U.S. Grand Lodges’ Requirements for Candidate Advancement
I am attempting to compile all details about United States Grand Lodges’ requirements for candidate advancements (from EA to FC, FC to MM, and for a MM). The only purpose for compiling this information is to make it available to Masons throughout the U.S. so we can all have better knowledge about what other jurisdictions do.
If anyone wants to send me email, especially if any of the information on this chart is not correct or if you know of additional information that should be included, please send me email by clicking on my name Paul M. Bessel.
United States Grand Lodges
|Grand Lodge||Requires Extensive Memorizing||Has Alternatives to Extensive Memorizing|
|Alabama||Extensive memorized catechism concerning the EA and FC Degrees (MM is not mandatory). Examination is also required in open lodge.
The Code allows the individual lodge to determine the proficiency of the candidate. Some lodges use this means for shorter versions of the catechisms.
From 1998 Proceedings:
Approved a resolution that would have permitted candidates to advance if they are examined before a committee, rather than the full lodge, if with the consent of the lodge.
But, while a resolution to permit lessons to be turned in before a committee was accepted in 1998, it required a change in the Constitution. Therefore it was sent to the lodge for a vote at their annual communication in June 1999. As reported on page 65 of the 1999 Proceeding “Proposition 6 was rejected. The vote was 155 lodge Aye – 170 lodge Nay. It would require 231 votes to pass.
|Arizona||From an email message from a Grand Lodge officer:
No longer requires the “memorized catechism,” and this is no longer an issue in Grand Lodge.
The study of the history, philosophy and symbolism is REQUIRED and the memorized catechism is optional with the Lodge or its Master. In all cases, candidates are required to learn the steps, grips, words, due guards and signs.
|Arkansas||Requires memorization of catechism. Must recite answers either in lodge or before a committee. This included the MM degree.|
|California||Adopted a shortened proficiency in 1997. The old, long form proficiency remains an option, if the candidate wishes to use it. Some candidates still elect to do the long form, and some Lodges still encourage it, but it is up to the candidate to make the decision.
CMC Section 26340. Advancement.
A Lodge shall advance an Entered Apprentice or Fellow Craft to a higher degree if he has given satisfactory evidence, by examination in open Lodge, that he is proficient and well qualified in the degrees which he has already taken. To demonstrate such proficiency, an Entered Apprentice or Fellow Craft shall only be required to recite from memory the obligation of each degree, together with the signs and modes of recognition of each degree.
In the 1960’s thru 1970’s the CMC in California required a proficiency of questions and answers (that ran about 10 to 15 minutes and included a comprehensive review of the preceding degree, obligation, working tools, signs, grips, I hails, etc.) prior to the degrees. Also Master Masons were required to pass a proficiency before petitioning any concordant or dependent organization.
Since 2000 candidates required to pass an open book educational proficiency test based on a booklet for each of the degrees.
|Colorado||In 2003 the Grand Lodge has tried a pilot lodge program where the only memorization is of the signs and passes of the degrees. Grand Lodge also encourages candidates to memorize obligations, but that is not required.|
|Connecticut||Requires memorization of catechism
Section 4122. Proficiency Required for Advancement. No Brother shall be advanced to the next degree until he shall have demonstrated proficiency in the preceding degree, nor shall he receive a dues card until he shall have demonstrated his proficiency in the Master Mason Degree. In lieu of a dues card, a Brother who has not demonstrated proficiency shall be given a receipt for his dues as evidence of his good standing in his own Lodge.
The minimum suitable proficiency, which must be demonstrated, shall consist of:
1. The ability to give the signs grips and words of each degree, and to place the Great Lights in their proper position for each degree. (Modes of Recognition)
2. The ability to describe the ceremonies of each degree in answer to proper questions. This shall normally imply memorizing the formal questions and answers set forth in the First Section of the Webb Lectures or the Lectures, which by custom, have been used by the Lodge for each degree. (Steward’s Lecture)
3. A thorough knowledge and understanding of the substance of the obligations, which the Brother has assumed. This may include memorizing the Obligations, but must include an understanding of the duties and responsibilities inherent in the Obligations.
|Delaware||Requires memorization of catechism. MM’s must pass within 60 days of degree.|
|District of Columbia||Section 106 of the D.C. Grand Lodge Code says: “Before the second or the third degree is conferred, and within six months subsequent to the conferring of the third degree, the Lodge shall be satisfied of the brother’s proficiency in the preceding degree, either by examination in a Lodge opened on the degree in which it is proposed to examine him, or by report of a committee appointed by the Master to make such examination, which shall include at least a proficiency in the Modes of Recognition and the penalty of the obligation. It shall be the duty of the Master, within one month after a brother has received the third degree, to provide that said brother receives such instruction in the work of that degree as will enable him to pass a creditable examination therein.
Other than this (making sure that each candidate can make the due guard, sign, grip, and word or each degree), it is left up to each Lodge to decide if it wants to require any memorization or not (most do not require any), or to require any research or speeches by candidates (one or two have such requirements), but most Lodges do not impose any additional requirements.
|Florida||Requires memorization of catechism, and recitation in open lodge. EA has 46 questions with 1,808 words; FC has 37 questions with 1,490 words; MM has 33 questions with 1,770 words; total of 116 questions with 5,068 words.|
|Georgia||Requirements for candidate advancement to the next degree (EA, FC, MM) 1999 Georgia Masonic Code: Section 44-104. Examination Necessary.–An applicant for advancement must show suitable proficiency in catechism of the preceding degree up to and including the obligation, upon examination in open Lodge. ( not in the code -66 Questions in the EA, 73 in the FC and 100 in the MM). All persons receiving the Master Mason’s degree shall be required, within 45 days after being raised, to commit to memory the Catechism of the Master’s Degree up to and including the obligation, and to demonstrate his proficiency therein in open Lodge to the satisfaction of his Brethren. The Worshipful Master may extend said time 45 days once for cause, and no more, provided that the Grand Master may extend in writing said time upon proper showing.|
|Hawaii||Option of limited memorization or limited, with Masonic education program|
|Idaho||Recite the sermon of the degree from memory before a committee of 3 or in open lodge; or, recite the Working Tools, Obligations and methods of recognition from memory. Pass a written test on the symbolism of the degree.|
|Illinois||Code 361. No candidate shall be advanced to the 2nd or 3rd degree until he shall have passed a satisfactory examination in open lodge, or before a committee of 3 appointed by the master, upon his Masonic proficiency, unless by dispensation by the Grand Master. The Master may declare whether the candidate has shown suitable proficiency, or the master in his discretion permit the matter to be determined by a majority vote of the members.|
|Indiana||Reg. 30.010. Must Attain Proficiency.
(a) Every candidate for advancement and newly raised Master Masons must have a perfect knowledge of all steps, due guards, signs, tokens and words.
(b) Lodges may require memorization of the Lecture-First Section (catechism, Q & A) of each degree. Lodges may rehearse the Lecture-First Section of each degree for the benefit of the candidate.
(c) The Lodge shall be empowered to make judgment as to what proficiency be required This proficiency may range from the minimum of perfect knowledge as in (a) up to and including the full catechism as in (b).
(d) Lodges that do not require memorization of the full catechism as in (b) must provide the approved Mentoring Program for each degree or the approved Rusty Nail Mentoring Program for the education of the candidate.
|Iowa||Since 2002 there is no memorization required. This replaced a short catechism introduced in 1991 that replaced a long catechism. All are expected to be familiar with the signs, words, and grips. There is only one standard of proficiency, the Iowa Systematic Masonic Enlightenment Course. The Grand Secretary said: “We think this is working much, much better than the previous program of memorization.”|
|Kansas||Only requires limited memorization. Not all Lodges live up to the written Grand Lodge expectation. It is said that requirements by individual Lodges run the entire gamut from no memorization at all to full memorization (the full amount required by the Grand Lodge, which is less than what some would consider “full.”|
|Kentucky||Requires memorization of catechism. 40 to 70 questions in each degree, taking 15 to 20 minutes.|
|Louisiana||GM in 2003 issued letter saying prior to 1850 there was no memorization requirement, and recently 1 out of every 3 EA’s drop out, with 5,000 lost EA’s since 1980. Therefore, memorization no longer required. Instead lodges establish a program of classes where Masons can study, discuss, and memorize catechisms. “Consistent with the original historic tradition of Masonry,” one or more Masons may recite the catechism in the presence of candidates, pausing as needed to insure that they understand the meaning, and know now to give the step, sign, and passes. This does not require any memorization, and may be done immediately after a degree. Prior to this, EAs were required to memorize 180 questions, and FCs were only somewhat shorter.
Now, proficiency is shown to a committee of 3, and a majority vote of the lodge is the sole judge of each candidate’s proficiency. A Lodge may choose to require a candidate to memorize and recite the entire catechism, or it may decide that he is proficient if he can explain it in his own words and demonstrate the signs, token, and words of each degree. This matter is left to the sole discretion of the individual Lodge.
|Maine||Only requires limited memorization|
|Maryland||Candidates have one year after conferral to return, in open lodge an extensive memorized catechism. then the lodge votes on his proficiency. It take at least 5 black cubes to reject. All this is learned with a coach, mouth-to-ear. Nothing is written. He must also return the catechism for the third degree, but that is not mandatory, (a fact not much mentioned). The only stipulation there is that he cannot join any collateral body of Masonry until he has returned his third degree catechism in open lodge.|
|Massachusetts||Each candidate is required to attend District Lodge of Instruction and complete the education for each degree, and receive a certificate to that effect, before receiving the next degree. After the candidate has completed the three classes of the Lodge of Instruction, which deal specifically with the degrees, there is a forth class which deals with the appendant bodies in Masonry.
As for memorization, that is usually dealt with strictly by the lodge and what they feel is necessary for each candidate.
|Michigan||Only requires a few sentences, and the signs and passwords.|
|Minnesota||Requires memorization of catechism|
|Mississippi||Candidates must answer EA 56 questions, FC 37, in open lodge. No MM requirement.|
|Missouri||As of Grand Lodge session in 2002, Missouri has “no memory work” A candidate can take his first degree one meeting, his second the next and his third the next.|
|Montana||Only requires limited memorization. Now EA 14 questions, FC 20, MM 21, plus obligation. Previously EA 65, FC 57, MM 60.
Proficiency consists of:
1. Memorization of the answers to 14 questions for EA, 20 questions for FC, and 21 questions for MM.
2. Answering in writing the questions listed for each degree in the proficiency manuals.
Completion of both the memorization and the written requirements is necessary before a brother can be advanced.
The Code also states that a Lodge, at discretion of its members, may request any of its candidates to memorize the entire first section of the lecture of each of the degrees — the complete Q&A of 65 for EA, 57 for FC, and 60 for MM.
|Nebraska||Only requires limited memorization|
|Nevada||Requires memorization of catechism|
|New Hampshire||Requires memorization of catechism|
|New Jersey||Requires memorization of catechism|
|New Mexico||Only requires limited memorization|
|New York||“Officially” it still is long memorization. Most lodges make a good attempt at getting the candidate through the Q&A of EA and FC degree. No proficiency is required for the MM degree. Is it abbreviated by some lodges? Yes. But the vast majority try to comply with the rule of memorization of all the Q&A of the first two degrees. The Handbook of Masonic Law allows the lodge to determine what is “suitable proficiency.” It could be a course of study. There is some contradiction here, but the basic understanding is that the candidate for the FC and MM degrees are to be found “proficient” in the preceding degree.|
|North Carolina||Requires memorization of catechism|
|North Dakota||Only requires limited memorization|
|Ohio||Requires memorization and examination in open lodge, for all 3 degrees. Lodges can set their own standards for what questions must be answered.
The Grand Master is permitted to eliminate the examination requirements for those participating in the one-day classes.
Chapter 27 – 27.02 Advancement and Examination of Candidates.
(a) Neither the Fellow Craft nor Master Mason Degree shall be conferred on a candidate until he has been examined in open Lodge as to his proficiency in the preceding degree and his examination has been approved by the Lodge by a majority voice vote immediately following the examination. The minimum proficiency requirement of all three degrees shall consist of the obligation, step, due guard, sign, grip and words of each degree, all considered modes of recognition. All prior candidates who have not completed their proficiencies will be governed by these requirements. Hist. ref.
Proceedings 1974, 1999, 2000.
(b) The examination of a candidate in any degree for advancement shall not be conducted while the Lodge is at refreshment.
(c) The Master shall require each Master Mason within two months after his obligation to take and pass the examination in open Lodge as to his proficiency in the M.M. Degree, unless for sufficient reason to be stated on the record, an extension or extensions of time is given by the Master.
Immediately following the examination the Lodge by majority voice vote shall determine whether the examination is or is not satisfactory. Hist. ref. Proceedings 1975.
(d) A Master Mason who neglects or refuses to comply with the requirement is hereby declared to be suspended but may reinstate himself by acquiring and passing such examination. Hist. ref. Proceedings 1958 109.
27.05 Grand Master’s Class (relevant cites only)
(c) Each Grand master will determine the proficiency requirements for those candidates initiated, passed and raised in a Grand Master’s Class.
Note: in the minimum proficiencies above at 27.02(a), the obligation must be given, but the Code DOES NOT require that it be given from memory. It is permissible for the candidate to read it from a cipher ritual. Ohio never prints its obligations in plain text – cipher only.
|Oklahoma||Requires memorization of catechism. EA has 67 questions, FC 54, and MM 38.|
|Oregon||Requires memorization of catechism|
|Pennsylvania||The candidate is required to answer a short list of questions about the degree just received prior to receiving the next degree…nothing more. These questions are given and the answers received by the WM or another designated Brother who, when satisfied, indicates that the Candidate is qualified for further advancement. The acceptable degree of the candidate’s answers varies from one Lodge to another. The proficiency includes basically the grip work and the DGs and PWs and the exam is done in the preparing room, and usually by one of the line officers.|
|Rhode Island||Requires memorization of catechism|
|South Carolina||Requires proficiency in each degree in open lodge to the satisfaction of the WM|
|South Dakota||Only requires limited memorization.
Requires limited memory exams with an educational format for advancement.
However it is up to the constituent Lodges if they accept this, and they may at their discretion use the older long form of memorization. From the GM: “Personally I believe that our educational format has brought about a better informed brother on Masonry and although it requires more memory work from scratch to be an active Officer I have not seen where that was a detriment to their performance.”
|Tennessee||Requires memorization of catechism|
|Texas||Requires memorization of catechism|
|Utah||Utah passed the necessary changes to its bylaws in 2001 to allow for an Alternative Proficiency Program at the discretion of the Master of the lodge. The APP requires the candidate to study written material (Utah borrowed from Washington, Arizona and others) and then answer some questions regarding said material. The candidate also has to memorize the obligation of the degrees, the passwords, signs and MM test oath.|
|Vermont||Requires memorization of catechism|
|Virginia||The Grand Masters in 1999 and 2000 issued edicts allowing each Master to use an alternative method (other than memorizing a very long series of answers to catechism questions) for candidate advancement. This alternative method requires:
1. Each candidate must memorize the part of the catechism of the EA and FC degree dealing with due guards, signs, grips, and words.
2. Each candidate and his ritual coach must discuss in detail exactly what the candidate is obligated to in his EA and FC obligations, so the candidate thoroughly understand his obligations (but does not have to memorize their words).
3. Most importantly, each candidate must meet with a Masonic education coach and go over booklets that have been prepared for each degree (EA, FC, and MM) that contain dozens of questions and answers designed to teach each candidate all about Freemasonry — its ideals, philosophy, charities, structure, history, customs, etc. — so each candidate can become a knowledgeable Freemason.
Masters of Lodges are to appoint a committee of 3 to meet with each candidate to insure that he has covered each of the 3 requirements listed above, and he is then eligible to advance to the next degree. There are no requirements for MM’s after receiving that degree, but they are encouraged to meet the same requirements listed above, and there is an education book for MMs, too.
The previous requirements for advancement, which is still an option for each Master, are:
Sec. 2.110 of the Methodical Digest requires that an EA of FC must be examined in open Lodge in the degree from which he seeks to be advanced, and should prove himself proficient in the catechism of the degree (meaning he has to stand at the altar with his coach, and respond to questions with the exact words of the answers that he has memorized), after which a ballot shall then be taken upon his Masonic proficiency, and if there be a majority in his favor he is thereby eligible for advancement. The Master may have the ballot on Masonic proficiency circulated collectively on all candidates examined on the same degree at that communication. If the collective ballot does not show a favorable majority, it must then be circulated separately on the Masonic proficiency of each candidate included in the collective ballot.
|Washington||The Lodge can choose (a) memorization, (b) the New Candidate Education Program, NCEP, or (c) 1 day conferral. The Lodge determines, with the coach and candidate, which alternative is right for each candidate. In 1994-1995 the Grand Lodge introduced the Alternate Proficiency Test, and in 1996 had the first 1 day conferrals. For the NCEP a candidate must complete a written portion and be familiar with the grips, signs, and words.
Sec. 20.10 B.L. Rev. 2003
Proficiency in the Degrees. No candidate shall be passed to the Degree of Fellowcraft nor raised to the Sublime Degree of Master Mason without proof of proficiency in the preceding Degree. As a minimum, a candidate must be able to demonstrate knowledge of the obligation, signs, words, and grips and all modes of recognition of each Degree.
The Lodge shall be the sole judge of the proficiency of the candidate in the preceding Degree, which shall be ascertained by examination, either in open Lodge or by a committee appointed by the Master of the Lodge and recorded by the Secretary.
The candidate may be offered the New Candidate Education Program approved by the Grand Lodge in place of the Standard Posting Lecture as proof of proficiency at the option of the Lodge. Regardless of which method of determining proficiency is selected, every candidate progressing through the Degrees will be furnished a copy of the New Candidate Education Program by his Lodge. Rev. 2001 After being raised as a Master Mason the Brother shall pay his dues for the current year as established in the Lodge By-Laws and sign the By-Laws, whereupon he becomes an enrolled member of the Lodge. Rev. 2000
The Code was changed in 2000, to no longer require proficiency on the Third Degree to be enrolled. It (proficiency) is however, required to hold an elective or appointive office in the Lodge.
|West Virginia||Has a catechism which must be memorized and returned within one year in open lodge with a majority vote in favor of advancement for each degree. The catechism is mouth-to-ear. The third degree catechism need not be returned, but this is not emphasized. It is said the catechisms take about 12 minutes each, when learned properly|
|Wisconsin||Most candidates choose a limited memorization option, with an extensive Masonic education program|
|Wyoming||Brothers must be examined in open Lodge via a “suitable proficiency.” There is a long and short form to those proficiencies. A proficiency must be offered and accepted by the Brethren and WM before the next degree is conferred. A MM need NOT give back a proficiency, but is barred from any Chair in the Officer Line until he has offered such a proficiency. WM’s may use the short form, but this is not done often and it is not encouraged by the Grand Lodge.|