Universities in USA and Canada accepting 3 years Bachelor’s Degree

Universities in USA and Canada accepting 3 years Bachelor’s DegreeChances are, if you drive on the left-hand side in your country, you probably also graduated from your Bachelor’s in three years. This is not a leap from a discussion about apples, to oranges.

If your country has a past being a British colony, you probably still have some of the left-over policies that the islanders started. Of course, there are exceptions to every rule and in the present world, the more common digressions are America and Canada.

Undergraduate studies in countries like India, Australia, New Zealand, and more, are usually completed in three-full-time years. Professional degrees like Engineering, Medicine, Law, and Architecture, are longer. However, Science, Arts, and other college degrees last for three years, post higher secondary (12+).

In the US, and Canada, the education system is four years for Bachelor’s, with degrees like Architecture, etc being longer. This discrepancy often makes a transition from being an undergraduate student in, say, India to a graduate student in America, a bit shaky when it comes to deciding what is acceptable for admission into the American graduate school system.

Do I need 16 (12 + 4) years to get an admit, or can I cruise in with my 15 (12+3) years of Baccalaureate education? …is what a lot of students, in such a situation, wonder. Perhaps if they are simply wondering, they probably stick to simpler terms like undergrad and not the jaw breaking Baccalaureate!

Read Guide to Masters Degrees for international students in USA, Canada and UK

But do all universities in Northern America require four-year Bachelor’s, or 16 years of education, for any Master’s application? The answer is No. There are several reasons for such a concession, swiftly summarized below.

  • The flux of international students has opened up possibilities for a lot of schools to make an educated estimate of what other world education systems have to offer. A lack of the 16th year may not simply translate to a lack of preparation/prerequisite knowledge for MS.
  • Quite a few professional programs view applicant profiles holistically. Meaning, they gauge academic experience in combination with professional experience, achievements, awards, etc, as they do for MBA.
  • Many independent agencies like the World Education Services (WES) cater to international students requiring grade equivalencies and credentialing required to be eligible to apply to USA and Canada. What is important to note, however, is that not all universities accept WES credentials. So, it is up to the international student to figure out the minute details.

Read USA MBA accepting 15 years of education from Indian Universities.

What the above summary seems to indicate though, is the general growing (snail’s pace) acceptance of three-year Bachelor’s as sufficient for graduate school applications. In this article, we will look at a representative list of such accepting graduate schools, and programs, in the two countries that do not insist on 16 years of education.

Before we do that, let us explain a couple of technical terms used in the table below.

  • NAAC: The National Assessment and Accreditation Council accredits higher education institutes in India. It is an autonomous body funded by the University Grants Commission (UGC).
  • Bologna Declaration: Proposed by the European Higher Education Area, it stipulates that graduates can pursue higher education freely between countries. Education systems subscribing to the process adhere to the following principles.
    • “Adoption of a system of easily readable and comparable degrees”
    • “Adoption of a system essentially based on two cycles, undergraduate and graduate. Access to the second cycle shall require successful completion of first cycle studies, lasting a minimum of three years”. The degree should be relevant in Europe and lead to a concluding Master’s or Doctorate.


Universities in USA and Canada accepting 3 years Bachelor’s Degree

Colleges and Programs that accept applicants with 15 years of education

Below are some examples of universities, and individual programs, that accept 15 years of education i.e. three-year Bachelor’s for their Master’s programs, in USA and Canada.

Business Graduate Programs


School Master Program Bachelor’s Degree Requirement
MIT (USA) Sloan Graduate Admissions – Master of Science in Management Studies 3-year Bachelor’s is accepted. Further details per program. FAQ
Princeton (USA) – Operations Research & Financial Engineering – Master of Science in Engineering Holistic admission approach. No specific undergrad criteria mentioned


Columbia University (USA) – Masters of Science in Accounting and Fundamental Analysis

– Masters of Science in Financial Economics

– MS in Marketing Science

Candidates are considered on a case-by-case basis


University of British Columbia Sauder (Canada) – Master of Management

– Master of Business Analytics

– Master of Management in Operations Research

– MSc in Business Administration

3-year Bachelor’s accepted from UK, Europe, Australia and New Zealand. Other countryapplicants are encouraged to enquire

Admission Info

York University – Schulich (Canada) – Masters in Finance

– Master of Management

– Master of Marketing

– Master of Real Estate and Infrastructure

3-year degrees acceptable with one-year work experience

More info



Other Graduate Programs


School Master Program Bachelor’s Degree Requirement
McGill University (Canada) Most Graduate Programs eg. Chemistry MSc International credentials page specifies the requirement of NAAC rating “A” for 3-year Bachelor’s institutions
University of British Columbia (Canada) Most Graduate Programs

eg. Physics MSc

As long as the basic prerequisite courses are covered. FAQ
York University (Canada) Most Graduate Programs 3-year undergraduate degrees from institutions that meet the Bologna Declaration criteria
University at Buffalo (USA) Selected Graduate Programs Details available on program pages. 3-year acceptability info here
Stony Brook University (USA) All Graduate Programs Education systems that are not 4-year US degree can be evaluated for credibility at WES. More Info

Read List of STEM degree programs in USA

Clearly, this is not an exhaustive list and most universities still require at least one-year of postgraduate studies, post the three-year Bachelor’s, to compensate for the credit requirement for application. We recommend that you conduct your own research into your options and see where and how you fit into the North American education system.

Meanwhile, we leave you with some relevant links.

Sources: 1, 2

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