Can we declare a class protected

why a class cannot be defined as protected in C#

It is not possible to declare protected classes at the namespace level due to the nature of access modifiers for outer-level classes, which govern their visibility in relation to other assemblies. The protected access modifier is specifically designed to indicate visibility to derived classes. While this concept holds significance within the context of members within a class, it does not have a meaningful interpretation at the class level itself. Therefore, protected classes are not allowed at the namespace level, as they would not align with the intended behavior of access modifiers and the hierarchy of inheritance.

Why Classes cannot be declared as Protected?

private and protected class - why not in C#

When declaring a class at the namespace level, there are only two valid access modifiers: "Internal" and "Public". These access modifiers determine the visibility of the class in relation to other parts of the codebase. However, there is an exception to this rule when it comes to inner classes. In the case of an inner class, the "protected" access modifier can be used to grant access to derived classes. This means that derived classes will have visibility and access to the inner class, enabling them to interact with it as necessary. This exception allows for more fine-grained control over the accessibility of classes within the scope of inheritance relationships.

public class OuterClass { protected class NestedClass { } }

Are private class variables inherited ?

Can you inherit private members of a class in C#

An inherited class, also known as a derived class, has access to various members of its parent class based on their access modifiers. Specifically, a derived class can access public, protected, internal, and protected internal members of its base class. However, it is important to note that private members of a base class are not directly accessible to derived classes.

Private members are intentionally hidden from derived classes to maintain the integrity and encapsulation of the base class. Private members are only accessible within the context of the defining class itself and cannot be accessed by derived classes or any external entities. This restriction ensures that the internal implementation details and sensitive information encapsulated within the private members remain secure and isolated from external entities.

While direct access to private members from derived classes is not possible, there are alternative approaches to interact with them if necessary. One approach is to utilize reflection, which is a powerful mechanism in many programming languages that allows for the inspection and modification of the private members of a class at runtime. By using reflection, you can bypass the access restrictions and access private members from derived classes. However, it is important to exercise caution and use reflection wisely, as it can introduce complexity and potential risks to your codebase.

Another option is to modify the access modifier of the members to protected instead of private. By marking the members as protected, they become accessible to derived classes, enabling them to inherit and utilize the functionality encapsulated within those members. This approach provides a controlled and deliberate way to expose specific functionality to derived classes while still maintaining the necessary level of encapsulation.


Derived classes have access to public, protected, internal, and protected internal members of their base class. Private members are not directly accessible to derived classes to preserve encapsulation and maintain the integrity of the base class. If there is a need to interact with private members from derived classes, alternative approaches like reflection or modifying the access modifier to protected can be employed, depending on the specific requirements and design considerations of the software.