NEP 2020: 3-Year vs 4-Year Bachelor’s Degree, 1-Year Master’s Course, Exit Option, Multidisciplinary Education

Sakunth Kumar
Sakunth KumarPublished On: September 10, 2020

NEP 2020 is set to bring drastic changes in the higher education system of India. Through NEP, students can enjoy flexible education options such as three-year or four-year Bachelor’s degree, one-year Master’s degree, exit options and multidisciplinary education.

Reforms in Higher Education as per NEP 2020, 3-Year vs 4-Year Bachelor's Degree

The Ministry of Human Resource Development (Ministry of Education) has formulated the New Education Policy (NEP) 2020, which is set to bring drastic changes in the education system of the country. The education system in India is going to be revamped after 34 years. Flexible degree options, subject combination, unique exit options for various courses etc are the new changes that are going to be implemented in higher education. While the NEP 2020 did not make four-year degree courses mandatory, these courses will be preferable options for students who wish to gain a degree with ‘Research’. In this article, we have explained everything with regard to 4-year degree programmes, flexible exit options, and multidisciplinary education.

Table of Contents

Holistic and Multidisciplinary Education3 Year-vs 4-Year Bachelor’s Degree
Revised Structure for Master’s CourseRevised Eligibility Criteria for Ph.D
Establishment of MERUs-

NEP 2020: Holistic and Multidisciplinary Education

According to NEP 2020, certain aspects of traditional education must be brought back because of their relevancy in 21st-century education. Long ago, universities such as Takshashila and Nalanda played a vital role in promoting holistic and multidisciplinary education.  The education is a combination of knowledge of 64 arts.

64 Arts:

According to NEP 2020, the 64 arts not only include subjects such as singing and painting but –

Scientific Fields such as Mathematics and Chemistry

Vocational Fields such as Carpentry and Clothes-Making

Professional Fields such as Engineering and Medicine

Soft Skills such as Communication, Discussion and Debate

All the above subjects have an Indian origin and the same shall be considered as ‘Arts’. In today's time, the combination of these Arts is termed as Liberal Arts, which means a liberal notion of arts.

Integrating Arts with STEM

NEP 2020 aims for the assessments of educational approaches in the UG education where the Arts stream shall be integrated with STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics). Such practice has always been successful, and increases creativity and innovation, problem-solving abilities, higher-order thinking skills, communication skills, teamwork, social and moral awareness, in-depth learning.

Imaginative and Flexible Curricular Structure

NEP aims to promote an imaginative and flexible curricular structure that will enable creative combinations of disciplines of study. Through this method, students will have no restrictions on entry and exit options. The universities and colleges will introduce interesting course options to students apart from mandatory specialization in a subject. Through this method, the institutes will have autonomy in framing curricula.

The flexible and innovative curricula of Higher Education Institutes include –

Credit-Based Courses

Projects in the Areas of Community Engagement & Service

Environmental Education

Value-Based Education

New Departments to be Established in HEIs:

The Higher Education Institutes (HEIs) will be given the flexibility to set up separate departments in –












Pure & Applied Sciences





The institutes can award credits to these subjects in the Bachelor’s degree programmes. The institutes can also offer courses under these departments in ODL (Open & Distance Learning) mode.

Internships & Research Internships

As a part of holistic education, students pursuing various courses at HEIs will be provided internship opportunities in local business/ industry, artists, craft persons etc. Students will also have an option to take up research internships with faculty and researchers of the respective HEI. This activity will not only improve students’ practical side of learning but also improve their employability.

NEP 2020: 3 Year-vs 4-Year Bachelor’s Degree

According to NEP 2020, the structure and length of degree programmes shall be adjusted to promote holistic and multidisciplinary education. The detailed comparison of three-year vs four-year Bachelor’s degree can be checked below.


Before NEP 2020 (3-Year Degree)

3-Year Degree (After NEP 2020)

4-Year Degree (After NEP 2020)

Exit Option

Not Available (Available only for five-year Integrated Courses)

Available after 1st year, Second-Year

Available after 1st, 2nd and 3rd year

Award of Degree

Mandatory to complete the full duration of the programme

  • Candidates who wish to exit after the 1st year will be awarded a Certificate in the field of study
  • Candidates who wish to exit after the 2nd year will be awarded a Diploma in the field of study
  • Candidates who complete the three-years course will be awarded a degree.
  • Candidates who wish to continue after the 3rd year can specialize in a different field apart from the mandatory major or minor.
  • Exit options will be applicable at par with three-year degree courses.

Scope of Research


Candidates who do not wish to continue with 4th year will have to complete the research project in the 2nd-year of Master’s programme (applicable only for those students who opt for Master’s).

Candidates who complete 4-year degree courses will also get ‘Degree with Research’ if he/ she completes rigorous research specified by the Higher Education institute.

NEP 2020: Revised Structure for Master’s Course

The NEP 2020 will also revise the structure for the Master’s course. The details with regard to the same can be checked below –

Type of Course


Course Details

Type 1 – 2-Year Master’s Course

Candidates who have completed a three-year Bachelor’s degree are eligible

The second year of the course will be devoted to the research project and it is mandatory to complete the same.

Type 2 – 1-Year Master’s Degree Course

Candidates who have completed 4-year Bachelor’s degree programme with Research

Research is not mandatory for a 1-year course, as students already complete their research project in a four-year Bachelor’s degree.

Type 3 – 5-Year Integrated Bachelor’s/Master’s Programme

To be Updated.

To be Updated

Revised Eligibility Criteria for Ph.D

NEP 2020 will also revise the eligibility criteria for Ph.D. programmes. Candidates who have completed 4-years Bachelor’s degree with Research are eligible to take up Ph.D. Candidates who have completed 2-year Master’s course can also take up Ph.D. M.Phil course has been discontinued.

Establishment of MERUs

NEP 2020 will give scope for the establishment of MERUs (Multidisciplinary Education and Research Universities). These universities will offer holistic and multidisciplinary education at par with IITs and IIMs. These institutes will maintain the highest global standards.

These are some of the major changes that will be implemented in the higher education system of the country as per the National Education Policy 2020. The above explanation has been made after making a detailed analysis of NEP 2020.

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