Getting a degree between ATP and Majors

First of all, I want to thank the pilots here who are taking the time to help us rookies out in getting to where you are someday. As with others, the aviation bug has bit me hard and I’m ready to take the plunge (or the takeoff, as it were).

I’m almost 38 now and of course my goal is to get to the majors. I’m a few credits away from an Associates Degree (though not currently enrolled) and I know that the majors will look for a degree on resumes. I’ll be starting ATP’s training program soon, so my question is: is getting a 2 or 4-year degree while flying for the regionals “doable”? Are job schedules going to be amenable to someone also going to school?

As motivated as I am, I need to make sure I’m not setting myself up for an impossible scenario and would like to see how many pilots do go this route successfully, and how. Thanks much.

edit: a word.

Hi Steve,

Yes it is definitely doable. I know MANY pilots who earned their degrees while at the Regionals, most online. In the beginning while your schedule is rather random you’ll still have plenty of down time on reserve or in hotels on overnights. I’m not going to say it’s easy and definitely requires discipline (when that cute flight attendant says lets grab a beer it’s hard to say no) but there’s no question it can be done.


All right thanks for the reply. I guess that means that traditional campus-style education is out of the question? I’ve not totally decided on a specific degree but I imagine many of them require campus attendance.


Campus would be tough, at least at the beginning until you get your schedule locked in. I’d really do some research, again I know a ton of pilots getting all kinds of degrees from many top schools all doing it online.


Ok Adam thank you.


I want to add that you will need a four year degree for the majors.

I would suggest looking into an online school like Embry Riddle Wordwide or Utah Valley University. I can’t see any way possible that you could physically attend a college while holding down an airline job. That being said, it is very feasible to get an online degree while working for the airlines.


All right Chris.

I’ll have to figure out what to do about my remaining credits for my AA which is very close, and would only require one semester of classes to complete. Hopefully I can crank that out and then expand my options for a BA if the credits are transferable to an online college.

Where are you getting the associates degree from? Are there colleges in that state that will accept those credits and offer online classes? I attended a traditional brick and mortar school, but they also offered a full compliment of online classes.

Hello Chris, Adam and Yarden.

I also have a question regarding education. I currently have a BS in Economics, but if I am reading this correctly in order to obtain the R-ATP 1,000 minimum you need a Bachelors in aviation (60 min. semester units in aviation).

Is it possible I could transfer my general education units earned from my prior years of schooling as well as ratings earned while attending ATP as credit towards a BS in aviation while I flight instruct at ATP? This is most likely a better question for a school counselor, but I thought I would ask anyways. Thank you very much for the help.


Hey Emmett,

I agree you’d really have to talk to a counselor at the particular school you’re interested in. That said a few things to keep in mind. First the BA in Aviation must be from one of the FAA listed accredited schools and second (and most important) the FAA has some nifty fine print in the R-ATP requirements which basically says the majority of your flight training MUST be completed as PART of that degree program and as part of a Part 141 program (which ATP is not). I recommend you read the FAA’s Advisory Circular for all the details.


It’s from a local community college but I’ll have to check and see how many of the courses they offer are online, specifically the ones I have left to complete.


I meant the four year college that you are looking at. You might be running into a situation where a college is only going to accept so many credits from other schools and then issue you a degree with your name on it. I would really give Utah Valley University a look and see how many credits they will let you transfer in.


Chris or Adam,

Do you think as an instructor for ATP you are able to become a full time online student? I was wondering if I would be able to get ahead of the curve by starting a little earlier and using what remains of my GI Bill? I don’t know if the instructor schedule is hectic or if you have a little bit of control over it?



I think it would be very difficult to be a full time, online student while instructing. Being a CFI is very much a full time job, I don’t think that you would have the time left to be able to really focus on your studies. I would say wait until you are at the regionals, you will have more time then.


I’m with Chris. While you might be able to do a few classes and get a jump a full class load would be near impossible. Keep in mind you really don’t need the degree till you’re ready for a Major and you’ll def have more than enough time at a Regional to get it done.