Public Administration Versus Political Science

Public Administration vs Political Science UPSC

Public administration and political science & international relations are both popular optionals in the UPSC mains exam. Both the subjects have a large number of takers although public administration trumps the other if you go by the absolute number of candidates taking public administration. Both these subjects can be taken by candidates from different educational backgrounds because they are social sciences and easy enough to understand. This article compares public administration versus political science as optionals for the UPSC mains exam.

Public Administration

Pros Cons
  • Simple and easy to understand.
  • Lot of good study material.
  • Questions are generally straight forward.
  • Good overlap with general studies.
  • This subject will help in essay and interview also.
  • Useful subject for future administrators.
  • Highest success rate.
  • Syllabus may seem vast for some.
  • It is a very theoretical subject and some may find it dry.
  • Tremendous competition in this subject as a lot of people opt for this optional.
  • Paper II is highly dynamic and a little unpredictable.

Political Science & International Relations

Pros Cons
  • There is a lot of overlap with general studies.
  • Many topics in polity, economy, modern India, world affairs, social issues, international political economy, international organisations, international relations, foreign policy, etc. finds repetition in general studies.
  • The syllabus is smaller and can be finished on time (because of overlap).
  • The questions are more balanced and not very unpredictable.
  • It is helpful in current affairs preparation.
  • This subject will help in interview also.
  • You need to have good writing skills to score good marks.
  • Political ideologies can be quite complex sometimes to comprehend.

As you see, both subjects have its pros and cons. If you have a background or interest in either of these subjects, you would be better off taking that as your IAS optional. Otherwise, if both are neutral subjects to you, you should go through the syllabus of both. See for yourself the overlap with general studies. Also see what subject interests you and excites you the most. If you go by the past data, more successful aspirants have taken public administration. But political science and IR is also fast emerging as a popular optional. GS overlap is more here, although public administration has a higher success rate.

The decision has to be taken by you after weighing the pros and cons of both subjects vis-à-Vis your own strengths and weaknesses.

Also Read | Most Popular Optionals in the UPSC Mains Exam

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