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Which Universities Accept a 3 Year Bachelor’s Degree in the USA and Canada?

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So, you’ve completed your Bachelor’s education. Maybe you chose an undergraduate course with a duration of three years or one with  four years. In either case, the options you have are:

  1. Get a job right after college
  2. Work at your family’s business
  3. Sit at home waiting to get married
  4. Get a master’s degree from India
  5. Get a master’s degree abroad

Now you might personally have many more options, but these are the ones that most undergraduate freshers get.

If you choose options A through D, you’re fine. Ignore this blog and get on with your life because this blog won’t add any value to your life. However, if you choose E, you need this blog.

Which master’s degree to choose?

I remember a young me thinking a BA in English was followed by an MBA in English. Fortunately, I had good educators and now know that it was not so. A BA in English can be followed by an MA in English, an MSC in English, and even an MBA but not in English.

Now it might be easy for you to decide the major, i.e. English in this case, for your post-graduate or master’s degree. But have you decided which type of master’s degree would suit you best?

There are broadly two types of master’s degrees; subject-based, and professional degrees.

Subject-Based Master’s degree

Subject-based master’s degrees follow a bachelor’s degree in the same subject. These can be considered as extension courses to the students’ majors during their undergraduate education. The following are the different types of titles for subject-Based Master’s degrees.

  • Master of Arts (MA)
  • Master of Science (MS, MSc)
  • Master of Research (MRes)
  • Master by Research (MPhil)
  • Master of Studies (MSt)

Professional Master’s degree

Professional master’s degrees are supplementary degrees done to switch the field of education. These are best suited to applicants who did not study the same major in their undergraduate degree. The following are Professional Master’s degrees.

  • Master of Business Administration (MBA)
  • Master of Library Science (MLS, MLIS, MSLS)
  • Master of Public Administration (MPA)
  • Master of Public Health (MPH)
  • Master of Social Work (MSW)
  • Master of Laws (LLM)
  • Master of Arts in Liberal Studies (MA, MALS, MLA/ALM, MLS)
  • Master of Fine Arts (MFA)
  • Master of Music (MM/MMus)
  • Master of Education (MEd, MSEd, MIT, MAEd, MAT)
  • Master of Engineering (MEng)
  • Master of Architecture (M. Arch)

What to do after choosing a master’s degree?

You don’t need to be a genius to understand the Indian education system. You score high and you can get into almost any post-graduate school you want. Business schools and other post-graduate schools abroad, however, do not work this way. While scores do matter to them, they prefer a wholesome profile to exceptional grades.

A wholesome profile is what we Indians call an “all-rounder’s” profile.

Another thing, that might have more importance than a “wholesome profile” is your reason for pursuing the post-graduate education. Simply because you wish to get into a certain course, the post-graduate school won’t be inclined to accept you. Instead, they will grill you to make sure that giving you admission doesn’t produce returns higher than the opportunity cost they will incur by rejecting all the other applicants.

The formula to ascertain your need to get a post-grad education is as follows.

Past (AHA moments) + Post-graduate education (Current handicaps) = Short-term and long-term goals

Past: The AHA moments are moments from the past year or two that have made the applicant identify the need to have post-graduate education. These are moments that have motivated the applicant to work towards their short-term and long-term goals and made them realize that in order to do so, they would require a particular education.

Post-graduate education: The current handicaps are the gaps or the absence of the skills required for the applicant to function smoothly in their short-term or long-term goals. A good reason for pursuing a post-graduate education would have the applicant detail how an MBA would help them overcome their current handicaps and acquire the said skills.

Short-term and Long-term goals: Finally, the reason for pursuing a post-graduate education consists of the goals you have post-MBA.

Once you have this story figured out, getting into the post-grad course of your choice would be a much easier task.

The dilemma of the 3-year undergraduate degree

You must be wondering why the duration of your undergraduate degree is important for a master’s program abroad. Let’s demystify this one step at a time.

The eligibility criterion for admission to a master’s degree in the US is a 12+4 education. This means one must have studied for four years after graduating from high school, to be eligible for a master’s program. Most undergraduate courses in the US are four years in duration, thus they do not consider the Indian three-year undergraduate degree as a complete degree.

Another country that follows the same model is Canada.

Now India follows the ways of its ex-colonizer, the United Kingdom. In the UK, Australia, and many other European countries, the average undergraduate degree is the same length as in India. This makes it much easier for an Indian student to gain admission to a post-graduate course in these countries as far as the education eligibility criteria are considered.

It is still preferable to check with your target school to find out what their criterion for eligibility is.

What do top schools say about the 3 year undergraduate degree for master’s programs?

Schools in the USA seem divided regarding to whether allowing an applicant with a three-year undergraduate degree to apply to a master’s program is a good idea.

There are three variants of opinions:

  1. Schools that clearly state that a three-year undergraduate degree is considered incomplete, and an applicant must have another degree to compensate for the same.
  2. Schools that are lenient in this criterion accept the Indian three-year undergraduate degree as a valid education for a master’s program.
  3. Schools that neither fully accept nor fully deny the validity of a three-year undergraduate degree. They rely on international organizations such as WES to provide credibility to individual applicants’ degrees for admissions.
Man with Hands on face and a question mark animation

What to do if your target school doesn’t accept a 3 year undergraduate degree?

To quote Shahrukh Khan, “Picture abhi baaki hai mere dost (the movie isn’t over yet)”.


One obvious solution to this problem is to get another degree and apply at least two years after you had initially planned to. However, that is one lengthy and exhausting solution that I’m sure you would like to avoid.


You’re in luck as the World Education Services (WES) will help you do just that.


The WES is a non-profit organization that provides international students credentials to study in the USA and Canada. The WES recognizes some Indian degrees as equivalents of a US undergraduate degree.


These degrees must, however, be:


  • Passed in Division 1.
  • Awarded by institutions accredited by the National Admission and Accreditation Council (NAAC).

While there are many organizations providing credential evaluations, WES is the most reliable for Indian students.

Flags of USA and Canada

List of universities in the USA and Canada that accept a three-year undergraduate degree

Since the UK, Australia, and most countries in Europe and Asia follow the three-year undergraduate system, applicants can be eligible for most master’s degrees in these countries.

However, since the USA and Canada demand a 16-year education for a master’s degree, it is necessary to know which schools in these two countries allow applicants with a three-year undergraduate degree to apply to their master’s program.

USA Universities Accepting 3 Years Bachelors

Schools  in the US that accept applicants with a three-year undergraduate degree to their master’s program.


Universities in Canada Accepting 3 Years Bachelors

Schools in Canada that accept applicants with a three-year undergraduate degree to their master’s program.

  • McGill University- Canada
  • University of British Columbia- Canada
  • York University- Canada

Having a three-year undergraduate degree might put you at a disadvantage when it comes to getting a master’s degree abroad. However, with the right tools, combating the same isn’t an issue.

However, as explained previously, don’t get into the race to make it into a post-graduate school abroad just for the sake of it. It is a big financial and time commitment, and one that would incur a high opportunity cost.

If you decide to get a post-graduate education, pay special attention to the “What to do after choosing a master’s degree?” section of this blog. Your application will be much more important than your GPA or entrance exam scores alone.

1. Which countries accept a 3-year Bachelor’s degree for a Master’s degree?

There is no one straight answer to this. While some universities in a country accept a 3-year bachelor’s degree for enrolling students into their Master’s program, others may require you to have a 4-year degree. It is best to check with the school and the university directly whether your 3-year degree is enough to enroll you into their Masters’s program.


2. Can I do a Masters after a 3-year degree?

Yes and no, both. Some universities require you to have a 16-year education for your Master’s, while others may be okay with just a 3-year bachelor’s degree.


3. Does the UK accept a 3-year Bachelor’s degree?

Yes. Since the education system of India closely resembles that of the UK, most universities accept your 3-year bachelor’s degree program for their Masters’s program.


4. Which universities in Canada accept a 3-year Bachelor’s degree?

A few renowned universities accept 3-year bachelor’s degree programs for enrolling applicants into their Master’s programs. These are-

  • McGill University
  • University of British Columbia
  • York University


5. How to study in the UK with a 3-year Bachelor’s degree?

Depend on the program you want to undertake in the UK. For instance, if you want to pursue MBA in the UK after your 3-year bachelor’s degree in India, start by appearing in GMAT or GRE. Try to score well there. Once you have your GMAT scores, start applying to the schools and submitting your scores, transcripts, essays, and letters of recommendation as asked by the school. If you’re selected, the school may call you for an interview, post which your selection is finalized.


6. Is a 3-year Bachelor’s degree accepted in the USA?
Yes, many universities in the USA accept applicants with 3-year bachelor’s degrees. However, it is best to check with your preferred university and school in the USA before applying. And for those that don’t, WES may hold the key to your admission to such universities.


7. Which universities accept a 3-year bachelor’s degree in the USA?

The list of universities is mentioned in the post above. Check it out.

For over 15+ years as an Entrepreneur, and India’s Top Educationist, Jatin has led a range of initiatives in the Education Industry. In this role, he has created many successful educational services and products geared towards generating success for professionals aspiring to join IVY League and global Top Tier Universities for MBA Programs, Masters Programs, and undergraduate courses. He is the Founder and CEO of PythaGURUS Education, and has been recognized as a thought leader in the Higher education sector. Economic Times, Hindustan Times, Times of India, India Today, Business Today, Tribune, and many other national newspapers have recognized his work, and have given him numerous opportunities to be a regular columnist. He has also served as a panelist for NDTV, and other national news channels.

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