What is the difference between the NDA and IMA training?

The National Defence Academy (NDA) and the Indian Military Academy (IMA) are the two prestigious defence academies in India. While NDA is a joint defence service training institute, IMA provides specialized training to its gentlemen cadets for officer roles in the Indian Army. Another important difference between the NDA and IMA training is that while the NDA trains 12th pass-out, young male and female candidates, the IMA trains technical graduates, ex-NDA, ex-ACC, and university entry cadets. Since NDA is a tri-service academy, it provides joint defence service training to the cadets of the Army, Air Force, and Navy for three years. Once the Army cadets of NDA complete their 3 years of training at NDA, they eventually join IMA for specialized training. Let us explore more about the difference between NDA and IMA training.

Difference between NDA and IMA Training

Full FormNational Defence AcademyIndian Military Academy
Establishment7 December 195410 December 1932

Service Before Self

(Seva Paramo Dharma)

Valour and Wisdom

(Veerta aur Vivek)

Location Khadakwasla, Pune, MaharashtraDehradun, Uttarakhand
Campus Area7,015 acres1,400 acres

NDA is a tri-service academy.

(Army + Air Force + Navy)

IMA trains young graduates for officer roles in the Indian Army.
Training TypeJoint Defence Service TrainingSpecialized Training (Indian Army)
Training Tenure3 yearsIt varies from 12 to 18 months as per the different courses at IMA.
CategoryBoth Male and Female CadetsOnly Male (Gentleman Cadets)
Eligibility12th pass young studentsTechnical graduates, ex-NDA, ex-ACC, and university entry cadets

How are NDA and IMA different from each other?

To grasp the fundamental difference between NDA and IMA training in layman’s terms, you may consider NDA training as a graduate program and IMA training as a postgraduate program. Further, in terms of the armed forces, NDA training is a mix of 3 years of rigorous academic as well as physical and mental toughness, while IMA training is pre-commissioned training after the completion of which you join the Indian Army as a Lieutenant.

It should be noted that the NDA cadets of the Indian Army, Indian Navy, and Indian Air Force train together before they move ahead to their respective service academies for further training. The further training that we are talking about here is a kind of specialized training as per the norms of the different wings of the Indian Armed Forces. For example, the Army wing cadets at NDA join IMA Dehradun for specialized training in the Indian Army before joining the service as a lieutenant. Similarly, the cadets of the Air Force and Naval wings at NDA join the Air Force Academy and Indian Naval Academy, respectively, for specific training as per the standards and requirements of their respective wings.

Another point of difference between IMA and NDA is that while NDA inducts highly new and young 12th-pass-out students, IMA inducts graduates from various entries, including NDA pass-out cadets. The other ways of joining IMA include the CDS exam, ACC entry, the Technical Graduate Course of the Indian Army, and the University Entry Scheme, among others. So, we can infer that there is only one way to join the NDA, and that is by clearing the NDA written exam, which is conducted by the UPSC, and getting a recommendation from the Services Selection Board (SSB). Contrary to it, there are multiple ways to join the IMA Dehradun.

What makes IMA training different from NDA?

During training at IMA Dehradun, gentlemen cadets start receiving a stipend, which is Rs. 56,100 per month at present. Contrary to that, when it comes to NDA training, there is no such stipend or salary, and NDA cadets only get fixed pocket money out of their deposits. Many NDA aspirants think that the total cost of training at NDA is fully borne by the Government of India. This is a partial truth, as NDA cadets have to pay a certain amount as a fee per term.

The general training at NDA includes a three-year training program. Further, the NDA training includes academic studies, outdoor skills like drill, PT, and games, and proficiency in a foreign language. NDA training also covers weapon handling, firing, field engineering, tactics, and map reading. Moreover, theoretical and practical training methods are employed, including lectures, demonstrations, and exercises during the training period at the National Defence Academy.

As we have already discussed, the stipend for Gentleman Cadets at IMA is ₹56,100 per month at present. IMA Dehradun trains future military leaders of the Indian Army. The focus areas during IMA training include physical training, drills, weapons training, and the development of leadership qualities. IMA training also emphasizes character building embedded in the honor code of “I shall not lie, steal, or cheat, nor tolerate those who do so.”

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  • Can women join the Indian Military Academy (IMA)?

No, at present, the Indian Military Academy (IMA) is exclusively for male candidates. However, women can join the Officer Training Academy (OTA) in Chennai for the Short Service Commission in the Indian Army.

  • How long is the training duration at the National Defence Academy (NDA)?

The training at NDA spans three years, where cadets from the Army, Air Force, and Navy receive joint defence service training.

  • What is the eligibility criterion for joining the NDA?

Eligible candidates for NDA are 12th pass-outs who must qualify in the NDA entrance examination conducted by the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) and must also receive a recommendation from the SSB.

  • Are cadets paid during training at the Indian Military Academy (IMA)?

Yes, gentlemen cadets at IMA receive a stipend of ₹56,100 per month during their training.

  • What is the key focus of the training at IMA?

IMA training primarily emphasizes physical training, drills, weapon handling, leadership development, and character building based on the honor code.

  • How does one progress from NDA to IMA?

After completing the three-year training at NDA, Army cadets proceed to the Indian Military Academy (IMA) for specialized training before joining as Lieutenants in the Indian Army.

  • What differentiates the NDA training from IMA training?

NDA training is a joint defence service program spanning three years, open to both male and female candidates, focusing on academics, outdoor skills, and proficiency in various subjects. In contrast, IMA training provides specialized training exclusively for male candidates aiming for officer roles in the Indian Army.

  • What type of academy is the National Defence Academy (NDA)?

The NDA is a tri-service academy where cadets from the Army, Air Force, and Navy train together before proceeding to their respective service academies for specialized training.

  • Are there multiple ways to join the Indian Military Academy (IMA)?

Yes, individuals can join IMA through various entries such as clearing the CDS exam, ACC entry, Technical Graduate Course, NDA pass-out, and the University Entry Scheme.

  • What is the primary motto of the NDA and IMA?

The National Defence Academy (NDA) motto is “Service Before Self” (Seva Paramo Dharma), while the Indian Military Academy (IMA) motto is “Valour and Wisdom” (Veerta aur Vivek).

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