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Three years of professional work experience… a tuition-free degree… and a cracking salary! Meet degree apprenticeships.

What is a degree apprenticeship?

Degree apprenticeships are the newest level of the modern apprenticeship, and were introduced by the UK government in 2015. They have been designed for young people aged 18 years old or above. Degree apprentices are employed on a full-time basis, and study towards a degree on the side.

Degree level apprenticeships have been developed though a collaboration between the Tech Partnership and higher education institutions. Some of the UK’s top employers, including PwC, KPMG and the BBC, have wedded with universities to offer young people on-the-job training and degree level qualifications.

Apprenticeships have been traditionally associated with trade industries, such as carpentry and bricklaying. If somebody asked a person to picture an apprentice, they would imagine a youth covered in paint and pimples, wearing a hard hat and a hi viz jacket. No more.

Schemes are still on offer in trade professions, however, modern apprenticeships are available in a marvellous range of industries. If it’s a career in engineering, IT, accounting or banking that calls your name, there are schemes available with some of the UK’s top employers in those fields.

Modern apprenticeships were originally divided into three tiers – intermediate (level 2), advanced (level 3), higher (level 4/5). The newest tier, degree apprenticeships are level 6/7 schemes. A degree apprentice on a level 6 scheme will study towards a Bachelor’s degree, while a level 7 scheme leads to a Master’s degree.

Did you know?

Did you know, the UK government have pledged to increase the number of apprenticeship starts for 16-24 year olds to 3 million by 2020?

The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills are investing substantial resources into creating more career opportunities for school and college leavers. Degree apprenticeships have been designed – as a part of this strategy - to help businesses across the UK achieve three core goals:

  • To fill the higher-level skills gap

  • Attract high-calibre talent at graduate level

  • Spread new skills and knowledge among existing employees

Degree level apprenticeships have been introduced, quite simply, to lay the foundations for a qualified and highly-skilled workforce for the future. Employers across a wide-range of industries have backed degree apprenticeships for the very same reason.

A company can design a degree apprenticeship framework (in collaboration with a university/higher education institution) to train a young person to have the skills, qualification and work experience that is required for a profession. Degree apprenticeships are industry-designed!

Former Prime Minister, David Cameron, was fully-behind the inception of degree level apprenticeship schemes:

Degree Apprenticeships will give people a great head start, combining a full degree with the real practical skills gained in work and the financial security of a regular pay packet. They will bring the world of business and the world of education closer together, and let us build the high-level technical skills needed for the jobs of the future.”

So how exactly do degree apprenticeships work?

Degree apprenticeships are a combination of work and study. An apprentice will work as a full-time employee in a professional environment, and attend university at regular intervals.

Apprentices have a minimum of thirty contact hours a week across work and university. The day-to-day life of a degree apprentice is quite different to that of a traditional university student. In a good way!

It isn’t a four contact hours, Jeremy Kyle and cold baked beans lifestyle. Degree apprentices work on a full-time basis, and are expected to achieve academically at the same time. HOWEVER, there are no tuition-fees, and all apprentices receive a cracking salary for the duration of their degree.

The length of the apprenticeship will depend on the level of the degree. A level 6 scheme will typically last between 3-4 years, while a level 7 scheme can last up to 6 years.

It is important to note; degree apprenticeships are only currently available in England. School and college leavers in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland can still apply for these schemes, but will obviously have to relocate if their application is successful.

The Salary

The salaries for degree apprenticeships vary from scheme to scheme. Apprentices can be paid anywhere between £18,000 to £30,000, depending the location, and the company that organises the scheme.

A degree apprentice in London is likely to receive a higher salary than their counterparts in other regions, because of high living and travel costs in the capital.

(It’s best to check the information on university and company websites, for specific information about salary!)

Entry Requirements

Just like salary, the entry requirements for degree apprenticeships vary between schemes. Employers and universities generally look for applicants with two or more A levels (A*-B). Students in Scotland can apply with equivalent qualifications (Scottish Highers).

If you have completed an advanced or higher apprenticeship (in a relevant industry), you can also apply for a degree apprenticeship.

All applicants for degree apprenticeships must be aged 18 or over, and be eligible to live and work in the UK. These requirements apply to ALL degree apprenticeships that are currently on offer.

Again, check employer/university websites for the entry requirements for specific schemes.

Which industries?

At this moment in time, the government has approved frameworks for 24 different degree apprenticeships. Below is a list of some of the pathways available:

  • Nuclear Science

  • Chartered Surveying

  • Digital and Technology Solutions

  • Product Design and Development

  • Construction

  • Banking Relationship Manager

Visit UCAS for the full list of degree apprenticeship pathways.

5 reasons why YOU should do a degree apprenticeship

Range of schemes

There are degree level apprenticeships on offer in a marvellous-range of professions. Whether it’s a career in construction, engineering or banking that interests you – there are degree apprenticeships available which will give you the skills, qualifications and experience you need to succeed.

Great qualifications

Degree apprenticeships work towards a full Bachelor’s or Master’s degree, without having to pay tuition fees! There is also an opportunity to gain professional qualifications, such as AAT/CIMA certificates in accounting.


Degree apprentices are paid an impressive salary for the span of the scheme – for work and study periods. In addition, degree apprenticeships are tuition-free; all costs are covered by the government and the employer that organises the scheme.

Working with experienced professionals

Degree apprentices work alongside highly experienced professionals. This is a priceless opportunity! These experienced professionals act as mentors, guiding the apprentice through the scheme, ensuring that they develop the skills and knowledge that is required to blossom in their role.

Career opportunities

Degree apprentices have a fantastic chance of securing permanent employment after their scheme has ended.

If an apprentice is not offered a permanent role after their apprenticeship, or if they wish to move on, they are still highly-employable. Apprentices have all the essential knowledge, professional work experience and the technical skills that is required to start a career in any industry.