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MBA abroad after BBA, BSc, BMS, BA, BCA, BCom, LLB and other 3-year degrees

What makes a student graduate school ready? Is it the number of years they have spent gearing up for a successful promotion from a bachelor’s to a master’s? Or, is it the knowledge and substantive education received until then?

This time vs knowledge debate often becomes a subject of contention for international students applying to foreign universities – in countries like USA, Canada, UK, Germany, France, Singapore – where many schools require a minimum of 16 years of prior formal schooling to attend graduate school.

Graduates of engineering (B.E., BTech), architecture (B.Arch) and medicine (MBBS) don’t need to worry much as they’ve spent over 4-5 years to complete their bachelors.

However, a lot of Indian students, who are used to the high school + 3 years of undergraduate (15 years of education) format are often handicapped by such an eligibility requirement.

This includes graduates of the following degrees:

  • Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA)
  • Bachelor of Science (BSc)
  • Bachelor of Commerce (BCom)
  • Bachelor of Management Studies (BMS)
  • Bachelor of Arts (BA)
  • Bachelor of Computer Applications (BCA)
  • Bachelor of Law (LLB)
  • and several others.


When is a three-year undergrad good for MBA applications?

The aforementioned restriction is not universally true. That is, there are a number of schools that accept 15 years as sufficiently equivalent to the knowledge base needed to attend post-undergraduate schooling.

In fact, an increasing number of schools have opened up to the possibility of giving such candidates the opportunity of attending their graduate programs. Why?

  • For one thing, education has become increasingly global. A four-year undergraduate program is locally popular.
    However, when considering international applications, universities have to judge candidate readiness based on past history of other candidates with similar backgrounds.
    Given the massive flux of international applicants from all shades of continents and countries, each year, such considerations have become quite common place.
  • Internationally recognized agencies like the World Education Services have made it possible to put expert eyes on degree equivalencies.
    For instance, Indian 3-year Bachelor’s are equivalent to a 4-year US degree as long as they have been earned in the 1st Division and the awarding institute is accredited by India’s National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC) with a grade ‘A’ or better.
    Universities can thus rely on their interpretations when considering foreign students with less than 16 years of education.
  • And finally, professional programs look at more than what meets the eye. Candidates are viewed holistically. So, a lack of a four-year undergraduate degree such as a BTech or B.E. may not be a big issue.
    In fact, in programs like MBA, this is usually a requirement that is easily forgiven. MBA admissions committees in most business schools look for flavours that go well beyond the hard cut-offs.
    This wholesome viewing of the applicant, under the broad umbrella of leadership and other outstanding qualities, overlooks the lack of the 16th year and accept any prior 15 years as sufficient for MBA readiness.


What should you do to overcome the lack of a four-year undergrad degree for MBA applications?

So, what should a student do to ensure such an override? Since applicants are viewed as a whole package – achievements, GMAT/GRE, GPA, essays, recommendations, work experience, extra-curricular, and other ingredients – it is best to focus on raising the bar in other areas.

For instance, focus on upping your GMAT score or perfecting your MBA goals for your essay. You can also add some dimension to your candidature through more initiatives at your work place, focusing on building a diverse profile rather than spending another year for that 16th year stamp.

Many top business schools, across the globe, will measure your readiness through such accomplishments.

Nevertheless, it is a good idea to understand whether there is any room for such a leeway at all. If business schools specifically mention their willingness (or refusal) to accept 15 years of education for your MBA application, you can march ahead fully informed.

We have collated a list of some of the top b-schools in the world that are more flexible with the 16 years of education stipulation (specifically mentioned on their program webpage), accepting applications despite the perceived ‘shortcoming‘ (if you can call that one).

MBA abroad after BBA, BSc, BMS, BA, BCA, BCom, LLB

Top B-Schools in the world that accept 15 years of education


Business School Country Bachelor’s Degree Requirement for MBA Application
INSEAD France/Singapore No undergraduate degree needed to apply
Harvard Business School USA International candidates must have a college-level education equivalent which can be a three-year degree from an accredited university.
University of Virginia Darden USA Darden will recognize undergraduate degrees that were earned in only three years of study.
University of Pennsylvania Wharton USA International candidates must have a college-level education equivalent which can be a three-year degree from an accredited university.
NYU Stern USA 3 years Bachelors accepted
Northwestern University Kellogg USA A degree from certain international three-year undergraduate programs (e.g., institutions in India, United Kingdom) may be acceptable
Columbia University USA Applications from candidates with a three-year undergraduate degree are reviewed on a case-by-case basis
Yale School of Management USA International applicants with a three-year degree from an accredited institution may apply
University of Michigan, Ross USA A three-year degree is acceptable from regions that typically do not offer four-year degrees.
Dartmouth Tuck School of Business USA No requirement for candidates to hold a bachelor’s degree in order to be considered for admission
UCLA Anderson USA International applicants with just a three-year undergraduate degree may be admitted if the Admissions Committee determines that their entire academic profile and overall application are strong enough
University of North Carolina Kenan Flagler USA International candidates must have a college-level education equivalent which can be a three-year degree.
Emory University, Goizueta USA Three-year undergraduate degree accepted. However, given the highly competitive nature of our applicant pool, those applicants with significant work experience and additional education beyond the three-year degree are viewed as more competitive.
University of Rochester, Simon USA Three-year undergraduate degree equivalent to a US four-year degree is accepted
Boston University, Questrom USA Three-year undergraduate degree equivalent to a US four-year degree is accepted
SMU Cox USA Only for applicants from India, the completion of at least a 3-year Bachelor’s degree with evidence of strong and consistent academic performance is required
ESMT Germany Undergraduate degree or equivalent without the four-year stipulation
University of Cambridge Judge UK A 2:1 or above (or equivalent) in undergraduate degree from a recognised university. In India, the UK 2:1 usually equates to an Honours degree with 60-80% score
Washington University Olin USA Equivalent to US Bachelor’s degree. Most international three-year degrees are equivalent.
Nanyang Business School Singapore Bachelor’s degree requirement without the four-year stipulation
CEIBS China Bachelor’s degree requirement without the four-year stipulation
ISB India Bachelor’s or equivalent degree accepted

Besides the above, a good number of American, Canadian, and almost all European B-Schools accept a three-year undergraduate degree. Especially from countries like India and other former British colonies that have carried on the 3+ years post-secondary school tradition.

What about B-Schools that don’t accept 3-year Bachelor’s for MBA?

Though we have stressed on the general acceptance of 15 years, there can be exceptions.

Some, like Berkeley Haas, clearly state that students (for instance, from India) with a three-year Bachelor’s are at a significant competitive disadvantage for admissions.

Whereas some other B-schools may completely skirt the topic and leave you confused. Before you act on your impulse to alter your application plans, though, it is best to ask them directly for more information.

If their response seems lukewarm, you can focus on the other very many accepting programs we have mentioned, or not mentioned, here.

Bottom line, do your research!
MBA Crystal Ball has helped applicants with 3-year degrees get into the best MBA programs around the world. If you need professional help with your MBA applications, drop us a line at: info [at] mbacrystalball [dot] com.

Here are two such success stories:
B.Com grad with multiple MBA admits
ISB after B.Com with scholarship

Meanwhile try these links for more information.

US MBA programs accepting 15 years of education
Universities in USA and Canada accepting 3 years Bachelor’s Degree for Master’s applications
Best Masters after 3 year Bachelor’s in Commerce: MCom vs MBA vs Master in Finance
Oxford MBA after Bachelors in Mass Media and Advertising

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12 thoughts on “MBA abroad after BBA, BSc, BMS, BA, BCA, BCom, LLB and other 3-year degrees”

  1. Sir can u make whatsapp group for all information i mbtech student i want to gi abroad for mba ….i need info nd ur guidance… Ur site will.provide very good material… Can u just help me out

  2. @Balaje: Assuming you’re referring to business schools (and not BS schools), check out this video:

    @Chandrashekhar: Sorry, your query if unclear. A job is not an alternative to a doctorate.

    @Pragya: We don’t have a Whatsapp group. We are answering general queries here on the blog and on our youtube channel.

    @Arvind: List of top MBA programs in Finance:

    @Lembipa: You’ll need a graduation degree and several years of experience for international MBA programs.

    @Akash: Thanks. Good to see a compliment among all the queries!


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