Bachelor for Airline Pilot

Hello everyone, my name is Stavros and I’m only 17 years old. I’m looking to eventually become an airline pilot, and I’m a little confused: Since I’m only 17, I will start with a bachelor and then go to ATP for all certifications (at least that is my plan). My questions are:

  1. Do I need to pursue a bachelor’s degree in aviation or any other bachelor would satisfy the BS requirement for the big airlines? (I’m torn because I’m an athlete and I have full scholarship to colleges that do not offer an aviation degree, here in the state of NJ but I have also been accepted to colleges out of state that do offer an aviation bachelor but no athletic scholarship. So what should I do? Should I choose a college with an aviation degree, or it doesn’t really matter as long it is a bachelor?)
  2. Should I finish the bachelor and then go to ATP or should I start for example when I’m on my junior year?
    Any recommendation / information would be highly appreciated as I’m starting now and I’m really confused. I do not want to end up wasting 4 years in college for a bachelor that will not count towards my goal to become a captain at a major airline.
    Thank you

Hi Stavros,

I’m not a pilot/mentor, however, I do know that it doesn’t matter what degree you obtain your Bachelor’s in. I also have seen multiple mentors/pilots on here state the following; “you’re going to need a Bachelor’s to get to the majors/legacy anyway so just as well get it out of the way sooner rather than later.”

Also, I just spoke with ATP last week and they said that technically you don’t need a Bachelor’s degree to get into the regional airlines so you could almost start ATP now and finish, get to a regional, and complete your Bachelor’s while working at the regionals, however, ATP requires either experience or a Bachelor’s Feel free to correct me mentors/pilots :).


You definitely want and should have a BA degree but it can be in any field of study you like. The airlines neither require or even desire aviation degrees and yes you should complete your degree first.


Thank you for the feedback!
That really helped to make a decision!

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I’d go to the college that interests you and can be done on a budget. The athletic scholarship is a great way to go. That way you get your degree but don’t deplete your flight training fund too much. Major in anything that interests you and can be used as a backup in case of future furloughs or losing your medical, etc. Pretty much anything except an aviation degree is preferred.

Once you graduate, then pursue full time flight training.


Thank you for confirming that the required bachelor doesn’t have to be aviation, that really helped my reach a decision and not go bankrupt trying to get an aviation degree out of state!

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