Bachelor of Science in Aviation

Alumni Success

The Department of Aviation at San Diego Christian (SDC) features emphases in missionary, military, commercial, unmanned aerial systems (UAS) and aviation management.

Why Choose Aviation at SDC?

Through seamless integration of faith, academics and flight training, you will be given the opportunity to complete your certificates and ratings in an accelerated program that will allow you the opportunity to begin your professional aviation career while finishing your degree requirements.

SDC has several airline pipeline and cadet agreements that guarantee jobs to qualified applicants. Currently SDC has agreements to supply pilots to Piedmont Airlines, American Airline’s “Envoy” and ExpressJet Airlines. We are part of a small group of colleges pioneering a new agreement with Alaska and Horizon Airlines, along with putting final touches on agreements with Ameriflight/Allegiant, and SkyWest.

SDC combines on-campus classes, intensive classes, and online education in a multi-modal approach to best meet the needs of our students. Any flight training completed prior to your enrollment at SDC (such as military training or FAA certificates) will be applied to the maximum extent to give you the most credit possible for your previous professional work and academic experience.

Flying is both fun and challenging. Strong work ethic, integrity, and professionalism are key ingredients to becoming a successful aviator. Through personal interaction in the classroom and in the air, our faculty and instructors will help you maximize the gifts and talents the Lord has given you.

marselus“We are committed to excellence and producing professional aviators who are leaders in the industry whether they are going into missionary, military, or commercial manned or unmanned aviation. Our graduates are known for their high level of competence and standards in an aviation program that requires dedication and determination.”

Dr. John Marselus, Director of the Department of Aviation

Learn more about Dr. John Marselus

Flight Team

Aviation students will have the opportunity to sharpen their flying skills by participating in the NIFA Hawks Flight Team. SDC is a member of The National Intercollegiate Flying Association (NIFA) and our pilots have taken part in both regional and national SAFECON competitions, winning the Red Baron Team Sportsmanship Award at the national competition last year.

For more information and frequently asked questions, please click here.

Hawks Flight Team Page

Hawks Flight Team Facebook Page



Course Requirements for Aviation Majors

The Bachelor of Science in Aviation will require a minimum of 124 credit hours:

  • 62 – General Education credit hours
  • 47 -Credit hours in the Aviation Program
  • 15 -General Elective credit hours

For a complete view of courses and descriptions, please click here.

Required Program Specific Courses & Credits

Courses for Aviation Majors

AVT 101 Introduction to Aviation 3
AVT 115 Primary Ground Instruction – PPL 5
AVT 117A Primary Flight I – PPL 1
AVT 117B Primary Flight – II PPL 1
AVT 121 History of Aviation 3
AVT 201 Introduction to Missionary Aviation 3
AVT 204 Aviation Weather 3
AVT 215 Instrument Ground Instruction – IR 3
AVT 217A Instrument Flight I – IR 1
AVT 217B Instrument Flight II – IR 1
AVT 220 Aircraft Systems and Performance 3
AVT 221 Aviation Safety 3
AVT 222 Advanced Flight Planning (may repeat 3 times) 1
AVT 223 Cross Country Flight I – IR/CPL 1
AVT 235 Fundamentals of Unmanned Aircraft Systems 3
AVT 315 Commercial Ground Instruction – CPL 3
AVT 317A Commercial Flight Maneuvers I – CPL 1
AVT 317B Commercial Flight Complex Single-Engine II – CPL/SE 1
AVT 317C Commercial Flight Complex Multi-Engine III – CPL/ME 3
AVT 320 Airplane Aerodynamics 3
AVT 321 Aviation Flight Physiology 3
AVT 323 Cross-Country Flight II – CPL 3
AVT 335 Small Unmanned Aerial Systems Operations 3
AVT 405 Aviation Law 3
AVT 410 Advanced Flight Instruction (advanced flight ratings 1-5
AVT 411 Flight Instructor – Instrument Flight – CFII 3
AVT 412 Flight Instructor – Multi-Engine Flight – MEI 3
AVT 415 Flight Instructor – Airplane Ground Instruction 5
AVT 417 Flight Instructor – Airplane Flight – CFI 3
AVT 418 Gas Turbine Engines Theory 3
AVT 419 Multi-Engine Rating* 3
AVT 420 Advanced Aircraft Systems Turbine Theory 3
AVT 422 Advanced Aerodynamics 3
AVT 423 Multi-Engine Flight – Time Building 1
AVT 450  CRM/Professional Pilot 3
AVT 471, 472 Directed Study 1-6
AVT 481-492 Directed Research 1-12
AVT 492 Aircraft Dispatcher 5
AVT 499 Aviation Internship* 3


Acronym Identification:
  • FAA Private Pilot License – PPL
  • FAA Instrument Rating – IR
  • FAA Commercial Pilot License – CPL
  • FAA Multi-Engine Rating – ME
  • FAA Certificated Flight Instructor Rating – CFI

* Optional courses or electives

Required General Education Courses

  • Christian Worldview – 18 credits
  • Critical Thinking, Scientific & Quantitative Reasoning – 11 credits
  • Global Awareness & Appreciation for Diversity – 15 credits
  • Communication and Collaboration – 12 credits
  • Habits of Mind, Body & Heart – 6/7 credits

Additional Missionary Pilot track requirements

  • BI 214 Romans: 3 credits
  • BI ELT Bible Elective: 3 credits
  • ICS 101 Intro to the World Christian Movement: 3 credits
  • ICS 305 Intercultural Communication: 3 credits

Colonel John E. Marselus was born and raised in Princeton, Illinois, and the son of Robert and Lucille Marselus who both served in World War II. Colonel Marselus began service to his country graduating with military honors from the United States Air Force Academy in 1985.  He is a command fighter pilot with over 1200 hours in the A-10 and 1800 hours in the F-15E flying combat missions in both fighter aircraft.  He has received multiple awards for both flying and academics including the John C. Fey Award at the United States Air Force Academy, Distinguished Graduate at Squadron Officers School and the Canadian Forces College, Distinguished Flying Cross for heroism, Red River Valley Fighter Pilots Association Award for the outstanding strategy paper on “Joint Employment of Air Power in Support of National Military Strategy,” and the Anthony C. Shine Fighter Pilot Award for the entire USAF.

Read more about Dr. John Marselus.

Over 95% of students at SDC receive financial assistance from a variety of sources.

An education at San Diego Christian is worth the investment. At our institution, students are not only investing in an excellent education, but also in their spiritual formation, leadership training and opportunities to make an impact in our local and global community for the kingdom of God. Our 15:1 student-to-faculty ratio allows our professors to give their students personal attention both academically and spiritually, and our students are a part of a thriving community of believers who are committed to servant leadership and growth.

That is why we believe SDC is worth your investment and our own. Through our comprehensive financial aid program, we are committed to offering an affordable, Christian liberal arts education to every student no matter their financial situation. We are here to assist you in making an informed decision as you plan a financing strategy for your college education.

For a listing of tuition and costs, financial aid options and resources for funding your education, click here

Hiring prospects for pilots is excellent in commercial, corporate, military, and missionary aviation in both manned and unmanned arenas. The projected need for commercial pilots rises each year until the year 2025, and then levels off, but does not drop. Many tens of thousands of pilots will be needed to fill the demand of retiring airline pilots alone. Pay and compensation is linked to supply and demand. When pilots are in short supply, the aviation companies must raise pay and benefits to attract bright, dedicated young men and women into the industry, which is starting to happen now. Military and missionary aviation are also feeling the strain on finding pilots which is leading to many more opportunities. The growth of unmanned aerial systems continues also with this innovative and tremendous change in traditional aviation.

SDC has several airline pipeline  and cadet agreements that guarantee jobs to qualified applicants. Currently SDC has agreements to supply pilots to Piedmont Airline, American Airline’s “Envoy” and ExpressJet airlines. We are part of a small group of colleges pioneering a new agreement with Alaska and Horizon Airlines, along with putting final touches on agreements with Ameriflight/Allegiant, and SkyWest.

SDC has a letter of agreement (LOA) with the FAA authorizing our graduates with 60 approved aviation units to apply for their Restricted Airline Transport Pilot (ATP-R) certificate with only 1000 flight hours rather than 1500 flight hours for non-aviation university graduates. In a “seniority-based” industry, seniority numbers define the quality of life for airline pilots. Therefore getting on the seniority list is one of the most important things you can do once you identify the company you want to work for. Being eligible for employment with the airline at 1000 flight hours instead of 1500 hours generally means you would be on their seniority list 2-3 years earlier.

SDC has multiple Unmanned Aerial System courses ranging from a Fundamentals of UAS to Small UAS Operations and Medium UAS operations where students get hands on industry training on simulators and UAS aircraft donated to SDC. Training is given in multiple “command and control” systems compatible with products from a range of UAS industry partners preparing you directly for jobs in the industry. Several SDC graduates are flying for UAS companies already. The key is excellent pilot skills and training gleaned from first training the aviator in manned aircraft through their instrument rating and then crossing over to a professional UAS operator. The pay and benefits of this career path can be quite impressive.

While at SDC, there are several extracurricular opportunities for students to further develop their professional aviation resume and experience. SDC Hawks Flight Team competes in NIFA events as part of the Pacific Coast Intercollegiate Flying Association. We compete in Region II. SDC Flight Team has its own airplane – a 1965 Cessna 150 – N3096J, affectionately called “Juliet.”. Regional competitions are held in the fall and the top 3 teams in each region receive a bid to the national championships in May. In addition, SDC now has an active chapter of the professional coed aviation fraternity Alpha Eta Rho, an international network of students pursuing careers in aviation. Alpha Eta Rho Sigma Delta Chi is student lead focusing on professional development, servant leadership, brother and sisterhood, and faith.

Program Outcomes:

Upon Completion of the Aviation Program students will:

Apply biblical principles within the professional aviation environment.

Effectively communicate throughout the scope of the aviation career field.

Students will explore the range of career options in aviation and identify their personal goal (s) as professional pilots in Missionary Pilot, Military Pilot, Commercial Pilot and Unmanned Aircraft Systems Operator. Demonstrate skills in organizational management, interpersonal relationships and leadership.

Have the aeronautical knowledge, flight proficiency and experience necessary to meet the completion standards for the following FAA Certifications:


  1. Private Pilot
  2. Instrument Rating
  3. Commercial Pilot (Both single engine and multi-engine)
  4. Certified Flight Instructor (CFI) 
  5. Multi-engine Instructor (MEI)
  6. Instrument Instructor
  7. New Part 107 Unmanned Aerial System Requirements

SDC Pictures-Flight Team 2 _2000

“SDC is the place where my dreams started to come true. I deeply wanted to be a pilot and at SDC I received the training I needed, and now I’m flying! To major in aviation, you have to be dedicated and diligent. It takes work and sometimes it’s stressful, but it’s always fun. SDC has the best flight instructors and ground courses. You won’t find a better aviation education.” – Josh