What is the difference between UGC NET exam and SET exam

What is the difference between UGC NET Exam and SET Exam?


In the realm of academia, pursuing a career as a lecturer or a researcher is a dream harbored by many. To achieve this goal, one often has to clear certain eligibility tests. In India, two prominent exams that come to mind are the UGC NET (National Eligibility Test) and the SET (State Eligibility Test). These examinations serve as gateways to lectureship and research opportunities. However, understanding the nuances and differences between them can be perplexing. In this article, we will delve into the distinctions between UGC NET and SET exams, with insights from JRFADDA, a trusted source for exam-related information.


The UGC NET Exam, conducted by the University Grants Commission (UGC), is a national-level eligibility test in India. It aims to determine the eligibility of candidates for the role of Assistant Professor and award Junior Research Fellowships (JRF).

Eligibility Criteria

To appear for the UGC NET Exam, candidates must have a postgraduate degree with at least 55% marks (50% for reserved categories). Additionally, candidates appearing for the JRF must be below 30 years of age (relax-able for certain categories).


UGC NET Exam covers a wide range of subjects, including humanities, sciences, commerce, and more. Candidates can choose their subject of expertise.

Exam Pattern

The UGC NET Exam consists of two papers - Paper I and Paper II. Paper I tests teaching and research aptitude, while Paper II focuses on the chosen subject.


UGC NET Exam is conducted twice a year - in June and December.

SET Exam


The SET exam is a state-level eligibility test, conducted by various state governments across India. It is primarily aimed at determining eligibility for lectureship within the respective state.

Eligibility Criteria

The eligibility criteria for SET exams vary from state to state. Generally, candidates must have a postgraduate degree with a specified percentage of marks.


Unlike UGC NET, SET Exams are state-specific, and candidates can appear for the exam of the state in which they wish to work.

Exam Pattern

SET Exams typically consist of three papers - Paper I tests general knowledge and teaching aptitude, while Paper II and Paper III focus on the chosen subject.


SET Exams are conducted by individual states as per their schedules, which can vary.

Key Differences

Now that we have an understanding of both exams, let's highlight the key differences:


  • UGC NET Exam is a national-level exam with a broader scope, allowing candidates to apply for teaching and research positions across India.
  • SET exams are state-specific, limiting candidates to lectureship within the respective state.


  • UGC NET Exam has a uniform eligibility criterion nationwide.
  • SET Exams have varying eligibility criteria depending on the state.


  • UGC NET Exam offers a wide array of subjects.
  • SET Exams focus on subjects relevant to the respective state's universities.

Exam Frequency

  • UGC NET Exam is conducted biannually.
  • SET Exams are held as per the discretion of individual states.


In conclusion, both the UGC NET and SET exams play crucial roles in shaping academic careers in India. The UGC NET Exam is a national-level examination with a broader scope, while SET Exams are state-specific. Understanding these differences is essential for candidates aspiring to become lecturers or researchers.


  1. Can I appear for both UGC NET and SET exams?
    Yes, you can appear for both exams if you meet the eligibility criteria for each.

  1. Which exam is more competitive, UGC NET or SET?
    UGC NET is generally considered more competitive due to its national scope.
  1. Are the syllabi for UGC NET and SET exams the same?
    The syllabus may overlap, but they are not identical. SET syllabus are often more tailored to state-specific needs.
  1. Can foreign nationals appear for these exams?
    Yes, foreign nationals can apply for UGC NET Exam, but they are not eligible for JRF. SET Exams are usually for Indian citizens.
  1. Where can I find more information about these exams?
    You can visit the official websites of UGC and the respective state's education department for detailed information. Additionally, platforms like JRFADDA provide valuable insights and guidance.

In conclusion, while UGC NET Exam and SET exams have distinct purposes and scopes, both are vital for individuals aspiring to embark on a rewarding journey in academia. Understanding these differences will help you make an informed choice based on your career goals and aspirations.


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