The Indian Administrative Service is the premier civil service of the Government of India. IAS is the highest administrative post among other civil services like IPS, IFS, etc. The IAS or the Civil Service Exam ( CSE) is conducted every year by the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC), for selecting the appropriate candidates for the jobs. Every year lakhs of candidates appear for the IAS examination, trying to attain the prestigious IAS post.

Any officer selected into the IAS can be employed by Union Government, State Government, or different Public – Sector undertakings and they can be appointed into numerous job roles like the collector, commissioner, head of public sector units, cabinet secretary, chief secretary.

IAS officers can also be appointed in various international organizations like the World Bank, International Monetary Fund, Asian Infrastructure Bank, Asian Development Bank, United Nations, or its agencies to name a few.

How to Become an IAS Officer after Graduation?

To become an officer in the Indian Administrative Services you must clear the UPSC Civil Service Exam. This is one of the toughest exams in India, and it is near impossible to crack these exams. The UPSC exam is divided into three stages, and you need to clear all the stages to attain the post of an IAS officer. This is a year-long selection process, which begins in May and concludes in June.

What is the UPSC Eligibility Criteria

Before appearing for the IAS exam, you must know the eligibility criteria for UPSC. The preparation for the exam starts with accurate knowledge of the eligibility criteria. Some important eligibility criteria to keep in mind while preparing for the UPSC exam are:

  • As per UPSC, the candidate should be between 21 and 32 years of age, as of 1st August 2021. The age limit is an essential factor for an aspirant preparing for UPSC. It is recommended that you check the upper age limit on the UPSC website before applying for the IAS exam.

Is Graduation Necessary for UPSC?

  • Do many students wonder whether graduation is necessary for UPSC? As per the UPSC, the candidate must hold a degree from a government-recognized university. Aspirants who are in their final year are eligible to appear for the UPSC prelims exams. Students who have passed the final year of their MBBS degree, but are yet to pursue or complete their internship are also eligible to apply for IAS.
  • Candidates applying for IAS and IPS must be a citizen of India or can be a subject of Nepal, Tibet or Bhutan settled in India before 1st January 1962.
  • An aspirant can attempt the IAS exam no more than 6 times. The number of attempts varies for students belonging to different categories.

What is the UPSC Syllabus and Pattern?

The UPSC examination is divided into three parts, a Preliminary exam, Main Exam, and a Personality interview. Candidates need to clear the prelims exam if they wish to appear in the mains exam.

UPSC Prelims Pattern

The UPSC prelims stage consists of two papers, both of them conducted on the same day. Both the papers are objective-type papers with multiple choice answers. The marks secured in the prelims exam are not considered while preparing the merit list, but the student needs to prepare well in order to clear this exam as the cut-off rises each year.


Prelims Exam General Studies I General Studies II
No. of Questions 100 80
Duration 2 hours 2 hours
Marking Negative 0.66 marks for every incorrect answer Negative 0.83 marks for every incorrect answer
Maximum marks 200 200
Language of Exam Hindi / English Hindi / English


UPSC Prelims Syllabus

The UPSC syllabus for the Preliminary Exams comprises current affairs and events, History of both India and the Indian national movements, Geography of India and the World, the Indian Political System, and Current issues on environment and climate change, Indian Policymaking and Governance.

The questions asked in the UPSC prelims are from the following subjects:

  • Political Science
  • History
  • Economics
  • Geography
  • General Science
  • Sociology
  • Environmental Science

These are the compulsory subjects for the UPSC prelims examination and reading all the NCERT books for these subjects is recommended while preparing for the prelims examination.

UPSC Mains Pattern

The IAS mains exam consists of 9 papers, out of which 7 are fixed and the remaining 2 are chosen out of the optional subjects. Out of the 7 compulsory, 2 are language papers (Paper A and B). The questions for the UPSC mains examination will be only subjective.

UPSC Mains Syllabus

The paper-wise subject list for UPSC Mains are as follows:

  • Essay Writing – 250 marks
  • General Studies 1 (Indian Heritage, culture, and History) – 250 marks
  • General Studies 2 (Governance, Social Justice, International Relations and Constitution) – 250 marks
  • General Studies 3 (Technology, Environment, and Economic Development) – 250 marks
  • General Studies 4 (Integrity, Aptitude, and Ethics) – 250 marks
  • Indian Languages paper A and B – 300 marks for each paper
  • Optional Subject Paper 1 and 2 – 250 marks for each paper

The candidate needs to choose at least one optional subject in the IAS mains examination. The aspirant needs to attempt two optional subjects, one in the morning shift and the other in the afternoon shift. The candidate can select an optional subject out of any of the below-mentioned categories:

  • Social Science
  • Engineering
  • Medical
  • Science
  • Commerce and Management
  • Languages

Also Read: Working Professional UPSC Preparation Strategy: Can a Working Professional Clear UPSC?

Which Graduation should You Pursue to Prepare for IAS?

Aspirants preparing for UPSC often wonder which graduation is best for UPSC preparation? A good graduation degree helps in IAS preparation. A lot of IAS toppers have suggested that there is a direct link between the graduation degree and the optional subjects chosen by them. So the common question among aspirants is to know which stream is ideally suited to crack the UPSC exam. There is no straightforward answer to this question, as optional subjects are available from a variety of disciplines, which can be chosen by candidates from any field. Some points are mentioned below highlighting the benefit for different degrees:


A lot of aspirants have traditionally opted for humanities when preparing for civil service exams. It is considered that humanities have a higher success ratio as compared to students belonging to other disciplines, as students learn a lot of topics asked in the IAS exam while pursuing a degree in humanities.


IAS toppers from the last few years have shown that engineering is the way to go, as candidates from engineering backgrounds have dominated the examination. The topics taught while pursuing engineering help you perform well in technical optional in the IAS exams. 

Medical Science

Students generally pursuing this degree don’t join the bureaucracy but the number of students attempting the IAS exam belonging to the medical stream is increasing every year.

Also Read: Career Options after 12th Medical: High Salary Career Options other Than MBBS

 Roles of an IAS Officer

An IAS officer has to face multiple challenges on day to day basis, some of the roles and responsibilities they face are:

  • Implementing and supervising various policies introduced by the government.
  • Managing and distributing various funds allocated by the central government.
  • Responding to natural calamities, major accidents, and coordinating relief activities.
  • Handling various affairs of the central government.

How can You Prepare for the UPSC IAS Exam?

If you wish to prepare for the UPSC exams, you can visit the UPSC Pathshala website. We offer different courses ranging from a foundation course, for students planning to appear in the IAS exam in 2022, a crash course for candidates wishing to appear in the IAS exam this year, and a UPSC inception course for those who have more than a year remaining for your examination. We also offer personal mentorship to students that help them prepare for UPSC exams effectively. If you want to read more about IAS preparation and eligibility click here.


UPSC civil service exams are government exams that you can only attempt after graduating. So it is necessary to graduate if you wish to become an IAS. When it comes to selecting the stream you want to pursue, what the past and current trends suggest does not matter. It all comes down to the passion and interests of the aspirants. It does not matter whether you choose humanities, engineering, or medical science, if you are passionate about it you are bound to succeed. One should always consider the discipline you enter as an alternative career if your dream of entering the IAS does not pan out.


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How to Become an IAS Officer after Graduation? Which Graduation is Best for UPSC?
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How to Become an IAS Officer after Graduation? Which Graduation is Best for UPSC?
IAS is one of the most prestigious services in India. If you want to know everything about IAS Eligibility and Syllabus, read this article till the end.
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