Frequently Asked Questions

What are the three new entry routes for anyone wanting to become a police constable?

  1. Police Constable Degree Apprenticeship (PCDA)

    This is a three year apprenticeship that leads to a degree in Professional Policing Practice, enabling new recruits to join the police service as an apprentice police constable and earn while they learn.

    The learning will done both on police training premises and whilst actually doing the job to help student officers gain the skills, knowledge and behaviours to become a competent police officer.


  2. Degree Holder Entry Programme (DHEP)

    This entry route is aimed at existing graduates whose degree is in a subject area other than policing, for example history or sociology , and who may not have considered policing as a career when they went to university. 

    New recruits who join through this route will undertake a two year learning programme to enable them to perform the role of police constable.  Again, as above, the learning will be done in the classroom and the workplace.

    Successful completion results in achievement of a Graduate Diploma in Professional Policing Practice.


  3. Pre-join Degree in Professional Policing

    This entry route if for those who already hold a degree involves completion of a three-year knowledge-based Degree in Professional Policing, prior to joining the police service. Becoming a Special Constable may be included as part of this programme.

    Candidates who are subsequently recruited will undertake practice-based training to develop specific skills and will be assessed against national assessment criteria in order to demonstrate operational competence.

However, West Yorkshire Police we will only be recruiting under the PCDA and DHEP for the first two years due to the pre-join degree graduates not having completed their course until 2022.


Can you still join the police without a degree?

Yes. As above, the Police Constable Degree Apprenticeship (PCDA) does not require you to have a degree. However, you will be working towards the completion of a professional degree-level apprenticeship as part of this entry route which will need to be successfully completed prior to being confirmed in post. Be aware you would need to meet the minimum entry requirements for the PCDA programme and pass the recruitment process set out by West Yorkshire Police and Leeds Trinity University.


Can I apply for the Apprenticeship Scheme even if I already have a degree?

You can apply to the Apprenticeship Scheme if you already have a degree, as long as that degree is not in a policing related subject.
However, it is recommended that you apply for the Degree Holder Entry Programme instead. This may be more suitable as it is a shorter course with a higher starting salary.

Once your application has been submitted you will not be permitted to switch between the entry routes, so you should carefully consider which route is right for you.


Which university is West Yorkshire working with to deliver the new initial entry routes for Police Constables?

We will be working in partnership with Leeds Trinity University, whose origins lie in teacher training, so have a long tradition of delivering vocational degree education programmes. New student officers will be educated and trained by both West Yorkshire Police officers and university academic staff to ensure that they receive the best education to provide them will the skills, knowledge and behaviours needed to provide an excellent service to the communities of West Yorkshire in an ever more changing society.


What qualifications will I need to apply?

To undertake the Police Constable Degree Apprenticeship (PCDA) you will need:

  • Pass grades in both English Language and Mathematics at Level 2 / GCSE (A*-C or 9-4) or equivalent, and
  • A Level 3 qualification within the meaning of Section 3 of the Education and Skills Act 2008 or equivalent, which ideally attracts 80+ UCAS points* (or have relevant experience i.e. PCSO or Special Constable)

    *An essay will need to be completed where the Level 3 qualification does not equate to a minimum of 80 UCAS points

To complete the Degree Holder Entry Programme (DHEP) you will need to have achieved a Degree; Third Class and above.


How do I know which entry route is best for me?

If you already hold a degree which is not in Professional Policing then we will sign post you to the Degree Holder Entry Programme (DHEP).

If you do not have a degree then you have two options open to yourself. The first is that you apply to a Force to join the Police Constable Degree Apprenticeship, whereby you are employed as an Apprentice Police Constable, completing a degree in Professional Policing Practice during the three-year apprenticeship programme. Secondly you can apply to any university who are offering the College of Policing licensed Degree in Professional Policing. The degree is achieved prior to applying to the Police Service and you would be recruited as a Police Constable who will have acquired all of the knowledge base relevant to performance of the role.


If I apply via one entry route, can I change my mind and swap to another?

West Yorkshire Police is unable to support applicants switching between the Police Constable Degree Apprenticeship (PCDA) and the Degree Holder Entry Programme (DHEP) entry routes into policing once an application has been submitted and the campaign window has closed.


What College / A-level subjects should I choose?

You can complete any college / A-level subjects as long as they are at Level 3.


Is the pay different?

The starting salary for the Police Constable Degree Apprenticeship is £21,402.

The starting salary for the Degree Holder Entry Programme is £24,780.

On completion of either course the salary will increase to £27,030. This will be after two years for Degree Holder Entry Programme and after three years for Police Constable Degree Apprenticeship.

This is the same as the current starting salary for Police Officers.


When can I apply depending on my A-level / Degree results? Will you accept a conditional offer?

You can apply to either scheme if you are 17 years old, but you must be 18 years old to start the course. If you are currently awaiting your degree results you can apply based on your predicted grades.  You must provide a letter from your college or university confirming the grades you are expected to achieve.


For the degree conversion, does this include any foreign degree?

To undertake the Degree Holder Entry Programme (a 120-credit Level 6 Graduate Diploma, in essence a graduate conversion) individuals must hold a bachelor’s degree. On behalf of the UK Government a national agency called UK NARIC undertakes the recognition and comparison of international qualifications and skills, and provides vital support to universities. If they deem your foreign degree an equivalent to a bachelor’s degree then you will be allowed to use this.


Will you get a student card with the apprentice route?

Yes you will receive a student identity card. As well as being a full-time employed police officer, you are also a full-time student at Leeds Trinity University and will have access to their facilities such as the library, support networks, student union, etc.


What are my options once I have joined as a police officer?

The foundation stage for both the PCDA and DHEP are very similar where you will learn the basic skills and knowledge that allows you to start working ‘on the streets’ alongside experienced uniform police colleagues and start putting your knowledge into practice.

In the final year of either programme you will work in one of three core policing roles, response policing, community policing or conducting investigations, where the learning is more tailored to those areas.

However, once you have successfully completed your probationary period and have been confirmed in post as a Police Constable, you will have the option to look for promotion or specialise in areas such as serious crime investigation, roads policing, operations, etc. in the same way as any other serving police officer.  Policing really does offer you career opportunities that very few other jobs do.


What will the qualification be at the end of the apprenticeship or degree holder programme?

After successfully completing your apprenticeship you will be awarded a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Professional Policing Practice. 

If you join through the Degree Holder Entry Programme you will be awarded a Level 6 post-graduate Diploma in Professional Policing Practice


What leave do I get when I am in training?

During the first year of the Police Constable Degree Apprenticeship (PCDA) and Degree Holder Entry Programme (DHEP) the training is split into a number of mandatory blocks of classroom-based learning and working on operational patrol with a an experienced tutor constable to mentor you in your new role.

As such three weeks of your four weeks annual allocation will already be planned into the training programme. The fourth week will be for you to take once you are working on independent patrol. In years 2 and 3 you will have more freedom to choose when you would like to take your leave, although you will not be permitted to take leave during any of your formal blocks of learning.  


I’ve already studied Policing at University – is this the same?

The new pre-join degree in Professional Policing is based upon a brand new College of Policing licensed curriculum. As such your degree in policing might have covered some areas of legislation and practice but not everything will have been covered. We would sign post you to undertake the Degree Holder Entry Programme (DHEP) to ensure all aspects of the curriculum are covered, although some of your learning already gained would likely be eligible for Recognised Prior Learning and may reduce the amount of learning you need to undertake.


Where will I learn and study when completing the Apprenticeship?

Block learning will be delivered at the Carr Gate Police Training Complex, Wakefield, as well as at Leeds Trinity University campus, Horsforth, Leeds.


How will learning and work be split during the Apprenticeship?

Our programmes have been designed to mix both classroom based theory with blocks of operational experience spread over a 12 month period. This will allow student officers to link practical experiences to theory and reflect on their practice. A blended learning approach will also be seen throughout the programme.


Why should policing have a formal qualifications framework?

Professions support their members and help assure the public that discretion is exercised appropriately by setting clear conditions of membership. These commonly include using a published specialist knowledge base, commitment to an ethical code, keeping up to date with professional development and meeting an educational standard verified by nationally recognised qualifications. In policing, three of these elements of support for professional decision making have been introduced by the College of Policing. Policing does not, however, currently set education levels for roles or ranks which reflect the skills and knowledge required to meet current and future challenges.


Aren’t police officers already qualified?

There are many highly trained and experienced people working in policing. The profession does not, however, currently set education levels for roles or ranks which reflect the skills and knowledge required to meet current and future challenges. There is variable and inconsistent practice in terms of police education, with the result that some officers have no publicly recognised qualification. Such inconsistency risks undermining the professionalism of the Police Service. For most professions, a nationally recognised system of accreditation demonstrates that individuals have the required knowledge and skills for their role and thereby offers assurance to the public and to the members of the profession. The Police Service remains considerably out of kilter with other professions, particularly those which work to protect the public, with regard to its formal education standards.


What is the evidence for qualifications at this level being useful?

One of the few national qualifications currently available to Police Constables, the largest group in the Police Service workforce, is set at Level 3. The College of Policing has examined the qualification levels alongside its recent analysis and reviews and together with stakeholders, has reached the view that Level 6 is an appropriate reflection of the skills, knowledge and behaviours needed by police officers to equip them to deal with complex modern day policing challenges.


Is policing really a graduate level job? Surely you don’t need a degree level qualification to break up a pub fight?

If that was the only type of incident a police officer had to deal with, then a degree qualification would not be appropriate. Police officers, however, have to exercise personal judgement and responsibility and solve problems in complex, unpredictable contexts of all kinds, dealing with everything from child sexual exploitation to counterterrorism and cyber-crime.


Isn’t having common sense and a vocation more important than qualifications in policing?

People in policing need to demonstrate commitment and exercise good judgement, whether or not they have a qualification. Achieving a qualification does not prevent someone having common sense or a vocation for public service. A qualified person might feel able to challenge a majority view previously been accepted as common sense if it contradicted the best available evidence. The College of Policing and wider service’s view is that people working in policing are best equipped with a combination of advanced knowledge, skills and decision-making frameworks to support them in their vocation and in exercising their personal judgement.


What value does being a graduate bring?

Graduate-level skills and attributes (e.g. critical thinking and analysis, communication skills, reflection, independent decision making, problem solving in complex and unpredictable contexts and research skills) are already demonstrated on a daily basis by current members of the service and will become increasingly important in policing. Such skills will be essential in embedding evidence-based policing and will support a highly skilled workforce capable of working more autonomously and efficiently with less supervision.

A graduate qualification allows the public and other employers to easily recognise and compare the level of expertise of officers and staff. It may also prove useful when those currently working in policing retire or decide to leave the service. Higher education can also play a key role in supporting the development of skills such as tolerance, willingness to embrace alternative perspectives, moral and ethical reasoning and empathy.


I hold a City and Guilds Level 2 SVQ/NVQ equivalent to a Level 3 Award?

A City and Guilds Level 2 SVQ/NVQ is equivalent to GCSE grades A* - C, Intermediate GNVQ, BTEC first certificate and as such is not at the Level 3 required.


How are recruitment processes continuing in line with COVID-19 guidance?

Due to COVID-19, face to face assessment centres are currently suspended and have been replaced with online assessment exercises.  To find out more about this please go to

Where face to face interactions are still required, eg fitness tests, officers and staff will comply with COVID-19 guidance such as providing hand sanitiser and maintaining a 2 metre distance.



Page last reviewed September 2020.