It has a mission to provide relevant continuing education at school stage, up to pre-degree level through Open Learning system as an alternative to formal system,
in pursuance of the normative national policy documents and in response to the need assessments of the people, and through it to make its share of contribution:
⇀ To universalisation of education,
⇀ To greater equity and justice in society, and
⇀ To the evolution of a learning society.
It provides learning based on a curriculum that ensures a quality of education for children, neo-literates, school drop-outs/left-outs and Non Formal Education completers.
At the Secondary and Senior Secondary levels, NIOS provides flexibility in the choice of subjects/courses, pace of learning, and transfer of credits from CBSE, some Board of School Education and State Open Schools to enable learner's continuation. A learner is extended as many as nine chances to appear in public examinations spread over a period of five years. The credits gained are accumulated till the learner acquires required credits for certification. The learning strategies include; learning through printed self-instructional material, audio and video programmes, participating in personal contact programme (PCP), and Tutor Marked Assignments (TMA). Enrichment is also provided to the learners through the half yearly magazine "Open Learning". The Study Material is made available in English, Hindi and Urdu mediums.
Admission is done online for the Secondary and Senior Secondary courses with two blocks of exams held in April-May and October-November each year.
NIOS operates through a network of Departments, Regional Centres and Study Centres. NIOS is the largest Open Schooling system in the world with cumulative enrolment of 4.13 million students (during last 5 years) across India and abroad.