Mount Royal University launches Bachelor of Aviation Management

New degree sets the stage for careers in aviation operations and management
Airplane in flight above cityscape with skyscrapers and urban infrastructure visible.
MRU continues to contribute to growing the aviation industry in Alberta.

A new four-year Bachelor of Aviation Management degree has landed at Mount Royal University. The program blends technical and managerial competencies, equipping students with the skills and knowledge needed for successful careers in the aviation sector ranging from the runway to the boardroom. The Bissett School of Business, which houses MRU’s aviation program, will admit 40 students annually, with applications now open for the first cohort starting Fall 2024.

“Mount Royal is proud to be playing a vital role in advancing the aviation sector and its importance to the future economy of Alberta. This new degree is an important step in that growth,” said Dr. Chad London, PhD, provost and vice-president academic at MRU.

The Bachelor of Aviation Management is the first degree of its kind in Alberta, providing a comprehensive education that prepares graduates for roles in operations and management within airlines, airports and other aviation-related businesses. With two unique concentration pathways, Flight Crew Operations and Aviation Operations, students are able to narrow in on the area that interests them most. While flight training may be part of the degree depending on which concentration a student selects, a private pilots license is not required prior to applying.

“There is a pilot shortage worldwide, so there is an enormous demand for education in this sector. We have also received feedback from industry that says there is a need for people with a business background along with an understanding of aviation to work in many other leadership roles,” said Dr. Kelly Williams-Whitt, PhD, dean of the Faculty of Business and Communication Studies.

Flightways to success

Through the Flight Crew Operations pathway, students have the option to pursue a Commercial Pilot License and Multi-Engine Instrument Rating. This comprehensive training prepares them for a professional pilot career while also positioning them strategically for management roles as their aviation journey progresses.

The Aviation Operations pathway focuses on honing management skills and provides specialized knowledge in aviation business content. From addressing global operational challenges to delving into economic and environmental sustainability, financial operations, logistics, and best practices for managing people and processes in the aviation industry, this pathway ensures graduates are well-prepared for leadership roles.

A MRU airplane in flight.
In March 2023, the Alberta government committed more than $11 million to support the province’s aviation industry, which included funding for Mount Royal’s Aviation Diploma.

Built on a strong base of experiential learning, the Bachelor of Aviation Management is designed to facilitate a seamless transition from degree to employment. The University's airline partnership program provides students with direct access to mentorship and interview opportunities while the Co-operative Education option allows students to complete up to three 450-hour paid work terms.

“The degree builds on the aviation alumni and industry network that already exists with the diploma and MRU’s great reputation in aviation for more than 50 years. There are numerous partnerships, both formal and informal, that can lead to jobs,” said Deanna Weibe, academic director and chief flight instructor of the aviation program at Mount Royal.

Alumni excited about opportunities for students

That job-readiness is evidenced by the many MRU aviation alumni who are now pilots or work in flight operations.

“Enrolling in the aviation program at Mount Royal University was a transformative experience that equipped me with the skills and knowledge needed to be successful,” said Travis Burrows, who graduated from the program in 2009, and is chief pilot for WestJet Encore. “One of the standout aspects of the program is the high calibre of professional standards that set a benchmark for the rest of my career. Mount Royal’s state-of-the-art facilities and experienced instructors facilitated a learning environment that mirrored the demands of the real-world aviation industry and helped me and my classmates transition into the industry successfully.”

On the operations side, Murray Strom, senior vice-president for flight operations and maintenance for Air Canada and a program alumnus (1984) encourages prospective students to look seriously at the new degree.

A MRU airplane in flight.
Mount Royal University continues to shape the future of aviation education in Alberta and beyond.

“Aviation is both an exciting and dynamic profession; this program will allow individuals who want to advance in the growing area of aviation both on the business side and flight operations areas. It will give individuals the tools they need to advance and succeed In the industry.”

Diploma alumna (2023) Maya Hand said the MRU Aviation Diploma gave her the skills and knowledge she needed to soar to her current position as a pilot with Sunwing Airlines.

“The program gave me insight into the industry that would have been difficult to find elsewhere. There was also a sense of camaraderie with my classmates. The program was well developed to prepare me for the airline industry,” Hand said.

“For students who are wanting a more comprehensive program in aviation, the four-year degree is a good option with broader employment opportunities and increased insight into the management aspect of aviation.”

Program has long history

Aviation at Mount Royal has a long and proud history. The University's main campus sits on the former site of the No. 3 Service Flying Training School, which saw thousands of aviators train for duty during the Second World War under the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan.

A group of Royal Canadian Air Force veterans assembled in 1972 at the then-college to teach the first cohort of students and help address a national shortage of commercial pilots.

Wide-open spaces, proximity to the mountains and ample good weather makes the Calgary area an excellent destination for flight training. In 2022, the Springbank Airport (CYBW) was ranked ninth-busiest in Canada by aircraft movements, giving students an advanced education in complex airport environments.

MRU airplanes parked on a wet runway.
A new four-year Bachelor of Aviation Management degree at Mount Royal will equip students with the skills and knowledge needed for successful careers in aviation.

Around 10 per cent of active commercial pilots are female and even fewer come from Indigenous backgrounds. In collaboration with organizations such as Canadian North and Elevate Aviation, MRU is actively working to change that.

In March 2023, the Alberta government committed more than $11 million to support the province’s aviation industry, which included funding for Mount Royal’s Aviation Diploma. That funding includes $6 million over three years to help Mount Royal establish a Bachelor of Aviation Management. Another $4.5 million will go to a new aviation student bursary, and $500,000 to an aviation centre of excellence. That was followed by a $3 million investment by PrairiesCan in October 2023 that will help equip a new hangar and learning facility at the University’s Springbank campus, including new virtual reality technology and flight simulators.

With a commitment to excellence, Mount Royal University continues to shape the future of aviation education in Alberta and beyond.

Learn more about the Bachelor of Aviation Management at MRU.