What are Degree Apprenticeships? | Top Universities

What are Degree Apprenticeships?

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Updated Feb 26, 2021



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By Clarissa Ducie

Launched in the UK in 2015, degree apprenticeships allow you to gain a degree alongside working. A Level 6 apprenticeship qualifies you with a full bachelor’s degree, while a Level 7 qualifies you with a master’s degree.

The apprenticeship combines working with part-time university studies, which can either take the form of one day a week or a block of days each month. The apprenticeship takes between three and six years to complete.

Why should I consider a degree apprenticeship?

Degree apprenticeships are especially helpful if you’re stuck choosing between an apprenticeship and going to university as they combine the best of both worlds.

Who can do a degree apprenticeship?

Degree apprenticeships tend to be targeted at 18-19-year-old school leavers or lower level apprentices moving upwards. If you already have a degree, you can enrol onto some degree apprenticeships, so long as your degree is in a different field to the one you’re applying to.

How do degree apprenticeships work?

The government pays two-thirds of the cost of your degree, and your employer pays the other third, meaning you can leave your apprenticeship debt free.

Apprentices work full-time throughout the year, with 21 days paid holiday plus bank holidays off.

A degree level apprenticeship allows you to earn while you learn. Salary varies depending on your apprenticeship, age, company, sector and the location you’re working in. The UK Apprentice minimum wage is £3.90 an hour, but some companies pay more than double that amount. For example, Jaguar Land Rover’s engineering apprentices have a starting salary of £18,500 a year.

Find more information regarding apprentice salary at Gov.UK.

What areas can you do the degree in?

Degree apprenticeship fields are narrower than traditional apprenticeships and are only available in areas that require ‘high levels of academia’, including:

  • Aerospace Engineering
  • Business & Administration
  • Construction
  • Digital
  • Health & Science

Apprenticeships are available at a wide variety of companies including both big names such as BT and Mondelez, and also smaller companies.

What university do you get the degree from?

The university depends on which sector you’re working in and which degree apprenticeship you’re completing. Quite often you won’t be studying at the actual university due to distance, with classes being held online or at an institution close to where you work.

Where can I find a degree apprenticeship?

Use Apprenticeship Finder’s search tool to find more information about vacancies and their entry requirements.  

Benefits of a degree apprenticeship

  • The main benefit of doing a degree apprenticeship compared to the traditional university route is that the degree is paid for by your company, so you leave with a degree and zero student debt
  • You’re also employed full-time throughout the degree and earn a salary
  • Degree apprenticeships allow you to get a head start in your profession over students leaving university without the same level of work experience you have
  • Apprentices also develop ‘soft skills’ from working, which employers love, such as communication skills, the ability to work under pressure to deadlines, teamwork and problem-solving
  • You get mentoring and support from your employer
  • You can put what you learn at university straight into practice, helping develop your understanding of the material
  • By the time your apprenticeship ends you’ll have at least three years of networking experience and have made contacts that’ll help you later on in your career
  • Degree apprentices are technically students, so you still get all the student discount perks
  • Most apprentice programs will have a guaranteed job at the end of it, with lots of opportunities for progression within the company


Entry requirements

Degree apprenticeships are extremely competitive and there aren’t many available in the country. Most employers will ask for formal qualifications including at least 5 GCSEs (A*-C or 9-4), and Level 3 apprenticeship qualifications including BTECs. Often employers will expect applicants to have qualifications relevant to the apprenticeship already.


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