The status of any Freemason can be identified by his degree, which represents the steps he has taken from the lower ranks up to the highest degree of Freemason knowledge.

Nowadays, there are many different kinds of degree systems all around the world, including symbolic degrees, chapter degrees, historic degrees, and more. 

The standard, widely accepted Masonic rite has three degrees. They are Entered Apprentice, Fellowcraft, and the highest rank that anyone can earn, Master Mason. 

A common alternative, the Scottish Rite, has 33 degrees, including these three standard rankings and 30 other supplementary degrees, which we’ll list below. 

The standard Freemasonry degrees

Freemasons Group Photo

The standard three Masonic degrees come from the Blue Lodges of Freemasonry. These degrees are called the Entered Apprentice, the Fellowcraft, and the Master Mason. True to Freemason origins, the concept and names of each degree were adapted from middle age craft guilds.

Entered Apprentice

The Entered Apprentice degree poses an introduction to the Masonic order in which candidates learn about the rituals, symbolism, and beliefs in Masonry. 

Among other things, members learn the language of Freemasonry, which topics are not to be discussed in the lodge, and the actual responsibilities of the lodge. This first degree represents youthfulness and a time of learning.

An Entered Apprentice is entrusted with certain Masonic secrets around morality and ethics, which he can communicate only in accordance with Masonic law. Once he’s proven himself as an Entered Apprentice, he is considered ready to pass onto the second degree - the Fellowcraft.

The Fellowcraft

Members of the Fellowcraft degree pursue a more advanced search for understanding in philosophy, intellectual enlightenment, and wisdom. This degree represents the member reaching manhood.

Once again, the member is ready to advance to the degree of Master Mason when he’s learned his lessons in the Fellowcraft degree.

Master Mason

The third degree represents maturity, with advanced wisdom and knowledge. Master Masons are taught about virtue and morality, along with the duties and tools of a Master Mason. 

Once a Mason has completed his third degree - which usually takes some years - he receives all the rights and privileges available to him and will become known as a Master Mason.

Scottish Rite Degrees

The Scottish Rite

Compared to the three degrees in standard freemasonry, the Scottish Rite, an offshoot of Freemasonry, has 33 degrees

Thirty of these degrees are “appendant degrees”, in that they are not higher in ranking but lateral. This means that a member with a 21st degree in the Scottish Rite has the same ranking as someone with the 3rd degree of masonry.

You could think of these additional degrees as honorary, given to those Masons who have maintained consistent, significant participation with the order. These degrees are given based on merit and ability, although Master Masons cannot progress through these degrees without time and examination. 

To attain the 32nd degree, for example, a Freemason must have been a Master Mason for at least 14 years, have been elected Master of the Lodge, and have satisfactorily served the Supreme Council. 

There are more than an estimated 160,000 members of the Scottish Rite in the world, with just some 4,000 holding the 33rd degree.

Aside from the Scottish Rite, there are several other orders with more than 3 degrees, including the New York Rite (with nine degrees) and the Swedish Rite (with ten degrees).

The 33 degrees of the Scottish Rite

The first three degrees are the same as those for Blue Lodge Freemasonry. The others can be split into categories, called the Lodge of Perfection (degrees 4-14), the Council of Princes of Jerusalem (degrees 15 and 16), the Chapter of Rose Croix (degrees 17 and 18), and the Consistory (degrees 19 to 32). 

The Lodge of Perfection

  • Master Traveller

  • Perfect Master 

  • Master of the Brazen Serpent 

  • Provost and Judge 

  • Indentant of the Building

  • Master of the Temple 

  • Master Elect

  • Sublime Master Elected

  • Master of Mercy 

  • Master of the Ninth Arch 

  • Grand Elect Mason

Council of Princes of Jerusalem

The 15th and 16th degrees (Knight of the East and Prince of Jerusalem respectively) are historical degrees, teaching biblical events that relate lessons about dedication to conviction, duty, and truth.

Chapter of Rose Croix

The 17th degree, Knight of the East and West, teaches about the importance of seeking truth in our life path and avoid repeating past errors.

Meanwhile, the 18th degree, Knight of the Rose Croix of H.R.D.M, teaches laws of universality and tolerance.

  • Consistory

  • Brothers of the Trail 

  • Master Ad Vitam 

  • Patriarch Noachite

  • Prince of Libanus

  • Knight of Valor 

  • Brother of the Forest 

  • Master of Achievement 

  • Friend and Brother Eternal

  • Knight of Jerusalem

  • Knight of the Sun

  • Knight of St Andrew

  • Grand Inspector

  • My Brother’s Keeper

  • Sublime Prince of the Royal Secret

The 33rd Degree

The 33rd degree is a supreme honour bestowed only on those who have demonstrated outstanding service to the Brotherhood, as well as professional and personal accomplishments. 

Learn more about the Freemasons

Want to know more about the Freemasons? Find out the stories behind the symbolism or learn about some of history’s most famous Freemasons.

Or if you’re new to the order, shop our range of Masonic craft regalia online at George H. Lilley today.