Apprenticeship Challenge

How might we build a meaningful apprenticeship that supports curricular and workforce readiness goals into a 4-year degree?

Archived Project from 2014


The four-month design challenge identified the college within George Mason University that was most anxious to be the apprenticeship partner, the School of Humanities and Social Sciences, whose students were hungry to combine real world skills with their liberal arts coursework. From there, the design work moved on three tracks: curriculum, credit and business model, with an additional student track that looked at timing within the degree and how to market the program. The program benefits for a university became clear:

  • Offer a unique program to place students in paid workplace environments with designated senior mentors treating them as regular employees (unlike most internships)
  • Provide work opportunities to Mason’s large population of first-generation college students who value professional work experience but need paid opportunities
  • Attract new, out-of-state students who will see Mason as a way to apply to Enstitute’s program
  • Establish relationships with new employers: startups, technology companies, and social enterprises
  • Close the gap between higher education and workforce, as policy makers are demanding today
  • Launch an innovative program that fits the president’s vision for a 21st century university


In March 2014, the President greenlighted the Enstitute pilot. Students were to earn 24 credits for the 12 month four day a week professional role that included 3 hours a week with a facilitating professor and the cohort on campus for a course on synthesis and reflection. Students were to be paid at least minimum wage salaries for their work hours. 

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