Found guilty on April 26 of drugging and molesting Andrea Constand, a former university basketball administrator, Cosby was impassive when Judge Steven O'Neill handed down the sentence on Tuesday in Norristown, Pennsylvania.
Cosby, a felon who is now officially classified as a "sexually violent predator" for life, will require mandatory counseling and community notifications.
Cosby faced a sentence of anywhere from probation to 10 years in prison.
Citing Cosby's frailty and blindness, Cosby's lawyers had asked for house arrest rather than prison time.
The judge ruled on Cosby's "sexually violent predator" status after a psychologist for the state testified that the entertainer appears to have a mental disorder that gives him an uncontrollable urge to have sex with women without their consent.
Cosby was found guilty in April of molesting Constand, who had been operations manager of the women's basketball team at Temple University, where Cosby had been a major supporter and donor.
Though Cosby's trial only addressed the incident with Constand, more than 60 women - five of whom testified at the trial - have come forward to say they had similar encounters with him. And the judge allowed five women in addition to Constand to take the stand and confront the famous comedian to help illustrate Cosby'spattern of predatory behavior. "We're glad the judgment day has finally come for Mr. Cosby", whom she said "has shown no remorse". "81-year-old blind men who are not self-sufficient are not unsafe".
"I have often asked myself why the burden of being the sole witness in two criminal trials had to fall to me".
Dozens of women have accused Cosby of sexual misconduct during his 50-year career in entertainment. He is the first celebrity to be convicted since the emergence a year ago of the #MeToo movement, the national reckoning with sexual misconduct that has ended the careers of powerful men in entertainment, politics and other fields.
Cosntand was present in court during the sentencing hearing. Cosby's defence lawyers asked for house arrest.
Cosby was also fined $34,445. The comedian once known as "America's Dad" was led out of the Norriston, Pennsylvania, courtroom in handcuffs shortly thereafter.
Amber Tamblyn lamented that the sentence of three to 10 years was not almost enough for his dozens of alleged victims.
"So it's taken a long time to get there", Steele said.
Camille concluded her statement by noting that Cosby's defense team "will be filing a motion seeking immediate relief for the prosecution's use of this falsified evidence". "Nothing could have prepared me for an evening of January 2004, when life as I knew it came to an abrupt halt", Constand wrote, referring to the time of the attack.
Cosby's first trial in 2017 ended with a hung jury. What does that mean for Cosby, exactly? His once family-friendly reputation, sparked by his portrayal of Dr. Cliff Huxtable in the 1980s sitcom,"The Cosby Show", eclipsed by the slew of allegations.