A degree apprenticeship gives you the opportunity to gain a paid-for degree while getting industry experience and earning a salary.
What are degree apprenticeships?
A degree apprenticeship enables you to gain a full undergraduate or master’s degree while you work. Degree apprenticeships take three to six years to complete, depending on the course level.
You’ll spend most of your time working and you’ll also study part-time at university. For example, you might go to university one or two days per week, or in short blocks, such as a week at a time. Overall, you spend about 20% of your time studying vs. 80% of your time working.
Degree apprenticeships work differently across the UK:
- England and Wales both offer degree apprenticeships, with the most options currently available in England.
- In Scotland, degree apprenticeships are known as Graduate Apprenticeships.
- Northern Ireland offers higher level apprenticeships (HLAs) that offer you qualifications upto Level 7 which is the equivalent of a master's degree. However, the majority are at Level 5 which is equivalent to a foundation degree.
Wondering what a degree apprenticeship is really like?
Hear from Nicholas about what his day-to-day life is like as a business management degree apprentice at PwC.
When I started looking at my options, I hadn’t even heard of a degree apprenticeship. As soon as I discovered them and started looking into them, I could immediately see the benefit of going into a real business environment, getting work experience and still gaining a qualification.
The important thing for me is that my career has already started and I’m really enjoying the work I’m doing. Being employed and still working towards a degree really suits my practical personality and I’m already learning things that I just wouldn’t have experienced if I’d chosen a traditional degree.
Pros of a degree apprenticeship
- You’ll get real-life experience working alongside your degree.
- Your degree is fully paid for, so there’s no cost to you.
- You’ll get paid a salary just like a normal employee.
Cons of a degree apprenticeship
- You’ll need to balance working and studying at the same time.
- You won’t qualify for any student loans.
- Apprentices don’t always get the traditional ‘university experience’.
Degree apprenticeship or traditional degree?
Katie Thistleton talks to an expert panel about the differences between degree apprenticeships and traditional degrees.
What grades do you need?
Each vacancy will be different. You might need specific grades, but employers are looking for other skills you can bring to the role, like communication, leadership and passion.
How are you assessed?
You will complete an assessment at the end of the apprenticeship which is called an end-point assessment. It tests your ability to do the job as well as your academic learning. You might also have assignments throughout the course.
Applying for a degree apprenticeship
You apply for a degree apprenticeship in the same way you apply for a normal job. You’ll need to submit an application, which usually includes a CV and cover letter. If you’re also applying for university, you could use your personal statement as a starting point for your application.
Employers advertise degree apprenticeships throughout the year and there is no application cycle like there is with university. The vacancy will state when the application deadline is, and when the apprenticeship is due to start.
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What degree apprenticeships are available?
Degree apprenticeships are available in lots of industries, from hands-on fields like nursing, engineering and teaching, to more office-based roles like business administration, finance, and law.
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