Grad schemes – what, when, and how?

Published on 29 September 16

You will have heard the term ‘grad schemes’ used, or maybe other job titles such as graduate leadership programme or graduate fast track. Graduate schemes typically last between one to three years and allow recent graduates to experience different placements within an organisation so they can gain an understanding of how it works whilst building a range of skills. Most grad schemes are offered by larger organisations in a range of sectors – from multinational companies to opportunities in the NHS, civil service and local government.

When to apply

While these roles only account for a small proportion of the job market for graduates, you need to start considering your options and seeing what’s out there early if you want to apply for a graduate scheme. Companies usually recruit a year in advance of the start date of the scheme, with most starting in September. As a result, most graduate schemes for September 2017 are open now!

Most schemes have application deadlines between October and December, although applications are often considered on a rolling basis and employers may close a scheme early if they have filled their vacancies. We recommend anyone thinking of a graduate scheme in 2017 to search and apply as soon as possible – and as schemes open for 2018 from June onwards, it’s not too early to start exploring companies that may interest you now.

A selection of graduate schemes and their closing dates are available here.

How we can help

We offer a lot of support for our students when applying for graduate schemes. Your initial questions may be answered by our graduate training schemes FAQs. The first step is to start searching for graduate schemes on CareersLink or external job search websites such as TARGETjobs or Reed.

You can also book an appointment with the University’s Careers Service for:

Many graduate schemes require applicants to undertake psychometric tests during the recruitment cycle. Our online resources will enable you to practice and improve on these tests.


Look out for employers on campus throughout the year promoting their graduate schemes.

We also have the following sessions and fairs coming up this month:

Tuesday 4 October, 5-7pm: Meet the Professionals: Getting into Grad Schemes

Alumni currently undertaking graduate schemes share their experiences. Register on CareersLink.

 Thursday 6 October, 1-3pm: What are Graduate Schemes? Panel

Employers offering schemes give tips on what they are looking for and how to apply. Register on CareersLink.

 Tuesday 18 October, 10.30am-4pm: The Big Careers Fair Day 1

Over 70 employers promoting graduate vacancies in consultancy, HR, retail management, finance, marketing and more. Register to attend.

 Wednesday 19 October, 10am-4pm: The Big Careers Fair Day 2

Over 80 employers promoting graduate vacancies in engineering, science and technology. Register to attend.

 Timing not quite right?

Whether you’re in your final year but not sure what you want to do after uni, or you still have a couple of years lefy until you graduate, there are other opportunities to find graduate-level jobs that do not require such early applications.

 Explore the types of job that you may be interested in on the Careers Service website, with tips on when and where to find graduate jobs. And keep an eye out for the 2017 Manchester Graduate Programme – launching soon – with a range of graduate-level jobs exclusively for University of Manchester students. 

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