What are degree apprenticeships?
Degree apprenticeships are a new type of programme offered by some universities. Students can achieve a full bachelor's or master's degree as part of their apprenticeship.
These programmes are being developed by employers, universities, and professional bodies working in partnership.
Degree apprenticeships combine working with studying part-time at a university. Apprentices are employed throughout the programme, and spend part of their time at university and the rest with their employer. This can be on a day-to-day basis or in blocks of time, depending on the programme and requirements of the employer.
They can take between three to six years to complete, depending on the course level. Currently, the scheme is only available in England and Wales, although applications may be made from all parts of the UK.
Degree apprenticeships are still quite new, so there are a limited number of vacancies. It’s anticipated that the number of vacancies will grow over the next year or two.
Check out the latest apprenticeships
The degree apprenticeships currently available are listed below. Click the name of the sector to go to the list of approved apprenticeship standards. Each standard sets out the occupation/job role, what an apprentice will be doing, and the skills they'll develop to complete the apprenticeship.
- Business and administration
- Childcare and education
- Creative and design
- Engineering and manufacturing
- Health and science
- Legal, finance, and accounting
- Protective services (e.g. police)
Degree apprenticeships currently in development
You may also want to look at the government's A-Z list of apprenticeships for more information.
How do they work?
What are the benefits of degree apprenticeships?
How do they differ from sandwich degrees and work placements?
How are degree apprentices recruited?
We’ve asked universities and colleges to share their advice and tips to help you decide whether an apprenticeship is right for you. Here is some sound advice and insight into what it’s like to study an apprenticeship, top application tips, interview tips and support advice.
- What are the key features and aptitudes of successful apprenticeship applicants?
Willingness to work hard, because they will be studying and doing a full-time job. They also need to be confident and mature to handle their responsibilities in the workplace. Academically, they can have different types of qualifications, but they all need to be bright and able to learn independently.
- What are the biggest challenges for young people doing a higher or degree apprenticeship?
Just making enough time to do everything in the day calls for great time management skills.
- Apprenticeships are still seen by some people as ‘second best’ to full-time higher education, if a student's grades are lower than they hoped. What is your view of apprenticeships as an option?
A degree apprenticeship is academically just as challenging as a traditional degree, but has additional pressures of working at the same time! Apprentices need to be as bright as undergraduates, but more disciplined too. I believe people who have gone through the degree apprenticeship route will outstrip graduates, because they have deep experience of work context in addition to theoretical knowledge. Young people with high grades should definitely investigate this route – once people realise the advantages, competition for places will become fierce.
- What advice would you give to students who think they want to do a degree apprenticeship, but are not sure if it’s for them?
Start planning early and try to get some work experience in the sector you’re interested in. Go to university open days and talk to the people who are delivering the programmes to find out more. There is a range of different study options, so think about what would suit your learning style. If you really aren’t right for it, don’t do it. Traditional degrees are very valuable and give people time to explore different options, while building their confidence and experience.
- What are the top three things you look for in an application?
Enthusiasm for the subject. Like any degree, a genuine interest in what you are studying makes study more rewarding, which improves your chances of success. Secondly, we need to establish the applicant has the academic ability to succeed, so we don’t set up weak applicants to fail. That involves grades, but we would also test numerical and reasoning skills. An applicant’s character is really important – they need to be mature enough to enter the workplace, and dedicated enough to work and study at the same time.
- What are the most common weaknesses in applications/applicants?
We need academically strong applicants – some people apply after exhausting other possibilities, and they can really struggle. Maturity is very important, so if you feel you have some growing up to do, consider taking some time out of education to build your confidence. Doing paid or voluntary work will help you learn responsibility and interact with people outside of school.
- What do you consider when deciding whether or not to interview applicants?
They have to pass some basic grade thresholds, and online tests for numerical skills, aptitude, and attitude.
- What tips would you give applicants for getting the most out of interviews?
Remember you are being interviewed to be an employee, as well as a student. You need to present yourself as a person who can contribute in a real job. Then do all the things you would normally do for a job role – find out as much as you can about the company and the role, so you can ask intelligent questions.
- Where can students get support when they are doing an apprenticeship?
The employer will provide all the normal HR support, as well as mentoring and line management, and input on career development in the company. Higher education providers will provide support with learning development and all the normal pastoral care, information, and advice that any other student would get. A degree apprentice is also an undergraduate and has access to all normal support services.
- What’s your top tip for young people thinking about applying for an apprenticeship?
Go for it! It’s a really great opportunity that has the potential to set you up well for the rest of your life. Start investigating the opportunities available, find out as much as you can, and see if there’s a degree apprenticeship that’s right for you. If you are reading this, you are probably already doing the right things!