Guidance

Eligibility for IAS: Educational Qualification, Age and Number of Attempts

If you are looking for the various eligibility criteria for appearing for the IAS exams, look no further. The eligibility criteria for...

Avatar Written by Payal Ghosh · 3 min read >

If you are looking for the various eligibility criteria for appearing for the IAS exams, look no further.

The eligibility criteria for appearing for the UPSC Mains are as follows:

Educational Qualification

All candidates must have as a minimum one of the following educational qualifications:

  • A degree from a Central, State or a Deemed university
  • A degree received through correspondence or distance education
  • A degree from an open university
  • A qualification recognised by the Government of India as being equivalent to one of the above

The following candidates are also eligible, but must submit proof of their eligibility from a competent authority at their institute/university at the time of the main examination, failing which they will not be allowed to attend the exam.

  • Candidates who have appeared in an examination, the passing of which would render them educationally qualified enough to satisfy one of the above points.
  • Candidates who have passed the final exam of the MBBS degree but have not yet completed an internship.
  • Candidates who have passed the final exam of ICAI, ICSI and ICWAI.
  • A degree from a private university.
  • A degree from any foreign university recognised by the Association of Indian Universities.

Age limit for IAS Exam

The candidate must have attained the age of 21 years and must not have attained the age of 32 years (for the General category candidate) on August 1 of the year of examination. Prescribed age limits vary with respect to caste reservations.

  • For Other Backward Castes (OBC) the upper age limit is 35 years.
  • For Scheduled Castes (SC) and Scheduled Tribes (ST), the limit is 37 years.
  • For Defence Services Personnel disabled in operations during hostilities, the limit is 35 years.
  • For Candidates belonging to ex- servicemen including Commissioned officers and ECOs/SSCOs who have rendered Military services for at least five years as on August 01, of the year and have been released
    1. on completion of assignment (including those whose assignment is due to be completed within one year from August 01 of the year otherwise than by way of dismissal or discharge on account of misconduct or inefficiency or
    2. on account of physical disability attributable to Military Service or
    3. on invalidment or
    • Relaxation of up to a maximum of five years will be given in the case of ECOs/SSCOs who have completed an initial period of assignment of five years of Military Service as on August 01 of the year and whose assignment has been extended beyond five years and in whose case the Ministry of Defence issues a certificate that they can apply for civil employment and that they will be released on three months’ notice on selection from the date of receipt of offer of appointment, the limit is 37 years.
  • For ECOs/SSCOs who have completed an initial period of assignment of five years of Military Service, the limit is 37 years.
  • For PwD candidates, the limit is 42 years.
  • For Domiciles of Jammu and Kashmir from January 1, 1980 to December 31, 1989, the limit is 37 years.

Number of attempts

The numbers of times a candidate can appear for the exam are given below.

  • General category candidates = 6.
  • OBC category candidates = 9.
  • SC/ST candidates = unlimited attempts till 37 years of age.

Appearing to attempt one of the papers in the preliminary examination is counted as an attempt, including disqualification/ cancellation of candidature. However, applying to sit the exam but failing to attend is not counted as an attempt.

To simplify:

CategoryMinimum
Age
Maximum Age
(as on 1st Aug of
the year of the Examination)
Maximum number of attempts
General 21 32 6
OBC 21 35 9
SC / ST 21 37 Unlimited
Persons with Disabilities 21 42  
Domiciles of J&K 21 37  
ECOs / SSCOs 21 37  
Defence Personnel Disabled in Operation 21 35  

Nationality

  • For the Indian Administrative Service and the Indian Police Service, the candidate must be a citizen of India.
  • For other services, the candidate must be one of the following:
  1. A citizen of India
  2. A citizen of Nepal or a subject of Bhutan
  3. Tibetan refugee who came to India before January 1, 1962 to settle permanently.
  4. A person of Indian origin who has migrated from Pakistan, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Zambia, Malawi, Zaire, Ethiopia or Vietnam with the intention of permanently settling in India

Niti Ayog’s recommendation for Upper Age Limit for General Category

Niti Ayog had recommended “The upper age limit for the civil services should be brought down to 27 years or the general category in a phased manner by 2022-23. Service conditions for employees of autonomous bodies need to be regulated and harmonized”, in its report on UPSC Examinations to the government. However, this recommendation has not been accepted.

Physical Standards

Candidate who wishes to seek employment at any post of All India Services have to appear for and clear a physical test which is conducted by the commission as per rules and regulations laid down by Government of India.

  • It is very important to be physically fit for efficient discharge of duties and services.
  • For recruitment in civil services a candidate must also be mentally fit.
  • If the candidate fails to satisfy the requirements of being mentally and bodily fit to discharge duties, he/she will not be appointed.

Candidates who are not Eligible for IAS Exam

There are several cases in which candidates will stand non-eligible for IAS Exam.  The conditions of Non-Eligibility for IAS exam have been mentioned below:

  • A candidate who has been appointed to the Indian Administrative Service (I.A.S) or the Indian Foreign Service (I.F.S) on the results of an earlier examination and continues to be a member of that service will not be eligible to sit for IAS Exam.
  • If such is a case then candidate will be appointed to the IAS/IFS after the conduction of IAS Prelims. Candidate of such case will continue to be a member of that service and he/she shall not be eligible to appear in the IAS Mains.
  • If a candidate is appointed to IAS or IFS after he/she sits for IAS Mains before the announcement of IAS Exam Result thereof and continues to be a member of that service, he/she shall not be eligible for appointment to any service on the basis of the IAS Result.

The last relaxation on age by UPSC was in 2014

Subject:-Civil Service Examination –Relaxation of number of attempts The Central Government has approved “two additional attempts to all categories of candidates w.e.f. Civil Services Examination 2014, with consequential age relaxation of maximum age for all categories of candidates, if required.”

Note: We advise you to regularly check Official UPSC Website to stay updated with latest IAS exam eligibility criteria and other notifications.

Written by Payal Ghosh
Payal is an FRM and an XLRI Jamshedpur alumnus interested in things as diverse as Waste Management and photography. She has over 16 years of work experience and is passionate about writing, teaching and sustainable living. Helping students and seeing them succeed makes gives her motivation to push herself further. Profile

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