Online College While At Regional Airline?

I was wondering if it’s possible to work for a Bachelor’s Degree online while at a Regional Airline. My plan is to do the American Airlines Cadet Academy after high school, go through the program and then do online college courses while at the Regional Airline and get my degree to fly for American Airlines. Is this a substantial plan? I would very much appreciate feedback. Thanks


Yes it’s possible. What I would suggest however is you give that route some serious thought. Most young people right out of HS don’t have the discipline or life experience required to be successful in these kinds of programs. That’s the reason ATP requires either 2yrs of college or your Private Pilots license. Further if you’ve got 2yrs college under your belt it makes finishing that 4yr that much easier.



Yes, there are many programs available to allow pilots to obtain degrees while working for the regionals.

I have to ask, what is it about the AA cadet program that is causing you to consider going that route?


I really like how the tuition covers all the cost and the transparency they give with how the process works. Also, concerning discipline, I took an AP class so I know how to study efficiently, which will help me get through the program. It’s very streamlined. Also, I will apply for the Cadet Academy and for College at the same time so if I don’t get accepted I can at least go to college as a back up plan. Thanks for the advice, btw.

ATP does as well and as far as transparency goes, may I point out you’re on ATPs website asking ATP mentors questions about AAs program and we’re giving you honest answers. THAT’S transparency my friend. Further as long as you meet the enrollment criteria you will be accepted.

As far as the degree goes AP classes are great but it’s not a full course load.


I see your point. However, the problem I have with ATP is that you need 60 credits of college before you can start. Now I’m gonna be honest and say that I really don’t want to to 2 years of college before I do flight training. I believe that I will have the discipline and study skills after high school to do well in a cadet academy. Also, I don’t want to be rushed to an airline in 9 months because I feel that the learning will be unauthentic if they’re just pushing me to meet the deadline they promise.

Also, another factor is weather. I live in Connecticut and we do have ATP here but it snows for 5 months a year. There’s no way I would meet the deadline. I would have to relocate and then it would be the same price as the AACA. I want to do the AACA because I will be able to knock out all my flight-training in 3 years and I won’t need to go to college beforehand. I would much rather spend and extra 9 months doing flight training if it meant I was learning authentically and not being rushed.

Take this video into consideration:


Totally your decision but just to make sure I understand, you don’t believe the ATP program, that’s been honed over 35yrs and has produced more airline pilots than any flight school in the country (over 600 hired in the last 12mos alone), pioneered airline agreements that got their students hired with reduced minimums (when that was allowed) is not “authentic” because of a video made by a successful ATP grad who complains about his current job (because he has no degree) while posting videos about how great his life is. Is that correct?

For the record ATP isn’t rushing you to get you out. They’re rushing you to prepare you for airline training and the fact is if you can’t complete newhire training your career is over.



I can’t speak directly to the realities of doing online college while working for a regional carrier, but I can shed a little light on the online college experience. I started my bachelors online while in Germany, moved to Colorado, deployed to Afghanistan, went back to Colorado, and then moved to New York. I was a “full time” student the entire time and finished my degree in 4 years.

I will say the online format makes it a lot easier if you have a busy lifestyle because you can fit your schoolwork in around your lifestyle/job. The flip side is that no one is forcing you to make time for school and if you aren’t disciplined, you will get behind very quickly. My program shortened classes to 8 weeks long, so taking 2 at a time counted as full time since you finished 4 classes in the same length of time as a traditional semester. This helps lighten the work load a little bit, but you are still cramming a lot of material into a short amount of time.

The online format worked for me, but I recommend anyone considering online school really take a look at themselves and make an honest judgment as to whether or not you are disciplined enough to dedicate your “free time” to school. The time you have free to dedicate to school is the same time your friends are not at work and will try to get you to go out to eat, party, go fishing, camping, etc, and you have to be able to say no!

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Thanks very much for the advice.

I would point out here that ATP does offer exceptions to the 60 hours of college requirement, one needs to call the Admissions Department to discuss their specific situation.



Glad to have you here!

I would also like to point out another cool path that you could look into. My alma mater, Arizona State University, has a couple campuses, and the Polytechnic campus is at Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport, which is literally across the street from ATP’s big Mesa campus that you see in all their cool ads. ASU has an aviation degree, and while you are getting that aviation degree, your ATP flight training is thrown right in with your ASU tuition and financing, and you’ll graduate in 4 years or less with your airline minimums met. I didn’t do that, rather, I went to ASU’s Tempe main campus and got my bachelor’s in computer science with an aerospace minor and figured I’d do my flight training later. In hindsight, that wasn’t the smartest move for me, and I wish I’d done the ASU/ATP program. I always wanted to fly, and here I am now, a couple years after graduation, getting ready to do my flight training, when I could have just done it all in one big swoop. ASU is actually quite affordable as well, so it’s worth a look.

Here’s some info, if you’re interested:

Hope that helps!




The problem you have isn’t with ATP, and your motivation to get into a major airline is enough to head the advice of the members and mentors of this forum, let alone the requirements of the majors, which require a four, count ‘me, 4 year degree to apply.

I am 34 and just getting started and I am considered the average. Give yourself the time and consider it a blessing. We all strive for the best and we want it now, but do yourself a favor and don’t peak in your 20s.

Regardless of who you use for the flight training, seniority is important as is the degree. If this is your true path, I am of the school the sooner you are on it the better to keep momentum before life gets in the way.

However, you are the only one who knows if it is your path. (Are you an enthusiast or is it just a well paying job?) Also, only you know if you are disciplined enough to do the school on-line. I am in the military and see lots of people who do, but I also see lots of people who don’t. As someone pointed out the ASU type option is viable as well to check both boxes.

The requirement is you be 21 for the Air Transport License which you need for the airlines. As you map this out you may want to make that a planning factor. I would be surprised if the AA Academy has not taken that into consideration, but food for thought.


Not sure I’d say seniority is as important as a degree. They’re both important but in very different ways. Seniority dictates almost every aspect of your pilot career but not having a degree could severely limit your options. The idea is to achieve both if possible.


Exactly my point!

The AACA is three years long so the minimum age to apply is 18 years old.

Eighteen months of training seems ridiculously long to me. It is a long time to not be making money and just seems unnecessary, but to each their own.

Yeah. I guess this program is for 18 year old right out of right school since they don’t require any college credits, while ATP gets your ratings done in half the time but requires at least 2 years of college (for the most part, as you mentioned). So if you graduated from both flight schools at the around same age, then I don’t really see how one is better or worse than the other. Just my opinion.


Clearly you like AAs program. Chris told you may be able to enroll without the 2yrs college and you ignored that. You also disregarded my statements regarding ATPs record of performance vs AAs which has yet to produce a single successful airline pilot as well as many other strengths to the program.

Again the choice is yours, that’s IF they accept you and IF they continue the program in light of what’s going on in the industry. If either doesn’t go your way know that ATP will be here. Just as they’ve been for twice as long as you’ve been alive, doing what they do, training airline pilots.

Peace out.


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Thank you I will take that into consideration.