Eligibility for UPSC

Eligibility for UPSC

The UPSC Civil Services Examination is a highly competitive and challenging exam that is conducted in three stages: Preliminary Examination, Main Examination, and Interview. The eligibility criteria are designed to ensure that candidates possess the necessary educational background and age maturity to handle the responsibilities associated with civil services.

UPSC Eligibility – Nationality Criteria

  • For IAS, IPS, and IFS: The candidate must hold Indian citizenship.
  • For All Other Services: The candidate must be either:
    – A citizen of India, or
    – A citizen of Nepal, or
    – A citizen of Bhutan, or
    – A Tibetan refugee who arrived in India before January 1, 1962, with the intention of permanent settlement, or
    – A person of Indian origin (PIO) who has migrated from Pakistan, Burma, Sri Lanka, East African countries of Kenya, Uganda, the United Republic of Tanzania, Zambia, Malawi, Ethiopia, Zaire, and Vietnam, with the intention of permanent settlement in India. Candidates who are citizens of Nepal, Bhutan, and Tibetan refugees are allowed to appear for the exam before obtaining the certificate of eligibility. However, the offer of appointment will be extended only after the Government of India issues the certificate of eligibility.
Age limit21 to 32 years
Age Relaxation

OBC – 3 years

SC/ST – 5 years

Number of AttemptsGeneral/EWS –  6

OBC/PwBD – 9

SC/ST – unlimited

Educational qualifications

The candidate should have at least a bachelor’s degree from a recognized university or an equivalent qualification. Candidates in their final year of graduation are also eligible to apply, but they must submit proof of passing the examination along with their application for the Main Examination. The academic qualifications required for UPSC Civil Services Examination (CSE) eligibility are as follows:

  • A candidate must possess a degree from a University recognized by the Government or an equivalent qualification.
  • Candidates in the final year of graduation or awaiting results are eligible to appear for the UPSC Prelims Examination. However, proof of having passed the required examination must be provided when applying for the UPSC Mains Examination.
  • Candidates with professional and technical qualifications recognized by the Government as equivalent to professional and technical degrees are also eligible.
  • Medical students who have passed the final year of MBBS but have not completed their internship can apply for UPSC CSE. However, they are required to submit a certificate of course completion from the concerned authority of the University/Institution along with their Mains Exam application.

Age relaxation

The UPSC allows for certain relaxations in the upper age limit under specific circumstances:

  • Scheduled Castes or Scheduled Tribes: Candidates in these categories are eligible for a maximum relaxation of five years.
  • Other Backward Classes (OBC): Those eligible for reservation in OBC can avail of a maximum relaxation of three years.
  • Defence Services Personnel: Individuals disabled in operations during hostilities with a foreign country or in a disturbed area, and subsequently released, can get a maximum relaxation of three years.
  • Ex-servicemen: This includes Commissioned Officers, Emergency Commissioned Officers (ECOs), and Short Service Commissioned Officers (SSCOs) who have completed at least five years of military service as of August 1, 2023, and have been released due to completion of the assignment, physical disability attributable to military service, or invalided. They can avail a maximum relaxation of five years.
  • Extended Service of ECOs/SSCOs: ECOs/SSCOs who have completed an initial period of five years of military service as of August 1, 2023, and whose assignment has been extended beyond five years can get a maximum relaxation of five years. They must have a certificate from the Ministry of Defence stating their eligibility for civil employment with a three-month notice period for release upon selection for the position.
  • Persons with Benchmark Disabilities (PwBD): Candidates in PwBD categories, such as blindness and low vision, deaf and hard of hearing, locomotor disability including cerebral palsy, leprosy cured, dwarfism, acid attack victims, muscular dystrophy, autism, intellectual disability, specific learning disability, and mental illness, can avail a maximum relaxation of ten years.
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 a sufficient number of attempts to all aspirants, though there is a difference in the number of attempts as per the social categories. General category students have the least number of attempts for the 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 times.

Commencing the UPSC preparation journey at an early age offers certain advantages over starting later. Early starters have the flexibility to take breaks between attempts, allowing them to address any obstacles or interruptions in their preparation and consider making another attempt the following year. On the contrary, individuals initiating their preparation later in life may find themselves compelled to make successive attempts without breaks, given the constraints imposed by the age limit.

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


Restrictions on Applying for the UPSC Exam

Candidates who have been appointed to IAS or IFS positions based on the results of a prior examination and are currently serving in either of these two services will be ineligible to participate in the exams for that specific year.

Likewise, a candidate who has previously been appointed to the IPS position based on the results of a previous examination and is currently serving as an IPS officer will not be eligible to choose IPS as an option in the exams for that particular year.

UPSC Physical Eligibility – Medical and Physical Standards

Ensuring the requisite physical fitness and capabilities is crucial for candidates aspiring to become Bureaucrats, as outlined in the UPSC eligibility criteria. Candidates progressing through the stages of the UPSC CSE, including the medical test, must meet specified physical standards to be eligible for appointment as Civil Servants.

Certain physical attributes like weight, height, and chest measurements are imperative, particularly for candidates aspiring to be IPS officers in districts, Indian Railway services, police services of Pondicherry, and similar roles. While non-technical fields do not impose stringent physical standards, candidates are expected to meet fundamental requirements, including physical fitness and mental stability.

These physical standards align with the guidelines detailed in Appendix III of the Rules for Examination published in the Gazette of India Extraordinary dated February 02, 2023.

FAQs on UPSC Eligibility 

Q1: What is the minimum age required to appear for the UPSC Civil Services Examination?

Answer: The candidate must be at least 21 years old as of August 1 of the examination year.

Q2: Is there an upper age limit for UPSC CSE?

Answer: Yes, the upper age limit is 32 years for the general category. However, there are relaxations for OBC, SC, ST, and other categories.

Q3: Can candidates in the final year of graduation apply for UPSC CSE?

Answer: Yes, candidates in their final year of graduation or those awaiting results can apply. However, they must provide proof of passing the required examination when applying for the Mains Examination.

Q4: Are there restrictions on the number of attempts a candidate can make?

Answer: Yes, the number of attempts is limited, and it varies for different categories. General category candidates have a limit of six attempts, while OBC and SC/ST candidates have a higher limit.

Q5: Can candidates from countries other than India apply for UPSC CSE?

Answer: No, only Indian citizens are eligible to apply. However, there are specific provisions for citizens of Nepal, and Bhutan, Tibetan refugees, and persons of Indian origin from certain countries.

Q6: Where can candidates find the most updated eligibility criteria?

Answer: Candidates should refer to the official UPSC notification for the most accurate and up-to-date eligibility criteria. The notification is published on the UPSC website and in leading newspapers.

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