Higher and Degree Apprenticeships

What is a higher-level apprenticeship?

Higher level apprenticeships provide an opportunity to gain Level 4 qualifications or above, with most apprentices gaining an NVQ Level 4, HND, or foundation degree. A higher apprenticeship can take from one to five years to complete and involve part-time study at a college, university, or training provider.


What is a degree apprenticeship?

Degree apprenticeships are similar to higher level apprenticeships, but differ in that they provide an opportunity to gain a full Bachelor’s degree (Level 6) or Master’s degree (Level 7).

What are the benefits of higher level and degree apprenticeships?

Apprentices are employed and paid a wage.

Apprentices will gain a head start in your chosen field.

Training costs are funded by the employer.

How are apprentices recruited?

Apprenticeships are jobs and so employers are ultimately responsible for recruitment. Both employers and training providers will need to be satisfied that the applicant meets their respective requirements. It is likely that some employers and training providers will therefore do recruitment jointly.

What higher level and degree apprenticeships are available?

Higher apprenticeships are available in a wide range of industries and job roles – there are over 40 higher apprenticeship frameworks, including in these industries:

  • Construction, planning and the built environment
  • Agriculture, horticulture and animal care
  • Arts, media and publishing
  • Business and administration
  • Engineering and manufacturing technologies
  • Childcare, education and training
  • Information and communication technology
  • Science and mathematics
  • Retail and commercial enterprise
  • Health, public services and care
  • Digital
  • Creative and design
  • Legal, finance, and accounting

What are the typical entry requirements for a degree apprenticeships?

The entry requirements for degree apprenticeships are similar to the entry requirements when applying for a course at university. For example, entry requirements may include 5 GCSEs 9-4 including maths and English and Level 3 qualifications including A Levels, BTECS or NVQs. Employers may require applicants to have studied subjects relevant to the apprenticeship.

Are degree apprenticeships competitive?

Statistics from the UK government reveal that just 5.8% of all apprenticeship starts in the 2018/19 academic year were at Level 6 or Level 7, equating to 23,000 of 395,000 apprenticeships started. When compared with the number of students that started their first degree, which is just over 516,000, it suggests that competition for degree apprenticeships is high! You are going to have to really impress the employers you are applying to if you want to start a degree apprenticeship, just like any sought-after job or course.

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.

Will I be guaranteed a job?

No, but even if you are not offered a permanent role you will be an employable graduate. You will have benefited from studying a course that is tailored to industry needs, as well as having amassed several years of highly relevant work experience. This means you will have gained critical skills that are valued by employers in your chosen career. However, many apprentices do secure a permanent role after they have completed their apprenticeship. According to government figures, 90% of apprentices in England stayed on in employment after completing their qualification; 71% with the same employer.

How do I apply?

You can search and apply for degree apprenticeships through a number of websites including GOV.UK’s  Find an apprenticeship service.

Unlike traditional degrees there is 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. However, larger organisations will start advertising their positions from the previous autumn onwards and smaller organisations may wait until spring.

Is there support for degree apprentices with disabilities?

You may be eligible for reasonable adjustments and support if you are disabled, which includes specific learning difficulties such as dyslexia. We recommend that you disclose your disability to your employer so that reasonable adjustments can be considered within the workplace. Degree apprentices are not eligible for Disabled Student Allowances, but you can apply to Access to Work as soon as possible to cover any needs you have around specialist equipment or assistive technology.