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What should I study to become an IAS officer?


Aspiring to be an IAS officer but not sure where and how to begin? Trust that you aren’t alone on this journey. Several thousands of students every year who aspire to follow their dreams and enter the IAS services face the same confusion before them – which degree to pursue at the Bachelor’s level? They seem to be completely clueless after completing class 12 as to which course can help them advance on the IAS path. Moreover, students equally find it difficult to choose the right course that helps them qualify for the UPSC exams with ease.

This blog aims to educate students who are keen on treading the IAS trajectory after completing class 12 by helping them make an informed choice of subjects at the undergraduate level.

Best degrees to become an IAS officer

Let us begin by clarifying that one of the best degree choices if you are a keen IAS aspirant is a Bachelor of Arts or BA. The course is considered ideal for students looking forward to appearing for UPSC exams shortly. 

The simple reason for this choice is that BA courses cover several subjects that are also an integral part of the UPSC curriculum. Most BA programs primarily include Social Sciences and Humanities subjects, which are also highly relevant to the study materials for IAS preparation. The direct connection between BA degree programs and the UPSC curriculum makes the former a natural choice among IAS aspirants.

To further help simplify your choice, we list below a few of the top degree programs that can be highly considered as part of your IAS exam preparation guide. These courses can be an ideal choice if you are thoroughly preparing to appear for the USPC:

  • Political Science – Needless to say, anyone keen on entering the Indian civil services must have a deep understanding of the political foundations of the country. A degree in Political Science provides just the right know-how in this regard. Moreover, Political Science and International Relations (PSIR) are counted as one of the most popular optional subjects in the IAS syllabus and study plan.
  • Economics – Yet another popular subject accorded high regard by the policymakers of the country, a fair knowledge of the Indian economy is vital to be considered for entry into the IAS. Diplomats who have a background in Economics at the UG/PG levels are rather coveted and offered top roles in various ministries and departments of the Indian government.
  • History – Before embarking on a journey to make a difference to your country’s present and future, it is important to understand its history thoroughly. This is why studying history at your degree level can help, as it is also one of the key subjects to opt for in UPSC exams.
  • Public Administration – This is one of the key tasks for IAS officers, also known as public administrators in our country. A fair knowledge of the subject can help pursue this task efficiently and succeed in delivering good results for overall growth and development.
  • Geography – One of the highly recommended optional subjects in the UPSC Civil Services exam, Geography students gain deeper insights into the environment and ecology of their country and its surroundings, thereby helping them in their future role in the IAS.

How to become an IAS officer?

So we discussed above the various course options that you can pick from to pursue a career in the Indian Civil Services. Let us now lay down the exact step-by-step methodology of entering IAS and achieving your dream:

  1. Choose the right course: It starts with just that. While it can be argued that students from any educational background can apply for UPSC exams, it is highly agreed upon that choosing Humanities at the 10+2 level is more relevant and apt for UPSC preparations. After 12th, it helps to opt for BA courses with specializations in Political Science, Economics, Geography, History, Law, or Public Administration, as these subjects are covered in the UPSC curriculum as well and the overlap can be advantageous for students.
  1. Start preparing for UPSC: The UPSC exam is taken in 3 stages – Preliminary or Prelims, Mains, and Interview. The exam is designed to evaluate the aptitude of the students with regard to subjects like history, politics, current affairs, and the like. Additionally, you can read up other books for IAS exam preparation that can facilitate the process.
  1. Apply for the exam: Now is the time to appear for the exam. You can apply directly on the UPSC website by downloading the forms and following the instructions.


Clearing the USPC exam is tough and requires determination and hard work for success. However, the journey is fruitful with the end result being entry into the Indian Civil Services. As highlighted in this blog, the first step to the journey begins with choosing the right degree and recommended resources for IAS exam at the undergraduate and postgraduate levels. Pursuing a BA and following it up with an MA is one of the ideal choices for IAS.

Since UPSC preparations involve a lot of effort and time, it helps to pursue the degree online, as it would offer the flexibility and convenience to learn at your own pace and time. Sikkim Manipal University offers a host of choices for BA and MA courses to students. The online BA program is offered with a combination of 3 subjects – English, Sociology, and Political Science, all of which overlap with UPSC exam preparations. Besides, the MA course can also be pursued with specializations in each of these 3 subjects. Sikkim Manipal University is accredited by NAAC and offers these degrees entitled by the UGC on the Online Manipal platform.    


Information related to companies and external organizations is based on secondary research or the opinion of individual authors and must not be interpreted as the official information shared by the concerned organization.

Additionally, information like fee, eligibility, scholarships, finance options etc. on offerings and programs listed on Online Manipal may change as per the discretion of respective universities so please refer to the respective program page for latest information. Any information provided in blogs is not binding and cannot be taken as final.

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