How does a 4-year degree play into airline eligibility?

I know this question has been asked a few times, and I’ve read through most of those threads, but a lot of them were posted 5+ years ago, and with talk of this pilot shortage I thought I’d put the question out there again;
How does having (or not having) a 4-year degree play into airline eligibility? I’ve heard from non-professionals that you could get into an airline at 1000 hours, but after some research, it looks like that route (restricted-ATP certificate?) is specific to airline-oriented degrees.
I, for one, have a degree in history. (Until a few months ago, I was on a completely different career trajectory.) Now I’m enrolled in the ACPP here in Atlanta and was wondering where this puts me as an aspiring pilot. I’m not looking for shortcuts necessarily, i just want to be able to use the resources I already have. Should I still shoot for the regionals and then hope to flow through to a major? Or could I theoretically apply (with any reasonable hope) to a major airline in a few years when I have my hours?
Thanks, everyone.


Despite the pilot shortage, a 4yr degree remains a “preferred” or “competitive” minimum for all the Legacy carriers. This will not however allow you to bypass the Regionals. What is possible is to participate in ATPs Direct Entry to Spirit or Frontier. This is unprecedented in the industry.



The legacy majors, Delta, United, etc, still highly prefer degrees, regardless of what their stated requirements are. That being said, the field of study really does not matter at all. I would venture a guess that most pilots have degrees in something other than aviation.

It is possible to get to one of the national majors upon completing the 1,500 hours, this is Spirit and Frontier with ATP’s direct program. The legacy majors will still take some time and working your way up through a regional or another carrier.


I wouldn’t worry about this right now. So much can change by the time you have your 1500 hours and have decisions to make. Having that college degree sets you up well so far.

Right now, just focus on setting yourself up for success starting the program. Then focus on each rating at a time. Once you graduate from the program successfully and start instructing then you can start thinking more seriously about the next step and potentially applying to cadet and pathway programs to figure out where you would like to go in the future.