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Member Grades

IEEE membership enhances every stage of your career. Whether you are an established professional or just starting out, IEEE membership identifies you as superior talent.

Through member elevation, you can bring added peer recognition to your career and accomplishments. Grade advancement is encouraged, as it is required in most cases, for key volunteer positions at the parent-IEEE level and within the Society.

Below are videos that describe the benefits you receive by becoming a member and volunteering. 

IEEE Member Grade Stages

Review the member grade descriptions below to learn more about your specific member grade and how to advance your member grade throughout your career.

Student & Graduate Student Member

A Student or Graduate Student Member must carry at least 50% of a normal full-time academic program as a registered undergraduate or graduate student in a regular course of study in IEEE-designated fields. The total cumulative period for a member to hold the Student member grade and/or the Graduate Student Member grade is limited to eight years.


Student elevation is handled twice a year, in June and August. Once an IEEE Student member or Graduate Student member reaches his or her graduation date (based on information provided by the student), IEEE elevates them to the next grade of IEEE membership for which they qualify. Approximately 20,000 students graduate each year.

Affiliate Member

An IEEE Photonics Society Affiliate Membership is open to all industry and academic professionals interested in the fields of optics and photonics. You can join the Society directly, without obtaining a full membership to IEEE, and still enjoy all the Society benefits and programs at a greatly reduced rate. However, Affiliate Members are not members of the larger IEEE and are therefore not eligible for Senior Member and Fellow elevations as well as various IEEE recognition programs and awards.

Associate Member

Associate Member grade is designed for technical and non-technical individuals who do not meet the qualifications for member grade but who wish to benefit from membership and partnership in IEEE, and for those who are progressing, through continuing education and work experience, toward qualifications for member grade.

Member Grade

Member grade is designated for technical professionals who hold IEEE-specified educational requirements and/or have demonstrated professional competence in IEEE-designated fields of interest. For admission or transfer to the grade of member, a candidate may be either:

  • An individual who has received a 3 to 5 year university-level or higher degree from an accredited institution or program and in an IEEE-designated field.
  • An individual who has received a 3 to 5 year university-level or higher degree from an accredited institution or program and who has at least three years of professional work experience engaged in teaching, creating, developing, practicing, or managing in IEEE-designated field.
  • An individual who, through at least six years of professional work experience, has demonstrated competence in teaching, creating, developing, practicing, or managing within IEEE-designated fields.
Senior Member Grade

Senior member is the highest grade for which IEEE members can apply. IEEE members can self-nominate, or be nominated, for Senior Member grade.To be eligible for application or nomination, candidates must:

  • Be engineers, scientists, educators, technical executives, or originators in IEEE-designated fields.
  • Have experience reflecting professional maturity.
  • Have been in professional practice for at least ten years (with some credit for certain degrees).
  • Show significant performance over a period of at least five of their years in professional practice.

Prospective members who would like to apply directly for Senior Member grade must first join the IEEE and then submit the Senior Member application form. There is no additional fee to apply for Senior Member grade. Click here to apply for Senior Member grade.

Fellow Grade

IEEE Fellow is a distinction reserved for select IEEE members who have achieved extraordinary accomplishments in IEEE field of interests and are deemed fitting of the prestigious grade elevation. In order to become a fellow, one must be nominated for IEEE Fellow Grade and fall under one of the four categories: Application Engineer/Practitioner; Educator; Research Engineer/Scientist; Technical Leader. At the time a nomination, the nominee must also:

  • have accomplishments that have contributed importantly to the advancement or application of engineering, science and technology, bringing the realization of significant value to society;
  • hold IEEE Senior Member or IEEE Life Senior Member grade;
  • have been a member in good standing in any grade for a period of five years or more preceding 1 January of the year of elevation.

Click here to learn how to become an IEEE Fellow.

Nominators: Click here to review the IEEE Fellow nomination process. The deadline for nominations each year is March 1st.

Life Member

IEEE Life Membership is an honor given to members that have displayed a strong, sustained commitment to the profession and IEEE. IEEE Life Membership is automatically bestowed upon an active IEEE member who:

  • Has attained the age of 65 years;
  • Has been a member of IEEE for such a period that the sum of his/her age and his/her years of membership equals or exceeds 100 years;

The designation of Life Member is effective on January 1 of the year immediately succeeding the year in which the requirements were met. If a member held the grades of Senior Member or Fellow at the time of elevation to Life Member, one will be designated a Life Senior Member or Life Fellow.Members who qualify will be notified by mail in the fourth quarter of the qualifying year. Dues and IEEE fees are waived for Life Members.

Click here to learn more about the various benefits of Life Member status.