What’s the difference between an apprenticeship and a degree apprenticeship?


This is a common question we hear among those interested in taking up an apprenticeship in the future. It’s important to note that apprenticeships and degree apprenticeships are distinct programmes with their own individual advantages.


Apprenticeships give you the opportunity to earn money while you learn, you earn money right from day one of your employment and training. You will work for your employer and usually study for one day a week either at a college or training centre.

Taking from one to six years to complete (depending on which apprenticeship you choose, what level it's at, and your previous experience) an apprenticeship is equally funded between the government and your employer and you receive a regular salary. By the end of your apprenticeship, you'll hopefully have gained the skills and knowledge needed to either succeed in your chosen career or progress onto the next apprenticeship level.

Apprenticeships are a great option for getting on the job ladder or supercharging your career, for example if you’re looking for a change in career direction, or if you're returning to work after a break. Different apprenticeships are available all over England, at companies large and small, in a wide range of industries and organisations. From local organisations to large national brands.

If you're 16 or over, you can become an apprentice as long as you spend at least 50% of your working hours in England - for the duration of the apprenticeship and you are not in full-time education.

There are four different levels of apprenticeship:

  • Intermediate - equivalent to five good GCSE passes.
  • Advanced - equivalent to two A-level passes.
  • Higher - equivalent to the first stages of higher education, such as a foundation degree.
  • Degree - comparable to a Bachelors or Masters degree.

Degree Apprenticeships

Degree Apprenticeships are the latest model to be developed as part of the Higher Apprenticeship standards, offering Level 6 and 7 qualifications. The main difference is that within a degree apprenticeship, you can earn a degree as an integral part of the apprenticeship without the price tag of a traditional degree. The degree is co-designed by employers to make sure it’s relevant for the skills the industry is looking for.

Another difference is that degree apprenticeships are only available in vocational subjects that require a high level of academia, the range of subjects on offer is narrower than that of traditional apprenticeships (mainly technical and management sectors).

Similarly to apprenticeships, the cost of course fees are shared between government and employers, meaning that the apprentice can earn a full bachelors or even masters degree without paying any fees.

Can I do a degree apprenticeship?

Degree apprenticeships are primarily targeted at 18 to 19-year-old school leavers as an alternative route to gaining a degree, especially those who are unsure about university due to high tuition fees and student debt. However, they're also suitable for mature students.

We hope this helps clarify and queries about apprenticeships and degree apprenticeships! Both provide a great opportunity to gain valuable work experience to help develop your career - check out our latest roles.