If you'd like to pursue further study while gaining a head-start in your career, a degree-level apprenticeship could be the first step - without the price tag of a traditional degree
Degree apprenticeships at a glance
- Combine full-time paid work and part-time university study.
- Work towards a full Bachelors or Masters degree.
- Degree apprenticeships typically take three to six years to complete.
- You won't be eligible for a student loan, but your employer pays your tuition fees.
Who is a degree apprenticeship for?
Degree apprenticeships are primarily targeted at 18 to 19-year-old school leavers as an alternative route to gaining a degree, especially those who are unsure about university due to high tuition fees and student debt. However, they're also suitable for mature students.
The degree apprenticeship supports progression from craft and technical roles into management. This means that programmes are suitable for those who have completed lower-level apprenticeships but wish to advance their career through further study.
If your academic history means that you're not eligible for a degree apprenticeship, you can find out more about intermediate, advanced and higher apprenticeships at what is an apprenticeship?
You can enrol on a degree apprenticeship even if you've already got a degree - but it must be in an unrelated subject.
See Should I do a degree or apprenticeship? if you're still unsure of which route to take.
What can I study?
As degree apprenticeships are only available in vocational subjects that require a high level of academia, the range of subjects on offer is narrower than that of traditional apprenticeships. Opportunities are currently available in the following sectors:
- aerospace engineering
- aerospace software development
- automotive engineering
- business management
- digital industries
- electronic systems engineering
- financial services
- life and industrial sciences
- power engineering
- public relations
Where can I study?
As the scope for degree apprenticeships expands, so does the range of provider universities and employers. These currently include:
- Aerospace engineering and Aerospace software development - University of Central Lancashire (UCLan), Lancaster University, University of the West of England (UWE).
- Architect - University of Portsmouth.
- Chartered manager - Aston University, University of Chester, Leeds Beckett University, The Open University, University of Portsmouth, University of Salford, University of the West of England (UWE), University of the West of London (UWL).
- Civil engineering - The University of Exeter and University of Portsmouth.
- Construction - Anglia Ruskin University, Birmingham City University, University of Derby, Liverpool John Moores University, London Southbank University, Southampton Solent University and UWE.
- Defence - University of Bristol, University College London (UCL) and Cranfield University.
- Embedded electrical systems design and development - Aston University and the University of Portsmouth.
- Digital and technology solutions - Aston University, University of Exeter, University of Greenwich, Manchester Metropolitan University, The Open University, Queen Mary University of London, Sheffield Hallam University, UWE and Winchester University.
- Healthcare science practitioner - Aston University (Audiology), University of Birmingham, University of Salford, Sheffield Hallam University, UWE, UWL.
- Life and industrial sciences - University of Greenwich, University of Kent and Manchester Metropolitan University.
- Nuclear - University of Bristol, University of Cumbria and The University of Manchester.
- Nursing - The Open University.
- Postgraduate engineer - Aston University and University of Portsmouth.
- Power engineering - Coventry University.
- Professional engineering - Aston University (Ordnance, Munitions and Explosives and Nuclear).
- Project management - University of Portsmouth.
- Risk management - University of Portsmouth.
- Senior Leadership - The Open University and University of Portsmouth.
- Surveying - Birmingham City University, London South Bank University and University of Portsmouth.
Organisations of all sizes can take advantage of degree apprenticeships. There are currently around 1,000 degree apprentices in England, but the government is aiming to grow this number significantly – especially among small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).
Universities UK's 2017 Degree Apprenticeships: Realising Opportunities report discloses that at least 60 universities are implementing or planning to implement degree apprenticeships in 2017.
Some of the most high-profile employers currently involved in the scheme include:
- Aerospace engineering and Aerospace software development - Airbus, BAE Systems and Rolls Royce.
- Automotive - BMW Group UK, Toyota Manufacturing UK and Vauxhall Motors.
- Construction - BAM Construct UK Ltd, E-ON Energy Solutions Ltd and Willmott Dixon Holdings Ltd.
- Defence - General Dynamics, Raytheon and Serco.
- Digital and technology solutions - BT, Fujitsu and Network Rail.
- Electronic systems engineering - ARM, Embecosm and FlexEnable.
- Financial services - Barclays, HSBC and Santander.
- Life and industrial sciences - Astra Zeneca, GSK and Pfizer Inc.
- Nuclear - EDF Energy, Magnox Ltd and Sellafield.
- Power engineering - Amey, Siemens and SSE.
- Public relations - Claremont, Golin and KOR Communications Ltd.
- Surveying - Axis, EC Harris and Faithorn Farrell Timms.
Course structure will vary across universities and employers, as each programme is tailored to suit individual employer needs and delivered in the style of the university's teaching model.
How much will it cost?
As with other apprenticeships, you won't pay for your training or tuition - your employer will cover the costs.
You'll have to plan ahead to cover your living costs, however, as degree apprentices aren't eligible for student loans. However, you'll receive at least the apprentice National Minimum Wage (NMW) on your course, so you won't be left completely in the dark.
If you're an employer, visit Great Business to find out more about the Apprenticeship Levy.
Will I be guaranteed a job?
No, but even if you aren't offered a permanent role you'll be an employable graduate. You'll have benefited from studying a course that's tailored to industry needs, plus amassed several years of highly relevant work experience. This means you'll have gained critical skills that are valued by employers in your chosen career.
How do I apply?
You can search and apply for degree apprenticeships through GOV.UK's Find an apprenticeship service. You'll be redirected to wherever your chosen course accepts applications, as some are sorted by employers or universities directly.
If you're looking for opportunities specifically in the digital and technology solutions sector, visit Tech Partnership.
Unlike traditional degrees, there's no fixed cycle for degree apprenticeship applications. The majority of organisations will begin their recruitment processes in January or February for an August or September start date, but larger organisations will start advertising their positions from the previous autumn onwards and smaller enterprises may wait until spring.