How to form an SPIE Student Chapter

Your questions answered

Open the door for skill improvement

Through engagement in an SPIE Student Chapter, students strengthen their leadership, communication, and networking skills for career advancement.

Five SPIE Student Members stand with different poses and facial expressions in front of an SPIE Membership photo booth backdrop

What you need to know to launch your student chapter

What is an SPIE Student Chapter?

SPIE Student Chapters* are groups based at educational institutions across the globe that play a critical role in fostering leaders in the fields of optics and photonics. 

Collectively and individually, SPIE Student Chapter members play an instrumental role in moving the study of optics and photonics forward. Chapter members collaborate with colleagues, mentor younger students, connect with industry, and perform outreach in the community to pave the way for future advances in light-based technologies.

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. 

Ready to get started? Submit an SPIE Student Chapter Application by 1 May and find all the details below.

Apply to be an SPIE Student Chapter

*Referred to as clubs in China

What is the purpose of an SPIE Student Chapter?

The purpose of the SPIE Student Chapter is to connect students interested in optics and photonics to a global network of scientists and engineers and prepare them for successful and diverse careers in the fields. A Student Chapter provides its members with the opportunity:

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

At the discretion of the chapter student members, certain chapter activities and events shall be open for all students at the educational institution, especially when recruiting new members.

Through its organized efforts in study, research, discussion, and networking, the chapter shall promote the fields of optics and photonics, disseminate knowledge, and further the professional development of students.

How do I form an SPIE Student Chapter at my educational institution?

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

  • A graduate degree program or equivalent in physics, engineering, or other optics-related field (e.g., MSc in biomedical optics) with the ability to specialize in optics coursework.
  • A 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).
  • Support for student optics research from professors specialized in the field.

Membership requirements

  • A potential chapter advisor: this individual must be a full-time faculty member at the educational institution and a current SPIE voting Member.
  • A minimum of 10 current SPIE Student Members affiliated with the educational institution.

Applicant requirements

Applicant(s) must be current SPIE Student Member(s) at the educational institution. Potential chapter advisors are not permitted to apply on behalf of students.


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

What are the application and approval processes for an SPIE Student Chapter?

SPIE Student Chapter Applications must be submitted each year by 1 May. 

Once submitted, applications are reviewed by the Early Career and Students Subcommittee and the Membership and Communities Committee. If approved, successful candidates are recommended to the Board of Directors for certification. Student Chapter applicant(s) are notified of official approval after board certification in September of the same year.

Please contact with questions.

Guide for current SPIE Student Chapters Guide for current SPIE Student Chapters ...
Resources for student chapter leaders Resources for student chapter leaders ...

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.