How to run your SPIE Student Chapter

Your questions answered

Stronger together

SPIE Student Chapters play a critical role in developing future leaders of optics and photonics. We are here to support the collaboration, mentoring, industry connections, and outreach programming of your chapter. Set your chapter up for success by carefully reading though the guidelines below, and reach out to Student Programs and Activities with any questions.

A group of three students and a chapter advisor standing together in front of the SPIE Membership photo booth backdrop

Your chapter is up and running. Now what?

What does a chapter need to do to meet good-standing requirements?

SPIE Student Chapters must maintain a good-standing status to receive activity funding.  If a chapter does not meet all these requirements for three consecutive years, SPIE staff will contact the chapter to assess revitalization opportunities. If there are no opportunities or if the advisor and any members feel the need to end the chapter, the chapter will be recommended for decertification to the Board of Directors.

Good-standing requirements include:

  • Maintain a minimum of 10 current SPIE Student Members as members of the chapter.
  • Have a chapter advisor who is a full-time faculty member at the chapter’s educational institution and is also a current SPIE voting Member.
  • Hold annual elections for four officers: president, vice president, secretary, and treasurer.
    • Check out these resources to equip your officers with the skills and tools they need to be effective in their roles.
  • Hold a minimum of three chapter meetings annually.
  • Submit an annual report and funding request for those seeking funding by 1 December annually.

Can we register our SPIE Student Members in one form?

If a Student Chapter has 10 or more students who are interested in joining or renewing their SPIE Memberships together, payment can be made by one credit card or bank wire. A bulk Membership form is available here. After completing the form, please send it by email to

How do we elect chapter officers, and what are their roles?

  • Officer elections are required to be held annually. The membership will vote, and those with the highest number of votes will be elected as respective officers.
  • 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 more than 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, the chapter must submit an online Officer Update Form.
  • Chapter officers’ duties:
    • The president supervises the SPIE Student Chapter’s affairs and activities. 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 keeps permanent records of all meetings and activities of the chapter. The secretary is also responsible for maintaining a current roster of members and for timely communications with SPIE headquarters.
    • The treasurer keeps records of all expenses and submits the annual funding request form to SPIE. The treasurer also ensures that an accounting of the previous year’s expenses is included in the annual report submitted to SPIE by 1 December.

What is required for annual reporting?

    Annual reports and annual funding grant requests are due every year on 1 December.

    The annual report will include:

    • Names of elected officers for the calendar year coming to a close.
    • List of current chapter members for the calendar year coming to a close.
    • Details of chapter activities since the last report.
    • Details of planned activities for the next year and the requested funding for them.
    • Financial information with receipts of expenses for the calendar year coming to a close.

    The Student Chapter Annual Report and Activity Grant Application will open on the SPIE application platform (SMApply) in October each year. One of the chapter officers will need to complete the annual report and activity grant funding request if applying for those.

    How do we fund our chapter activities?

    Chapters in good standing are eligible each year to apply for up to $1,000 in funding to conduct chapter activities via the SPIE Student Chapter Annual Report and Activity Grant Application.

    Student Chapters must provide a detailed activity proposal for the amount requested. 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. Chapter members can arrange visits throughout the year directly without requiring pre-approval from SPIE. Chapters will manage speaker invitations and any payments or reimbursements directly.

    How do we know if our chapter qualifies for Student Chapter Awards?

    Chapters may self-nominate for the Presidential Award for Outstanding Student Chapter in their annual report.

    Is there travel assistance available for students to attend SPIE conferences?

    SPIE offers student conference support via a limited number of travel grants (airfare/lodging) and conference registration to SPIE Student Members who are planning to present their research at an SPIE conference.

    How do we use the SPIE logo?

    SPIE will provide each chapter with its own unique chapter logo after the chapter has been approved. These individual student chapter logos should be used to promote events that are run or sponsored by the chapter. More details about chapter identity can be found below.

    You may use the SPIE corporate logo to identify your chapter organization. Logos and usage guidelines can be found here.

    What is our chapter's official SPIE affiliation?

    SPIE Student Chapters do not have the authority to act for or in the name of SPIE and will not incur any financial obligations whatsoever in the name of SPIE. The Student Chapter agrees that SPIE 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.

    Guide for forming a new SPIE Student Chapter Guide for forming a new SPIE Student Chapter ...

    SPIE Membership FAQ

    SPIE defines a student as someone engaged in 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. 

    Some chapters may prefer to conduct bulk Memberships instead of individual SPIE 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.

    Yes, you can open a bank account to pay for SPIE Membership fees from one source, or manage funds.

    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.

    Chapter identity FAQ

    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 (also known as Illustrator CS), 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.