Gondwana University and Other Exam News

Exams for the Combined Defence Services (CDS) and the National Defense Academy (NDA) are used to choose candidates for the Indian Armed Forces. Even though the Union Public Service Commission administers both exams twice a year, there are numerous parallels and variances in the hiring, training, pay, benefits, promotion, eligibility, etc. We have outlined UPSC NDA Vs CDS in this article.

The Indian Armed Forces’ joint services academy is called the National Defence Academy (NDA). Before continuing to their separate service academies for additional pre-commissioning training, the Army, Navy, and Air Force cadets train here together.

For admission to the Indian Military Academy, Officers Training Academy, Indian Naval Academy, and Indian Air Force Academy, candidates must pass the Combined Defence Services (CDS) exam.

UPSC NDA Vs CDS: Which Is Tougher, Easier, and Better?

Students in our school frequently ask us which branch of the Indian Armed Forces offers the best chances, duties, education, ranks, and pay. Both the NDA (National Defense Academy) and CDS (Combined Defence Services) tests are required for enlistment in the Indian Armed Forces. The Union Public Service Commission conducts both of these exams twice a year (UPSC). The hiring procedures for the NDA and CDS exams are quite similar and dissimilar. Here, we shall distinguish between and analyze the aspects involved in both exams’ recruitment processes before determining the superior option.

UPSC NDA Vs CDS: Overview

Key differences between NDA and CDS are as follows: 

Key Points of Difference



Age Limit

16.5-19.5 Years

19-25 Years

Eligibility Criteria

Men can apply for this

Men & Women both can apply for this

Educational Qualification

Candidate should have a 10+2 Certificate from a recognized institute.

The candidate should be Graduated from a recognized university.

Scheme of Examination

Written exam and SSB interview

Written exam and SSB interview

Frequency of the Exam

Conducted two times in a year

Conducted two times in a year

Centres for Training

  • National Defence Academy, Khadakwasla, Pune
  • Indian Military Academy, Dehradun
  • Indian Naval Academy, Ezhimala
  • Indian Air Force Academy, Hyderabad

Indian Military Academy (IMA), Dehradun for Army Cadets

Indian Naval Academy, Ezhimala for Navy Cadets

Indian Air Force Academy, Hyderabad for Air Force Officers

Officers Training Academy (OTA), Chennai

Rank assigned after the training completes



NDA Vs CDS Promotion

The pay and benefits provided to the officers chosen via the NDA and CDS exams vary greatly. The differences in compensation, benefits, and opportunities for promotion are listed below.

Rank-wise Category

Promotional Avenues 

(Minimum Time of Commissioned Service for Promotion)




On Commission

On Commission


02 Years

02 years


06 years

06 years

Lieutenant Colonel

13 years

13 years


15 years

15 years

Colonel (Time Scale)

26 years

26 years


On Selection

23 years

Major General

On Selection

25 years

Lieutenant General

On Selection

28 years


On Selection

No restrictions

UPSC NDA Vs CDS: Why CDS Salary is more than NDA?

Officers in the CDS earn higher money than those in the NDA. A CDS officer’s compensation begins at 45–50 K, but an NDA officer’s income begins at 21 K. And the pay is consistent with the position. However, NDA is superior because pupils can apply for it after they finish grade 12. Therefore, it is quite simple to handle the training for three years if we include physical training. Although the CDS training duration is shorter, it is quite challenging to complete it.

Compare the salary structure of NDA and CDS with the tables provided  below:

NDA Salary Structure

RanksNDA salary
Lieutenant to MajorLieutenant: Level 10 (Rs.56,100 – Rs.1,77,500)Captain: Level 10 B (Rs.61,300 – Rs.1,93,900)Major: Level 11 (Rs.69,400 – Rs.2,07,200)
Colonel to Major GeneralLieutenant Colonel: Level 12A (Rs.1,21,200-Rs.2,12,400)Colonel: Level 13 (Rs.1,30,600-Rs.2,15,900)Brigadier: Level 13A (Rs.1,39,600-Rs.2,17,600)Major General – Level 14 (Rs.1,44,200-Rs.2,18,200)
Lieutenant General to HAG ScaleLevel 15 (Rs.1,82, 200 to Rs.2,24,100)
HAG+ScaleLevel 16 (Rs.2,05,400-Rs.2,24,400)
VCOAS/ArmyCdr Lieutenant General (NFSG)Level 17 (Rs.2,25,000) (fixed)
COASLevel 18 (Rs.2,50,000) (fixed)

CDS Salary Structure

LieutenantLevel 10 Rs.56,100 -Rs.1,77,500
CaptainLevel 10 B Rs.61,300- Rs.1,93,900
MajorLevel 11 Rs.69,400 – Rs.2,07,200
Lieutenant ColonelLevel 12A Rs.1,21,200 – Rs.2,12,400
ColonelLevel 13 Rs.1,30,600-Rs.2, 15,900
BrigadierLevel 13A Rs.1,39,600-Rs.2,17,600
Major GeneralLevel 14 Rs.1,44,200-Rs.2,18,200
Lieutenant General HAG ScaleLevel 15 Rs.1,82, 200-Rs.2,24,100
HAG+ScaleLevel 16 Rs.2,05,400 – Rs.2,24,400
VCOAS/Army Cdr/ Lieutenant General (NFSG)Level 17 Rs.2,25,000 (fixed)
COASLevel 18 Rs.2,50,000 (fixed)


Who administers the CDS and NDA exams?

UPSC administers the NDA and CDS exams.

Are the NDA and CDS age restrictions the same?

No, the NDA and CDS age restrictions are not the same. For NDA, the age limit is 16.5-19.5 years, and for CDS, it is 19-25 years.

Who may apply for an NDA Examination?

Candidates who have completed the 12th grade and are between the ages of 16 and 19 may apply for the position.

Do NDA and CDS officers have different chances for promotion?

No, the NDA and CDS officers are qualified for promotions based on the length of their employment.

What is the educational qualification for the CDS examination?

The candidate should graduate from a recognized university to appear for the CDS examination.

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