Jedi Master: What the Ranks Entail for Young Trainees

From Jedi Master to Padawan, there's a strict hierarchy for the Jedi

Jedi are the fictional knights in the "Star Wars" films, tasked with protecting the galaxy from the forces of the Dark Side by using the mystical energy known as the Force. We first learn of the Jedi in the very first (in terms of release date, not order in the chronology) movie, "A New Hope." Obi-wan Kenobi introduces Luke Skywalker to the Force and tells him the mythical Jedi are real (and Obi-wan happens to be one, although in hiding).

The Jedi Order has four basic ranks: Youngling, Padawan, Knight, and Jedi Master. Although the names and specifics differ throughout the history of the Jedi, the basic progression from trainee to Knight to Master remains the same.


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A Youngling or Jedi Initiate is a Force-sensitive child raised in the Jedi Temple who receives basic instruction in the Force. Since the Force is a metaphysical entity, it requires the practice of meditation. Learning how to use the Force begins early in childhood. Jedi younglings undergo the Gathering on Ilum, where they find the khyber crystals needed to build their lightsabers. 

Younglings who pass the Initiate Trials continue their training as Padawans.

The rank of Youngling only existed from about 1,000 BBY to 19 BBY. The practice of taking Force-sensitive children as infants was intended to keep Jedi away from attachments, which would prevent them from falling to the dark side of the Force


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A Padawan or Jedi Apprentice is a young Jedi in training with a Jedi Knight or Master. In eras where the Youngling rank did not exist, Jedi trainees began at the rank of Apprentice.

When the Jedi Order was centralized, between 4,000 BBY and 19 BBY, the Master/Padawan relationship was formalized and had strict guidelines. Before and after, the process of training a Jedi was more informal; Jedi Knights and Masters had a greater choice in who they could train and declared their own students Knights when they were ready.

Padawan trainees would grow or wear a Padawan braid and train in a classroom setting with multiple other students and a teacher. After reaching a certain age, and being apprenticed to a Jedi Knight or Jedi Master to begin one-on-one training, Padawan apprentices go on missions to strengthen their skills in the ways of the Force. The Padawan braid is then cut off with a lightsaber when the person is promoted to the rank of Knight.

Jedi Knight

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A Jedi Knight has completed training as a Padawan and passed the Jedi Trials, or similarly proven his or her worthiness to become a Knight.

Most Jedi are Knights and remain so the rest of their lives. Jedi Knights serve the Jedi Order by going on missions and by training new apprentices to Knighthood. Unlike the ranks of Padawan and Youngling, the rank of Knight kept its name and meaning throughout the history of the Jedi Order.

Jedi Master

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A Jedi Master is the highest formal rank in the Jedi Order. It is given to the most skilled Jedi after great accomplishments as a Jedi Knight, such as training several apprentices to knighthood or performing a great service for the Republic. 

Reserved for those who show exceptional devotion, skill, and balance in the ways of the Force (and often combat), only those holding this rank and title may sit on the Jedi High Council or any of the three other councils.

Because the title of Master was so prestigious, some Jedi Knights — particularly in the early Jedi Order — declared themselves Jedi Masters. This was discouraged, as wisdom in the Force, not just success in battle is necessary to become a Jedi Master.

Non-Ranking Jedi

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Jedi in the Service Corps branches, such as the Agricultural Corps, are generally Jedi trainees who failed one of their trials. Although Jedi Knights or Masters could work with the Service Corps, most of their members did not have one of the four Jedi ranks.