An affordable alternative to a master’s degree in the UK

Master’s degree apprenticeships can be highly appealing as it allows you to earn a salary.

By U2B Staff 

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Are you thinking about going back to school for a postgraduate degree? In the UK, a master’s degree apprenticeship will help you gain new skills while juggling work with part-time study — without the eye-watering tuition fees.

Master’s degree apprenticeships can be highly appealing as it allows you to earn a salary. At the same time, your employer and the government will cover your tuition fees — so long as you can manage your time between work and study.

In the UK, apprenticeships have equivalent educational levels; Level 6 and 7 are equivalent to a bachelor’s or master’s, respectively. Entry requirements for Level 7 apprenticeships vary. 

UCAS notes that some employers have specific entry requirements, while many employers expect applicants to have qualifications in subjects related to the particular apprenticeship.


“Degree apprenticeships are still quite new, so there are a limited number of vacancies. It’s anticipated that the number of vacancies will grow over the next year or two,” says UCAS.

Degree apprenticeships were developed with the government, employers and universities. 

The Office for Students (OfS) notes that students spend a minimum of 30 hours at work each week. “The exact balance of work and study is agreed between the apprentice’s university or college and their employer, but must include at least 20% of their time in off-the-job training,” it says on its website. 

Aspiring postgraduate students could opt for apprenticeship levy-funding routes to save costs on their postgraduate degree. An apprenticeship levy is a UK business tax on employers which can be used to fund apprenticeship training. 

Master’s degree apprenticeships for professionals of all backgrounds  

If you are curious to know more about how master’s level apprenticeships work, it helps to know what kind of master’s degree apprenticeships there are and what they encompass.

The Cranfield School of Management, for instance, offers a portfolio of Level 7 Senior Leader Apprenticeship programmes, including a Senior Leader Apprenticeship+ Executive MBA, Management and Leadership MSc, Marketing and Leadership MSc and Logistics and Supply Chain Management MSc, in partnership with Grant Thornton.


You can also find a programme in the field of architecture — the University of Portsmouth offers a master’s degree apprenticeship in architecture.

“On this four-year architect degree apprenticeship, you’ll develop the professional and creative skills for a successful career in architecture. You’ll cover topics such as urbanism, landscape, sustainability and culture in a studio environment,” notes the university on its website.

“During term time, you’ll spend one day a week on day release at the university and the other four days applying your skills and getting practical experience in the workplace. The government or your employer pay your tuition fees — so your architecture degree apprenticeship doesn’t cost you anything.”

Lancaster University Management School offers two Level 7 Leadership Master’s Degree Programmes that can be funded from the apprenticeship levy: Senior Leaders Masters Degree Apprenticeship Programme and MSc Manufacturing Leadership.

It’s clear that there are many areas of study with degree apprenticeships. 

There’s usually no guarantee of a job upon completing your degree apprenticeship, but obtaining a new qualification while amassing work experience can bode well in enhancing your employability.