Jonathan Blythe got an MS from Illinois completely online while working full time


Debra Levey Larson

Jonathan Blythe
Jonathan Blythe hiking at Sleeping Giant State Park in Hamden, Connecticut. Photo: Matt Kinkead

Jonathan Blythe earned a B.S. in aerospace engineering from Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Massachusetts in 2016. He just completed an M.S. at Illinois - completely online -  while working full time as a Senior Project Engineer at Collins Aerospace, where he works on Environmental Control and Life Support Systems for manned spaceflight missions. 

Read more about his decision to get an M.S. and his experience at Illinois.  

Why did you want to pursue an M.S.?

I have always wanted a graduate degree. No matter how much schooling or real-world experience you get, there is always more to learn. Pursuing an M.S. allowed me to continue my higher education while building my skills in the industry.

What made you choose Illinois?

When researching schools, I needed an aerospace engineering program that I could pursue online while working full time. The aerospace graduate program at Illinois was highly rated, and the online structure allowed me to take the same classes as on-campus students.  Looking into the faculty and research happening at Illinois showed the global presence of the university in the aerospace community. I knew that joining the Department of Aerospace Engineering as a grad student would give me the opportunity to learn from many subject matter experts. The number of alumni who went on to become astronauts was a big selling point as well.   

What were some of your apprehensions about doing a degree online?

At first, I was concerned that I would not get as much out of the program because I was not on campus. My first semester showed me that was certainly not the case. The professors and faculty have always been accommodating and understand the constraints of working professionals. Online students certainly are not forgotten.

How was your experience?

I started my program in the spring semester of 2018. In total, it took me 3.5 years to complete while working full time. To balance my career and schoolwork, I took one course at a time with the occasional summer course as they were available. The flexibility of the recorded classes allowed me to watch the material on my own time preventing any conflicts with my career. There certainly were busy days with hours of study time after getting off work but the end result is the ultimate payoff and shows that all of that time was well spent.

What has getting your M.S. done for your career?

Working towards an M.S. has shown that I still have an eagerness to learn and better myself which has opened doors for me in my current position. Although I have reached the end of my M.S. program, I do hope to eventually pursue a Ph.D. in aerospace engineering, opening many more doors in the future.

Learn more about how you get an MS in aerospace engineering at Illinois.