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Life at NDA (National Defense Academy)

Update on 2024-04-15

Life at NDA (National Defense Academy) - How to Join NDA

Life at NDA (National Defense Academy): National Defense Academy or NDA is the prestigious joint training Institute for the three armed forces- the Indian Army, the Indian Navy, and the Indian Air Force. After completion of training at NDA, candidates are pre-commissioned to the respective service academies (Army, Navy, or Airforce) for specialized training.

Life at NDA is extremely rigorous, filled with grueling training sessions and academics. But at the end of the 3 year-long training, you will become eligible for a respectable and satisfying career that will provide you an opportunity to serve the Nation.

How to Join NDA:

You can join the NDA after you complete your Class 12th Board exams. The NDA Entrance exams are conducted by UPSC twice every year which is followed by an interview session conducted by the SSB (Service Selection Board). The SSB interview includes psychological skills, general aptitude, and social skills. Candidates who qualify for the exams can join the NDA Academy at Khadakwasla, Pune.

The life of an NDA cadet consists of both academic and physical training. So those of you who want to serve the Nation and spend 3 valuable years in the National Defense Academy read this Article to get insights into life at NDA.

Highlights of NDA Entrance Exam:

Here are the key points related to the NDA Entrance Exam eligibility criteria:

NDA Entrance Exam: Highlights



Name of the Exam


NDA Full-Form

National Defence Academy

Conducting Body

Union Public Service Commission

Exam Level




Gender and Marital Requirement

Unmarried Female and Male

NDA Age Limit

Upper Age - 18.7 years
Lower Age - 15.7 years

NDA Educational Qualifications

Army Wing - Pass certificate in 10+2 exam
For Air Force and Naval Wings - Passing Certification of Class 12th exam with Physics and Mathematics

Selection Process

Written Test
SSB Interview

Official Website

Training Activities at NDA:

The training sessions of an NDA cadet are spread over a period of 2.5 years and this is common to all the 3 wings: Army, Navy, and Air Force. The physical training at NDA is more rigorous than the academic sessions at the National Defense Academy. At the end of 3 years at NDA candidates will get a Bachelor’s degree from Jawaharlal Nehru University.

Daily Training of NDA Cadets:

The training at NDA is conducted by the Joint Training Team(JTT) and each cadet has to undergo both indoor training and outdoor training as a part of the “Orientation Capsule”.

➤ Morning Schedule:

  • The morning session is from 4.00 am to 6.00 am and every cadet has to wake up to the calls of a junior cadet and freshen up to participate in the morning drill or morning PT.
  • Between 6 am and 8 am cadets have to take part in outdoor training consisting of intense physical exercise, cross country runs, PT, horse riding, swimming, navigation, firing tactics, push-ups, and press-ups.
  • Between 8.30 am and 9.00 am, breakfast is served in the Cadet’s Mess and candidates have to be in time for their breakfast. After breakfast, candidates get ready for their academic classes. Time Management is a very important factor at the NDA and any candidate who is late has to skip breakfast and go straight to the classes.
  • Between 9.00 am and 1.00 pm cadets take part in the academic classes (B.Tech/B.A/B.Sc). Interested candidates can also attend foreign language classes. There are a total of 6 periods in a day and candidates have to move quickly from one hall to another to avoid being late in class.
  • Between 1.00 pm and 3.00 pm cadets have to take lunch at the mess. Post-lunch cadets can return to their squadrons to take a rest or engage in activities as instructed by their seniors.
  • Between 3.00 pm and 6.00 pm cadets take part in different games like basketball, volleyball, football, squash, cross country runs, or swimming. The sports depend on the competition that is taking place around that time.

➤ Evening Schedule:

  • Between 6.00 pm and 8.00 pm cadets freshen up and study the curriculum that has been taught in the academic class.
  • Between 8.00 pm and 8.30 pm, the Cadet Squadron Major (CSM) will dictate certain orders and also brief the cadets on the latest activities or competitive events that will take place on the campus. Punishments are also meted out to those junior cadets who have made any mistake during the entire day.
  • Between 8.30 to 8.50 pm all the cadets have their dinner at the Mess and interact with each other. During this time cadets also learn table manners.
  • Between 9.00 pm to 10 pm cadets engage in some physical activities or exercises that are organized by the seniors.
  • At 10.00 pm the lights are switched off and it is time for the cadets to take a rest after the entire day’s grueling schedule.

Important Facts of the Training Sessions and Life at NDA:

  • The physical training schedule is extremely rigorous with exams held at regular intervals to evaluate the performance of the cadets.
  • Cadets must take all the punishment and the humiliation from the seniors in a positive manner. The main purpose of the tough training is to make the cadets both physically and mentally strong.
  • The outdoor training takes place in the hilly areas with survival techniques and discipline being the prime focus.
  • The indoor training is a blend of both theory and practicals.
  • In the 6th term some special Army, Navy, and Air force tactics are taught for a period of 5 months. Army training includes trench digging, camouflage techniques, field signals, recognition of landmarks, judging terrains, ambush, patrolling, and evacuation. The Naval training consists of Yachting, kayaking, windsurfing, and rowing. The Air Force training includes Flying training. All these training sessions are delivered by the respective Army, Navy, and Air force training teams.
  • There are 2 clubs at the NDA- the outdoor club and the indoor club.
  • The outdoor club has astronomy, golf, archery, water skiing, paragliding, kayaking, and rowing. The indoor club has robotics, artificial intelligence, robotics, arts, dramatics, dramatics, public speaking, literature, and yoga.
  • Life at NDA is strict and each cadet has to work under pressure for 3 years. This becomes beneficial for them in the long run as they develop confidence, punctuality, and hard-working skills.

Academic Activities at NDA:

  • NDA cadets are offered full-time undergraduate courses in Arts, Science, and Technology. Besides this, the NDA syllabus also includes subjects like weapon handling, military history, military laws, and map reading.
  • NDA academic curriculum consists of the core subjects, service-oriented subjects, joint services training program, and cross-stream subjects.

Subjects at NDA:

The compulsory subjects consist of English, one foreign language, Math, Computer Science, History, Political Science, Economics, and Geography. The NDA cadets must take basic classes in all these subjects.

  • The Foundation Course consists of mandatory subjects like General Studies and Military Studies.
  • The General Studies subjects consist of Environmental science, Geopolitics, and Human Rights.
  • The Military studies subjects consist of Military History, Geography, Knowledge of Armaments, and Weapons.
  • The optional courses consist of subjects that are specific to the cadet’s chosen service (Army, Navy, Air Force).

Academic Session:

  • The Academic year for life at NDA has a duration of 3 years. Each academic year is divided into 2 terms- Spring (January to May) and Autumn (July to December). On completion of 3 years, an NDA Cadet is given the degree(B.A or B.Sc) of Jawaharlal Nehru University depending upon the field he/she chooses. The NDA cadets have to appear for exams at regular intervals.
  • The Cadets interested in joining Army, Navy, or Air Force will be sent to the Indian Military Academy Dehradun, Indian Naval Academy, Ezhimala, and Air Force Academy, Hyderabad.
  • After completion of 1-year training at IMA Dehradun, cadets are given a permanent commission in the rank of Lieutenant.
  • At the Naval Academy, cadets get selected in the Executive, Engineering, and Electrical sections. After six months of sea training, cadets get selected for the rank of midshipman.
  • Cadets who join the Air Force Academy get training for a period of 1.5 years and after successful 1-year training they are given a provisional Commission in the rank of Flying Officer.
  • The academic curriculum is an integral part of life at NDA and the training is imparted by highly skilled and educated instructors. The learning processes at NDA are highly innovative and based on Lateral thinking and logical reasoning.

Life of a Cadet at NDA:

The NDA consists of 18 Squadrons that have names Alpha, Bravo, Charlie, Delta, Echo, Foxtrot, Golf, Hunter, Juliet, India, Kilo, Lima, Mike, November, Panther, Romeo, Quebec, OScar. There are a total of 5 battalions. Battalion 1,2,3 and 4 have 4 squadrons and battalion 5 has 2 squadrons. There are a total of 100 to 120 cadets for each squadron. All NDA cadets are assigned their respective battalion, room, and a bicycle to travel to the Academy each day.

Accommodation: Every NDA candidate will be allotted a cabin filled with the necessary items. The NDA cabins are allotted in such a way that each floor has an equal distribution of cadets with 120 cabins with each squadron getting a floor.

Haircut: The haircut of an NDA cadet is very special and absolutely compulsory at the academy. The haircut is given in such a way that no haircut must be visible outside the beret.The NDA cadets must take the haircut every week failing which rigorous punishments like extra drills during the training sessions.

Mess and Food: The NDA Cadets Mess is a place of pride with clean and sanitized tables for all the squadrons. The Mess has the ability to serve all the cadets during breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Once a week the NDA cadets have to attend dinner nights with white or blue being the theme.

The breakfast usually consists of porridge, eggs, toast with butter/jam. Lunch consists of rice with vegetables or dal and chicken. On Tuesdays and Saturdays, puri and roti are served. Dinner is continental with bread or chapatis.

Cadets have to be in Formal wear and display proper table manners at the mess. Besides, they have to greet juniors or seniors in a cordial way.

Bicycles: One bicycle is issued to every cadet at the beginning of each term and the cadet has to safeguard it and make sure that nobody else takes his bicycle. Cadets have to cycle in squads to reach their training or academic classes. Every cycle squad had a squad leader and the rest of the cadets had to follow him in groups of two. Cadets who cycle without being in a squad will be punished.

Cross Country Competition: Cross country running competition is held every term between the squadrons. The cadets have to cover a distance of 13 kilometers. The cross country run is counted during the inter squadron championship banner and makes every NDA cadet physically and mentally strong.

Allowance: Every NDA cadet receives pocket money of INR 2000 for a total of 5 months. Besides this, the Government will bear the other expenses of the cadets that include accommodation, medical, books, uniform and boarding, and food. Parents/Guardians have to bear the personal expenses of the cadets.

Cadets, whose families are unable to meet the personal expenses will receive a financial grant of INR 175 from the Government.

The NDA cadets have to submit an amount of INR 5625 to the Academy, a part of which is refundable for those cadets whose family income does not exceed INR 1500 and receives financial aid.

Category of Distribution

Pocket money for 5 months

INR 2000

Clothing and other personal expenses

INR 3200

Incidental expenditure during 1st semester

INR 425

Refundable amount (for candidates receiving financial aid from Government)

Pocket allowance for 5 months- INR 2000

Clothing and other necessities-INR 425

Every cadet who passes out from NDA and joins the Army, Navy, or Air Force Academy will receive a salary of INR 21,000 per month. This salary is not given to him as an NDA cadet but the entire amount will be paid once he is commissioned in the Army/Navy/Air Force as Lieutenant, Sub Lieutenant, or Flying Officer.

➤ Festivals and Holidays: Life at NDA is such that the cadets get a day off on every major festival. Celebrations take place only on those particular days and the mess provides meals to candidates who maintain fasts during the festivals.

NDA Cadets get Sundays off but this is only applicable for those who have cleared their drill test. Sundays are used to travel to nearby markets and buy essential stuff.

➤ Games and Sports: The NDA cadets can engage in inter squadron games like golf, volleyball, basketball, and Hockey.

➤ Education: The education process at NDA is highly innovative and technical. Along with the physical training, the academic training also contributes to the merit of the NDA cadets. The Academic curriculum improves the logical thinking and reasoning skills of the candidates.

Daily Routine of NDA Cadet:

Given below is the daily routine of life at NDA including both physical training and academic sessions:

  • 4.30 am to 6.00 am - Wake up call and morning Drill
  • 6.00 am to 8.00 am - Physical exercise and Drill
  • 8.00 am to 9.00 am - Breakfast
  • 9.00 am to 1.00 pm - Academic classes
  • 1.00 pm to 3.00 pm - Lunch and activities assigned by seniors
  • 3.00 pm to 6.00 pm - Games
  • 6.00 pm to 8.00 pm - Study time
  • 8.00 pm to 8.30 pm - Interaction with senior squadrons
  • 8.30 pm to 8.50 pm - Dinner
  • 9.00 pm to 10.00 pm - Physical activities and PT
  • 10.00 pm - Lights out

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