What is a degree apprenticeship?

Degree apprenticeships (level 6-7) are a type of higher apprenticeship that allows you to gain a full university degree during the course of your apprenticeship scheme.

These specialist courses are offered by employers who have teamed up with universities and training providers to create a degree-course. These special courses help train students to succeed in all sorts of different sectors and areas of business.

Often, students must make the choice whether to go into the world of work or to study at university, but degree apprenticeships offer the chance to do both!

Degree apprenticeships
Degree apprentices balance their time between work, study, and university.

How does a degree apprenticeship work?

Degree apprenticeships let you follow the apprenticeship-style career pathway (working, learning and earning) while also progressing towards a tailor-made university degree. This gives apprentices the opportunity to get qualified to degree level, remain debt-free and gain valuable work experience.

During a degree apprenticeship, you will typically spend 20% of your time working towards your university qualification, and the rest of your time at your place of work. This might mean spending one day a week at university, or alternatively, this time might be accumulated over a whole week or semester.

Because the time you are able to spend studying for your degree is only part-time, degree apprenticeships can take between three to six years to complete. However, while this is a longer route to getting degree-qualified, it does come with some benefits. Not only is the tuition of a degree apprenticeship programme covered by the government and your employer (as opposed to the standard £9000+ a year), but you are also paid a wage for the duration of your apprenticeship. Win-win.

How do I get a degree apprenticeship?

Entry requirements vary depending on company, sector and scheme. However, most degree apprenticeships will require that you have five GCSEs at A* – C (9 – 4 ), including English and Maths. You will also need level 3 qualifications such as  A-Levels, NVQs, or a BTEC.

Typically, most employers set requirements similar to traditional university degrees, asking for UCAS points equivalent to three A levels (A* to C). Alternatively, you can get onto a degree apprenticeship by working your way up to apprentice qualifications, completing advanced and higher apprenticeship qualifications.

There is no maximum age restriction for a degree apprenticeship, but training costs will only be funded by the government up to age 24. If you are aged 24 or over you may be asked to contribute towards costs.

Since you will be legally employed and not just a student, you will need to be eligible to work in the UK in order to undertake a degree apprenticeship scheme.

Degree Apprenticeships Studying

You can also apply for an apprenticeship if you already have a job. When applying for a degree apprenticeship from inside an industry, your existing experience can often make up for a lack of qualifications (assuming you have gained relevant skills in your current workplace).

If requirements seem too high, you could look for an advanced or higher apprenticeship (level 3 or 4) to help bridge the experience and skills gap.

What qualifications can I achieve?

Completing a degree apprenticeship means graduating from university with a full degree (BA(Hons) or BSc(Hons)). These degrees are no different in quality or level from any other university degrees, they are simply paid for by your employer. In return, you do (paid) work for them over the course of the scheme.

Depending on your employer and sector of work, you may have the chance to pursue other qualifications during your degree apprenticeship, which might include working towards other vocational training, as well as professionally ‘chartered’ status.

Some degree apprenticeships can even lead to gaining a Masters degree.

What’s the difference between a higher apprenticeship and a degree apprenticeship?

A degree apprenticeship is technically a higher apprenticeship, as higher apprenticeships cover all education levels from 4 to 7. However, degree apprenticeships are a much newer concept, designed especially to help companies recruit university-bound students. For this reason, they are often separated out to help make job vacancies clearer for applicants.

These opportunities are primarily made available for school leavers, but this does not mean you cannot work your way up to a degree apprenticeship, nor that they are exclusively for 18-25-year-olds. Some companies even use degree apprenticeships to help upskill their existing staff.

In a nutshell, all degree apprenticeships are higher apprenticeships, but not all higher apprenticeships advance to university degree level.

What is it like being a degree apprenticeship student?

Degree apprenticeships are not commitments to be taken lightly.

Not only will you be taking on all the academic challenges of a higher education university degree, but you will also be balancing this with the stresses of full-time work.

Luckily, this hardcore approach to learning does come with its advantages. By putting into practice what you are learning at university in your working week, you will learn and develop much faster. This turns theoretical ideas into practical actions at a much faster rate.

While a standard undergrad might have to wait three years to put their ideas into practice in business, degree apprentices get the chance to make a difference straight away.

Degree apprenticeships make a real difference at JCB.

Access to student life…

The great thing about degree apprenticeships is that you will have access to everything a regular university student would. This means you can use the libraries and sports facilities, visit the student union, and take part in societies. Depending on your scheme, you may even be offered student accommodation for your time spent at university.

Another bonus of the degree apprenticeship is the variety of valuable work experiences they can unlock. Similarly to graduate schemes, many degree apprenticeships will rotate you around the business, giving you a chance to experience different parts of an organisation and better understand the whole structure of a company. It will give you a real insight into different business functions.

Apprenticeship variety

Not a junior role…

Apprentices are not a ‘junior’ role. You could be managing people, projects, and processes in your job, developing every day. Because of this, it is a priority that degree apprentices get lots of support from their managers and the rest of the business.

Apprentices will spend the majority of their time (80%) in and around their place of work, doing their job and gaining hands-on experience. The time you do spend at university will be supported by your work schedule, and you will not pay any fees for your university course.

As being an apprentice is a full-time job, expect to work at least 30 hours per week, plus extra time for university study and revision.

Graduating as a degree apprentice means not only are you qualified to a high standard but are perfectly suited to work within your organisation, with years more experience than a newly graduated university student.

A degree apprenticeship helps Andrew advance his career.

What kind of degree apprenticeships are available?

The National Apprenticeship Service lists 30+ degree apprenticeships available in 2018, with well over 60+ becoming available over the course of 2019. Here’s a taste of the type of thing you could be doing:

  • Aerospace Engineer (Level 6)
  • Aerospace Software Development Engineer (Level 6)
  • Broadcasting Technology (Level 6)
  • Chartered Legal Executive (Level 6)
  • Chartered Manager Degree Apprenticeship (Level 6)
  • Chartered Surveyor Level (Level 6)
  • Civil Engineer Level (Level 6)
  • Civil Engineering Site Management (degree) (Level 6)
  • Construction Management (Level 4, 5, 6)
  • Control / Technical Support Engineer (Level 6)
  • Digital and Technology Solutions Professional (Level 7)
  • Electrical/Electronic Technical Support Engineer (Level 6)
  • Embedded Electronic Systems Design and Development Engineer (Level 6)
  • Financial Services Professional (Level 6)
  • Food Industry Technical Professional (Degree) (Level 6)
  • Healthcare Science Practitioner (Level 6)
  • Laboratory Scientist (Degree) (Level 6)
  • Licensed Conveyancer (Level 6)  
  • Manufacturing Engineer (Level 6)
  • Nuclear Scientist and Nuclear Engineer (Level 6)  
  • Outside Broadcasting Engineer (Level 7)  
  • Post Graduate Engineer (Level 7)
  • Power Engineer (Degree) (Level 7)
  • Process Automation Engineer (Level 7)
  • Product Design and Development Engineer (Level 6)
  • Registered Nurse (Degree) (Level 6)
  • Relationship Manager (Banking) (Level 6)  
  • Senior Compliance/Risk Specialist (Level 6)
  • Senior Insurance Professional (Level 6)  
  • Solicitor (Level 7)  
  • Systems Engineering (Level 7)
  • Teacher (Level 6)

Deciding which career path to take and which subject area to study can be overwhelming, especially with so much choice on offer. Thankfully, there are some steps you can follow to help make your decision easier.

What do I get paid?

All apprenticeships are subject to a minimum national wage, and degree apprenticeships are no different. However, because you are entering the business at a higher level than other apprentices you can expect your salary to reflect this.

Most starting salaries for degree apprenticeship fall slightly short of graduate salaries, at around £17,000-£20,000. However, as you progress through your program you will see your salary increase. You will also usually receive a pay rise upon your graduation. (sometimes as much as doubling your initial salary!)

Can I choose where I study?

This is the one area where traditional degrees hold an advantage over degree apprenticeships.

With a degree apprenticeship, you must study your course at the specified university that your company has partnered with. Where a traditional student has the option to study a subject in multiple places, you are restricted by your scheme, so make sure you understand the full details of your scheme when you apply!

Why should I do a degree apprenticeship?

A degree apprenticeship is the highest level you can take an apprenticeship, providing some cracking opportunities:

All degree, no debt

There aren’t many ways we can think of to get yourself a university degree without incurring any university debt, but degree apprenticeships make this a reality. All your tuition fees are shared between the government and your employer.

Graduate with experience

Moving into a graduate role can be daunting, but with a degree apprenticeship you’ll already have tonnes of relevant experience in your business, and the transition from apprentice to graduate is seamless.

Earn while you learn

Not only are all your tuition fees covered, but you are paid a wage on top of this for the work that you do every day.

Designed for you

Because degree apprenticeships are designed by employers in collaboration with universities, they equip apprentices with the exact practical and academic skills required to succeed in a particular industry. This makes graduates of apprenticeship programmes very employable.

What next?

Ready to find an apprenticeship? Check out some of our degree apprentice opportunities below, or jump straight to the apprenticeship search.

Our latest Degree Apprenticeships:

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