Tough choice, Embry Riddle or ATP

Hey so I got a question. Right now I am planning on attending Embry Riddle come this fall to start my track for the airlines. With that though I will be $250k in debt. So I am wondering if I went to a cheaper in state college and then did the rest of my ratings with ATP at the same time for the airlines to not be in so much debt. I have my PPL already and I just need an honest answer comparing the two from an airline stand point. Could I attend college and then fly with ATP at the same time? Just the thought of $250k in debt scares me

Hello Peter,

I would not recommend attending college while going to ATP. ATP is a highly accelerated program and there will be very little time for studies outside of your training. What you need to ask yourself is how fast you want to get to the airlines?

If you attended a community college for two years and got your associates and attended ATP, by the end of 4 years you would be walking into your first job at a Regional to begin building turbine time. During that time you can start finishing your degree while being paid as an airline pilot. Since you already have your PPL you can start towards your degree after finishing your training at ATP and start building seniority and turbine-PIC sooner.

With Embry Riddle you’ll finish your degree in 4 years, but will you be at your ATP minimums of 1500? Yes you’ll have a 4 year degree which is a requirement for the Major airlines, but you may have to fly a bit longer just to meet the 1500 hour minimums.

Either direction you’ll have debt, but at least with ATP you’ll already start building that valuable turbine time and seniority in the Regionals. Hope this helps.

Edit: Just to add some personal insight I started my aviation training in 2014 through Liberty University. It is now 2019, and I’m just now making the jump to ATP. If I started in 2014 with ATP I would be coming on my third year at the regionals and be working my way through my degree. I will have my 4-year degree before finishing ATP, but I would have rather had those three years in the regionals building that valuable seniority and turbine time. Don’t make my mistake and get on the front end of the hiring wave while you can. It will be worth it years down the road.

Best Regards,



If you decide to enroll at ATP you will not have time to also take college classes simultaneously. College would either need to be done before flight training or after when you’re flying for a regional.


ok thank you that is good information. I want to get to the airlines as soon as possible. So that route would be good

But at the end of the day, I just want the cheapest and fastest way to the airlines.

Well, as long as you’re honest with yourself about your willingness to finish your degree while flying for a regional, start training now then. In theory, this route will work. It looks good on paper. It’s a lot harder to actually discipline yourself and take college classes later in life while working.



Flight training is never cheap nor should it be. You can get cheap food or shoes but your career depends on you getting quality training. That said ATP provides that and I know a ton of Riddle grads and while there’s no question it’s a fine school the price is exorbitant. At the end of the day you’ll be flying the same equipment with alot less debt.

As the others have said you will not be able to do college and ATP at the same time but ATP will get you to the airlines years faster and you’ll have plenty of time at your Regional to finish up.


Thank you guys for the tremendous input. Yeah this is a big decision for me and I don’t have much time to decide.

What if I started training for my other ratings with ATP, then be hired by the regionals. Or do the regionals require a two year degree?

The regionals do not require any college experience at this time.


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Ok that’s good news. So let’s say after ATP I’m flying for a regional. For the majors would they be fine with me having just a two year degree?

It’s rare to be hired by a major without a 4-year degree. Better to have it than to take the risk.


No. The majors will want to see a four year degree. The good news is that you should have several years while you are a regional pilot to work on this.

Ok thank you all for the input. I will sleep on it