Real Answers from Real Pilots

College degrees

So, I’ve been looking in to ATP for some time but a couple of fears have held me back. One of them is that the major carriers only accept pilots that have a college degree of some kind. Is that true? If so, what about the regionals or corporate charter companies?


The Regionals do not require degrees at all. Some corporate do, others don’t. There are in fact some Majors (Atlas, Hawaiian) who will look at pilots without degrees but you’ll need something else in your favor (military experience for example). You don’t say how old you are, but if you’re young you’d really be passing on some serious earning potential if you stayed at a Regional and might want to consider working on one at some point.



You will have no problem at all getting hired at a regional without a degree. If you want to someday fly for a major airline you should absolutely plan on getting one.

Thank you Adam and Chris,

Out of curiosity, does that apply to airlines that offer flow through options as Well? And if it does, is it feasible to pursue a degree while employed at the regionals?

I’m only 26 so my options are open. I’m just hoping to begin my flight training as early as possible. It’s been a dream of mine since I was very young and I now see that it is, in fact, possible

Thanks again for your time. I love this message board. I’ve gained a ton of extremely valuable knowledge here.


Flow throughs come in many forms, some are guaranteed interviews, others are true flow throughs. For a true flow through (like the American Airlines owned subsidiaries) you will not need a degree. Keep in mind though that flow throughs can change at any moment and there is no guarantee.

You should have plenty of time to work on a degree whilst at the regionals. Many pilots before you have done exactly this.

Thanks for your compliments on the message board :slight_smile:


Hey Keller,

I have two friends that fly for SkyWest. One is working on his degree now
and has been since he started instructing 2 years ago. The other will be
getting started on his degree shortly. Education or "equivalent experience"
is simply one of many hurdles to overcome. Personally, I like to focus on
one thing at a time, but doing both simultaneously can certainly be done.
One day at a time.

I also have a question about having a degree to get hired by the major airlines. I have a Bachelors in Science, but do major airlines require aviation degrees? I am still new in searching for a path to become a commercial pilot, but it seems the options are military, flight school, or aviation degree. Is that so? If I went to a flight school, would I later want to get an aviation degree too?



While most Majors require a degree the field of study is unimportant. It’s more about having a level of education and the ability to focus and complete a goal than what you actually studied. If you have a passion for aviation, want to be as knowledgeable as possible and want to maybe add a degree for yourself but it’s definitely not required.


1 Like