A promotion is the advancement in rank, within a military organization. As the military arm of the United Federation of Planets, all Starfleet Personnel may receive a promotion and hence advance in their career. As Starfleet personnel advances through the ranks, their responsibilities and tasks become greater, but it does also become more difficult to receive a promotion. Within the United Federation of Planets Starfleet, promotions depend on different requirements and are done by different authorities, depending on the rank Starfleet personnel is promoted to.

A promotion can be either a promotion in rank, where personnel increases in rank and standing, a promotion in position, for example an Executive Officer, who gets appointed as Commanding Officer, or both.

General Requirements

The general requirements to be considered for promotion in Starfleet are just two:

  • Time in Grade
  • Activity

Time in Grade

Time in Grade or TiG is the time, a member of Starfleet is holding their current rank, hence it is the seniority of the Starfleet member. For all ranks, except the entry ranks, there is a Time in Grade requirement, one must have met, in order to be eligible for a promotion to the next higher rank. As an example: For an Ensign to be eligible for a promotion to Lieutenant junior Grade, a Time in Grade of three Months is necessary. This means that after serving three months as Ensign, they are eligible for a promotion to Lieutenant junior Grade. With higher ranks, the Time in Grade requirement does go up as well.

Please Note: After a promotion, the Time in Grade is reset and starts again at ZERO!

Time in Grade has been established, to ensure that all Starfleet personnel is gaining some experience and seniority within their rank and to prevent them from receiving promotions too fast. This would lead to a mass of high ranked personnel, without much experience, which would in return limit the operational capabilities of such a complex fleet as Starfleet.

Under special circumstances, such as times of war, dire need or as an award for outstanding service, the Time in Grade requirements can be waived.

Please note: Time in Grade is a MINIMUM REQUIREMENT in order to be eligible for promotion to the next higher rank. It DOES NOT mean, that after the time in grade has passed, Starfleet personnel automatically receives a promotion. Especially with promotions to the higher ranks, there are much more requirements and higher expectations, which have to be met, in order to be considered for a promotion - in addition to additional expectations or requirements of the Commanding Officer, Department Head or other superior.


Another basic requirement in order to be considered for a promotion is the activity. Someone who is never or barely active, is unlikely to receive a promotion, even after the Time in Grade is up three times. While activity requirements for lower ranked personnel are relative easy going and low, it is expected that Officers and higher ranked NCOs leade by example and by showing regular activity. Here too is the general rule, the higher the rank, the higher the expections.

Please Note: Despite what is said above, all Starfleet personnel must fullfill its duties - no matter what rank they are. This means, that every member must be active enough, to complete any and all tasks coming with their position. As an example, this means, that in the unlikely case, where an Ensign becomes a starship CO, they would be required to be as active as their fellow starship Captains, no matter what rank they are and that they must be active enough, to perform their duties, coming with that position. In return, much less activity would be acceptable from an Ensign just serving as a regular department member.

Additional Requirements

Besides the basic requirements, which are mandatory for a promotion, there are several additional requirements, that must be met, in order to receive a promotion. Especially with higher ranks, this requirements are:

  • Leadership Abilities
  • Management Abilities
  • Experience and Knowledge
  • Additional Assignments or Tasks
  • Misc

Leadership Abilities

Like with all military organizations, there are positions within Starfleet, that can be considered leadership positions. Whether be it of a small group of people, of a department, a starship or installation, or even one or several fleets, up to Starfleetas a whole. Obviously, in order to be promoted into higher ranks, that come with such a leadership function, the Leadership Abilities of the Starfleet member to be promoted become more and more important.

While for Enlisted, this requirement is generally pretty low, it becomes of more and more importance for higher NCO ranks and for Warrant Officers and Officers. While Warrant Officers and Officers are generally expected to be skilled leaders even here the requirements may vary, depending on the position the personnel holds or applied to hold.

Generally said: In order to become a Department Head or to receive a promotion as a Department Head, some Leadership Abilities are required. However, these requirements are nothing compared to what is expected from an Executive Officer or Commanding Officer, or personnel, that is looking to obtain such a position.

Management Abilities

While some assignments and positions require leadership abilities, others require management abilities and again others require both. When Starfleet personnel is reviewed for promotion, its management abilities are taken into consideration as well. This is especially true, for higher ranking positions, senior officer positions or other leadership and management position. Some positions within Starfleet, especially those with Starfleet Administration rely highly on administrative skills of their personnel and hence management abilities are mandatory.

As with most other criteria as well, management ability expectations are quite low for Enlisted, however do become significantly more important for higher ranked NCOs, Warrant Officers and Officers.

Experience and Knowledge

This requirement does usually make common sense. Obviously in order to receive a promotion, a particular Time in Grade must be met. This ensures some seniority and experience before any Starfleet personnel is eligible for a promotion. However, despite the Time in Grade requirement, there is some Starfleet personnel, that is more experience than other or does have a detailed knowledge or skill, in a particular area of work. This special knowledge and experience might as well count towards a promotion, especially if possible other canditates do lack such an experience or such a skill.

Once again, this requirement is pretty much waived for enlisted. Even for higher ranked NCOs, Warrant Officers and Officers, this is only a minor influence. However, if it comes close, this little advantage may make the difference for a promotion between one or another Starfleet member.

Additional Assignments or Tasks

In addition, any additional Assignments or Tasks may count positive towards a promotion. The same counts for special assignment, or other additional or supplemental work, a member of Starfleet is involved in. A simple example for this is: A Starfleet Enlisted, who is - in addition to their main duties - involved and constantly active in Events Planning, or who accepts a special or additional assignment, might receive a promotion faster, than someone who just does as much as needed and who on top just meets the activity requirements.


There might be a number of miscellaneous requirments, which might have to be met in order to receive a promotion, or which may increase chances to receive a promotion. These requirements are mainly dependent on the CO, XO or the Department Heads and reflect the different leadership styles and expectations, a superior might have. While there might be some COs, which are happy if their crew is active regularly, others might expect their crew - especially higher ranked personnel - to meet additional requirements, such as showing responsibility, abilities to work with a great amount of autonomy, or anything else.

As a simple example here, let's point out this: It is obviously much harder to receive a posting on the Enterprise, than on another Starfleet Ship. We know that Captain Picard does only accept the very best into his crew. Also it is obvious, that for that reason it is much harder to be promoted on the Enterprise, than on another ship. Captain Picard has high expectations at his crew and every crewmember has to work hard, in order to receive a promotion.

This system is neither unfair, nor does it downgrade any ship with less stringent requirements. It is just a matter of fact, that each superior is different and has different expectations, no matter if it is the Commanding Officer of a whole ship, or the Department Head of a ship branch.

Promotion in Rank contra Promotion in Position

While there is pretty much no difference in regards of the requirements, necessary, in order to receive a promotion, there is a slight difference between a promotion in rank and between a promotion in position. First and foremost, the promotion in rank does mean actual advancement in ones career and in increase in official power, standing and influence. In old military organizations, a promotion in rank did also mean an increase of pay. In the contrary, a promotion in position, may come with an increase in standing or even in authority, while the official rank does not change.

A very important fact and at the same time connection between these two is the fact, that some positions actually require a particular rank, in order to be eligible for a promotion! As an example: In order to become a Department Head, one must be at least full Lieutenant and in order to command a ship, one must usually be at least Lieutenant Commander. This fact connects the promotion in rank closely to the promotion in position!

Who does promote?

Who is responsible for a promotion and who actually does the promotion is depending on the rank, the Starfleet member is being promoted to. In general, there are the following authories, allowed to promote:

  • Starship / Starbase Commanding Officer / Division Command (or their appointed representative)
  • Sector Command / Batallion Command (or their appointed representative)
  • The Fleet Admiral (or an appointed representative)
  • The President / Federation Council(or their appointed representative)

Starship and Starbase COs as well as Division Commanders may promote enlisted personnel and junior officers under their command up to the rank of Lieutenant Commander, without requiring permission from the UFP Promotion Board. However, the board will review all promotions and may step in, in cases, where a promotion was unjust. Usually the Department Head or - in case the Department Head is to be promoted - the First Officer, does recommend the men under their command for promotion.

Promotions to the rank of Commander or Captain are done by Sector Command, upon receiving approval from the promotion board. Sector Command compiles a list of officers, they deem eligible and fit for promotion, which they then send to the UFP Promotion Board for review. Once the UFP Promotion Board has reviewed the recommendations, ensured all requirements are met and approves the promotion, the promotion may be done by Sector Command.

Promotions to Flag Officer ranks and to the Enlisted Ranks of Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps, Master Chief Petty Officer of Starfleet and Master Chief Petty Offier of X Fleet are a special case. These promotions are done by the President of the United Federation of Planets, upon receiving approval from the UFP Promotion Board and after passing a majority vote in the Federation Council. Detailed information about Flag Officers and these high enlisted ranks and their special requirements are found in the chapter below.

Special Case: Warrant Officers - Warrant Officers receive their Warrant from the Secretary of Starfleet. All promotions to Chief Warrant Officer and above, are however done by the President of the United Federation of Planets, as these promotions come with a permanent, officer like patent or warrant. Even though, the President must sign the promotion order, they may delegete the actual promotion to a representative.

Special Rank: Flag Officers

Flag Officers have a special status within Starfleet. Their promotion is done differently and most Flag Officer ranks are in addition temporarily and bond to a particular office. This means, that additional requirements have to be met, in order to receive promotion into Flag Officer ranks.

Flag Officer Cap

Like early military organizations on earth, Starfleet has a Flag Officer rank cap, limiting the amount of Flag Officers on active duty at any time. These limits are set by Federation Laws and hence may not be changed by Starfleet but would instead require the Federation Council to change the law. The purpose of this law is, to keep Starfleet balanced and to prevent too many officers becoming a Flag Officer.

The current Flag Officer Cap of Starfleet is 50. Out of this 50, most Flag Officer ranks are reserved for particular positions. For example, the Commander, Starfleet is a Fleet Admiral, and the Vice Commander, Starfleet and the Branch Commanders are ranked Admiral. In addition no more than 25% of the active Starfleet Flag Officers may have more than two stars!

Promotion to Flag Officer Ranks

The Promotion to all Flag Officer ranks is done by the Federation Council! The Promotion Board of either Starfleet or the Starfleet Marine Corps drafts a list of officers, who are in their opinion eligible for a promotion to Flag Officer Rank. The list is then passed on to the Secretary of Starfleet, who reviews the list and passes it to the President of the United Federation of Planets. The President has the final call, which officer(s) are appointed for promotion, and will recommend the promotion of said officer(s) to the Federation Council. Only when the Federation Council - with majority vote - confirms the appointment, the officer(s) may be promoted and assume office. If the Federation Council does not approve the appointment, the promotion cannot proceed!

In addition to the above, the officer(s) who is/are about to be promoted, must hold or be assigned to an office or a position, which allows promotion to the new rank. This means, that no starship captain can receive promotion to Commodore or Rear Admiral and just be commander of their ship. Instead the starship captain must assume an office or already hold a position, which allows promotion to the new rank. As an example: Rear Admiral John Doe is Director of Starfleet Communications which is a sub division of Starfleet Operations. John Doe is recommended for promotion to Vice Admiral. The Congress refuses the promotion, as the maximum rank for the Director of Communications is Rear Admiral. If our John Doe would now hold the position of Vice Chief of Operations or would be appointed for such position, the promotion would be possible, since that position allows a three star rank.

Permanent and Temporary Flag Officer Ranks

While all Flag Officer positions are temporary, this is not true for all Flag Officer ranks. In Starfleet, the ranks of Commodore and Rear Admiral are permanent ranks. This means, that even after the Flag Officer leaves the Flag position, they are still allowed to keep that rank.

All three star Flag Officer ranks and above, are temporary. This means, that the rank is directly connected to the position of the Flag Officer. With the loss of the position, the Flag Officer will also lose their Flag Officer rank assigned to it - if they are three star Flag Officer or higher - and hence revert back to their permanent two star rank, unless they decide to retire in the current Flag Officer rank.

After a three star - or above - Flag Officer lost their position, they are given 30 days, to find a position of equal or higher rank. If no position is available, the Flag Officer must revert to their permanent two star rank, until another position with higher rank becomes available.

Tour Length

In order to be promoted to Flag Officerrank, the officer must hold or be appointed to a position, which allows promotion to the particular Flag Officer rank. All Flag Officer positions are limted in time and have a tour length assigned to them, according to Federation Law. For most Flag Officer position, the tour length is 12 months. After the 12 months have passed, the Flag Officer must be reconfirmed in their office for a second tour of duty.

The maximum tour length for all Flag Officer is three years. After three years have passed, the Flag Officer must either be assigned to a diffrent, higher ranked position, or retire and - if applicable - return to their permant two star rank. The purpose of this rule is, to allow new officers, to be promoted to Flag Officer ranks and hence open up doors for younger officers.

There are some exceptions, where the tour length may be extended or waived:

  • The Federation Council may waive the tour length limitations for an unlimited amount of time, if no adequate successor is available or if deemed otherwise necessary for the good of the Federation.

Master Chief Petty Officer of Starfleet, Master Chief Petty Officer of X-Fleet and Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps

The ranks of Master Chief Petty Officer of Starfleet, Master Chief Petty Officer of X Fleet and Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps are special ranks. They are not only the highest enlisted ranks available, but are also more a Billet, than a rank.

Technically the above ranks are not a rank, but more a position. Hence those ranks are permanently awarded, for the time in office. After the time in office has elapsed and the person is not reconfirmed / reelected into the office, they convert back to their old, permanent, rank.

Tour Length

Like for Flag Officer ranks, the tour length for these special enlisted ranks are one year. There are however no limitations in numbers of how many times one can be reelected.


Promotion to these special enlisted ranks is different from promotion to the other - regular - ranks. The NCOs are voted into these ranks by the UFP Enlisted Corps, which makes up all enlisted personnel of the United Federation of Planet. Allowed to vote are always those enlisted of the respective branch / fleet. Meaning that for the SGTMAJMC the Marines get to vote, while for the MCWOSF all the fleet personnel gets to vote. For the MCWOXF - if awarded - all members of the particular fleet (Marines AND Fleet - if Marines are part of the Fleet), may cast their vote.

The UFP Promotion Board does review the elected enlisted, to ensure that all requirements are met and the the elections have been held correctly. If nothing is found to be wrong, the UFP Promotion Board will then approve the promotion, at which point the President of the United Federation of Planets, Sector Command or the Fleet Admiral may perform the promotion.

Brevet and Temporary Ranks

Under special circumstances Brevet Ranks or Provisional Ranks may be necessary or useful. For that reason and to help dealing with such cases Starfleet Command has - together with the Federation Council - established the following guidelines.

Brevet Ranks

A Brevet Rank is a honorary rank, given to Starfleet personnel for various reasons. One of the most common reasons is, that a member of Starfleet is assigned to a position, requiring a higher rank, than the one, the person does currently hold. Another, more rare occassion may be the appointment as a result of outstanding service. There are some rules, that must be followed for Brevet Ranks:

Temporary and Provisonal Ranks

Starfleet has established a provisional officer rank structure for special situations and rare occasions. However, these ranks are barely used within Starfleet. The provisional rank structure of Starfleet does use the same ranks as the regular Starfleet officer and warrant officer rank structure, but the rank insignias used are different.

Provisional officer and warrant officer ranks have been first and only used aboard the USS Voyager, when it was stranded in the Delta Quadrant. When CaptainKathryn Janeway accepted the Marquis crew aboard the USS Voyager, she used provisional rank insignia, to allow to distinguish the former Marquis officers from regular Starfleet officers. The main difference between the two was, that some of the Marquis officers have not been - or at least not finished - Starfleet Academy, while other have left Starfleet to fight for the Marquis. Hence these members were no longer part of Starfleet.

In the UFP, provisional ranks maybe awarded at the discretion of Sector Command or starship / starbase Commanding Officers, if deemed necessary. Other than the stranded ship scenario from Voyager, there are however rare reason, for such a move and Starfleet is very fond of getting only fully qualified and trained Starfleet personnel for service. One other situation, where a temporary rank can and has been awarded, would be where a foreign officer of a non Federation world is serving on a Federation starship for any official purpose.

In addition, on the discretion of a starship or starbase Captain, the rank of Acting Cadet may be awarded to Enlisted and Civilians with great skills and abilities, when it is impossible, to make contact with Starfleet Academy or when for any other reason it is necesarry, to keep said member of Starfleet at its current position. The Acting Cadet is however just that: Acting Cadet! In order to receive full officer commission, they are required to pass Starfleet Academy like any other Cadet as well. This is just a way, to give skilled civilians or enlisted some of the privileges of a Cadet and hence help their development. In the rare occasion, where an Acting Cadet would become a full officer, approval from the ship / starbase CO, Starfleet Command, the Promotion Board and the President of the United Federation of Planets or their representative, must be obtained. Anyway, this is a very rare and highly unlikely occurance.

Provisional (Warrant) Officer and Brevet Rank Promotion

  • Starfleet Personnel holding a Brevet Rank may not be promoted until their rank became permanent!
  • Provisional Officers and Warrant Officers can be promoted and can be given more responsibility. This does however not affect their standing with Starfleet or waive any requirements, to obtain their provisional rank as a real rank.
  • Acting Cadets cannot be promoted to any other rank than Cadet or - in very rare occassions - Ensign.

The UFP Promotion Board

The UFP Promotion Board is responsible for the promotion of Officers and high ranked enlisted. The purpose of the UFP Promotion Board is to review promotions and to recommend officers and enlisted personnel for promotion, in order to ensure a fair and balanced promotion, with equal chances for all Starfleet personnel.

Detailed information about the UFP Promotion Board and who sits in it, can be found by clicking Here.

Validity for the Starfleet Marine Corps

As the Starfleet Marine Corps is part of Starfleet, 'any and all promotion requirements and restrictions are fully vaild for the Starfleet Marine Corps as well and without exception. These promotion guide has been created in a way so that it can be easily used and adepted for both Starfleet and Starfleet Marine Corps without any problems.

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