Real Answers from Real Pilots

Work load compatibility with an online degree

This very well could have been asked already in a thousand forums but I was unable to find a complete answer.

I’m 17, have my PPL, and very interested in going through the ATP program. My one question would be: does the workload associated with ATP allow time to attend an online college to get a 4 year bachelor’s degree in order to fulfill the major airline’s requirements? My plan would be to start the degree while at ATP and then finish up the last year or two while flying for a regional (or something of the sorts).

Any input (from students present and past) would be absolutely lovely.


ATP’s program is highly condensed and does not offer any spare time for outside work or college studies. You will need to take this one step at a time.

I personally would recommend that you go get a four year degree, then attend flight school.


What about waiting to start the online classes until I’m a CFI? Would the workload as a CFI allow for time to do this? Thanks for the input.


I’m not going to answer your question directly as I like people to think things through themselves. As an ATP student you’ll be investing a tremendous amount of time, effort and money training. It’s really a team effort between you AND your instructor. Training schedules can be dynamic and you’ll need to be available whenever’s necessary. You’ll expect your instructor to be there for you, when the time comes shouldn’t your students expect the same? Aside from “doing the right thing” for your students because it’s the right thing, failure to do so could result in your dismissal from ATP which could seriously derail your entire career. Factor in online degrees can be demanding as is flight instruction and if you’re keeping up with your students inevitably your school work will suffer which isn’t good either. The vast majority of pilot’s do ALL their online degree training once the get to a Regional since the schedule is much less demanding.

Those are the facts but ultimately the decision is yours but again, if the weather’s been an issue and you’re not their when your student needs, you may very well find yourself with a whole lot more spare time than you bargained for.



If you plan on instructing at ATP, then no. You will be even busier as a
CFI than as a student. I would recommend waiting to start your online
degree until you got to a Regional. That will still require a lot of
dedication, but it’s doable.