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IEEE Bylaw I-104.3 sets forth the criteria for elevation to Senior member grade as follows:

  • A candidate shall be an engineer, scientist, educator, technical executive or originator in IEEE-designated fields
  • Candidates shall have been in professional practice for at least ten years
  • Candidates shall have shown significant performance over a period of at least five of those years

In addition, candidates for Senior member grade must supply three references from current IEEE members holding the grade of Fellow, Senior member, or Honorary member. 


IEEE-designated fields

  • Engineering
  • Computer sciences and information technology
  • Physical sciences
  • Biological and medical sciences
  • Mathematics
  • Technical communications, education, management, law and policy


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Ten years of professional experience

The ad hoc Admission and Advancement (A&A) Review Panel, that is evaluating your application, will count the years you have been in professional practice.

Time working and attending school at the same time will be counted either as work experience OR education experience.

Your educational experience is credited toward that time as follows:

  • Three years for a baccalaureate degree in an IEEE-designated field
  • Fours years if you hold a baccalaureate and masters degree
  • Five years if you hold a doctorate

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Five years of significant performance

Many prospective applicants make the mistake of assuming that "significant performance" requires special awards, patents, or other extremely sophisticated technical accomplishments, but this is not the case. Substantial job responsibilities such as team leader, task supervisor, engineer in charge of a program or project, engineer or scientist performing research with some measure of success (papers), or faculty developing and teaching courses with research and publications, all are indications of significant performance. The following are also indications of significant performance:

  • Substantial engineering, responsibility or achievement
  • Publication of engineering or scientific papers, books, or inventions
  • Technical direction, or management of important scientific or engineering work, with evidence of accomplishment
  • Recognized contributions to the welfare of the scientific or engineering profession
  • Development or furtherance of important scientific or engineering courses that fall within the IEEE designated fields of interest
  • Contributions equivalent to those of the above in such areas as technical editing, patent prosecution, or patent law, provided these contributions serve to advance progress substantially in IEEE designated fields

Significant performance that would serve to qualify an individual for elevation to Senior member need not have occurred in the years immediately prior to the application. Thus, Life and Retired members are eligible for elevation.


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The applicant must also provide three references from current IEEE members holding Senior member, Fellow, or Honorary member grade. Your professional colleagues are your best source of these references. If you have difficulty in locating Senior members or Fellows to serve as references, you have three options.

Option 1

Follow these simple steps to search for Senior or Fellow members using IEEE memberNet, the IEEE online member directory.

  1. Sign in to myIEEE.
  2. Enter your user name and password.
  3. In the memberNet Gadget, select “Advanced Search.”

  4. Within the Member Grade Box, select “Fellow,” Life Fellow,” “Life Senior,” and scroll to “Senior Member” by clicking on them while holding down the CTRL key. This will allow you to make multiple selections in this area. 

  5. Click on green arrow to add the selections to the “Active Search Criteria.”

  6. Add other search criteria as desired; for example, select Country or Region.

  7. When ready, click on "Search" button below the Active Criteria Search box.
  8. Click on name of member to view profile information and see if “Messaging Active” button is blue (if active) or gray (if inactive).

  9. Click on “Messaging Active” button to draft email.

  10. Draft email to perspective references; be sure to include where you obtained their contact information from (reference memberNet).

  11. Contact a few members in your local Section before contacting members outside your local area.
  12. Log on to Senior membership portal to view Senior member status page before contacting additional perspective references.

Option 2

Contact the Section or Chapter chair for assistance in finding qualified references. For assistance in contacting your Section/Chapter chair, email Denise Howard at:

The applicant is responsible for contacting his/her references. References must send a brief note of recommendation directly to IEEE, preferably using the Senior Member Reference Form. If the applicant is being nominated by a Senior member or Fellow, two other references are required.

Submittal of a reference form does not by itself constitute a nomination. In order for a nomination to be processed as such, the nomination section of the application form has to be filled in, with or without a nominating entity. However, if you wish your Section or Society to receive a rebate of US$10 for each successful nomination as part of the Nominate a Senior Member Initiative, the Section or Society's name must be provided.

Option 3

Attend Section meetings and network with Senior members and Fellows in your area.


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The following are examples of significant performance that would serve to qualify an individual for elevation to Senior member. In each case, assume that three qualified references were provided:

Case 1 An applicant/nominee has a bachelor's degree and seven additional years of professional experience beyond graduation in an area encompassed by one of IEEE's technical Societies, which meets the requirement of ten years of professional experience. Significant performance can be demonstrated by describing substantial job responsibilities (e.g., team leader) for a period of at least five years. Result: All criteria are satisfied and the application is approved.

Case 2 Same as Case 1, except that the applicant/nominee worked in industry for one year following graduation with the bachelor's degree and then was a full-time graduate student for two years, obtaining a master's degree. The applicant demonstrates significant performance during another five years in industry. Result: Approved.

Case 3 An applicant/nominee has bachelor, master's, and doctoral degrees in an IEEE-designated field. Five years of significant performance in academia, industry, or government beyond the doctoral degree are demonstrated (e.g., a faculty member with five years beyond the doctorate and promotion to associate professor). Result: Approved.

Case 4 An applicant/nominee has no degree and has worked for many years in the electric industry as a technician. Ten years ago, he accepted an engineering-level position and continued with it since that time. Included was a period of at least five years with demonstrated significant performance. Result: Approved.

Case 5 An applicant/nominee retired some years ago and has not been active recently in the profession. Prior to retirement, the applicant/nominee had at least ten years of professional experience, including five years of significant performance. Result: Approved.


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Volunteer Resources

Visit the Volunteers section for the following:

  • Senior member initiative
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  • Schedule of review panels
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