FAQ: What Is a Degree Apprenticeship? (Plus American Options)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published September 15, 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Degree apprenticeships are programs in the United Kingdom that combine studying at a university and working as an apprentice in an industry to earn a degree. Although these programs aren't available in the United States, there are programs that allow students to earn college credit while pursuing apprenticeships. If you're interested in completing an apprenticeship while taking college classes, it may be important to learn about some options that allow you to accomplish both goals.

In this article, we answer frequently asked questions about earning college credits by completing apprenticeships, such as what these programs entail and their benefits.

What is a degree apprenticeship?

A degree apprenticeship is a program created in the United Kingdom that allows students to earn their college degrees while completing an apprenticeship. This program combines studying and working, meaning that the apprenticeship results in eventually earning a degree. Through degree apprenticeships, students spend time completing courses while simultaneously working as an apprentice to gain work-related experience. These programs are currently only available in the United Kingdom, but a similar option in the United States allows students to earn apprenticeship credits that apply to earning their degree.

Related: What Is an Apprenticeship?

Can you use apprenticeship credits toward a degree in the United States?

Certain colleges or universities in the United States partner with apprenticeship programs to allow students to earn college credits, and there are many industries in which they can study while completing one. For example, students can choose to complete an apprenticeship in health care, construction or engineering. Earning college credits through an apprenticeship is a valuable option for those who may have difficulty deciding between pursuing entry-level positions and college after graduating high school.

Upon completing apprenticeships, students are typically closer to earning their degree and have gained enough experience to find a job in their field upon graduation or simply after completing the apprenticeship. Some community colleges or unions offer traditional apprenticeships, which are programs that provide experience through tasks performed as an apprentice. Colleges that partner with these apprenticeships may include a few classes, but most students may have to take classes that aren't associated with an apprenticeship to fully earn a degree.

How does earning credits for apprenticeships work?

The first step to earning credits for apprenticeships is for candidates to apply to apprenticeships that partner with an accredited college. Some community colleges offer programs that allow students to work in an apprenticeship while taking college classes. Typically, these students work and study full time, though their schedules vary. They may have classes for a few days a week, with the rest of the week devoted to apprenticeship tasks. Since students are working, their employer also pays them a salary. Apprenticeship salaries may vary depending on location, size of the company and type of apprenticeship. These programs usually take three to six years to complete.

Related: What Are the Differences Between an Apprenticeship and an Internship?

Which industries can you earn college credit in through apprenticeships?

Here are some areas you can receive college credit in by pursuing apprenticeships:

Engineering

If you're interested in designing and building machines or other products, you might choose to pursue an apprenticeship in engineering. Some college courses you can take in this program may include calculus, physics, introduction to engineering and applied mechanics. During an apprenticeship program, you may build machinery, test parts or install software programs. Some specific engineering degree programs may include:

  • Aerospace engineering

  • Power engineering

  • Risk and safety management

  • Nuclear engineering

  • Manufacturing engineering

Related: Four Different Types of Apprenticeships (With FAQs)

Construction

You may be interested in completing a construction apprenticeship if you enjoy building and would like to create structures using power tools. In this college program, you might take courses such as construction safety and health, project management, civil engineering or substructure technology. While you complete an apprenticeship, you might assist professionals in different areas of construction, such as carpentry, plumbing or welding. Here are some degree options for students wanting to enter the construction industry:

  • Architecture

  • Building design engineering

  • Construction site managing

  • Civil engineering

  • Construction quantity surveying

Health care

If you want to pursue a position in the medical field, such as a doctor, nurse or specialist role, you might consider a health care apprenticeship. Coursework may vary widely depending on the specific degree you pursue. For example, a surgeon may take significantly different classes than a dietitian. Common topics that most students learn in health care include medical terminology, epidemiology or health care ethics. Apprenticeship programs may also vary, but a nursing student might work alongside a mentor in a clinic, while a dietetic student might create meal plans for patients. Here are some additional degree examples:

  • Paramedicine

  • Radiography

  • Pharmaceutical sciences

  • Podiatry

  • Sonography

Education

An education apprenticeship may be a valuable option for students who would like to teach or pursue other related careers. You may take classes such as childhood development, classroom management or instructional planning while completing this program. An apprenticeship program in this industry might include working with a mentor in a school setting. Some degree programs you could choose from include:

  • Elementary education

  • Middle and high school education

  • Early childhood education

  • Special needs education

Business

If you're interested in entrepreneurship, business management or accounting, you could choose to seek an apprenticeship in business. Since there are several fields within the business industry, coursework for these types of programs varies. Typically, you still learn some business fundamentals, such as human resources management, project management, logistics and marketing. During these apprenticeships, you might work with different professionals to perform clerical duties or implement sales strategies. Here are some business degrees you could earn:

  • Project managing

  • Product managing

  • Human resources consulting

  • Operations managing

  • Chartered managing

Related: Apprenticeship vs. Trade School: Benefits and Differences

Finance

A finance apprenticeship program might be beneficial if you enjoy learning about economic processes. While in school, you might learn about budgeting, financial analysis, financial management and corporate finances. Depending on your specific apprenticeship, you may complete different tasks and duties with a mentor. For example, you might help customers manage their finances or conduct accounting tasks for a company. Some finance degrees you could pursue include:

  • Actuarial science

  • Risk management

  • Financial advising

  • Banking

  • Insurance

What are the benefits of earning college credits through an apprenticeship?

There are many benefits of earning college credits while completing an apprenticeship, such as:

  • Financial aid: Earning college credits through an apprenticeship can be a financially secure option since many colleges, universities or employers may offer financial aid for these programs. This is a valuable benefit because you can potentially earn credits for your degree and practical experience while accumulating little or no student debt.

  • Salary: While you're taking classes and completing your apprenticeship, an employer pays you a regular salary for your work. This can help you save money and ensure financial security while in school.

  • Mentorship: During an apprenticeship, you typically work with a professional mentor. This person can help teach and guide you, as well as answer your questions and offer career advice.

  • Networking: While earning your degree and completing your apprenticeship, you may meet many students, professors, mentors and other professionals. Networking can help you discover career opportunities or meet people who can teach you new skills.

  • Skill development: You can gain and expand upon your skills through an apprenticeship that offers college credit. During the apprenticeship, you might gain work-related hard skills that can help you become more successful in your career.

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