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 a degree apprenticeship is just as academically challenging as a traditional degree. You’ll be awarded the same quality degree as students studying full time at Aston University. This means you’ll be expected to study just as hard as our regular 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 maximum age limit, but apprentices must be at least 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 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 qualifications 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 spend 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 at various points throughout the year, 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.