Eligibility Criteria For UPSC

For every UPSC IAS aspirants, it is very important to know about the eligibility for UPSC, before she/he starts UPSC journey. Every year UPSC releases its notification for UPSC IAS exam, with detailed information regarding the eligibility for IAS and IAS qualification. It is necessary for every student that before filling the UPSC IAS application for, they should go through the detailed notification given by UPSC and clear their doubt regarding the eligibility for UPSC.

Some students in spite of being eligible for UPSC IAS exam do not fill the form and miss the opportunity at the very first instance. Hence, knowing about the IAS qualification and eligibility for IAS is the first and foremost task of the students.

In this article, we will discuss in simple language about the eligibility criterion for UPSC.

Eligibility criterion for UPSC

Eligibility for IAS exam doesn’t depend upon any one factors or criterion. A student or aspirant will have to qualify for all types of given eligibilities. For example, if an aspirant is eligible as per age limit but not as per IAS exam qualification, is not eligible. Similarly, if an aspirant has attempts left with him but his age has crossed the upper limit, is not eligible to take exam.

There are four basic criterions that decide regarding the eligibility for IAS in details:

  • Nationality
  • Age limit
  • Attempts limit
  • Educational qualifications

Overall eligibility criterion for UPSC in simple terms:

NationalityIndian citizens only
Age limit21 to 32 years- for general category

21 to 35 years for OBC category

21 to 37 years for ST/SC category

21 to 40 years for Physically handicapped


Attempts limit6 for general, 9 for OBC, unlimited for ST/SC and
Minimum Educational qualificationGraduation


For All India Services (Indian Administrative Service, Indian Police Service, Indian Foreign Service): The candidate should be Citizen of India only.

For Other Central Services: 

  1. citizen of India, or
  2. subject of Nepal, or
  3. subject of Bhutan, or
  4. Tibetan refugee who came over to India before January 1, 1962 with the intention of permanently settling in India, or
  5. person of Indian origin who has migrated from Pakistan, Burma, Sri Lanka, East African countries of Kenya, Uganda, the United Republic of Tanzania, Zambia, Malawi, Zaire, Ethiopia and Vietnam with the intention of permanently settling in India.

However, a candidate belonging to categories (b), (c), (d) and (e) shall have a certificate of eligibility, issued by the Government of India.

Age limit:

In the overall criterion of eligibility for UPSC, the age limit criterion is very important. Candidates need to carefully go through this criterion before filling the form. Otherwise, if any discrepancies will be found, then UPSC will cancel the candidature of the applicant.

For appearing in UPSC a student must have attained 21 years of age. UPSC releases cut-off date for counting the upper and lower limit. For example, it is 2nd August 1989 for UPSC 2021. It means student born before after this date will not be eligible to sit in this year’s exam.

In the following table, we have discussed about the eligibility for IAS- Upper age limit and age relaxation category wise in details:

CategoryAge limit-upper relaxationAge relaxation
OBC353 years
SC/ST375 years
Disables Defence Services Personnel353 years
Ex-Servicemen375 years
Persons with Benchmark Disability- Economically weaker section (EWS)4210 years
Attempts limit:  

UPSC provides sufficient number of attempts to all aspirants, though there is a difference in number of attempts as per the social categories. General category students have least number of attempts for UPSC exam; however, it is also the most no. Of attempts that 90% of UPSC aspirants take. Very few aspirants attempt this exam more than 6 time.

An aspirant starting in an early age is in advantage compared to the ones starting late. It is because, former has a scope for taking break in between attempt and in case of any hinderance in preparation she/he can think of taking attempt next year. However, an aspirant starting late has to take attempts continuously due to age limit.

In this table, we will discuss about the eligibility for UPSC – Attempts limit:

CategoryAttempts limit (in term of numbers)
SC/STUnlimited (Up to age limit)
Disabled Defence Services Personnel9
Benchmark Disability – EWS (Economically weaker section)9


Educational qualifications:  

Apart from age limit and attempts limit criterion, the other criterion of eligibility for UPSC is educational qualifications. Students from different educational backgrounds prepare for this exam and fill the application form for the same. There is no restriction on student of any subject matter.

The basic criterion which is applicable for all stream students are that everyone should be graduate. UPSC IAS exam is known for its equal level playing for all. It is simply shown in its minimum marks required to appear for the exam is just 33%. It does not ask for toppers and extraordinary students. It simply wants integral, impartial and honest civil servants for the society.

Following are the minimum educational qualifications for UPSC IAS exam: 
  • The candidate must hold a degree from Government recognised Universitiesor possess an equivalent qualification.
  • Candidates who are in their final year or awaiting results are also eligible to appear for UPSC preliminary Examination. However, they must produce the proof of passing the exam before appearing for IAS mains exam.
  • Candidates having professional and technical qualificationsrecognized by the Government as equivalent to professional and technical degrees.
  • Medical students who have passed the final year of MBBS, but are yet to complete their internship also have eligibility for IAS. Although, along with the Main Examination application, a certificate of course completion (including internship) from the concerned authority of the University/Institution has to be submitted.

In this article we have discussed about the eligibility for UPSC and IAS qualification in simple manner. It is expected from the students that, they go through all the eligibility for IAS carefully before filling the form. Otherwise, there is chance that UPSC will cancel their application when they will not fulfil any one the criterion mentioned above.

We wish you best luck for the UPSC IAS exam.


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