District Judge William H Pauley III rejected arguments by Cohen's lawyers that he should be spared jail because he cooperated in multiple federal investigations involving Mr Trump.
Cohen admitted his actions were aimed at influencing the election in violation of campaign finance laws and said they were directed by Trump.
Cohen, 52, pleaded guilty in August to evading $1.4 million in taxes related to his personal businesses.
Mr Trump had called for a tough sentence for Cohen, whom he labelled a liar.
The judge specifically said that the nature of Cohen's crimes justified a "significant term of imprisonment".
"I never directed Michael Cohen to break the law".
Donald Trump's former lawyer, fixer, and probably golf caddy Michael Cohen is headed to prison for three years, and the president is not taking it very well. He was ordered to surrender March 6 and left court without comment.
Or is Cohen's sentence intended as a warning to Trump associates, rather than as an enticement?
As part of its agreement with prosecutors, AMI agreed to fully cooperate with authorities, including making officers and employees available for testimony and pledging to turn over any documents or other evidence as requested.
In test for Trump, Senate prepares to formally rebuke Saudi crown prince
A United Nations report says that 13 million people face starvation as a result of the conflict and more than 10,000 have died. His fiancee, who was waiting outside the consulate, raised an alarm after Khashoggi failed to re-emerge from the consulate.
In November, Cohen pleaded guilty to making false statements to Congress, charges brought forward by special counsel Robert Mueller, who is investigating possible Russian meddling in the USA presidential election and possible ties between the Trump campaign and Russia.
Prosecutor Nicolas Roos said Cohen's crimes showed a "pattern of deceit, brazenness and greed", and urged the judge to send a message that "even powerful, privileged individuals can not violate these laws with impunity".
Cohen's sentence shows them that they can turn on Trump without having to recite every bad act that they've ever committed, or giving up every bum dollar they've ever earned. It also made clear that Pecker, whose tabloid strongly supported Trump's candidacy, has turned on the President. In the part of the case with greater political repercussions, he also admitted breaking campaign finance laws in arranging payments in the waning days of the 2016 election to porn star Stormy Daniels and Playboy model Karen McDougal.
While federal prosecutors said Cohen's cooperation was limited and selective, the Special Counsel's office said Cohen had "gone to significant lengths" to assist their investigation. He said that in retrospect hiring Cohen was a mistake.
Daniels' lawyer, Michael Avenatti, who played a major role in exposing the hush-money discussions, said outside the courthouse: "We will not stop until the truth is known relating to the conduct of Donald Trump".
The US president enters his third year in office facing an increasingly perilous situation as federal prosecutors and the special probe into alleged collusion with Russian Federation close in on him and his inner circle. Also on Wednesday, federal prosecutors in NY announced they had reached a co-operation deal with National Enquirer publisher American Media Inc, which admitted making a hush payment to a former Playboy model to prevent her from going public with Trump affair allegations before the 2016 election.
Why Trump is likely to be indicted by Manhattan US Attorney.
Also on Wednesday, the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of NY said it reached a plea deal with American Media Inc., the parent company of the National Enquirer, which said it paid McDougal $150,000 "in concert with a candidate's presidential campaign".