There are many Indian and foreign students who aspire to study for post graduate degree in USA. Others are interested in working in the US which requires a 4 year college education to be eligible for a work visa.
So for a student who has completed a typical 3 year degree in India or abroad with a BSc, BCom or a BA, how is the 3 year degree evaluated in the US?
The 3 year degree completed in India or abroad is generally equivalent to a 3 year college education in the US, provided the degree was completed in a college that is recognized by the Government of India or the government in the foreign country.
But if the student has completed another 1 year of their masters degree in India or abroad, that will likely evaluate to a 4 year college education. Or if the student has completed a 1+ years post graduate diploma course in a recognized college, institution or university, that might also be considered equivalent to a 4 year college education.
In any case, the college in USA and the US visa granting authority will make the final decision on whether the student has the required 4 year college education.
3-Year Degree Government Recognition
All college level degree courses in India are required to have UGC (University Grants Commission) accreditation and technical education is also typically approved by the AICTE (All India Council for Technical Education).
Since most 3 year degrees relate to science, mathematics or social science, UGC approval is sufficient for these degrees. Similarly, 3 year degrees from other countries will need to be recognized by their respective government departments responsible for overseeing their college education programs.
US Education Equivalency for Visa Approval
US colleges and universities recognize all the Indian-government-recognized 3 year college degrees to be equivalent to a 3 year college education in the US. To meet the requirement of a typical 4 year US college education, it is good for Indian and foreign students to do another 1 year of a Masters degree in their respective countries.
This will help students to secure admission into a Masters degree program in the US or for obtaining a work visa with additional work experience.
For people who have less than a 4 year college education, in some cases, the US visa processing authority will also consider additional work experience to satisfy the education requirement. In my case years ago, with a degree in Mathematics from India, my seven years of computer software experience was enough for the grant of a H1B. In this case, 3 years of work experience was considered equivalent to 1 year of additional college education.
Other Alternate Higher Education
There are other reputed college-level programs conducted in India by associations that are NOT part of any college or university. Examples include AMIE, CPA and CFA programs. While the AMIE and CPA certifications are conducted by the respective Indian organizations, the CFA Institute is headquartered in the US and has many study and exam centers in India and in many other countries.
AMIE is meant for students who are already working and who have some experience. Though the Section A of AMIE can be studied by any high school graduate or diploma holder, for starting the Section B courses in AMIE, students are required to be working in an engineering position.
The AMIE courses are conducted by the IEI (Institution of Engineers, India) which is a well known non-profit engineering association in India that was established in 1939.
The CPA or Certified Public Accountant certification is conducted by the Institute of Certified Public Accountants and students are typically required to be practicing juniors in the accounting field to be eligible for completing their CPA exams. The institute is a member of the ACCA which is a global body for professional accountants. Similarly, professionals with a CFA designation are able to practice as financial analysts in investment banking, wealth management and so on.
These alternate degrees and certification programs also carry some college credits and in most cases, are equivalent to college degree programs. Since the CPA and CFA exams are typically undertaken by 3 year college graduates, these certifications will likely be considered at the Masters degree level for US equivalent education.
As for the AMIE, students who have completed the Section A and Section B exams in AMIE and who have some job experience, this is considered equivalent to a 4 year bachelors degree in engineering.
Foreign Credential Evaluation
There are many educational credential evaluation agencies in the US and they assist students and professionals with evaluating foreign college level courses for US equivalent college education.
Students interested in higher studies in the US, or professionals who need an education evaluation, frequently request evaluations from these agencies. Once the agency conducts the evaluation and provides you a report, it is well accepted by US colleges, universities and visa processing authorities.
The evaluation agencies ask for not just the degree certificates but also for the complete course-by-course syllabus, for a more detailed analysis of US equivalency. More information on foreign credential evaluation can be found in our following articles:
Saylor Courses/ AP Exams (and more)
Saylor courses are free online courses and most Saylor courses carry college credits. To obtain college credits with Saylor, you need to complete their proctored exam which can be taken completely online from any part of the world.
More information on Saylor courses and other online courses for college credits can be found in our article titled Review of Free College Courses Online – And Others That Are Nearly Free!.
There are also AP exams and some SAT subject exams which are frequently awarded college credits by some colleges. More information on AP exams and the AP tutorial can be found in 1) AP (Advanced Placement) exams and 2) AP Courses Go Virtual and 3) In what ways can one opt to study abroad after class 12?.
Since most of these courses and exams are from the US itself, Indian and foreign students can directly show college credits by completing these online courses or exams.
To further document these courses for US college credits, students can consider getting a personalized credit bank report. The credit bank report service is provided by colleges such as Excelsior and Thomas Edison for documenting all college level learning in an official format.
More information on ordering the credit bank report can be found at:
As you can see from this post, students with a 3 year college degree can complete additional courses or exams either in their country or via US online courses to substantiate their 4 years of undergraduate college education. This will prove helpful for both higher studies in the US and for US employment opportunities.