Skip navigation

What is a Foundation Degree and What Are My Options After it?

Got a foundation degree and wondering what to do next? We discuss the most popular pathways for graduates - from going on to a top up to working full time.

Foundation degrees are the perfect way for you to explore a prospective career, develop your work based skills and grow your confidence, without committing yourself to a full three years of study.

If you’ve completed yours, you may be considering what your next move should be.

What do others in your position do after qualifying? Well, according to recent data on foundation degree graduate destinations

  • 34% go on to further study
  • 32% go on to work full time
  • 21% go on to work and study simultaneously
  • 2% are unemployed or doing other things respectively

(HESA, 2015/2016).

But which is the path for you?  If you're undecided, let’s take a closer look at each option. 


Going On To Further Study

Your studies have been designed to lead you on to bigger things in the world of education, and choosing to top up your qualification is the path the majority of students choose.   

A foundation degree is classed as a level 5 qualification in the UK, which is equivalent to the first two years of an honours degree. Most top up degrees, such as our Business and Management BA (Hons), will allow you to complete the final year of an undergraduate degree and gain a level 6 qualification. You can choose to do this straight after finishing your foundation degree or a little later down the road if you would prefer a break from studying - there’s no time limit.

From here, you could continue your studies and move on to complete a Masters degree (level 7) - something that could help to enhance your career prospects and skills profile even further. Alternatively, you may wish to take a professional postgraduate qualification to enter a career such as account, law or teaching.  



Working Full Time

It may be that you’re already working and studying simultaneously. If this is the case, your foundation degree could help you to take a step up in your current organisation. The courses are designed to teach you the technical and theoretical knowledge needed to progress, and succeed, in your chosen industry. It might be a good idea to keep an eye out on your organisation's internal job board for roles that fit your new found skill-set, or ask your manager for an informal conversation about progression opportunities.

If you’ve been studying full time and are now looking for your first permanent role, there will be plenty of opportunities at your feet - from consultancy to marketing, sales to finance and accounting, depending on what you studied. A good place to start is by looking into jobs related to the sector your foundation degree is in - you’ve developed a host of skills and knowledge that should help to kickstart your career in this industry. Your university or college’s careers service is an excellent resource to use, as are job websites, such as Prospects, which contain lots of new jobs and careers advice.

One question you may have is whether you can apply for a graduate scheme. In today's increasingly competitive job market, the vast majority of graduate employers will specify a Bachelors degree as ‘must have’. However, this isn't always the case. More and more companies are dropping this from their list of candidate requirements - take Ernst and Young as an example. Plus, foundation degrees are usually designed to equip you with practical skills that many employers value. The best way to find out whether a graduate opportunity is a possibility is to reach out and talk to prospective employers - if they have a history of hiring candidates with a foundation degree, you could be in with a chance.

Although most foundation degrees are vocational, if you are thinking of trying something new, it’s never too late to explore your options. Everything you have learnt so far could help you stand out to employers, even those in a different sector. Gaining some work experience via internships or placements can be a great way to discover which career is right for you. All sorts of businesses take on such candidates, from consultancies to media companies. If you have a company that you'd love to work for, you could reach out and ask about their opportunities.  

Girl working in business after foundation degree


Combine Work and Study

A significant number of foundation degree graduates (21%) decide they don’t want to make a choice between studying and working and so opt to combine the two.  

If you live near a university or college campus, you could investigate the part time or blended learning courses they have on offer. It’s worth doing your research carefully, as you may have to attend classes on certain days of the week or at the weekends.

As an alternative option, many universities now offer a host of 100% distance learning courses, which are held to the same standards, shares the same recognition and assessment processes as their on campus version. With higher education becoming increasingly digitised, an online degree is a natural next step. Plus, it gives you extra flexibility. You can study whenever and wherever you want, save on some of the costs associated with studying on campus (such as travel and accommodation) and still pick a degree that suits your goals.

“It has been a challenge, but distance learning has definitely helped. It gives you the freedom to work around your busy schedule.”

Quote from Laura Choake, distance learning student at Northumbria University

If you want it all ‒ a chance to continue your learning journey after a foundation degree without having to put your life on hold ‒ a distance learning degree could be the perfect solution.


Manage Your Future With Our Distance Learning Business and Management Courses

Interested in finding out more about our distance learning Business and Management BA (Hons) course and how you could top up your Business or Management related foundation degree, while studying part time? Visit our course page.

a sign in front of a crowd

Northumbria Open Days

Open Days are a great way for you to get a feel of the University, the city of Newcastle upon Tyne and the course(s) you are interested in.

a person sitting at a table using a laptop
NU World Virtual Tours

Virtual Tour

Get an insight into life at Northumbria at the click of a button! Come and explore our videos and 360 panoramas to immerse yourself in our campuses and get a feel for what it is like studying here using our interactive virtual tour.

Latest News and Features

Dr Jibran Khaliq is pictured looking through a microscope. He is holding a banana skin and there is a bunch of bananas on the bench next to him.
Pictured are Amy Pargeter, Assistant Keeper of Art at Tyne and Wear Archives and Museums, and Northumbria University PhD student Ella Nixon, standing in the Laing Art Gallery with pictures on the wall behind them
Teesside Artist of the Year
Dr Craig Warren is pictured with a Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) system manufactured by Sensors & Software. The gprMax software can be used to inform interpretations of GPR data from systems such as this.
A study led by researchers from Northumbria University and commissioned by Shout-Up! suggests not enough is being done to ensure women’s safety in the night-time economy.
Graduates Abbie Smith and Frankie Harrison.
Northumbria student Saffron Sinclair being presented her award by Mark Dale, Principle Consultant at Nigel Wright Recruitment.

Back to top