Is Open Degree Eligible for the UPSC Exams?

The Civil Services Examination (CSE), conducted by the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC), is one of the most prestigious and competitive exams in India. It opens doors to jobs like the Indian Administrative Service (IAS), Indian Police Service (IPS), Indian Foreign Service (IFS), and other central services. Many candidates wonder if students with open or distance education degrees can take this exam. Let's explore this in simple terms.

Eligibility Criteria:

The eligibility for the UPSC Civil Services Examination is divided into three main categories:

  1. Nationality
  2. Age Limit
  3. Educational Qualification


  1. Candidates should adhere to the nationality standards to be eligible for the UPSC examination:
  2. The candidate must be an Indian citizen to be eligible for the Indian Administrative Service (IAS), Indian Foreign Service (IFS), or Indian Police Service (IPS).
  3. Apart from the above, here are the eligibility criteria for other services:
    1. The candidate must be a citizen of India, or
    2. The candidate must be a citizen of Nepal, or
    3. The candidate must be a citizen of Bhutan, or
    4. The candidate is a refugee from Tibet who came and settled permanently in the territory of India before January 1st, 1962, or
    5. The candidate is a person of Indian origin who migrated to settle in India permanently from Burma, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Eastern African countries of Kenya, The United Republic of Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, Malawi, Zaire, Ethiopia, and Vietnam.
  4. The candidates belonging to categories B, C, D, and E are required to have a certificate of eligibility from the Indian government.
  5. The candidates whose eligibility certificate is mandatory will be allowed to sit in the examination, but the appointment letter and offer may be given to them after the verification of the certificate or the issuance of the certificate by the Government of India.

Age Limit:

The age limits for the UPSC Civil Services Examination are as follows:

  1. General Category: The candidate must be between 21 and 32 years of age. The upper age limit is relaxed for various categories:
    1. OBC: Up to 35 years
    2. SC/ST: Up to 37 years.
    3. Persons with Benchmark Disabilities: Up to 42 years for General and OBC categories, and up to 47 years for SC/ST categories.

Note: The age is calculated as of August 1 of the year of the examination.

Educational Qualification: The Main Requirement:

UPSC requires candidates to have a bachelor's degree. Specifically, it states:

A candidate must have a degree from a university recognized by an Act of the Central or State Legislature in India, or other institutions established by an Act of Parliament, or a deemed university under Section 3 of the University Grants Commission Act, 1956, or an equivalent qualification.

This raises the question: Are open or distance education degrees considered valid?

Open and Distance Learning Degrees: Are They Valid?:

Yes, degrees obtained through open and distance learning (ODL) are valid for the Civil Services Examination, as long as they meet these conditions:

  1. Recognition by UGC: The university offering the degree must be recognized by the University Grants Commission (UGC). This is the body that sets standards for higher education in India. Make sure your university is listed as recognized by the UGC. Universities like Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) are good examples of recognized institutions.
  2. Equivalent Status: The degree should be equivalent to those awarded by regular universities. It must be obtained under UGC guidelines and should not be a standalone certificate or diploma not recognized as equivalent to a degree.
  3. Completion of 10th and 12th Standards: Students must have passed their 10th and 12th standards before obtaining their open or distance degree. This ensures a consistent academic background.

Key Points for Open Degree Students:

  1. Check Accreditation: Before enrolling, check if the open or distance learning institution is accredited and recognized by the UGC. This is crucial to ensure your degree will be accepted by UPSC and other government bodies.
  2. Keep Documentation Ready: When applying for the UPSC exam, be ready to provide proof that your degree is recognized and equivalent. This includes certificates of accreditation, letters from the university, and other relevant documents.
  3. Prepare Well: An open degree offers flexibility, which is great for working professionals or those with other commitments. However, distance learning requires self-discipline. Manage your time well, study consistently, and use all available resources to prepare for the Civil Services Examination.

Many candidates with open or distance learning degrees have successfully cleared the Civil Services Examination. These success stories prove that with determination and good preparation, the mode of education does not hinder your chances.


In summary, open degree students are eligible to appear for the UPSC Civil Services Examination, provided their degree is from a recognized institution and equivalent to a regular degree. Also, they must have completed their 10th and 12th standards. The key is to ensure your degree is credible and recognized and to adopt a focused approach to exam preparation. With the right strategy, hard work, and determination, open degree holders can achieve their dream of becoming civil servants and serving the nation.

If you have any further questions or need personalized guidance, feel free to contact us directly. Your journey towards becoming a civil servant starts with clarity and confidence in your eligibility and preparation!