Apprenticeships

What is the Difference Between Higher and Degree apprenticeships?

4 min
February 23, 2021

They’re pretty closely linked, but believe it or not there are some key differences between higher and degree apprenticeships!

To help you on your way to deciding which starting point is right for you, we’ve broken it all down for you in this handy little blog. Let's start with the basics.

What’sa Higher Apprenticeship?

During a higher apprenticeship, you’ll get the opportunity to gain a Level 4 qualification or above. Alongside studying, you’ll work with an employer in your chosen industry to put what you learn into real work contexts.

Most higher apprentices achieve an NVQ Level 4, a Higher National Diploma or a Foundation Degree. Higher apprenticeships have been designed to help you level-up your studies as you gain experience and confidence, so some even give you the opportunity to build your qualifications equivalent to postgraduate study at Level 7.

What’sa Degree Apprenticeship?

Just like a higher apprenticeship, a degree apprenticeship allows you to work towards your qualification while working in the relevant industry and earning a salary.

Degree apprenticeships offer you exactly what it says on the tin: the chance to work towards gaining a degree. You’ll start at either a Level 6 or Level 7 qualification (a Bachelor’s Degree or Master’s Degree respectively) depending on your previous studies and experience.

Are there any more differences between higher and degree apprenticeships?

We know what you're thinking - with both options offering you the chance to study all the way up to postgraduate study, how do they differ?

Well, lucky for you we’ve popped all thedetails in a handy little table, because who doesn’t love a table right?

Higher Apprenticeships Degree Apprenticeships What certificates do I leave with?

Typically, a Level 4, HND or Foundation degree. Although you get the opportunity to cover aspects of Level 6 or 7 qualifications, you won’t be able to leave with a degree or masters certification. What certificates do I leave with?


You’ll finish your program with a full Bachelor’s or Master’s level qualification and certificate. Are there any additional qualifications?
Depending on your previous qualifications, some programs might need you to do additional studies in Functional Skills. Are there any additional qualifications?
A degree is pretty full-on as it is! To get onto one you’ll need to demonstrate a strong academic acumen, so you can put your full focus on your degree program alone. Where can I study?
Higher Apprenticeships can be held in partnership with employers and training organisations, colleges or universities, meaning there’s more opportunity to find one. Where can I study?
Degree Apprenticeships are still emerging, and they’re held in partnership with universities offering the program. Because of this, the locations where they are available is a bit more limited. What can I study?
There are over 40 Higher Apprenticeship frameworks, covering a wide range of industries and studies. What can I study?
The list of Degree Apprenticeships is growing, but it’s still a relatively new pathway which means your top choice of subject might not be available. How long does the program last for?
Higher apprenticeships have to last for a minimum of one year - which is enough time to get your Level 4 qualification. But you can be in the program longer depending on which level of study you’re working towards. How long does the program last for?
Anywhere between 4 and 6 years, again, depending on which level of qualification you’re working towards and how your particular program is structured.

So there you haveit! A little break down of the key differences. One thing we really want tostress is that there is absolutely no wrong or right pathway when deciding foryourself - it’s all about what works best for you and your circumstances.

If you’re ready to dive a bit deeper into what each of these pathways involves, you can find out more about higher apprenticeships and degree apprenticeships in our handy careers guide section.

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