What is a degree apprenticeship?

Freddie Parker on 27 April 2023
An apprentice learning on the job

A degree apprenticeship can provide invaluable experience and working knowledge of your chosen field.


We recently asked our panel if they knew what degree apprenticeships are and whether they’d consider one. A large majority (78%) of you said you’d heard of them and just over half (52%) said they’d consider it. When asked which subject they’d choose, the majority seemed to pick STEM subjects and the top five were as follows:

  1. Health & Social Care (23%)
  2. Engineering (19%)
  3. Science (18%)
  4. IT (18%)
  5. Finance (14%)

A lot of you have heard of them and some would consider it, but the question still remains…

What is a degree apprenticeship?

Generally, an apprenticeship is learning and working at the same time. A degree apprenticeship is specifically gaining a degree while working. Standard apprenticeships will usually be levels 1-5, so equivalent to GCSE or foundation degree depending on which level.

Qualification Level Example Qualifications
Entry Level Skills for Life
Level 1 GCSE grades 3-1 or D-G, Music grades 1-3
Level 2 GCSE grades 4-9 or grades C-A*, Intermediate Apprenticeship
Level 3 A-Level, International Baccalaureate, Advanced Apprenticeship
Level 4 Certificate of Higher Education (CertHE), Higher Apprenticeship
Level 5 Diploma of Higher Education (DipHE), Foundation Degree
Level 6 Bachelor’s Degree, Degree Apprenticeship
Level 7 Master’s Degree, PGCE
Level 8 Doctorate

These courses can also vary depending on which UK nation you’re in. “Degree Apprenticeship” is the name of the type of qualification in both England and Wales. The same thing would be referred to as a “Graduate Apprenticeship” in Scotland. In Northern Ireland, they don’t necessarily exist in the same capacity but there are Higher Level Apprenticeships (HLA) that can go up to level 7.

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How is a degree apprenticeship structured?

The exact timetable of such courses is varied and depends on both the employer and the learning institution. But you’ll typically be spending 80% of your time working and the other 20% in education. This often translates into one day of the week in classes and the other four weekdays spent working.

You will also likely need to spend time independently studying, just as you would for a bachelor’s degree anyway. This time will be smaller, as you’ll likely be studying closer to a part-time university schedule, but still important to factor in.

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How much does a degree apprenticeship cost?

As with standard apprenticeships, the education will be paid for by the employer, so you won’t have to pay any fees. This makes it a great option if you’re worried about student debt. Sometimes this comes with a caveat though. You will be expected to stay with the employer for the duration of the course, which can be up to six years.

Some employers may even write into the contract that, as they funded your education, you’ll have to stay a certain period of time after you finish your studies.

During your apprenticeship, you’ll receive at least the apprentice national minimum wage. This currently sits at £5.28 per hour. However, some employers will offer more competitive rates so make sure you shop around. This is important as degree apprenticeships don’t qualify for ANY student finance, so you’ll have to get by on your salary.

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What subjects can you do degree apprenticeships in?

The subject areas tend to be those with a mix of both vocational and technical academic aspects. Below are some examples:

  • Aerospace Engineering
  • Aerospace Software Development
  • Automotive Engineering
  • Business Management
  • Construction
  • Defence
  • Digital Industries
  • Electronic Systems Engineering
  • Financial Services
  • Life And Industrial Sciences
  • Management
  • Nuclear
  • Nursing
  • Power Engineering
  • Public Relations
  • Social Work
  • Surveying

If you want to explore the industries available a bit more comprehensively, UCAS has industry guides including info on the courses and typical salaries etc.

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Where can you do a degree apprenticeship?

There are loads of universities now partnering with companies to facilitate courses like these and it largely depends on which subject you want to do. Below are some of the universities offering Degree Apprenticeships, but bear in mind that they all offer different courses.

  • University of Central Lancashire 
  • University of the West of England Bristol 
  • De Montfort University
  • Northumbria University
  • Nottingham Trent University 
  • University of Portsmouth
  • Aston University
  • University of Hertfordshire
  • University of Leeds
  • Manchester Metropolitan University
  • The Open University
  • University of Salford
  • Teesside University
  • University of Brighton
  • Leeds Beckett University
  • Liverpool John Moores University
  • Anglia Ruskin University
  • Birmingham City University
  • London South Bank University
  • Sheffield Hallam University
  • University of Greenwich
  • University of Exeter
  • Solent University Southampton
  • Staffordshire University
  • National College for Nuclear
  • University of Huddersfield
  • University of West London
  • University of Plymouth
  • Newcastle University
  • University of Cumbria
  • Middlesex University
  • Oxford Brookes University
  • University College of Estate Management

UCAS again has a handy Degree Apprenticeship finder to help you look for your perfect role and qualifications. Our advice would be to focus on what you’ll be studying as opposed to where. The work experience you gain will likely be more valuable than the institution’s name attached to it and it’d be better to do something you’re interested in than just picking the best name from the above list.

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What are the pros and cons of degree apprenticeships?


  • Gain invaluable experience at the same time as studying.
  • Be able to apply knowledge in a professional setting.
  • Great employment prospects at the end of the apprenticeship.
  • No student debt.


  • A growing world where positions are currently limited and highly competitive.
  • Can be locked into contracts with employers.
  • No eligibility for student finance.
  • Considerably longer course duration.

Have you ever thought about doing an apprenticeship? Join the Student Hut Community today and let us know in our opinion panel.


Freddie Parker
Freddie Parker on 27 April 2023