UPSC Optional Subjects Syllabus, Strategy and Question Papers can be seen by clicking on the respective subject .


The subjects with asterisk mark has unlimited  materials

Group – 1

List of Social Science Subjects (UPSC Optional Subjects also)

  1. Economics*
  2. Geography
  3. Indian History*
  4. Law
  5. Philosophy*
  6. Political Science
  7. Psychology
  8. Public Administration
  9. Sociology*

List of Science Subjects (UPSC Optional Subjects also)

  1. Agriculture
  2. Animal Husbandry and Veterinary Science
  3. Botany
  4. Chemistry
  5. Mathematics*
  6. Statistics
  7. Medical Science*
  8. Physics
  9. Zoology
  10. Anthropology*  
  11. Geology

List of Engineering Subjects

  1. Civil Engineering*
  2. Electrical Engineering*
  3. Mechanical Engineering*

List of Commerce and Management Subjects

  1. Commerce
  2. Management

Group – 2

Indian Languages

  1. Assamese
  2. Bengali
  3. Bodo
  4. Dogri
  5. Gujarati
  6. Hindi*
  7. Kannada
  8. Kashmiri
  9. Konkani
  10. Maithili
  11. Malayalam
  12. Manipuri
  13. Marathi
  14. Nepali
  15. Oriya
  16. Pali
  17. Punjabi
  18. Sanskrit
  19. Santali
  20. Sindhi
  21. Tamil
  22. Telugu*
  23. Urdu

Foreign Languages

  1. English
  2. Arabic
  3. Persian


How should one choose the UPSC optional subject in CSE?

 Answer by Roman Saini : Quora 

 Check list for selecting UPSC Optional Subjects

  1. Your graduation stream
  2. Your existing knowledge of a particular optional
  3. Your interest
  4. Easy availability of material and/or guidance

Graduation stream: If you are a civil engineer, you can’t take medical science. Period. However, it is not always 100% true. Many of my doctor friends have taken law etc. But even they can’t opt for electrical engineering.

Choose your graduation subject if you feel like you have average knowledge about the optional or you can do justice with it.

If your graduation subject is not available, certain optional like pub ad, geography, psychology, sociology, economics, anthropology, polity etc. can be taken by anyone irrespective of their background.

Literature was really popular till 2012, after which it’s popularity has declined.

In 2012, out of those who wrote mains, 1700 people took literature as optional which came down to 950 in 2013. 2 reasons being, only one optional allowed and pali is no longer in the list.

Do not think about these myths

  • If an optional is doing “good” or being butchered in the past few years.
  • Only 10-100 people choose this, so not enough support from other aspirants.
  • In case of maths, physics, medical science etc. that scaling will decrease your score.

Ultimately, decide quickly by keeping the above guidelines in mind and do not change your optional too much.
Fortunately it does not have a big role to play now, as compared to pre 2013 era.

I am a B. Tech student from the electronics and instrumentation dept. Can I opt for humanities as an UPSC optional subject?


Following are the important steps you should follow before you finalize a subject as your UPSC Optional Subjects

  1. First go through the list of all the Optional Subjects. Read the names of the subjects again and again for 15 minutes.
  2. Now go back to your school and college days. Think about your favorite subjects then. Think hard in which subject you excelled, in which subject you showed more interest, in which subject you got good marks.
  3. Now come to the present. See which areas of news you are more interested in. Think which topics of GS you like more. Some people like history, some like polity/sociology and keep reading those books as if they are doing masters in those topics. Think of short-listing them as your Optional subject.
  4. Some people also have a hobby of reading literature of their mother language.
  5. Now see the list of UPSC Optional Subjects again.
  6. Based on above criteria, make a list of 4-5 subjects that you think you have interest in.
  7. Now go through the syllabus of each Optional Subject. Read all topics carefully. Underline/highlight the topics — that you think you know something about or have some interest — in the syllabus of each shortlisted Optional subject.
  8. Now go through the Previous Year Question papers (3-4 years) of the shortlisted Subjects. Read all the questions. Again gauge yourself the level of interest you have or residual knowledge you possess to answer each question. It’s just to know yourself how comfortable you are with a subject, don’t worry if you don’t know answer to any question.
  9. Finally, the availability of materials and guidance in the form of coaching matters a lot. For some subjects it is difficult to get standard books, for some coaching may not be available. Non technical subjects can be prepared by doing self study provided you regularly practice writing.
  10. By now you will have a clear picture about choosing between 2-3 subjects. For example, if you are an engineering student and exceptionally good at your engineering subjects, at the same time if you have extensively read literature of your native language, may be since childhood, you will be in dilemma to choose between these two subjects.