Will My Three-Year Bachelor’s Degree Be Enough?

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A survey conducted by the Council of Graduate Schools in the United States in 2005 found that 78% of institutions who responded would consider applicants with three-year degrees for admission “under specific conditions,” while only 22% gave a cold, hard no. The survey indicated that students holding three-year degrees from accredited and academically competitive institutions with high academic performance could generally be accepted. Even a liberal stance on three-year degrees seems to be misunderstanding the value of such Bachelor’s degrees.

When applying for grad school in the United States it is essential to have your foreign education evaluated by a credential evaluation agency. When evaluating three-year degree programs for equivalency to a US four-year bachelor’s degree, you will need to present a detailed evaluation and analysis of the breakdown of academic content, international equivalency norms, and the institution from which you achieved you’re degree. Very few schools do their own equivalency evaluations. Most require students to submit a credential evaluation as part of their admissions application to ensure accuracy. Since the same degrees in different countries and universities have different academic content and time duration, it requires a credential evaluation agency with knowledge of both national and international academic norms and standards to parse equivalency.

In three-year programs, including Oxford and Cambridge Universities in the United Kingdom and countries like India who formed their educational systems under British influence, students amass 50-60% more credit hours in three years than students in the United States do in their four-year programs. The US Department of Education defines college credit hours—or Carnegie Units—as “an amount of work represented in intended learning outcomes and verified by evidence of student achievement.” One credit is equal to fifteen classroom hours, so if a class meets hours each week over the course of fifteen weeks it is a three-credit class.

1800 contact hours are typical of a US Bachelor’s degree, so it would make sense that equivalency be judged on the academic content of the program. A typical Indian three-year degree amasses 2880 contact hours just at its most basic just to pass. Students with three-year degrees complete programs of higher academic intensity over shorter periods of time than students with four-year degrees. Academic content is what should count towards evaluating the value and merit of degrees achieved, not duration. However, it takes an evaluation agency to convert the hours you spent engaged in your classes throughout your degree to US credit hours.

Career Consulting International is one of the VERY FEW evaluation agencies that do a detailed evaluation that converts classroom hours by the clock into US credit hours following the internationally accepted Carnegie Unit. Career Consulting International specializes in evaluating three-year degrees.

See www.3YearDegree.com for an internationally published article about the three-year Indian degree.

This article was written by Rebecca Little