Information for applicants

20% study, 80% work

Graduate apprenticeships

Are you interested in studying towards an honours degree while earning a full-time salary? Maybe you’ve just finished school and are looking to kickstart your career and earn money rather than do a traditional undergraduate degree at University? Or perhaps you’re an existing employee looking to increase your career opportunities?

Then a Graduate Apprenticeship could be the ideal solution for you to achieve a degree while being in full-time employment. A Graduate Apprenticeship (GA) provides a unique combination of work-based learning and academic study, enabling you to earn while you learn.

How do Graduate Apprenticeships benefit your career?

With a GA you’ll be learning in the workplace, working on actual tasks while doing your degree. In partnership with your employer, we’ll 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. Here are some of the key benefits of a GA:

  • Not only do you earn while you learn, the degrees are fully funded by the Scottish Funding Council meaning there are no additional costs for you or your employer.
  • Your learning can be applied in the workplace straight away.
  • You can boost your career options by building transferable, industry-recognised skills that are highly valued by employers.
  • You can achieve the degree in the same timescale as a normal undergraduate degree, while building up four years' work experience at the same time.
  • A Graduate Apprenticeship allows you to upskill or retrain while learning in a way that's right for your circumstances.

Want to hear from our Graduate Apprentices? Visit our case study page as they share their experiences of their GA journey.

Get in touch today

If you’d like to discuss how a Graduate Apprenticeship could boost your career, simply register your interest by completing our short form.

Register your interest

Choice of degree programmes covering key disciplines

We offer the following range of GA programmes:

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.

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.

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?

From 2021 all Graduate Apprentices must apply directly to Student Awards Agency Scotland (SAAS) for funding. SAAS then pays the fees directly to the University. Find out more about the SAAS funding.

What degree will I have after completion?

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

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.

Register your interest in Graduate Apprenticeships

Places are in high demand, and offered on a first come, first served basis to qualified employees – so please register your interest right away.

If you are an employer, please complete the contact form to our GA team and we will contact you to discuss a detailed plan for your company.

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 Skills Development Scotland home page and use the key word “Graduate Apprentice” to find vacancies with current partner companies.

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