Understanding the Ranks of a Mason

Masonic lodges confer three degrees of entry: Apprentice, Fellowcraft, and Master Mason.


does not have any higher degree than Master Mason, but there are additional titles that are only available to those who have achieved this rank. This article will provide an overview of the degree system of Masons and explain the various ranks and titles within the Masonic system. The craft lodges of Freemasonry, where Masons begin their journey, have three ranks or grades. After completing these, members can continue their studies through “attached Masonic bodies”, which offer even more ranks.

But is there a system for ordering Masonic ranks?The standard and widely accepted Masonic rite has three degrees: trainees, interns, and Master Mason. The confusion arises when people think that the Scottish Rite has 33 degrees. Does this mean that someone who has obtained the ninth degree in the Scottish Rite is higher in the hierarchy than someone who only has the third degree of Masonry? The answer is no. To clarify, we must understand that Scottish isn't the only rite with more than three degrees. For example, the New York Rite has nine degrees and the Swedish rite was 10 degrees.

In addition, some provincial Grand Lodges of England and Wales honor some former craft masters and other distinguished brethren by giving them the rank and precedence of a “former” great provincial official, even though they have never actively served as such. The only classification in the masonry system is that the second grade cannot be reached without first completing the first. Reaching the third degree is the highest degree in Masonry. These degrees are certainly high honors, but within the Masonic system, they are not considered higher in rank or prestige than the title of Master Mason. Members who have earned additional degrees or achieved leadership ranks are not “more Masons” than any other Masonic master.

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