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Higher and Degree apprenticeships

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Higher and Degree apprenticeships

As well as intermediate (Level 2) Apprenticeships and Advanced Apprenticeships (Level 3) there are now two Apprenticeships that provide students with an opportunity to work and study towards a higher level qualification:

Higher Apprenticeships

Higher Apprenticeships (HAs) help learners to work and gain relevant qualifications, and can offer a progression route from an Advanced Apprenticeship as well as potentially from other Level 3 qualifications.  Apprentices work towards work based learning qualifications such as a Level 4 Competence Qualification, Functional Skills and, in some cases, a knowledge based qualification such as a Foundation Degree, HND or HNC or a Degree. Apprentices are usually employed by the company and will receive a wage.

Examples of Higher Apprenticeships include:

  • Accounting
  • Advanced Diagnostics and Management Principles
  • Advanced Manufacturing Engineering 
  • Advertising and Marketing Communications
  • Agriculture
  • Banking
  • Broadcast Production
  • Broadcasting Technology
  • Business and Administration
  • Business, Innovation and Growth
  • Care Leadership and Management
  • Commercial Airline Piloting
  • Construction Technical and Professional
  • Contact Centre Operations
  • Creative and Digital Media: Interactive Media
  • Engineering Environmental Technologies
  • Express Logistics
  • Facilities Management
  • Fashion and Textiles (Technical)
  • Hospitality Management
  • Human Resource Management
  • Insurance
  • IT, Software, Web and Telecoms Professionals
  • Legal Services
  • Life Sciences
  • Management
  • Power Engineering (Utilities Engineering Operations)*
  • Professional Services: Audit, Accountancy, Tax
  • Professional Services: Audit, Tax, Management
  • Public Relations
  • Space Engineering
  • Project Management
  • Retail Management
  • Supply Chain Management
  • Sustainable Building Technologies
  • Sustainable Resource Management
  • The Water Industry (Systems Operation and Management / Waste Management Water)
  • The Water Industry (Utilities Network Management)
  • Vehicle Maintenance and Repair
  • Work based learning for Practitioners

Degree apprenticeships

Degree Apprenticeships are the latest model to be developed as part of Higher Apprenticeship standards, seeing Apprentices achieving a full Bachelor’s or Master’s Degree as a core component of the Apprenticeship. Degree Apprenticeships combine both higher and vocational education, and test both the wider occupational competence and academic learning, either using a fully-integrated Degree co-designed by employers and HEIs, or using a Degree plus separate end-test of professional competence.

Examples of Degree Apprenticeships include:

  • Automotive Engineering
  • Banking Relationship Manager
  • Chartered Surveying
  • Construction
  • Digital
  • Electronic Systems Engineering
  • Aerospace Engineering
  • Aerospace Software Development
  • Defence Systems Engineering
  • Laboratory Science
  • Nuclear
  • Power Systems
  • Public Relations


Last year over 5,200 learners nationally were studying for a Higher Apprenticeships in one of 40+ subject areas. However a significant number are 25+ learners, who are already in employment. As well as high competition levels for many apprenticeships, opportunities will be limited by geography and sector availability. Currently the majority of HAs are available in the business or public & health care sectors. Degree Apprenticeships were launched in September 2015 so numbers of Apprenticeship starts currently are low.

Entry Requirements

Higher / Degree Apprenticeships normally require qualifications at Level 3 - such as A-Levels, BTEC or OCR Cambridge National, NVQ Level 3 or an Advanced Apprenticeship, plus achievement at GCSE level, typically 5 A-C grades.  Entry requirements will vary by employer and may also include some relevant work experience. Grade requirements for many will be high.

A Higher or Degree Apprentice will have time for off-the-job training which can include day-release (one day a week at college or university) or block-release, (a ‘block’ of several weeks). Some Apprenticeships might include distance learning, meaning students might not step foot in a university or college as part of the training.


The cost of a higher or degree apprenticeship should in most cases be paid for by the government and the employer. This includes the cost of any higher level course undertaken.

The Complete Guide to Higher & Degree Apprenticeships 2017/18

This guide provides a comprehensive breakdown of Higher & Degree Apprenticeships, how and when to apply for them and helpful career related information for anyone considering taking an apprenticeship.

NAS & Which? University Complete Guide to Higher & Degree Apprenticeships 2017/18