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USA MBA accepting 15 years of education from Indian universities

Many US business schools and top universities expect applicants to have completed 16 as opposed to 15 years of education. In India, apart from fields such as engineering, medicine and architecture, graduation in many popular disciplines require 15 years of education.

This post is for those MBA aspirants who have completed their graduation in India in science, arts, commerce or any undergraduate stream that follows a 12+3 pattern. These candidates may have landed a great job or successfully launched their own venture or made it big with their family business, so never considered studying further. Should a three years bachelor’s degree (or 15 years of formal education) act as a deterrent while applying for an MBA abroad?

The answer is ‘No’. A lot of schools do accept applications from candidates having 15 years of education. While evaluating applications, the admissions committee looks at you as a complete package rather than focusing on just 1 single aspect, so if the rest of your application is strong, you may still have a shot at the top schools.

A few candidates, in order to match their academic credentials with professional courses (like the MBA), go to the extent of completing another year in a post-graduate program only for the sake of putting it on the application and satisfying the admission requirements listed on the university website.

However, candidates need to think hard on whether this one year of additional effort is truly justified. Instead of taking such remedial steps to fix the issue, a better approach would be to spend this useful time focusing on the bigger picture. Get a high GMAT score, add some diversity and depth to your work profile so that your application becomes impressive. The number of years of education is just a qualifying criteria and if the school mentions on its website that a three years undergraduate course is acceptable (and many do), there’s no need to worry about this aspect any more.

Given below is a short list to get you started.

[Editor’s note: Article last updated on 10th July 2019]

Top USA B-schools that accept 15 years of education from India

  1. Harvard Business School
  2. Stanford Graduate School of Business
  3. University of Virginia Darden School of Business
  4. Dartmouth University Tuck School of Business
  5. University of Pennsylvania Wharton School
  6. NYU Stern School of Business
  7. University of Chicago, Booth School of Business
  8. Northwestern University, Kellogg School of Management
  9. Columbia Business School
  10. Yale School of Management

At the time of writing this post, these schools were accepting Indian applicants with 15 years of education degrees. Double check if they still do.

Also do some more research as there will surely more schools to add to this list. So if your dream school is not listed here, you need to visit the concerned university website and check out their FAQ section where most of such questions are answered. If you still have queries unanswered, send across an email to the admissions committee and get a definite answer.

Most of the colleges mention on their website that three year undergraduate degree programs are common in the U.K. and India and this is should not be a problem. Some schools like Columbia Business School state that the applications would be reviewed on a case-by-case basis which means that you should emerge as a strong candidate based on your work experience or extracurricular. Also read Universities in USA and Canada accepting 3 years Bachelor’s Degree

What if the USA MBA college does not accept 15 years of education?

If you are sure that the schools (in the USA or elsewhere) you are interested in do not accept applications from those with 15 years of Indian education, the show can still go on. There are many good schools (including the ones listed earlier) that would be more flexible with their entry rules. Check them out and build your selection of schools accordingly.

What’s more important than the school itself, is the ultimate goals you have in mind. If another good school can get you there, why get so stressed with universities who won’t open their doors for you because of this little technicality?

Some students get so carried away and spend a lot of time and energy trying to find workarounds to make their profile a fit for a particular school that needs more than 15 years of education. In this pursuit they tend to sacrifice on the other aspects that could be taken care of and thus make them a good candidate for some other top business school. So finally it’s a call for the applicant to take whether they would wish to go ahead with their application with whatever educational qualification they have or study for an additional year to complete 16 years of education.

Also read:
B.Com grad with multiple admits reviews ApplicantLab, MBA Crystal Ball and other consultants
MBA after B.Com: ISB with scholarship for commerce graduate
MBA after BSc with GMAT waiver
How this bachelors graduate went from McKinsey to Investment Banking

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Sameer Kamat
About Sameer Kamat
Founder of MBA Crystal Ball. Author of Beyond The MBA Hype & Business Doctors. Here's more about me. Follow me on: Instagram | Linkedin | Youtube

38 thoughts on “USA MBA accepting 15 years of education from Indian universities”

  1. Hello Sameer

    How about 1 Year IIM Lucknow Certification program. They are costing around 3 Lakh and provide you Training for 2 days a week and Alumni Status to learn Global Business Management. This is based on entrance test and no need for GMAT or other scores.

    Can you guide is it worth spending suhc amount on IIM L – for Certification as its not a degree program. My aspiration is settle abroad and imporve business education.

  2. Deepak,

    Part-time programs are not meant to facilitate any significant career change.

    I’m not sure what you mean by ‘improving business education’. But if you are expecting that a part-time certification program will help you settle abroad, then it will be an impractical expectation.

  3. Hey,

    I am currently in my 4th year in Manipal Institute of Technology. In my second year, I took a branch that couldn’t handle and switched to information technology in the following year. My CGPA is 9.1, with my first year GPA = 7.2 and almost perfect GPA in the following semesters (expect my second year that was wasted) My GMAT score is 740. I have been involved with a voluntary student organization and worked in the fields of public relations. I also helped starting a college club and leading it. I have done an research internship in Poland and volunteered on an AIDS project in Indonesia. I have also helped weak fellow students by taking extra classes for them. Back in my home town, I helped start a volunteering club which served to educate under-privileged children, namely in the fields of arithmetic and computer skills. I speak 4 Indian and 3 foreign languages.

    Do I stand a chance at Harvard 2+2? Or Stanford? Will that wasted year cost me too dearly?
    Thanks a lot.

  4. Siya,

    Harvard and Stanford are dream schools for most applicants and for that reason also the most competitive in the world. When it comes to dream schools, the only way to find out is by applying.

    Along with these schools, you should also include other MBA programs that seem more practical.

    But very few schools have the Harvard 2+2 equivalent (another option closer back home is the ISB YLP progam).

    For most other top MBA programs in the US, you’d need to work in the industry and get some work experience. Some folks manage to get in without experience (read this post –> Story of an MBA dropout – An IITian goes Beyond The MBA Hype), but those are exceptions.

  5. hi sir,
    i have done my 3 yr from du and now i plan to do a 1yr pg diploma(FINANCE) from AIMA(just to complete 16 yrs of studies).Will this diploma be counted in US schools?

  6. Ram,

    I’m not familiar with the program you are referring to. But in general, part-time or distance education programs may not be considered on par with regular / full-time / mainstream degrees. So do your homework rather than assuming that it’ll help you complete 16 years of education.

    Also, read the last paragraph of the blog post once again. A better option would be for you to check other bschools in USA, UK, Singapore where 15 years of education from India will not be a problem.

  7. I have got an offer letter from Warwick business school for their 1yr Msc in management program. Is this a good program? will I get good job opportunities with this degree? Should I leave it and try for Mba instead from symbiosis pune?

  8. Giri,

    An MSc in management and a regular international MBA are aimed at different profiles.

    Pyschology to management is a BIG jump. Remember that you’d have to convince employers too after you finish the next degree. No point in blindly going for another degree just for the heck of it.

    If you have no experience, I’d suggest working for a while so you realise which stream interest you more. Then you can take a call.

  9. I hav completed my bachelors in management studies from lala lajpatrai college of commerce and economics,mumbai. I am planning to do my mba from usa. I hav 1yr of work experience. But i have only 15yrs of education. I would really appreciate if you could let me with the names of the universities i can apply in for a reputed mba course.

  10. Hi,
    First of all… thanks for putting down such informative replies

    I am an Advertising professional with 6.5 years of work experience (out of which 4 years has been in a managerial role)
    I am now thinking about doing my MBA from UK and wanted to know whether it would be a right decision to invest 15-20L?? will it be helpful in providing me good career growth??

    I did my graduation from DU ( and my marks are not great..(its below 50%)… i dont wanna do MBA for the heck of it and think that doing it from top – 30 universities only matters

    My full profile is: from DU – 2003-2006
    PG Diploma in Mass Communication from Bhartiya Vidhya Bhawan (1 year)
    PGDM from AIMA – Weekend programe – CGPA – 3

    Now with the above information i think that my work ex is the major plus point..

    To make up for the shortfall in my grad i am also thinking of appearing for GMAT and scoring good in it (though Universities in UK doesnt that but it might just add more weight to my profile)

    Please help me in deciding how to go about this and also which universities should i be practically looking at


  11. @Rishabh: The names of the bschools are listed in the blog post. So all you need to do is scroll up 🙂
    Btw, with 1 year work experience, I don’t think you should be applying to any of them.

    @Amit: I think you are grossly underestimating the cost involved in a good international MBA program (top 30 as you’ve mentioned). Even the Indian options (like ISB, IIMA PGPX) will be more expensive than the range you’ve shared.
    So a little more research and groundwork needed, Amit-bhai.

  12. Hello, I have done, & 1 yr BEd & PGDIB from IIMT Delhi. Have 2 yrs of work experience in field of international Business; landed in US in h4 visa & is it worth doing a PG programme in Marketing, is it a zero possibility to land in a job here with marketing specialisation?. STEM is the eligible criteria for h1; so i should opt some finance related courses or not. Or is it better in Canada to get work permit?

  13. Sir,
    I am pursuing my Bachelor’s degree from Delhi University, my exams are scheduled to finish by the end of first week of June. I was looking around on the websites of all of these universities which you have mentioned and I found out that i will miss the deadlines if I start after my exams to study and appear for GMAT. Sir I have discussed this with a lot of people, some suggested me to submit the documents, transcripts and everything before the deadline with an extra letter in which i will be acknowledging them this issue and mentioning the date of GMAT exam which i will fix very soon. This will make me meet the deadline and the university will somewhat HOLD my application till that date and if i get a good result then the chances of getting admission is high.
    Do they accept such applications?
    Should i go for it and send it to the following univs?
    MIT Sloan
    NYU Stern

  14. @Eva: STEM (that’s Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics for others reading this) isn’t the only arena where the US economy has jobs. But it does become difficult for international candidates to get certain roles. Marketing jobs are the tougher ones to bag, specially those that involve front ending. Right now, your plans appear to be pretty haphazard – going from Marketing to Finance, and from US to Canada. You’ll need to figure out what you really want first before you take up any educational course.

    @Dushyant: The problem here isn’t your GMAT score. It’s the lack of work-ex. Without work-experience, I don’t think you’d have a shot at any of the top schools you’ve listed. Try to get some corporate experience before you start looking at these programs.

  15. hello sir
    I am pursuing bachelors in business administration (BBA) from Gd Goenka world institute, India. the degree is awarded by Lancaster university UK. i am planning to do my mba from USA. After completing this course I will have 15 years of education. i wanted your advice on whether i should work after completing bba or look for a post graduation course. I have an option of doing post graduate diploma from the same college after completing bba. what do you think should i go for it? will it help me getting in good colleges?

  16. hello sir ,
    im pursuing and by same way i am doing articleship near a charted accounting and many of them says that articleship will be accepted is it real sir…?

  17. Hello Sameer,

    I am Based in Almaty,Kazakhstan Now, been here for the last 5 years and before that was based in South EAST Asia with MAERSK Line.
    i finished my graduation in 2004 (B.A Sociology), and then been working with MAERSK in India and SIngapore and now in Central Asia working as Director- Operations for a Logistics company…
    I am now planning to get back to studies,looking at MBA in SCM in USA..and have started my GMAT preparations.I am looking at 2014 Autumn intake..
    For this since i have only 10+2+3 years oof education, will this be an issue for me?
    i am looking at Various Uni/colleges like Booth,W.P Carey,Smeal,Wisconsin UNI, as they all offer some good courses in SCM…
    Let me have your feedback on this please…
    Thank you..

  18. @Swati: I suggest getting out from the academic world and gaining some real world experience before you decide if you should head back into a class.

    @Mailk: Bschools like ISB clearly state that they don’t accept articleship as work-experience. There may be others that do. So you’ll have to check with the college / university that you are interested in.

    @Sanju: Chicago Booth, as listed in the blog post above, accepts 15 years of education. For the others you’d have to reach out to Smeal, Wisconsin etc to find out. It’ll be great if you can share your findings here.

  19. Dear Sameer,

    I have got a job opportunity in US and would be moving to Arizona in a couple of months. My fiance has just completed her three year B Sc in Chemistry. She intends to continue her education but the missing one year seems like a deterrent. Due to location constrain we may not have an option to look for other universities which accept 15 year of education. If in worst case she has to do additional one year there, what are the options? Thanks in advance!!

  20. Hi Sameer,

    I am from Navi Mumbai. I did my grad in commerce Mumbai Uni-2006 (54% agg) and later did an EPGSCM i.e. exe program in SCM from IIM-C (weekend V-sat programme) in 2010.
    My total work exp till date is 7 yrs all in SCM & currently working with a fortune 500 US based FMCG company as AM-SC. I have enrolled for IELTS for May exam date. Prep for GMAT will follow up post IELTS.
    I have been to US this year to lead & implement a project on distribution planning.

    I do not have 16yr edu pattern. Which colleges can I target (looking for MBA in SCM concentration) as some of my fav ones are at the start of the list & do I stand a realistic chance to get admitted to better unis by having a decent score above 600 or so..

    Also, how can you help for GMAT prep.. Pls revert back..


  21. @Anas: Congrats on the engagement and the international career opportunity. Don’t worry about your fiancee’s 15 years of education at this stage. Once she joins you in Arizona, she can hunt for good jobs and build up her experience. If the local MBA options don’t work out, there’d be other degrees that she can explore. Too early for you to start worrying about all that.

    For now, cherish and enjoy the good phase of life you are going through.

    @Sinan: If you are targetting the schools listed on this post, you’d have to do much better than a 600 GMAT score. We can’t directly help you with GMAT prep, but check out this online GMAT preparation course by GoGMAT. They have a free trial offer. Sign-up and see if you find it interesting

  22. hi i have completed my undergraduation (bbm) in the last academic year may 2013. i would like to do my mba in washington .kindly provide the list of colleges in washington which accept 15 years of education

  23. Sir i have done bsc in distance and i would like to know whether i m eligible to do mba in usa if i will secure good score in gmat. Plz sir provide me with the solution i m very tensed

  24. hi
    sir i have completed this year now i want to pursue MBA from US but i am confused that should i work for 2-3 years or get into a 1 year full time university affiliated program to get 16 years of formal education ?
    Does a good work experience and a degree like CFA compensate for 16 years of formal education if i choose to work instead of joining a one year university program

  25. @Riya: Are you referring to Washington State or Washington D.C.? we’ve helped folks get into Georgetown in D.C. It’s a pretty good bschool.

    @Manish: Looks tough. But don’t take my word for it. Approach a few schools and explain to them why you are a good candidate, probably they’ll have ideas for you.

    @Prateek: I’d pick option 2. Work for a few years before applying. If a bschool has a strict policy of 16 years of work experience, then the quality and the variety won’t help you. Better to look at bschools where 15 years isn’t a constraint.

  26. hello sir,,i recently completed my bba and have started working with a firm..with 15 years of education and 1 year work ex..can i apply to a decent state university in the US…plz suggest some good b schools(state) that i can apply to…
    and do you think with all of this in hand my chances of getting accepted in a good b school?

  27. Hi,

    I understand this article applies to MBA programs in the US. However, I have a questions regarding 15 years of education for pursuing masters program in the US. Most of the universities are insisting on 16 years of a degree equivalent to the US degree. I have a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science with 1.5 years of work experience in an investment bank. I’d like to do my MS in Information Systems in the US. Most of the decently ranked (not Ivy schools) universities with whom I have checked insist on 16 years. I am also in the process of getting my credentials evaluated by WES. My question is about doing a year in UK – Masters in Biz Intelligence- and using this with my Bachelor’s degree to apply in better schools in the US later. I don’t have great extracurricular activities to spice my resume with and in this short period of time, it might be difficult for me to do anything spectacular. I have a GPA of 3.04 (American standard) having received 83% in my undergraduation. Other than that and some work experience, I really don’t have much to boast about. So I thought a one year masters program in the UK will give me the advantage of 16 years that the US schools so badly need. Do US schools recognize UK masters program? I’d like to hear your view on this.

  28. I done my graduation by distance from india .But I have completed ICWAI(A professional course ) in India. which is recognised as equivalent to Post Graduate by UGC/AICTE whether i can do MBA from usa reputed universities. I came to understand that icwai is recognised for EB 2 visa by ucis .I dont know how far it is true

  29. hi,
    I am currently pursuing my Bpharm+Mba integrated course degree from NMIMS, Mumbai. It is a 5 year course and I am in my 3rd year. I want to pursue international marketing. Can you tell me how many years of work experience is required to do that course? And also which colleges provide this course in India as well as abroad.

  30. i hv done my graduation from delhi university school of open learning with 49% and after that i hv also done 2 yr. pgdm from imt-cdl with 65% . Moreover I hv a work experience of more than 3years.
    I want to know the possibility of getting admission in usa or canada for an MBA degree.
    First whether its possible or no and secondly if it is then wat should be the minimum GMAT score i should target onto??

  31. Hello Sir,
    Kindly,help me evaluate my profile if i am suitable for MBA in US.
    BSc Computers :-55 %
    Work Experience :- 8.5 yrs into IT GE / IBM ( I had financial problems while pursuing my .Hence, i had to work full-time given a professional opportunity Work Exp after grad is 3.5 and the remaining is before grad with a single backlog that was holding me )
    Request you to guide me with universities that accept and consider work experience in particular with well known companies at good designation.
    Reason to apply US universities
    1)One of the best nations to reside and live the culture.
    2)International exposure and interact with the best of students from all over the world.
    3)Recognized Degree with more practical knowledge achieved at studies that help a career to grow at a faster pace with a better understand goals tp pursue and achieve.

  32. Hello Sir,
    I am a pass out student of MBA(finance) &iam going to US with f2 visa status
    can f2 visa holder can do MS/MBA in US
    what is the procedure for doing Macc/MBA

  33. Hello sir,
    I have done my graduation Bachelor in Commerce(hons.) from Mahatma Gandhi university which is open university and preparing to get admission in MBA regular 2 year course in india.I want to know-
    1.)Do stanford allow second mba with work exprience?
    2.)Do USA B-schools allow candidates graduate from open universities?
    3.)Kindly,tell me what are the preparations i have to make to get admission in Stanford with these qualifications ??

  34. @Anuj: We’ve covered the part about 15 years in the post above. On the work-experience front, if you are targetting the good schools, you should wait for a few more years.

    @Vino: The good UK programs are recognised across the world. Instead of looking at a Masters program as a stepping stone to the US universities, why not go for one final degree (based on your career preference) in the UK itself.

    @Kamal and Jasleen: You’d have to check directly with the bschools, as some might have strict policies about distance education degrees.

    @Rachita: If you are looking for a second MBA abroad, you’d need 4-5 years at the time of starting the course.

    @Ram: All the top bschools would give significant importance to work experience. So no issues there. However, you’ll have to explain the personal challenge story in the optional essay.

    @Sindhu: I’m not a visa expert, but I’m guessing you’d need to apply for a student visa before you start studying.

    @Neha: Yes, Stanford accepts second MBA applicants. Here’s a bigger list of USA business schools that accept second MBA applicants from India


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