Chapter Management

Special Announcement:

In an ongoing effort to provide better communication tools and leadership training for chapter officers, SPIE will be providing chapter officers with a new 2019 - 2020 Student Chapter Handbook that covers chapter management tools.

The content in the handbook refers to new, improved management strategies in 2020. This handbook will be finalized and posted to the Student Chapter Management page in September 2019 and will be sent via email to all current chapter officers at that time. You may download a Working Copy of the 2019 - 2020 Handbook now.

Links to the new Annual Report Template, updated Annual Report and Activity Grant Application, and updated 2020 Career Development Summit Travel Grants will not be available until the final copy is posted in September. Once we post the final version, we will retire the information below. 

Download the Handbook  ›


SPIE provides funding to each Student Chapter so that Chapter Members can create and engage in more diverse career development opportunities. SPIE believes the future belongs to optics and photonics, and the future of these technologies is in the hands of our students.

Officer Resources:

Annual Chapter Benefits:

Student-led Conference Funding:

Still can't find an answer to your question? Visit the Student FAQ!

Officer Resources:

Good Standing Requirements:

In order to be considered for chapter benefits, your chapter must be in good standing with SPIE. 

Per the SPIE Student Chapter Constitution and Bylaws, chapters must:

  1. Maintain a minimum of 10 paying SPIE Student Members
  2. Receive support from an SPIE member serving as the chapter faculty advisor 
  3. Hold annual elections for President, Vice-President, Secretary, and Treasurer
  4. Hold a minimum of three chapter meetings per year
  5. Submit an annual report by the assigned due date 

Also, note that chapters may fall out of good standing if they do not comply with other contents of the Chapter Constitution and By-laws.

New Chapter Members or Membership Renewals

New members and returning members may purchase SPIE memberships online and select their designated chapter for affiliation. 

To check a chapter membership roster, please visit the designated chapter webpage. Please note that it takes approximately 48 hours for new members to appear on the chapter membership roster. 

Updating Officer Listing

Has your chapter held recent elections? If you are interested in updating your current chapter officer listing, please submit a request using our online form.

Annual Reporting 

Student Chapters are required to provide an annual report on activities, whether they receive SPIE grant funding or not. Chapter reports provide valuable insight into student activities and serve as a resource for future planning. Noteworthy pictures and activities may be included on SPIE social media pages or in SPIE publications, including SPIE Professional. Sending a complete report on time means your Chapter will receive the recognition it deserves for the hard work of its Members.

Please email your annual report to

Annual Report due dates vary. Please check your SPIE chapter website for your report due date. 

Reports should include:

  1. Names of elected Officers.
  2. List of current Student Chapter Members.
  3. Details of Chapter activities since last report.
    • Describe exactly how chapter grant funding was spent.
    • Were these activites described in your funding request?
  4. Details of planned activities for the future.
  5. Financial Information formatted in a table. 
    • Beginning balance
    • Funds raised and expended (indicate amounts and source/destination)
    • Details of SPIE funding received
    • Other funding sources (please specify)
    • Ending balance
    • US chapters are asked to include their Tax ID, if applicable.

Special note for Outreach Events: Please estimate the number of attendees at each event. This helps us measure the impact of Student Chapters and obtain future student funding.

Building an Active Chapter

It is normal for Chapter commitment to fluctuate over time. Graduation, thesis writing, or other obligations can all impact the ability of the Chapter to function and benefit its Members. Here are some tips to help energize your members:

  • Organize activities that require the involvement of many Chapter Members. Science fairs, volunteer teaching, and public outreach are excellent ways to utilize the abilities of your Chapter Members.
  • Set up an informal table in the department building with SPIE promotional materials, handouts, and membership applications at the beginning of the school year. Talk to your members and plan events early.
  • Share Chapter responsibilities.
  • Use a website or social media page to keep Members informed and in communication. Track project goals through the website.
  • Get inspiration from other student leaders - send members to the Student Chapter Leadership Workshop.
  • Create a binder or electronic version of instructions for future officers including expectiations of officer roles, protocols for chapter benefits, annual calendar events, etc. 

Returning to Good Standing

If you find your chapter has fallen out of good standing, there are ways to remedy the situation. Depending on the circumstances, it may be necessary to recruit more members, submit any overdue reports, plan activities, etc. Contact your Chapter Advisor and for tips and additional assistance.

Failure to Maintain Good Standing - Probation and Decertification

While the Society strives to work with every Chapter's individual needs, the minimal requirements for remaining in good standing are strictly followed. If a chapter remains inactive for a period of greater than two years, then the chapter may risk probation and possibly decertification.

  • SPIE will notify the Chapter Advisor and Current President regarding the Probationary Status if the chapter has less than 10 members and has not submitted an activity report within the last year. The chapter will be given an opportunity to return to good standing. 
  • While a Chapter is on probation it is not eligible for any chapter benefits.
  • If there has been over 2 years of inactivity and less than 10 members, no response from advisor/past-president or confirmed wish to decertify, we will request that the chapter be decertified.
  • Student Members will continue to receive all the benefits of an Individual Student Membership throughout the probationary period and beyond, regardless of the status of the Chapter.

Annual Chapter Benefits:

Chapter Activity Grant

Chapters may submit one activity grant request to SPIE at any time during the calendar year before 1 December. When completing the form, chapters must describe each project or activity and provide cost estimates for each. Funds are dispersed by check (USA and Canada only) or wire transfer using IBAN/SWIFT numbers. The entire process should take less than four weeks. Available funding is based on the combined total of student members and alumni members in the chapter's online rosters. Unused funds do not carry over to subsequent years.

Activity Grant Funding by Chapter Size

2019 Activity Grant Request Form - Deadline to apply is 1 December 2019

View an example of a completed Chapter Activity Grant Request

If you are unable to submit an online request form, please email for assistance.

Suggested Activities
Many Chapter activities are eligible for SPIE support. Ideas may include:

  • Organize an informal lecture with a popular professor from the department
  • Organize a student lecture series
  • Invite an industry or academic speaker (refreshments and snacks only)
  • Tour optics industry facilities
  • Host a public lab tour for community members
  • Create and maintain a Chapter web page
  • Organize a job fair
  • Work with teachers to improve their optics knowledge
  • Promote optics to pre-university students: develop workshops, volunteer to supplement science and math education, organize a science fair
  • Mentoring of secondary science and technology students
  • Promote the optics/photonics academic program within the college/university

Tip: Use your activity grant to provide snacks, giveaways, beverages, and advance advertising to help draw attention to your event.

The SPIE Activity Grant cannot be used to fund the following items:

  • SPIE Student Membership fees
  • University lab and/or office equipment
  • Honorariums for speakers
  • Clothing for the chapter - Please raise funds for t-shirt printing

Officer Travel Grant

SPIE strives to provide Chapter Members with conference exposure. Each year, chapters may elect one representative to apply for the Officer Travel Grant for one of our SPIE Meetings where a Leadership Workshop is held.

In 2019, the Officer Travel Grant may be used to attend either SPIE Photonics West in San Francisco, CA; SPIE Structured Light at OPIC in Yokohama, Japan; or SPIE Optics + Photonics in San Diego, CA. 

In 2020, the Officer Travel Grant may be used to attend either SPIE Photonics West in San Francisco, CA; SPIE Photonics Europe, in Strasbourg, France; or SPIE Optics + Photonics in San Diego, CA. 

For more information about the 2020 Officer Travel Grant funding, please download the Chapter Management Handbook linked at the top of the page. 

Optics Outreach Kit

Every SPIE student chapter in good standing is eligible to receive one optics outreach kit per calendar year. The kits are subject to change and are dependent on availability. In 2019, the chapter outreach kit is the Foldscope Microscopy Kit. Click on the link to view the PDF instructional booklet. 

Please submit an online application form to request a kit. Requests must be submitted by 1 December. 

Visiting Lecturer Program Benefit

Bring the feeling of a conference to your entire Chapter. Access a directory of distinguished lecturers who are available to give personalized lectures at your university. For a complete list of available speakers and topics, check out the Visiting Lecturer page. Each chapter in good standing can request travel support for one lecturer per calendar year using the Visiting Lecturer funding. Please submit requests to use this benefit by 15 November. 

Student-led Conference Funding:

SPIE FOCUS Conference Grant

The Federation of Optics College and University Students (FOCUS) Conference Grant provides SPIE student chapter leaders with financial support to organize a regional student conference that features a significant, non-technical professional development opportunity. Applications for FOCUS Conference Grants are open twice a year and have a grant maximum of $7,000 each. Chapters are encouraged to collaborate in the organization of the conference; however, it is not a requirement and only one application per event will be accepted.

What's included:

  • Funding in USD up to the grant maximum
  • Promotion on SPIE Social Media

Common elements of a successful FOCUS conference:

  • Strong professional development program
  • High quality invited speakers
  • Student oral and poster presentations
  • Student Best Paper Awards
  • Career development
  • Social program

Application Instructions:
Applications will be evaluated twice per year (1 February and 1 July). Chapters interested in hosting an SPIE FOCUS Conference should email in advance of their grant application to discuss the event.

The 2019 cycle two FOCUS conference grant application has closed. Deadline was 1 July, 2019.

Looking for ideas? Take a look at previous FOCUS conferences.

Summer School on Optics and Photonics 2017

OPTO 2017



SPIE FOCUS - Southampton

Information SPIE will want to know:

  • Quality & relevance of professional development program
  • Appropriate target audience
  • Marketing plan for conference - How will other people find out about it?
  • Leveraged resources - Who else is contributing to this project?
  • Planned events/talks
  • How will the funding be used?

Visit the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page for more information or email