A Foundation Degree (available in England, Wales and Northern Ireland) is a qualification that is designed in partnership with employers, and combines academic and workplace learning, equipping students with the knowledge, understanding and skills relevant to their employment. 

Foundation Degrees are offered by colleges (with degrees validated by the local university) and universities, and most degrees offer flexible teaching arrangements such as studying in the evening, part-time or through distance learning. They are generally undertaken by those already in employment and who want to use the qualification to further their knowledge and get ahead in their career, while the idea of a university experience as well as the ability to earn money at the same time is also appealing. Furthermore, Foundation Degrees are also ideal for those who are looking to return to work or pursue a new career. 

Foundation Degrees are available in more vocational subjects, with the most popular being: 

  • education - teaching assistants, primary and nursery education teaching professionals
  • social work - youth and community workers
  • subjects allied to medicine - nursing, paramedics
  • design studies
  • sport and exercise science 

They generally takes two to four years to complete depending on whether you study full- or part-time. Furthermore, once you've completed it you can 'top-up' to a full honours degree with one to two more years of studying. Entry requirements will differ from course to course and university to university, and many people apply with level 3 qualifications, such as A Levels, Advanced Apprenticeships and BTECs level 3. However, formal entry qualifications are not always necessary, with your existing experience, achievements and desire to learn also being taken into account.

The cost of a Foundation Degree differs from university to university, however a full-time year will cost anything between £5,000-£9,000. Tuition fee and maintenance loans are available in the same was a Bachelor's degrees (see Fees & Finance for more information), while if you are currently in employment and the skills you'll gain will benefit your organisation, you may be able to undertake your degree through their sponsorship meaning you won't have to pay tuition fees, or will only pay part of them.

As Foundation Degrees are often studied alongside work it's likely that you'll attend a local university or college, however you can choose to study away from home if you like. Applying for a Foundation Degree is the same as a Bachelor's degree through UCAS, so for more information please go to our universities section.