Guide to SPIE Student Chapters

Information and FAQs to help you form and sustain a student chapter

How to form an SPIE Student Chapter

SPIE Student Chapter overview

Collectively and individually, SPIE Student Chapter members play an instrumental role in moving optics and photonics forward. Chapter members collaborate with colleagues, form partnerships with industries, and perform outreach in the community to pave the way for future advances in light-based technologies.

With more than 340 student chapters in 50 countries and 20,000 SPIE Members worldwide, SPIE Student Chapter members have access to an ever-expanding network of scientists and engineers who can serve as resources, references, and collaborators. SPIE helps provide the structure and programs for chapters to ensure students lay the foundation for a successful career.  

Our staff stands ready to assist you with your activities and engagements. If you have questions, please email Student Services at


The purpose of the SPIE Student Chapter is to connect students interested in optics and photonics and prepare them for successful and diverse careers in the fields. A student chapter provides students the opportunity:

  • To engage in lifelong learning by exploring research conducted at their and other universities as well as at SPIE events and symposia
  • To prepare for and explore career opportunities in the optics and photonics industries through online resources as well as in-person career offerings
  • To engage with students worldwide to discover novel approaches to outreach, engagement, career development, mentorship, and many more empowering areas

Chapter activities and events shall be open for all students at the university and will be relevant to many fields of study. Through its organized efforts in study, research, discussion, and networking, the chapter shall promote the discipline of optical science and engineering; disseminate knowledge of the field of optical engineering; and further the professional development of students.

The chapter will acquaint the student body with the ideas, purposes, and objectives of SPIE and will be recognized by and subject to the regulations of the university/college student association (or other appropriate office) as an official on-campus organization.

SPIE affiliation

  • SPIE Student Chapters do not have authority to act for or in the name of the SPIE and will not incur any financial obligations whatsoever in the name of the SPIE. The student chapter agrees that the Society will not be held responsible, directly or indirectly, for any claims or damages arising out of the chapter’s actions.
  • The organization and operation of the student chapter will be in accordance with the constitution and bylaws of SPIE

Educational institution requirements

The educational institution must have at least one of the following:

  • Graduate degree program or equivalent in physics, engineering, or other optics-related field (e.g. MSc in biomedical optics) with ability to specialize in optics coursework
  • Bachelor's program or equivalent program specific to optics (e.g. BSc in laser technology; excludes broad programs such as BSc in electrical engineering)
  • Certificate programs specific to optics (e.g. precision machining - optical fabrication)

As well as: 

  • Support for student optics research from professors specialized in the field

Membership requirements

  • Potential chapter advisor: this individual must be a full-time faculty at the educational institution who is also a current Early Career Professional or SPIE Member
  • A minimum of 10 current SPIE Student Members affiliated to the educational institution

Applicant requirements 

  • Applicant must be a current SPIE Student Member at the educational institution. Potential chapter advisors are not permitted to apply. 


Even if the above educational institution, membership, and applicant requirements are met, the formation of a chapter is not guaranteed. There may be reasons as to why an SPIE Student Chapter may not be a good fit. These reasons often include lack of previous member engagement with SPIE and/or lack of research specific to furthering optics and photonics technologies or applications.  


  • Stage 1 - SPIE Optics + Photonics 2023 application opens on 1 December 2022 and is due 15 February 2023.

    Stage 2 - SPIE Optics + Photonics 2023 additional application deadline of 1 April 2023.

    • Additional application materials: the SPIE Student Chapter & Membership Coordinator provides additional application forms for the applying chapter and its advisor to complete by the deadline of 1 April 2023
    • Review: after the deadline, applications are reviewed. If approved, the application goes to the Board of Directors for certification. 
    • Certification: the Board of Directors votes on new chapter certification at SPIE Optics + Photonics and SPIE Photonics West annual meetings
    • Notification: after the Board of Directors certifies the chapter, the chapter applicant is notified of official approval

To apply 

Complete the Chapter Interest Application to initiate the process detailed above. Please reach out to if you encounter any issues or have any questions.

How to sustain an SPIE Student Chapter

Good standing requirements

SPIE Student Chapters must maintain good standing status to receive activity funding. Requirements include:

  • A minimum of 10 current SPIE Student Members as members of the chapter
  • A chapter advisor who is a full-time faculty at the chapter’s educational institution and is also a current Early Career Professional or SPIE Member
  • Hold annual elections for president, vice president, secretary, and treasurer
  • Hold a minimum of three chapter meetings per year
  • Submission of an annual report and funding request for those seeking funding by 1 December annually

Chapter officer elections

  • Officer elections are required to be held annually
  • Each chapter must have a president, vice president, secretary, and treasurer
  • Each term of office is equal to one year of service, and a student may be re-elected to the same position for a second term
  • No individual can serve in the same position for over two years
  • No individual should be elected to office if graduating before completing at least one-half year in office
  • The newly elected officers will take office immediately after the election

After elections have been held, submit an online Officer Update form.

Duties of SPIE Student Chapter officers

  • The president supervises the SPIE Student Chapter’s affairs and activities. The president is the executive, administrative, presiding, and reporting officer. The president is responsible for public relations, publicity, and promotion of the chapter’s activities, and assumes all other executive duties not otherwise delegated.
  • In the absence of the president, the vice president presides over meetings and performs all other functions of the president. The vice president’s primary responsibility will be program planning and execution.
  • The secretary is to keep permanent records of all meetings and activities of the chapter. The secretary is responsible for maintaining a current roster of members and for timely communications with SPIE headquarters.

    Annual reporting

    • Annual reports are due on 1 December
    • The annual report will include:
      • Names of elected officers
      • List of current chapter members
      • Details of chapter activities since last report
      • Details of planned activities for the next year
      • Financial information formatted in a table

    Officers should work throughout the year to compile the annual report and submit it by the 1 December due date.  During the month of October, the Student Chapter Annual Report and Activity Grant Application will open on the SPIE application platform SMapply. One chapter officer will need to log in and complete the annual report. If the chapter is also seeking activity grant funding, this is the time that it will be requested.

    Bulk Membership form

    If a Student Chapter has 10 or more students that are interested in joining or renewing and payment will be paid by one credit card or bank wire, a bulk Membership renewal form is available. After completing the form, please send it to

    Activity funding 

    • Each chapter in good standing is eligible to apply for funding to conduct chapter activities via the SPIE Student Chapter Annual Report and Activity Grant Application
    • Chapters must demonstrate a need for the amount requested in the application
    • Awarded funding will be determined based on the quality of the report and funding request
    • The activity grant application includes an additional $500 to support virtual or in-person speaker stipends and regional travel. It allows more freedom and flexibility for chapters to arrange visits throughout the year directly without requiring pre-approval or for speakers to be selected from a directory. Chapters will manage speaker invitations and any payments or reimbursements directly.

    Travel assistance

    The Society Student Conference Support Program offers a limited number of travel grants (airfare/lodging) and conference registration fee waivers to SPIE Student Members who are planning to present, or attend certain SPIE conferences.


    • SPIE will provide each chapter with the SPIE Corporate logo after the chapter has been approved
    • Individual student chapter logos should be used to promote events that are run or sponsored by the chapter
    • Do not use the SPIE Corporate logo except to specifically identify your chapter organization. The logo was designed to increase the visibility of our chapters while giving proper credit where it is due.
    • SPIE Student Chapter banners should not include the logo of any other optics and/or photonics societies

    Membership FAQs

    SPIE defines a student as someone engaged in full-time studies, who has not yet attained their terminal degree. Post-docs are not eligible for Student Membership and discounts but are encouraged to join SPIE as Early Career Members.

    SPIE accepts checks (in USD), money orders, purchase orders, and bankwire transfers. Download an individual Membership application for more information.

    When renewing online you must make sure to also select your student chapter affiliation from a drop-down menu. If a specific chapter is not selected, your chapter membership will not be renewed. Contact to fix this problem. Please note, it will take at least 24 hours before your name appears on your SPIE Student Chapter website roster.

    US chapters looking to open a bank account must complete and submit IRS Form SS-4 directly to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to receive their EIN. On an annual basis, US chapters need to file the 990-N tax form. This form is very short, but if not filed for three consecutive years, the organization will automatically lose its tax-exempt status.

    Some chapters may prefer to conduct bulk Memberships instead of individual Membership renewals in order to pay for all Memberships at once using one payment method. This is an option for all chapters who wish to pay for 10 or more Memberships. In order to do this, please complete our bulk Membership renewal form. You may also include new Members on this form, so long as all fields are completed. Once completed, please send the form to We will review the information and send an invoice for payment.

    Chapter Identity FAQs

    Individual chapter logos should be used to promote events that are run or sponsored by the chapter. Chapters can use their logo as they see fit to create their identity. If the chapter sponsors events that they did not organize and/or run, then the logo should only be used to identify the chapter as a sponsor. Sponsorship may involve monetary funding, donated supplies, or volunteering time.

    It depends. The GIF logos provided by SPIE are small in size (180x50px) but have transparent backgrounds, making them ideal for websites with colored backgrounds. The provided JPG logo is larger (500x160px) but has a white background. For other sizes, we recommend scaling the three color (RGB) EPS file and then saving it as a JPG or GIF.

    EPS files were created using Illustrator 11.0 while GIFs and JPGs were created with Photoshop 7.0.

    Generally, chapters are asked not to use the SPIE Corporate logo except to specifically identify the organization. Events organized by SPIE Student Chapters require enormous amounts of time and dedication. These new logos were designed to increase the visibility of our chapters while giving proper credit where it is due.

    Activity Grant and Career Development Speaker Program FAQs

    SPIE wants to help your chapter stay active. Every year, each chapter in good standing is eligible to apply for up to $1,750 in funding to conduct chapter activities via the Student Chapter Annual Report and Activity Grant Application, which is due on 1 December each year.

    This is a competitive grant process wherein chapters must demonstrate a need for the amount requested in the application and the final funding amounts will be decided based on the quality of the report, quality of the funding request, and number of student members affiliated to the chapter. Approved applications submitted by 1 December will be paid out by the following March.

    Your SPIE Student Chapter is directly responsible for reimbursing the lecturer.