Skip to content


The Senior Leaders Master’s Degree Apprenticeship is a brand new, industry-driven opportunity for a business or organisation of any size to develop their own Senior Management Team.

It has been designed by a group of leading businesses, in conjunction with the Chartered Association of Business Schools (CABS) and professional bodies, to help employers to address skills gaps and grow their own workforce of the future.

An apprentice's journey

28 year old Sally McCreith from Crosby has been working in the NHS for the past eight years. She is now studying for an MBA through an apprenticeship which will help her progress to the next level in her career. Read Sally's story


Master’s degree apprenticeships are a new initiative which allow learners the opportunity to work  and gain funding whilst studying.

The course delivery model is extremely flexible, with compulsory workshop attendance just 12 days per year, supported by a blended learning approach and regular workplace visits.

In particular, the course incorporates individually negotiated consultancy projects that have the potential to benefit specific business areas. Participants have the freedom to negotiate their own learning outcomes and method of assessment. There are no exams.

Typically, this Master’s course is expected to take two and a half years to complete, depending upon prior qualifications and experience and employer requirements. Learners will be assigned to an employer mentor and a personal academic tutor who will work together to ensure that learning is coordinated and fully integrated into the workplace.

This course is operated and managed by the Centre for Work Related Studies (CWRS) at the University of Chester. CWRS specialises in work-based learning for professionals in the workplace and has a worldwide reputation for excellence in this field. It has been commended by the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (QAA) and showcased by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) as a model of good practice in higher education.


This course has been designed to provide development opportunities for as wide a range of individuals as possible, but focuses on those who may already have developed practical experience. Applicants are likely to be in a strategic position with Senior Management responsibility, and this can include formal governance/director responsibilities. The course is suitable for Senior Leaders in any type or size of organisation who wish to further develop their theoretical understanding of higher-level management skills. There is no upper age limit. Entry to the MBA pathway typically requires five years of significant leadership experience.

Applications will be assessed in partnership with employers using qualifications - usually a first degree or significant and relevant experience as the criteria. Applicants are required to hold Maths and English GCSE or Functional Skills Level 2 or equivalent, prior to commencing the programme and additional funding is available to support this. Accreditation of prior certificated Level 7 learning is available where relevant.

Applicants must be employed whilst studying with the University of Chester. Much of the learning will take place in the workplace and will require learners to take additional responsibility in strategic management and leadership practice, including: direction and vision; environmental scanning; market trends and external influences; identifying longer-term opportunities and risks; inclusive leadership; development of ethical, innovative and supportive cultures; and the ability to deliver results.


As this is an apprenticeship scheme, learners are not responsible for payment of tuition fees and there are no additional costs or membership fees to pay.

Levy Payers (employers with £3m+ payroll)

The total course cost is met directly through learners employer’s levy contributions.


The requirement to hold a Master’s degree is becoming increasingly common across a range of management roles and professions. This new opportunity gives companies the chance to attract and grow their own Senior Leaders, and will allow learners the opportunity to combine higher academic and senior managerial skills, which are critical to achieving effective performance as well as the development of new theories and techniques. This Master’s degree aims to equip learners with the cognitive skills and abilities that will help learners to become a successful and effective senior practitioner in the workplace. What distinguishes this apprenticeship from other Master’s-level study courses is the blend of employer-defined skills, knowledge and behaviour outcomes that are integrated and assessed as part of a management Master’s degree, and the potential to achieve professional recognition.

  • Master of Business Administration (MBA)
  • Master of Arts (MA) in Business and Management for Senior Leaders
  • Master of Science (MSc) in Business and Management for Senior Leaders

By completing one of these pathways, learners will also achieve a Level 7 Diploma from the Institute of Leadership and Management (ILM). Learners may also achieve Chartered Manager (CMgr) status or fellowship if their employer selects the CMI as end point assessors.

MA/MSc Pathway

The MA/MSc pathway allows senior leaders to focus on specialised areas relating to their profession, and adapt their award title accordingly. It may also provide opportunities to claim additional exemptions through the accreditation of prior learning. The curriculum is therefore highly focused upon the core competencies identifed to deliver organisational performance, and will include: Strategy; Innovation and Change; Enterprise and Risk; Finance; Leading and Developing People; Developing Collaborative Relationships; Engaging Employees; and Personal and Interpersonal Effectiveness.

MBA Pathway

The MBA pathway requires learners to cover most of the following subject areas: Markets; Marketing and Sales; Customers; Operations; Information Systems and Business Intelligence; Communications and Digital Business and Strategic Management; and Globalisation and Business Innovation. Opportunities to claim exemptions through the accreditation of prior learning will be considered on an individual basis and will be guided by the MBA Benchmark Statements.

Contact us

If you are an employer or a prospective student interested in the Senior Leaders Master’s Degree Apprenticeship, please contact us by email at