students with no flight experience into competent pilots. 


These teaching techniques were so groundbreaking that by 1982, the School for Aerospace Sciences was established to serve such vastly growing interest for its general aviation programs. The department continued to see success through the 1990s, as Odegard won several prestigious awards for his work, including the FAA’s Excellence in Aviation Education in 1989 and the NATA’s Excellence in Pilot Training Award, further cementing UND’s reputation as a leader in aviation education. Several years later, with the approach of the 30th anniversary, the school added “John D. Ogden” to the title of their school in honor of the man who had founded and put the aviation program on the map.

UND Aviation School Today and Into the Future 

The John D. Odegard School of Aerospace Sciences is now the second-largest of UND’s degree-granting schools, and operates one of the largest fleets of civilian flight training in the U.S. Overall, there are several programs related to aviation, including commercial, unmanned and private options, as well as more general professions like computer and atmospheric sciences. 

What to Expect Attending UND Aviation School


The School of Aerospace is located on the main UND campus, operating out of five buildings, Odegard (the school’s main building), Clifford, Ryan, Streibel and Robin Halls. School campus amenities include an altitude chamber, planetarium, 360-degree simulated air traffic control tower and flight training, and impressive auditoriums.


The University of North Dakota School of Aerospace operates out of Grand Forks International Airport. The designated area contains two ramps and 11 hangars, which hold up to 130 aircraft.


The aviation school has more than 500 faculty and 1,900 students and hands out the second-largest number of UND degrees.


The current dean of the school is Dr. Paul Lindseth.


UND Aerospace, along with the College of Business and Public Administration, offers two aviation degree programs with a total of eight academic majors. Each has its own flight course requirements, which affect the cost of a degree program.

Tuition Cost

In-state tuition at UND is just under $10,000, while out-of-state tuition hovers slightly under $16,000. Remember additional flight costs, which can cost tens of thousands of dollars, as well — find out more information about UND’s School of Aerospace tuition costs.


Are you interested in becoming a pilot?

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If you’re interested in learning more about Inflight training programs, contact us today or call (952) 698-3000.