Real Answers from Real Pilots

Having a college degree, options

Hello ! I’ve herd a lot that major airlines do not hire people with no degrees in USA apparently, I would like to know if there is any other way to get in majors, just like flying in regional airlines some more hrs or something like that without having a degree ???

I would suggest applying for a regional with a flow program. However based off my research the flow programs are nice but can take a long time.

What I plan on doing is hopefully apply for a regional with a flow program, while flying I plan on obtaining a bachelors degree online, that would take around 3-4 years, then when the timing is right I’m going to apply for a major.

Hopefully that make sense… I’m pretty sure the other pilots will break it down better.


It’s true the majority of the Majors want a degree and those that require it will not except “extra hours” as a substitute (if it were EVERYONE would just do that). The flow-thrus can help but they’re not locked in stone either. There are a few Majors (Atlas, Hawaiian) that will higher without a degree. While those may not be your first choice you have to understand you’re looking for a “loophole” so YOU’RE the one who needs to compromise.

My best advice is to try and work on that degree at some point. Many pilots do it part-time and online and are quite successful. Trying to sneak by with the bare minimums or on a loophole is really never a solid game plan.



Generally speaking the majors all require a four year degree, even if they do not specifically state so. The only way that I am currently aware of to get hired by a major without a degree is to first get hired by a regional that has a flow through program to a major, like Piedmont, PSA and Envoy.

I would personally plan on getting a degree if tou would like to work for the majors. You can do this online while flying for the regionals. I think you will be very glad that you did someday.


Thanks. I will try to get a degree then, what worries me is how I’m goinna be able to pay a degree while I owe 63 grands by the academy hahah… any way, does big airlines in south America require the same ? … just asking


There are financing options available for education, you might look into those. You could also try to pay for the classes outright while you are working.

I am not familiar with the hiring requirements of the various South American airlines, I would suggest checking with them directly.


As someone currently halfway through college planning on attending ATP the moment I graduate, there is also a factor that nobody seems to discuss much.

Keep in mind that you have one life to live on this Earth, and while being a commercial pilot is a great way to live that life, you need to remember that this will become your career and take up the majority of your life. I don’t think higher education should be sacrificed to make that happen marginally faster (although there is something to be said about relative expediency given the current state of the industry). Regardless of the curriculum or major, it makes you a smarter and more well rounded person. While you may be flying during the day, you will eventually come home and have to deal with home life, and college provides you with knowledge to make educated decisions and gives you social skills to help navigate these complexities. I’m only a junior and it is so obvious to me how much smarter and more logical I have become in just the short amount of time I’ve been here. And the time flies by, and while I don’t want to graduate and leave all the fun that college entails behind, I know that I have ATP to look forward to and motivate me to do well until I get there. Just something to think about.

Well said Evan,

However I don’t believe college can make anyone “smarter”, more educated and knowledgeable perhaps but there are plenty of smart people out there who’ve never set foot in a University. That said I agree there is life beyond your career and higher education and learning is never a bad thing.


1 Like

So from what I am gathering, any degree, regardless of major will be viewed as advantageous to getting on with the Major companies? Correct? I have 2 degrees, a bachelors and a doctorate, so I would assume that would suffice?


Pretty much any four year degree will meet the requirements for the majors. With your education you should be more than qualified.