Degree Apprenticeships

Thinking about a degree apprenticeship? Our guide explains all.

What are degree apprenticeships?

Degree apprenticeships are a great way to become degree qualified whilst still getting in-work experience, and a regular pay.

It’s also a great way to avoid being saddled with a large student loan debt as your employer pays for your tuition fees! 

Unlike a higher apprenticeship, you get the benefit of a Bachelor or Masters at the end of the programme, rather than just vocational qualifications.

The scheme, which started in 2015, is targeted at 18 and 19-year old school leavers, however due to paid work being part of the scheme, it’s also great for mature students who still need an income alongside studying.

This is backed up by recent statistics from the government, that out of the 13, 587 who started a degree apprenticeship in 2018/19, 62% were over the age of 25.

Similarly, as it’s a route to management roles in technical professions, it’s a fantastic way to convert prior, lower level apprenticeship studies into an advanced qualification and ultimately, advance your career.

What will I do on my degree apprenticeship?

Like a traditional apprenticeship, you get to spend time both at work (for a minimum of 30 hours per week), learning practical skills, but you’ll also spend time at university studying for your degree.

Your studies will usually take up about 20% of your programme time. Your study time might be a day a week, or a block of time, and is usually organised to fit in with the needs of the company you work for.

How long will my degree apprenticeship last?

The programme usually takes anywhere from 3 to 6 years, depending on what you study, and the frequency of study release, although must last a minimum of 1 year.

However, there is no fixed maximum duration for a degree apprenticeship.

What subjects can I choose from?

As degree apprenticeships are aimed at advanced skills within technical sectors, the choice of apprenticeships is quite narrow, but you can choose from apprenticeships in 15 different sectors, from aerospace engineering, to finance, to surveying, and quite a few other areas in between.

Despite the number of sectors that are offering degree apprenticeships, almost half of all programmes started in 2018/19 were in the business, administration and law sector.

It’s important to note, too, that the degree apprenticeship scheme is only currently offered in England and Wales, although if you live outside of these areas, you can still relocate to join a programme.

What qualifications do I need for a degree apprenticeship?

As the apprenticeships focus on higher level learning and skills, you’ll almost certainly be expected to have GCSEs and A Levels, with the specific entry requirements varying by employer, and by the university offering the tuition programme.

It’s worth looking into the specifics of these for your particular programme, if you anticipate taking a degree apprenticeship, to make sure you are studying the qualifications and subjects at school that would complement your application the most.

What will I earn?

Your employer will pay you a wage (the national minimum wage for apprentices currently £4.81 per hour as of April 2022)  but also for your university tuition fees, so you won’t be able to take out a student loan for either your fees or living costs.

In the longer term, the benefits of not having a large student loan debt are huge and you may also find that your employer pays for than the minimum wage too!

What happens once I've finished my degree apprenticeship?

Degree apprenticeships don’t generally offer a guaranteed job on completion, however lots of apprentices do get to stay at the same company, for instance, over 30% of senior managers at Rolls Royce started off as a company apprentice!

If this isn’t an option, then you’ll leave the programme a skilled graduate, with several years of relevant work experience – both of which lend themselves to being highly employable.

Where can I find degree apprenticeship vacancies?

If you think a degree apprenticeship is for you, a great place to start your search for a programme place is at GOV.UK, The Scholarship Hub, UCAS or job site Indeed.

You can also contact a university that runs a tuition programme for the specific degree apprenticeship you’re interested in as they may have vacancies, or be able to advise on local companies that are looking for degree apprentices.

In conclusion, although a relatively new option for higher level study, a degree apprenticeship offers a great way to earn while you learn, avoid taking on student debt, and most importantly, helps you to become a highly employable individual – what’s not to like!

Further information

For more tips and advice on apprenticeships, please see: