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Education in India, Career in India: Defense Services

Looking for a Career Option in the Field of Defense Services ? This section features Defense Services as a career option, elaborated with reference to the job profile, personality traits required, the courses and training involved, premier institutions and future prospects.

The defense services offer dignified, disciplined and prestigious placements. The chosen officer could serve in the Indian Air Force or Indian Navy on combat duty, on administrative assignments, in the medical services, in the engineering services, in the Judge Advocate-General’s Department (JAG’s Dept.), the Education Corps; in short, in any one of the various departments.

Personality Traits

Effective intelligence, courage, sense of responsibility, ability to reason, determination, ability to organize group activity, take the initiative, self-confidence, alacrity in making balanced decisions, social adaptability; and excellent powers of expression are useful traits for an aspiring defense officer.


General eligibility conditions demand that a candidate must be - a citizen of India (subjects of Bhutan, Nepal, Tibetan refugees or migrants from the rest of the Indian subcontinent with the intention of settling permanently in India can also apply). In addition, candidates must be physically fit in accordance with the prescribed physical standards. They should be unmarried males or female. There is a Women's Special Entry Scheme (officers) for women graduates in specified subjects between 19-27 years of age.

Entry Scheme

NDA/ Naval Academy Examination

There is one common written examination for entry into Army, Air Force and Naval Wings of NDA and 10+2 (Executive Branch) of Naval Academy on the following pattern

Mathematics-2 1/2 hours-300 marks
General Ability-2 1/2 hours-600 marks

The syllabus is given in the Employment News Weekly announcement of the examination.

Candidates who are declared qualified in the written examination have to appear before a Services Selection Board (SSB) for intelligence and personality test to assess the candidates’ for their officers’ potentiality and those for the Air Force in Pilot Aptitude Test and officer potentiality.

While in the NDA, a cadet earns a Bachelor Degree in Arts, Science or Computer Science, which is affiliated to the Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi. The three years in the NDA are divided into 6 semesters. Five are general semesters, which every candidate has to take and in the sixth and final semester, each candidate specialises for either the Army, Navy or Air Force.

Academics constitute around 57% of the program comprising 12 disciplines, which are 8 languages, three pure sciences, two applied sciences and four social sciences. There are also Common Service Subjects like military history, area study, service writing, leadership, para-military forces, weapons training and situational instruction.

Also a part of the curriculum are Special Services Subjects like training in battlefield and peace-time skills and operations specific to individual streams of the Army, Navy or Air Force. There is also outdoor training which includes physical training, drill and equitation.

After three years in the NDA, Army cadets join the Indian Military Academy at Dehra Dun, Navy cadets join the INS Tir or INS Krishna at Cochin and Air Force cadets move on to the Air Force Training Academy at Hyderabad. These courses are of 18 months duration after which, individual gets a commissioned rank.

Graduate/Direct Entry

Individuals between the age of 19 and 22 and having a three year Bachelor degree, can appear for the Combined Defense Services Exam (CDSC), which is held every 6 months at various centers in India. Again like the NDA process, there will be a SSB interview and a medical examination. On clearing these, individual is straight away enlisted into the Indian Military Academy (if he opts for the Army), without entering NDA, and get trained there for 18 months after which, get a commissioned rank.

Technical Entry

Individuals having an engineering degree, can apply for direct commission. He can directly appear for the SSB interview and medical exam. If cleared them, he will be paid a stipend by the Indian Government during his senior years. After completing the degree, you are straight away enlisted into the Air Force Training Academy in Hyderabad (if you opt for the Air Force), without entering NDA, with a commissioned rank or in Army, ie., through IMA.

Naval College of Engineering, Lonavala prepares officers to make a career in Marine/ Electrical/ Electronics/ Aeronautical Engineering and Naval Architecture cadres of the Indian Navy. The college is one of the best engineering colleges in the country and the only one of its kind in Asia.

Unmarried male Indian citizens approx. between 16 1/2 years to 19 years of age, passed Senior Secondary Examination (10+2) pattern or ots equivalent with at least 75% aggregate marks in Physics, Chemistry and Mathematics and at least 50% marks in English either in Class X or Class XII may apply. Minimum 157 height with correlated weight and proportionate chest with minimum 5 cm expansion; uncorrected eyesight without glasses 6/12, 6/12 corrected with glasses 6/6, 6/6 are other requirements.

Short listed candidates on the basis of the marks obtained in the academic examination are called for the SSB interview. Candidates recommended by the board and declared medically fit will be appointed for training in order of merit. On successful completion of the course they are awarded a B. Tech. Degree by the JNU (Jawaharlal Nehru University). The entire cost of training including books and reading material, is borne by the Navy.

MBBS at Armed Forces Medical College

Those who are interested in joining the Armed Forces Medical Services as permanent commissioned officers after graduation (MBBS) may join the Armed Forces Medical College (AFMC), Pune. Admission is through an entrance examination in physics, chemistry, biology, intelligence, logic and reasoning, English language and comprehension. After the written examination successful candidates are called for an interview.

Admission is open to unmarried candidates (boys and girls), passed XII Std/ pre-professional/ premedical exam or equivalent exam as a regular student in the first attempt in English, Physics, Chemistry and Biology securing not less than 60% of aggregate marks in three science subjects taken together, not less than 50% marks in English; Must have attained 17 years but not attained 22 years as on 31st December of the year of joining.

B.Sc. (Nursing) at College of Nursing
AFMC, Pune and Diploma in General Nursing and Midwifery (GNM) Course at various Armed Forces Hospitals.

4-year B.Sc. (Nursing) at College of Nursing, AFMC, Pune and 3-year Diploma in General Nursing and Midwifery (GNM) Course at various Armed Forces Hospitals is open to Indian Females who are unmarried or divorced or legally separated or widows without encumbrances. The candidate should have passed in the first attempt 10+2 exam with Physics, Chemistry and Biology with minimum 50% aggregate marks as a regular student, minimum height 142 cms. Age group should be between 16 and 24 years approx. Medical fitness should be as per military stds.

Those selected to the course have to execute a bond to serve in the Military Nursing Service (MNS) for 5/ 4 years.

Entry Schemes Combined Defense Services Examination (After Graduation)

CDSE (Combined Defense Services Examination) is held twice every year for the entry into the defense forces. The examination is announced about 5-6 months prior to the date of the examination. Through CDSE unmarried male candidates can get into the Indian Military Academy Dehradun or the Naval Academy Goa or Air Force Station Hyderabad or the Officers Training Academy (OTA), Chennai.

SSB Interview

Candidates qualifying in the written examinations for entry into the defense services (NDA)/ Naval Academy, CDSE) as well as for the other schemes of entry based on application scrutiny are called for tests by the SSB. Most of the tests require an average intelligence. The testing is spread over a period of 3-4 days at least and is a throrough as well as an elaborate process. A three-pronged approach is followed by the SSB.

  1. Personal interview
  2. Outdoor test or group task officer tests
  3. Psychological testing apparatus

Ay this stage the purely spontaneous and natural responses of the candidate are sought to be accessed by the SSB. The tests are administered on an individual basis and also in groups. During the course of this subtle testing pattern, candidates are under observation throughout.

SSB primary aim is to select individuals with the potential to be groomed into, and trained as, officers for the defense services finally. Motivation for joining the defense forces is an important question to be prepared for the interview. Everything is assessed while the interview is on verbal answers as well as non verbal attitude, gestures, stance, power of expression, self confidence, self assurance etc.

The SSB pattern includes a number of physical tests to evaluate the candidate stamina, physical fitness, aptitude for physical activity, flexibility of the body, agility as well as courage for making daring attempts.

The psychological testing apparatus comprises verbal and non verbal exercise, word association exercise, thematic apperception, situation reaction, self appraisal, aptitude for logical reasoning and objectivity.


Please click here for the list of the Defense Service Institutes in India.

Placements And Prospects

Defense personnel are liable to be transferred anywhere in the country. Upto a certain level of seniority promotions are bound by a time scale, after which they are gone on selection basis depending on vacancies arising at the top level.

They are guaranteed a job, along with all the perks and allowances, many of which continue even after retirement. Jobs in the Defense Services involve a great deal of power and authority, though there are frequent transfers. Competent officers always have a chance of being promoted to senior positions over the years.

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