Which Degree Is Best for UPSC?

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Thinking of joining the Indian Administrative Service (IAS) or the Indian Foreign Service (IFS)? If yes, you need to clear the Civil Services Exam to get into these coveted services. But with so many different degrees available, which one should you choose? The answer is simple – any degree that will help you crack the UPSC exam. This article lists all the possible degrees that you can pursue to increase your chances of cracking this examination.

In India, various Central Services and the three All India Services are together known as the Civil Services. The Civil Services Exam is conducted by the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) on an annual basis to recruit the best candidates. The exam’s syllabus is multidimensional and covers almost every aspect of a common Indian’s everyday life. Therefore, it is wiser to analyse the syllabus of the exam and then choose the course of degree one should pursue to target the IAS exam later on.

Social Science and Arts Degrees for UPSC

Degrees such as Bachelor of Arts (BA) and Master of Arts (MA) are a subset of Social Science degrees. Students can pursue further specialisation in any disciple like History, Economics, Geography, Political Science etc., to gain specialised knowledge and an honours degree. Such subjects and specialisations put the candidates in an advantageous position as compared to those who are not from a Social Science background. UPSC clearly indicates the exact subtopics and level of knowledge it expects from the aspirants in these Social Science subjects. Various other degrees like Bachelor of Physical Education and Sports (BPES), Bachelor of Library & Information Science (B.Lib&IS), Masters of Library & Information Science (M.Lib & IS) and Bachelor and Masters degrees in Literature subjects also help the IAS aspirants, especially at the Mains stage. Professional courses like Bachelor of Laws (LLB) and Master of Laws (LLM) also greatly help, especially in the polity and history section of the Prelims exam, General Studies 1 (GS1), General Studies 2 (GS2), General Studies 3 (GS3), Ethics, and Optional Subjects in the Mains Exam and during Personality Test as well.

Science Degrees for UPSC

There are various science graduates and postgraduates who clear the UPSC exam every year; this clearly indicates that anything that they study during their course isn’t necessarily worthless from the UPSC point of view. UPSC offers many core science-based optional subjects to choose from in the Mains stage of the exam, such as Botany, Zoology, Chemistry, Civil Engineering, Electrical Engineering, Psychology, Mechanical Engineering, Medical Science, Physics, etc. Apart from this, many questions from the “Science and Technology” topic come in the IAS Preliminary exam as well, and science degree holders have an upper edge over others when it comes to such questions.

Commerce Degrees for UPSC

Commerce-based degrees, such as Bachelor of Commerce (B.Com), Master of Commerce (M.Com), Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) and Master of Business Administration (MBA), mostly do have subjects that are important for the UPSC Exam, like Mathematics which helps in General Studies 2 (GS2/CSAT) of Prelims exam, and Economics, which greatly helps in all the three stages of the CSE Exam. There are several optional subjects, too, which are primarily for commerce degree holders, such as Economics, Commerce, Mathematics, Management, Statistics etc. It is generally believed that these optional subjects are very scoring in nature and greatly enhance the overall score of the candidate in the Mains stage.


Theoretically, and as per the syllabus, it is quite clear that Social Science degree holders are in the most advantageous position in comparison to science and commerce degree holders, but that’s not something which is reflected in the results. It has been the trend for some years that engineers dominate the final merit list in terms of the number of candidates clearing the exam. Arts degree holders not having technical knowledge like those of science degree holders can overcome this lag by staying up to date with the latest current affairs, as the nature of questions asked is largely dynamic in character.

Having said so, if you are a school pass out or are currently in school and wondering which degree to pursue after completing high school in order to pass UPSC IAS Exam, then social science-based degrees are a wiser and more appropriate option.

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