When looking into graduate school programs in the United States, many international students come across the same problem: their Bachelor’s degree was three years rather than four. This can be alarming for students when they are already stressed about applying to graduate programs. While there is no black and white answer, we can still shed some light on this.
In the United States, students attend secondary school for 12 years and are then eligible to apply for undergraduate programs. Bachelor’s degrees in the United States are at least four years in duration. If students then wish to pursue graduate-level education, they are typically expected to have a four-year Bachelor’s degree when applying.
This creates a problem for the many international students who earned three-year undergraduate degrees rather than four. Countries such as India, Australia, and France offer three-year undergraduate programs after 12 years of secondary education. The United Kingdom and Cameroon offer three-year undergraduate programs after 13 years of secondary education. How do US universities view these types of programs, and are they considered equivalent to a US four-year bachelor’s degree?
At this time, there is not a unified position in the United States on this issue. Every higher education institution has their own policy on international 3-year programs, so it can vary depending on where you apply.
However, there is hope! Many universities do accept international applicants who have a three-year Bachelor’s degree. Some institutions have a blanket policy regarding these types of degrees, while others will consider each application on a case-by-case basis. Many times, they will consider factors such as the amount of major-specific coursework in the program, or whether or not the degree grants access to graduate studies in the home country. Some universities require that their international applicants get an evaluation report completed by a third-party company, such as Scholaro, Inc.
So what does this mean for international students with three-year Bachelor’s degrees? Generally, you will need to check with the institution you are applying to and determine what their policy is. Some universities will publish this information on their website, usually under the “International Applicants” section. If you’re unsure, you can reach out to their international admissions department for clarification.
The good news is that many US universities do accept three-year undergraduate degrees for graduate program admission. If you are an international student, you can be confident that you still have many options if you want to study in the US.
For more detailed information on this topic, please refer to our website for a presentation given jointly by Scholaro (formerly Foreign Credits) and ACEI: https://www.scholaro.com/presentations/International-Graduate-Admissions.pdf