What is a degree apprenticeship?

Degree apprenticeships offer you the opportunity to work while you study for a fully-funded degree.

You'll spend at least 20% of your time working towards your degree through on-campus study days, online learning such as webinars through our virtual learning environment, work shadowing, mentoring and work-based projects. The benefit is that you immediately see how theory works in practice.

How is it different from going to university?
  • You’ll get a degree without any student debt as your employer will pay your tuition fees for you.
  • Degree apprentices graduate with up to five years of professional work experience which gives them an edge when it comes to furthering their careers.
  • Not only are there no tuition fees to pay, degree apprentices are paid a full salary by their employer for working and studying.
  • You’ll spend 80% of your working week at work and 20% working towards your degree.
  • You will study through a combination of on-campus study days, online webinars through our virtual learning environment, Blackboard and through assignments tailored to your role at work.
  • You’ll gain new skills and knowledge that relates directly to your job role and your organisation which will transform the way you work.
  • Many programmes are also accredited by professional bodies or will prepare you for professional exams.
Is a degree apprenticeship an easier option than university?

Lots of people mistakenly see degree apprenticeships as a fall back option if they don’t get their predicted A Level grades. But actually, they are just as academically challenging. You’ll be awarded the same quality degree as traditional students studying at Aston University. This means you’ll be expected to study just as hard as our full-time students.

Plus as a degree apprentice, you’ll have to balance your career with studying which can be very demanding. You won’t just be running errands at work either. You’ll be working on projects with real responsibility from day one. The experience you gain over the course of your apprenticeship will set you apart from other graduates.

Degree apprenticeships are highly competitive. A recent study found there are just under 6,000 level 6 and 7 degree apprentices in the UK compared with over 1.8 million UK students studying at university.

The recruitment process for degree apprenticeships is rigorous and employers will expect you to have studied hard in your exams and have valuable skills that make you workplace-ready. They will want to see that you go above and beyond expectations, can work in a team, have leadership qualities, good negotiation skills and take responsibility for your actions.

How much will it cost me?

As a degree apprentice you will have no tuition fees to pay. Your learning will be funded through the apprenticeship levy which your employer will contribute to. So you will have no need to apply for student finance and no student debt when you graduate.

What degree apprenticeships are on offer at Aston University?

Check the up-to-date listing of the degree apprenticeships on offer at Aston University and programmes that are currently in development.

Am I eligible for a degree apprenticeship?

Each employer sets their own entry requirements so for accurate information it is best to check their website. Typically degree apprenticeship candidates will need three A Levels (or equivalent) for a Level 6 apprenticeship. For our Level 7 programmes you will need a good honours degree and some require you to have relevant work experience in the industry.

Additional entry requirements from the government include:

  • A minimum of Grade 4 or C in GCSE Mathematics and English or equivalent
  • Be a UK/EU/EAA resident for at least three years prior to starting the course
  • Have left full time education when the apprenticeship starts
  • Be at least 16 years old
  • Right to work in the UK.

If you aren’t sure if you meet the entry requirements, please contact our Apprenticeship Team with the name of the programme you wish to apply for and details of your academic and professional qualifications.

Are apprenticeships just for young people?

No, there’s no age limit as long as apprentices are over 16 years old. So no matter what stage of your career, a degree apprentice could be a great way to build on your knowledge and develop your career. Our apprentices range from 18 to 55 so it is never too late to continue learning.

Can I do an apprenticeship if I already have a degree?

Yes, graduates are eligible for Level 6 degree apprenticeship funding, however, the apprenticeship must be significantly different to the degree you already hold to ensure that new skills, knowledge and behaviours are gained.

If you want to study a Level 7 programme, you will need a degree to be eligible or a significant amount of work experience in the industry.

It may be possible to accredit prior learning and reduce the length of the degree apprenticeship if you have a small amount of overlap. This is assessed on a case-by-case basis so please email apprenticeships@aston.ac.uk with details of the qualifications you hold ad the name of the programme you want to enrol on.

How long will it take me to complete a degree apprenticeship?

Degree apprenticeship lengths vary from programme to programme, ranging from two to five years.

A Level 6 degree apprenticeship will usually last between three and five years and a Level 7 degree apprenticeship at Aston University will last between two and two-and-a-half years.

How much will I get paid? 

At the very least you will be paid the National Minimum Wage. It is up to the employer if they offer more than this or have salary reviews throughout the apprenticeship, so you should do your research before applying. 

If you are already employed, you will continue to receive your current salary.

What qualification will I get at the end?

Our degree apprenticeship programmes include qualifications such as bachelors degrees, postgraduate diplomas, masters degrees and MBAs. You can find out the degree title you will be awarded in the key information section of the course pages.

You will be invited to attend a graduation ceremony where you will collect your degree certificate and celebrate your achievement with fellow Aston graduates.

You will also achieve an apprenticeship certificate that is graded at pass, merit or distinction.

Some programmes also include professional accreditation or will prepare you to sit professional examinations.

Do I need to arrange student accommodation?

As you are applying for a full-time role, you won’t need to apply for student accommodation. It is important that you think about where your role is based and how far you are willing to commute, or if you are willing to move away from home. You will spent the majority of your time at work so you should look for accommodation near your workplace rather than near Aston University.

Your employer will discuss with you the travel/accommodation arrangements for on-campus study days.

Will I still get the student experience?

Just like any other Aston student, you’ll have full access to take part in all aspects of student life. You’ll be able to join societies and sports groups and make use of all the facilities on campus.

A degree apprenticeship is different from the typical student experience as you will be working most of the time. But that doesn’t mean you won’t be enjoying yourself. Apprentice have the opportunity to meet face-to-face at the on-campus study days giving them the chance to make new friends and go out after lectures are finished for the day.

Our apprentices say:

“People said I would be missing out on the university experience, I don’t believe I missed out on anything. I’ve spent the last five years doing exactly what I wanted to do and I’ve gained a degree without any debt. My degree apprenticeship has been a life experience.”

Hugeutte Makamu, Digital and Technology Solutions Degree Apprentice

“Some people initially said to me I would miss out on being a uni student, they’re the best years of your life, and I did worry but then you realise you have a lot more freedom. Instead of going to uni and being in debt, I have a job, a salary, I am learning valuable skills and gaining a qualification, and I get the chance to go on several holidays a year!”

Anika Mehangra, Digital and Technology Solutions Degree Apprentice

What are my career prospects?

As a degree apprentice, you are already gaining excellent professional experience with your employer. At the end of your apprenticeship they will want you to continue your career with them as they have invested time and money into training you up to become a model employee.

The majority of our graduate degree apprentices have stayed on with their employer. They have been promoted (sometimes multiple times) throughout their apprenticeship and are often leading teams in management positions.

How will I fit study around full time work? 

Apprenticeships are structured differently to a traditional degree. You'll spend the majority of your time in the workplace doing a real full-time job as well as studying part time. Your learning will be made up of a mixture of online seminars that take place outside of office hours as well as occasional sessions on campus where you can meet face-to-face with your peers and our academics.

Online sessions take place through Blackboard, Aston's Virtual Learning Environment. You can log in at set times to watch the sessions live, or if you have other commitments, you can watch the recording at a later date.

Study time is structured to fit around your job, as are exams. Your apprenticeship is designed in partnership with your employer to ensure that you are on track with your work and study commitments.

What support will I receive?

You will be supported from both Aston University and your employer throughout your degree apprenticeship. You’ll be assigned a personal tutor who will advise you throughout your studies. You can get involved in mentoring and many companies offer a buddy system in addition to support from your line manager.

When can I start?

All of our programmes can be started in September/October, the beginning of the academic year. Our more popular programmes have additional entry points throughout the year. Please see the key information section on the course page of the degree apprenticeship you are interested in for more details.

How do I apply?

Unlike the traditional university route, you do not apply through UCAS for a degree apprenticeship. Instead you will be applying directly to the employer that is offering the apprenticeship.

Please refer to our how to apply page for more information.


What is the apprenticeship levy?

The apprenticeship levy was introduced by the government in April 2017 and affects all businesses in England with a payroll over £3 million per year. Employers who are required to pay the apprenticeship levy must pay 0.5 per cent of their annual pay bill. Employers can draw down funds from the levy to spend on apprenticeship training.
Find out more about how the levy impacts your business 

Employers who do not pay the apprenticeship levy are also eligible for apprenticeship funding through the government's co-investment scheme. The government will fund at least 95% of the training costs with addition incentives if certain criteria are met.
More information for non-levy paying businesses

As of April 2019, levy-paying employers with unused apprenticeship levy funds may transfer up to 25 per cent of their annual funds to any employer. Employers may transfer funds to as many employers as they wish to be used for the cost of training and assessment of apprentices.
Information about transferring levy funds

What is a degree apprenticeship?

Degree apprenticeships offer a new route to a degree qualification combined with on the job training. They are structured programmes that are designed in partnership with business and industry to develop a set of knowledge, skills and behaviours required to do a certain job role.

Apprentices will spend the majority of their time in the workplace with real tasks and responsibilities that allow them to learn new skills while they work. Alongside this, they will be studying towards a degree, gaining the theory required to underpin their day-to-day role.

What is a standard? 

An apprenticeship standard is a specification that determines the structure of an apprenticeship programme, covering three main criteria that make up an apprentice's occupational profile: knowledge, skills and behaviours. Standards are created by employers in the sector to ensure the apprenticeship will equip apprentices with practical skills and theoretical understanding required to master their job role.

Find an apprenticeship standard

What are trailblazers?

Trailblazers are groups of employers that work together to create new apprenticeship standards with the process managed by the Institute for Apprenticeships. They are usually made up of groups of about ten employers based all across the UK. Professional bodies and trade associations are often a part of trailblazer groups.

Employers can join existing trailblazer groups or form a new one to produce a new standard if one doesn't currently exist. Aston University encourages employers to get involved in trailblazer groups because this leads to more standards, more programmes and eventually more apprentices to fill skills gaps in the UK.  Find out more

What are the business benefits of apprenticeships?

Traditionally apprenticeships have been about developing your employees’ operational skills and capabilities for trade roles. Degree apprenticeships are a new way to train up employees by focusing on building key skills, behaviours and knowledge so they can develop in their role while working towards a degree.

Here's how your business could benefit:

  • Apprentices are useful from day one as they can implement their new skills and knowledge straight away at work.
  • Apprenticeship standards are designed by industry and professional bodies to address skills shortages. We'll work with you to tailor assignments to the needs of your business to get the most from your apprentice.
  • Apprentices will bring innovation and creativity to the workplace.
  • Education & Skills Funding Agency research shows that 76 per cent of businesses saw an increase in productivity thanks to their apprentices.
  • Training is paid for using the apprenticeship levy or the co-investment scheme so up to 100 per cent of apprenticeship training cost are covered.
  • You'll attract new talent to bring fresh ideas and add diversity to your organisation.
  • It’s a great opportunity to reward engaged high performing employees and keep them loyal to your organisation.
How much do degree apprenticeships cost?

There are 15 funding bands which apprenticeship standards are allocated to. The bands range from £1,500 to £27,000 per apprenticeship depending on the level and apprenticeship type.

Degree apprenticeships typically sit in band 15, costing £27,000. Using the IFA's apprenticeship search engine, you can check the funding band of all standards that have been approved for delivery, or look at our course pages for more information.

Who is eligible for a degree apprenticeship? 

Degree apprentices can be either new or existing employees. It is up to the individual employer to set their entry requirements. For a Level 6 degree apprenticeship, candidates typically need a Level 4 qualification such as A Levels, BTEC, apprenticeship or equivalent. For a Level 7 degree apprenticeships candidates will need a good honours degree or a significant amount of work experience in the industry.

Additional entry requirements from the government include:

  • A minimum of Grade 4 or C in GCSE Mathematics and English or equivalent
  • Be a UK/EU/EAA resident for at least three years prior to starting the course
  • Have left full time education when the apprenticeship starts
  • Be at least 16 years old
  • Right to work in the UK.
How long do degree apprenticeships take?

The length of a degree apprenticeship varies from programme to programme. Typically Level 6 degree apprenticeships last between three and five years depending on the apprentice's experience. A Level 7 degree apprenticeship lasts for approximately two to two and a half years.

What qualifications do degree apprentices achieve?

Upon successfully completing a degree apprenticeship, learners are awarded an apprenticeship certificate as well as a full honours degree. For Level 6 degree apprenticeships this is a bachelors degree and for Level 7 programmes this is a postgraduate diploma, masters degree or MBA.

In addition, some degree apprenticeships give the opportunity for apprentices to achieve accreditation with professional bodies.

Do degree apprentices need time off to study?

It is a requirement that apprentices spend 20 per cent of their working time undertaking off-the-job-training. This should be training that is completed outside of an apprentice's typical duties and helps them work towards achieving their apprenticeship. This includes attending teaching sessions both on campus and online, completing essays and assignments and practical training, such as shadowing and mentoring.

Can a graduate do a degree apprenticeship?

Yes, graduates are eligible for Level 6 degree apprenticeship funding, however, the apprenticeship must be significantly different to the degree they already hold to ensure that new skills, knowledge and behaviours are gained. It may be possible to accredit prior learning and reduce the length of the degree apprenticeship, this is assessed on a case-by-case basis.

Aston University also offers Level 7 degree apprenticeships which include qualifications such as MSc, MBA and PGdip. These programmes can be suitable for graduates, those with professional qualifications or extensive experience in their sector.

How are degree apprenticeships taught? 

Each degree apprenticeship varies in terms of delivery, but typically programmes are taught through a combination of face-to-face teaching on campus here at Aston University, online sessions (such as lectures and tutorials) using our Virtual Learning Environment called Blackboard and workplace visits.

Employers are also jointly responsible for delivering training in the workplace, such as shadowing, mentoring, e-learning and practical training to satisfy the 20 per cent off-the-job-training requirement.

Still have a question? Get in touch with the Apprenticeships Team