Jedi Ranks Explained: Anatomy of the Jedi Order

Jedi ranks

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The Jedi have been a major part of the Star Wars universe since its inception. An order of warrior monks, the Jedi use their connection to the force to protect the innocent and keep the peace throughout the galaxy. There were several different Jedi ranks one could hold within the Jedi Order. And while the Jedi chain of command isn’t as extensive as those of Star Wars’ imperial ranks, the order still offered plenty of opportunities for advancement.

Jedi Initiates

Young Ahsoka Tano with Plo Koon
A young Ahsoka Tano with Plo Koon. Image: Disney

Jedi initiate is the lowest rank in the Jedi Order. Initiates—also known as younglings—were Force-sensitive children from throughout the galaxy recruited by the Jedi to fill their ranks. Initiates joined the order at a young age, usually sometime before their sixth birthday. The Jedi believed that the earlier an initiate was recruited, the less time they would have had to form a strong attachment to their family, thus making it easier for the youngling to devote themself entirely to the Force.

Younglings choosing kyber crystal
Younglings preparing to enter the Crystal Cave to harvest their kyber crystal. Image: Disney

Once brought into the Jedi ranks, initiates would be divided into a series of different clans, each consisting of roughly twenty students. These clans included the Bear Clan, the Hawk-Bat Clan, the Thranta Clan, and several others. When clan members reached an appropriate age, they would begin a journey known as “the Gathering,” in which initiates would be brought to Ilum to pick out their first lightsaber crystal.

Younglings would let the Force guide them to a kyber crystal as part of the Gathering. Once a crystal called out to an initiate, the youngling would use the Force to assemble a lightsaber around it telekinetically.

Notable Jedi InitiateFast Facts
Ahsoka TanoAhsoka is discovered by Plo Koon at three years old on Shili.


Padawan and Master paired together in the Jedi Order
Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker. Image: Disney

Once an initiate had learned the basics of the Force and built a lightsaber, they were ready to move up the Jedi ranks. The next step of Jedi training was to become a Padawan—a Jedi apprentice assigned to a Jedi Knight or Master. A Padawan’s job was to follow their master and absorb any lessons or advice the elder Jedi saw fit to dispense. Padawans would spend hours, even weeks, in meditation next to their masters as the elder Jedi guided them through the deeper mysteries of the Force.

Along with training at the Jedi temple, Padawans would accompany their masters on away missions. During these missions, Padawans would shadow their masters and watch as they handled conflict and kept the peace. Occasionally, these missions would be of a more military variety, allowing a Padawan to observe Jedi battle techniques such as lightsaber combat and strategy. Meanwhile, the Jedi assigned to the Padawan were responsible for ensuring they learned everything they needed to progress through the ranks of the Jedi Order.

Notable Padawan and Master PairingWhere to Find Them
Barriss Offee and Luminara UnduliStar Wars: Episode II Attack of the Clones

Jedi Knight

Marvel Star Wars: The High Republic comic series featuring a Padawan's Jedi trial.
Partial panel from Marvel’s Star Wars: The High Republic #1 of Keeve’s Jedi trial with her master, Sskeer. Image: Marvel

Once a Padawan had learned enough to stand on their own, they would engage in a process known as the Jedi Trials. Upon passing the trials, a Padawan would be given the rank of Jedi Knight and made an official member of the Jedi Order. Sometimes, a Padawan’s Jedi Trials would take the form of a specific task assigned by their master. Other times, an unplanned situation would arise that thrust a Padawan into knighthood, whether ready or not. An example would be the Jedi Council promoting Obi-Wan Kenobi to Jedi Knight following his victory against Darth Maul and the death of his master, Qui-Gon Jinn. 

Obi-Wan battled Darth Maul
Obi-Wan and Darth Maul battle. Image: Disney

Jedi Knights were considered the backbone of the Order. They were the guardians of peace and justice throughout the Galactic Republic. As such, the council would send them on missions that Jedi were uniquely qualified to carry out, often with a Padawan in tow. Upon becoming a Knight in the Jedi ranks, a former Padawan would now be allowed to choose a Padawan of their own to train. Once a Jedi reached the rank of Knight, they would stay in that position unless selected by a Jedi Grand Master to take on the role of Jedi Master.

Notable Jedi KnightsWhere to Find Them
Kanan JarrusA survivor of Order 66, he’s a member of the Rebel Alliance in Star Wars Rebels.

Jedi Master

Jedi Master Qui-Gon Jinn
Image: Disney

Jedi Master was one of the most important ranks in the Jedi Order, and only the wisest and most powerful were given that title. Once a Jedi became a Master, they were no longer required to follow the guidance of other Masters and were encouraged to forge their own path when studying the Force.

Notable Jedi MastersFast Facts
Qui-Gon JinnQui-Gon Jinn was the mentor of Obi-Wan Kenobi and discovered Anakin Skywalker.

Jedi High Council

Jedi High Council
Members of the Jedi High Council. Image: Disney

The Jedi High Council was a body of twelve Jedi Masters that governed the Jedi Order. Among a Jedi Council member’s duties was enforcing the Jedi Code and working directly with the Galactic Senate to maintain peace and justice throughout the Galactic Republic. The Members of the Jedi Council were also responsible for deciding which Jedi Masters would join their ranks should an opening appear.

Notable Council MemberWhere to Find Them
YaddleStar Wars: Episode I The Phantom Menace

Master of the Order

Mace Windu
Mace Windu wielding his purple lightsaber. Image: Disney

Master of the Order was the second-highest rank one could achieve as a Jedi. The Master of the Order was elected by the other members of the Jedi Council and could only be appointed by unanimous vote. Master of the Order was responsible for generally overseeing the day-to-day business of the Jedi Council and weighing in on matters when the other council members couldn’t reach a consensus.  Jedi Masters Mace Windu and Yoda both served as Master of the Order at one point. 

Notable Master of the OrderFast Facts
Fae CovenShe is the earliest known holder of the title.

Grand Master

Luke Skywalker in The Last Jedi
Luke Skywalker spends time in the role of Grand Master after the death of Yoda. Image: Disney

The Grand Master was considered the head of the Jedi Order. Only the oldest and wisest of the order, someone who had risen to the top of the Jedi ranks, could be dubbed a Grand Master. Grand Masters had the final say in any matters concerning the Jedi Order. While one Jedi could hold the ranks of both Grand Master and Master of the Order, the two positions were considered distinct from one another. Grand Masters such as Yoda would often humble themselves by teaching the youngest of the Jedi Initiates, thus completing the circle of Jedi training.

Notable Grand MasterFast Facts
YodaHe was the last to hold the rank during the Old Jedi Order.

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