Information for applicants

20% study, 80% work

Graduate apprenticeships

Important update for prospective applicants

On-campus learning at Heriot-Watt University has always been a key feature of graduate apprenticeship programme delivery and has undoubtedly helped to develop our GA community into the exciting network of employer partners that we work with today. The last year has required rapid adjustment to a responsive blended approach - enabling learners to access learning no matter their location.

We continue to respond to the needs of our current and future learners. So with this in mind we’re delighted to announce that GA programmes at Heriot-Watt will remain accessible remotely. Learners will have the option to attend campus (depending on any restrictions in place) or to access learning from their workplace or home. We look forward to continuing to work with existing partners and to welcoming new employer partners to our exciting programmes.

For more information on places available for a 2021 start, please contact

Do you want to study but have bills to pay? Have you reached the point in your career where only a degree can get you the promotion you want? Have you thought about studying while working, but the demanding hours at university make it impossible?

Then the graduate apprenticeships (GA) scheme is exactly what you need because it is an innovative way for you to achieve a degree while continuing full-time work and spending minimal time on campus.

Whether you’ve just finished school and want to earn money rather than go to university, in the traditional way, or you’re a current employee wanting to increase your opportunities at work. With a GA your working hours are recognised as practice experience, reducing the amount of time that would normally be required to study alongside working.

The balance between work and study is about 4 to 1, but because the two activities are integrated it’s very efficient, allowing you to complete your degree in the same time as a traditional full-time degree would take.

GAs require you to have paid employment at the moment the GA starts. This means you learn while you earn rather than having to rely on student loans to fund your degree. The tuition fees are also paid so you don’t have to worry about these either.

GAs are open to people employed in sectors funded by Skills Development Scotland.

How do graduate apprenticeships benefit your career?

A graduate apprenticeship (GA) is directly linked to your job so you’re paid your salary while you’re doing your degree. This means you will not have a student loan to repay.

You will be learning in the workplace, working on actual tasks while doing your degree. In partnership with your employer, we will help you put your learning into practice to deliver projects for your employer. If you like ´learning by doing´ and seeing the application of theory to practical problems, then a GA programme is perfect for you.

Meet Lukasz Wojcik - graduate apprentice at Scotmas Group, world leading designers and manufacturers of Chlorine Dioxide systems. He explains:"In my mind, it’s never too late to start studying or start again. When you’re young, you don’t always appreciate how much education can be useful in further life and being 34 and start studying again, it’s giving a good example to my kids."

Choice of degree programmes in key disciplines

Graduate apprenticeships are a ground-breaking initiative, creating degree-qualified employees with key skills tailored to the needs of business. We offer the following range of programmes:

Places are in high demand, and offered on a first-come, first-served basis to qualified employees - so please contact us for information now.

Why Heriot-Watt?

Since 1821 our focus has been on the practical application and exchange of knowledge with industry and for advancement of society. Today we are a world-leading university with 5 campuses worldwide, educating the professionals of tomorrow and generating pioneering research.

Our degrees are highly regarded for their professional relevance and we have an excellent record of preparing students for successful careers.

Not sure yet? Meet our GA partners and read their success stories

We work with employers to understand what they need from their apprentices and we look at the skills that the apprentices already have

Robin Westacott, Associate Professor of Chemical Engineering

How to apply? 

If you are already working, ask your manager to get in touch with us by completing this web form.

If you are looking for an employer who could employ you and put you forward for the GA programme, you can look up the page and use the key word “Graduate Apprentice” to find vacancies with current partner companies.


What are graduate apprenticeships?

We are offering the opportunity to support current employees and new talents to become successful graduates. Our three study programmes are designed specially to meet the needs of industry, bringing together academic expertise and real-world experience, transferring knowledge for mutual benefit.

What does 'work-based learning' mean?

Work-based learning means that activities in the workplace count towards the degree in terms of learning and assessment.

So GAs are not like trying to do a degree as well as doing a full-time job; they are integrated so that work counts toward the degree and the degree contributes towards work. In this way, the degree is completed in the same time, 4 years, as a full-time undergraduate honours degree programme usually is –in Scotland the degree awarded is either a BSc (Hons) or MA (Hons).

What is a proportion between work and studies?

The employer agrees on the exact split between work and learning and the University providing the course, which means that attendance at University can be flexible based on employer’s requirements. However, the optimal balance between work and study is about 4 to 1.

Are GAs for current employees or new recruits?

Both. GA is open to existing employees and new talents.

Would I be a student or employee?

You will have the best of both. You will be an employee first and foremost, but you will have most of the benefits of being a student. You will spend about 80% of your time at work and 20% at Heriot-Watt University where you will be registered as a full-time student, giving you access to all the university’s facilities.

How long does the course take?

GA programmes takes no longer than the equivalent traditional degree, so an Honours degree takes 4 years. Depending on your previous qualifications, you may be eligible for advanced entry and/or exemptions so it may take less!

How is the GA programme structured?

The study will include standard classroom sessions with other apprentices, taught by our leading academics and industry experts. In addition, we use online learning modules, directed learning and work-based projects.

Each apprentice will have a dedicated academic supervisor and we will arrange regular supervisory meetings, either on-site or via conference call or Skype.

Am I eligible for a student loan?

As a paid employee, you wouldn’t be eligible for SAAS funding. There may be other grants and bursaries available to you but you will be paid for studying anyway.

What are the fees?

Skills Development Scotland pays the fees directly to the University. When you are enrolled at the University, you will be asked to complete a GA registration form which arranges the payment of all fees. You do not have to worry about SAAS.

What degree will I have after completion?

Successful apprentices will be awarded an honours degree in their chosen field of study.

When does the programme start?

September 2019, although there are flexible entry and exit points, tailored to your needs.

Is there a deadline for applying?

The deadline is in August but please apply as soon as you’ve decided, so that we can reserve a place for you. We have limited places per year and they are offered on a first-come, first-served basis to qualified candidates.

What entrance qualifications do I need?

The exact entry requirements will vary depending on the programme and will be loosely tied to those for the most closely related traditional degree programmes.

Normally, we expect a minimum of 4 Scottish Highers or equivalent, but we recognise that there are a number of routes to be recommended for a GA programme. We will treat each potential GA student individually, taking into account any relevant work experience, including any other form of apprenticeship.

To be eligible for a GA the applicant must be:

  • living and working in Scotland;
  • at least 16 years old (some employers may restrict this to 18 for health and safety reasons);
  • working for an employer based in Scotland in an area related to one of the programmes;
  • recommended by the employer.

Employees who have already studied or achieved a degree level qualification are still eligible to apply if it leads to a higher level of qualification or a new area of learning.

Why do we need graduate apprenticeships in Scotland?

International experience demonstrates how degree-level apprenticeships can drive economic growth. We believe this approach can benefit the Scottish economy. The range of approaches taken in countries including Switzerland and Germany to develop employer-led, work-based learning pathways to learning and employment provide the basis for how Scotland can use work-based learning to improve the operation of the labour market and to deliver economic growth. Skills Development Scotland is now leveraging the development of graduate apprenticeships to support this change.