A Degree in Flying

Hello pilots.

I am now a senior in high school and I am going to attend Auburn University for a professional flight degree. I have a few friends who are older than me who say it is a great program. Because of Auburn University’s recent partnership with Delta (Propel Program), I feel like I have a great opportunity especially because I’m an Alabama resident. I have a few questions however.

  1. Are there any other jobs you can get with a professional flight degree such as atc or airport management? (As a backup plan)

  2. Do airlines show preference to people with a degree specifically in flying. This is because if you have a degree, it seems that you will be taught a lot of aspects of flying as well as the industry itself such as airport operations, physics, aviation law, aviation management.

  3. Is it better to get a degree in something else and do accelerated flight training?

Sorry about the longer message. Thanks for the help!



I am not a fan of aviation degrees, for several reasons. To begin with, they do not allow for any sort of backup plan should the whole flying thing not work out (for whatever reasons). It is a very limited education and is simply not something that is necessary to have. I much prefer to see somebody get a degree in something else that interests them, say Business Administration, and have that as a backup plan. Furthermore, a professional flight degree is very limiting and will not directly help you work in airport management or ATC (that is a whole education unto itself).

Airlines show absolutely no preference for somebody having a professional flight degree. None. I would say that the vast majority of pilots that I have flown with have degrees in areas other than aviation.

Your last question is up to you to decide. I can tell you that I got a business admin degree and then did accelerated flight training. It worked out well for me.

Also, keep in mind that while airlines do hire within these programs like Delta’s, they also hire plenty of pilots from outside of it. So are so early into the beginning stages of your career, that is doesn’t make sense to commit yourself just to one major airline. Ten years ago Continental and US Airways were still viable airlines, not anymore.


Hello Chris. Thanks for your advice. How long did your accelerated flight training take? Did you get the 500 hour discount? Also, how did you handle the work load of accelerated flight training? Did it cost a lot more than what you would spend at a University?

Thanks and sorry about all the questions.



Just to jump in.

ATPs program takes 9mos.

The only way to get the required hours reduced is through an aviation degree program like Auburn’s where the flying is part of the degree.

I don’t know Auburn’s current “lab” (flying fees) but in most cases university programs are more expensive.

Let me just add I know a few pilots who have gone through Auburn’s program. While expensive all were happy with the training. My biggest issues are first like Chris said, there’s not much you can do with an Aviation degree. Second, it’s definitely not the fastest or most economical route to the airlines.


If you want a back up plan in aviation specifically, look into a degree in aeronautical or mechanical engineering. It is a hot job market and if all else fails, it is a good backup option. Airport management at a mid- to large airports requires a degree in aviation/airport management. As an airport manager you are a facility manager first and foremost and have to concentrate on business management, capital improvements, infrastructure planning and maintenance, etc. While smaller airport sponsors (city/county governments) tend to hire pilots to manage them, there’s absolutely no rhyme or reason for that