How is OTA different from IMA? Which One To Join – IMA vs OTA

Defence aspirants who are confused about joining IMA (Indian Military Academy) and OTA (Officers Training Academy) Chennai can read this article where you can find the differences between getting commissioned through IMA Dehradun vs getting commissioned through OTA Chennai. Also, how IMA is different from OTA and vice versa. The article and video below will help you to decide the correct academy.

Indian Military Academy (IMA, Dehradun), Officers Training Academy (OTA Chennai & OTA Gaya), and National Defence Academy (NDA, Pune) are the prime Defence Institutes designated for training officers in India.

Although all these institutes aim to train Gentleman and Lady Cadets to become prospective officers of the Armed Forces, there are some subtle differences in the commissioning of the officers from IMA and OTA.

IMA – Indian Military Academy

  •  IMA trains officers for the Permanent Commission in the Indian Army. Only male candidates are admitted in the IMA.
  • For direct entry (DE), one needs to be between the age of 19 to 24 years (as on the first day of the month in which course is due to commence). The qualification required is a Graduate from a recognized University. The duration of the training is one and a half (1.5) years. One can apply for this entry through CDSE conducted by UPSC.
  • The cutoff marks for IMA is generally higher than that for OTA in CDSE. This is because, for IMA, there are three papers (English, Maths, GK) which a candidate has to appear in whereas for OTA there are only two papers (GK and English).
IMA Cadet
  • For UES entry (University Entry Scheme), Pre-final year students of BE/B.Tech Course of the notified streams can apply. The age of the candidates should fall between 18 to 24 years (as on the first day of the month in which course is due to commence) and the duration of the training is one year.
  • For TGC (Technical graduate course) entry, BE/B.Tech candidates in notified streams can apply, of age falling between 20 to 27 years (as on the first day of the month in which course is due to commence). The duration of the course is one year.
  • For AEC entry, Postgraduates in MA/M.Sc/M.Com/MCA/MBA in notified streams with Ist and IInd division are only eligible. Age should be between 23 to 27 years. The duration of the training is one year.
  • Along with these entries, NDA cadets are also trained at the IMA for the remaining one year of their training.
  • IMA provides you with the opportunity to join the army and serve for 30 years maximum.

Officers Training Academy, Chennai

  • OTA, Chennai offers training for Short Service Commission only. However, OTA Gaya trains officers for the Permanent Commission.
  • At OTA Gaya, only male candidates are admitted through 10+2 (TES) Entry. The eligibility criteria being that the age of the candidates must be between 16.5 to 19.5 years with subjects Physics, Chemistry and Maths (aggregate 70% and above to apply) at 10+2 level. The duration of the training is 5 years (1 year at OTA, Gaya and 4 years at CTWS).
  • All women candidates who are recommended receive training at OTA, Chennai.
  • Candidates at OTA, Chennai from all entries receive a training of 49 weeks.

Also Read: Difference Between OTA Chennai And OTA Gaya?

OTA lady cadet
OTA lady cadet
  • One can apply for SSC NT (Non-technical entry for men and women) through CDSE conducted by UPSC. Candidates aged between 19 to 25 years and Graduate from a recognized University can apply. Candidates have to attempt only two papers (GK & English) for OTA course in the CDSE.
  • Other than this, we have direct entries like SSC Tech (Men and women) for BE/B.Tech graduates in the notified streams, aged between 20 to 27 years.
  • SSC JAG (Men and women) for Graduates with LLB 55% marks, aged between 21 to 27 years, shortlisted through direct entry.
  • Another direct entry is NCC (Spl Entry for Men and Women), for candidates aged between 19 to 25 years and Graduation with 50 % aggregate marks and 2 years service in NCC Sr. Div Army/Navy/AirForce Wing with minimum ‘B’ grade in NCC ‘C’ Certificate Exam.
  • After being commissioned as an SSC Officer from OTA, Chennai one can serve for 10/14 years. At the end 10 yrs, one has 2 options. Either opt out or have the option of 4 years extension. They can resign at any time during this period of 4 yrs extension. They can also opt for the Permanent Commission.


  • Salary: No difference between the salary of an Officer from IMA and Officer from OTA.
  • Promotion: For higher posts, the preference for promotion is generally as follows: NDA, IMA, seldom OTA. There can be exceptions, though.
  • Commission: IMA provides you with the opportunity to join the army and serve for 30 years maximum whereas OTA is for only 10/14 years (can extend).
  • Military knowledge: At the time of passing out Officers from all three academies, i.e, IMA, OTA, and NDA are almost at the same level in terms of military knowledge.

Entries to Join Indian Military Academy:

Entries to Join Officers Training Academy Chennai:

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