Pending 2016 changes to Boy Scout Rank Advancement Requirements
BSA has released a summary of changes to the requirements for all rank advancements which will take effect on January 1, 2016, and rules which will cover the transition to those requirements. The summary is available for download at 2016 Boy Scout requirements--parallel comparison. The Transition rules are also available at Notes on Transitioning to the New Requirements in 2016. We have reproduced the requirements and prepared analyses showing the word by word changes to each rank and requirement, which can be seen by following the links on this page. The wording should be considered as a DRAFT, and subject to change by BSA. The final wording will be published in the next edition of the Boy Scout Handbook, and the 2016 edition of Boy Scout Requirements.
The procedures for earning and receiving Merit Badges can be found in the Introduction to Merit Badges. Current requirements for all Merit Badges can be found on our Merit Badge Requirements pages. The requirements for all Merit Badges are listed in the 2013 Boy Scout Requirements book (#33216- SKU-616334).
A list of all Merit Badges, with the pamphlet stock numbers, copyright and latest revision dates, and the date of the most recent revision to the requirements is also available.
Age Requirement Eligibility
Merit badges, badges of rank, and Eagle Palms are for boys who are registered Boy Scouts or Varsity Scouts. Any registered Boy Scout or Varsity Scout may earn these awards until his 18th birthday. Any Venturer or Seacout who achieved the First Class rank as a Boy Scout or Varsity Scout in a troop or team may continue working for the Star, Life, and Eagle ranks and Eagle Palms while registered as an Venturer up to his 18th birthday.
Varsity Letters and Pins, and the Denali Award
Older Scouts (ages 14 - 18) may participate in Older Scout Patrols in Boy Scout Troops, or in separate units known as Varsity Scout Teams. In addition to Rank Advancements, members of Varsity Teams may earn a Varsity Letter, and Activity Pins for a series of Sports and "Ultimate Adventures". A list of the sports and activities for which pins may be earned is included on the Varsity Letter page. Members of Varsity Scout Teams that have earned the Varsity Letter may also earn the Denali Award.
Members of Older Scout Patrols (formerly called Venture Patrols) within Boy Scout Troops are NOT eligible for Venturing and/or Sea Scouting awards unless they are also registered in a Venturing Crew and/or Sea Scout Ship, and then they may earn those awards only in the Venturing/Sea Scouting units.
Boy Scout Requirements Book
On a regular basis, Boy Scouts of America issues a Booklet, entitled Boy Scout Requirements which lists the current requirements for all Boy Scout Rank Advancements, Merit Badges, and Special Opportunities, and some supporting information. The introduction to these books (on the inside front cover) contains the following, which should be read carefully:
The requirements for rank advancement, Eagle Palms, and merit badges are effective Jan. 1, 2015, through December 2015. The requirements listed in this book are the official requirements of the Boy Scouts of America and will remain effective for the 2015 calendar year. However, the requirements on the following pages might not match those in the Boy Scout Handbook and the merit badge pamphlets, because this publication is updated only on an annual basis. These merit badge requirements also appear on the BSA's official website (http://www.scouting.org). Simply search for "Introduction to Merit Badges."
If a Scout has already started working on a merit badge when a new edition of the pamphlet is introduced, he may continue to use the same merit badge pamphlet and fulfill the requirements therein to earn the badge. He need not start over again with the new pamphlet and possibly revised requirements.
No council, district, unit, or individual has the authority to add to, or to subtract from, any advancement requirements. For more detailed information, see the Guide to Advancement.
Revisions to rank and/or merit badge requirements
The Guide to Advancement, in section 126.96.36.199, provides the rules regarding how to handle rank advancements when the requirements change. That information (relative to Boy Scout ranks) is as follows:
188.8.131.52 Changes to Requirements
Advancement requirements change from time to time. For Boy Scouting and Varsity Scouting, check the latest annual edition of Boy Scout Requirements. Once a new or revised requirement appears in that publication, which is released each January, any Scout beginning work on his next rank or Eagle Palm must use the new or revised requirement as stated there.
If a new or revised rank or Eagle Palm requirement is first introduced in a reprinting of the Scout Handbook after the January release of the Boy Scout Requirements book, then the Scout has until the following January 1 to decide what to do. He may either continue—or begin work—using the old requirements, or he may switch to—or begin work—using the new requirements. If he chooses to use the old requirements, he may continue using them until he has completed the rank. Sometimes, however—especially for more significant changes—the Scout Handbook, the Boy Scout Requirements book, or official communications from the National Council may set forth a different procedure that must be used and may establish a date by when use of the old requirements must cease.
For handling changes to merit badge requirements, see “What to Do When Requirements Change,” 184.108.40.206.
If BSA membership eligibility rules change, and as a result a former member rejoins a BSA program, still as a youth member, then that youth may carry on in the advancement program, picking up where he left off when last he was a member, but not receiving credit for activities while not registered. A former member who is no longer eligible to participate in a BSA program as a youth member due to age, for example, can neither receive credit for completing advancement requirements nor be awarded any advancement-oriented recognition such as ranks or merit badges, etc., that under the rules in effect at the time of his youth membership he was ineligible to earn.
In addition, as noted above, 2015 Boy Scout Requirements Booklet has this statement:
The requirements for rank advancement, Eagle Palms, and merit badges are effective Jan. 1, 2015, through December 2015. The requirements listed in this book are the official requirements of the Boy Scouts of America and will remain effective for the 2015 calendar year.
Similarly, the Guide to Advancement, in section 220.127.116.11, covers the rules regarding how to handle merit badges when those requirements change. That information is as follows:
18.104.22.168 What to Do When Requirements Change
The current annual edition of Boy Scout Requirements lists the official merit badge requirements. Once new or revised merit badge requirements appear in this publication, which is released each January, any Scout just beginning work on a merit badge must use the requirements as stated there.
If changes to merit badge requirements are introduced in a revised merit badge pamphlet after the January release of the Boy Scout Requirements book, then the Scout has until the following January 1 to decide what to do. He may continue—or begin work—using the old merit badge requirements and the old pamphlet; or he may switch to—or begin work—using the new requirements and the new pamphlet. Unless it is otherwise stated in the merit badge pamphlet, Boy Scout Requirements, or official communications from the National Council, if a Scout chooses to use the old merit badge requirements and pamphlet, he may continue using them until he has completed the badge.
There is no time limit between starting and completing a badge, although a counselor may determine so much time has passed since any effort took place that the new requirements must be used.
The authoritative source for all merit badge requirements is the current year’s Boy Scout Requirements book.
Advancement Transfers for Foreign Scouts
Questions arise occasionally on whether a Scout moving to the USA from another country can use the advancements he had earned in that country toward advancement in a BSA Troop or Team. For the answer, click here.
The following requirements apply to boys, including Sea Scouts, registered in the Venturing Program.
- Any male Venturer or Sea Scout who has achieved the First Class rank as a Boy Scout in a troop or Varsity Scout in a team may continue advancement toward Star, Life and Eagle Scout ranks and Eagle Palms up to his 18th birthday.
- He must meet the requirements as prescribed in the official Boy Scout Handbook and the current Boy Scout Requirements book.
- The Venturer or Sea Scout may fulfill leadership requirements by serving as president, vice president, secretary, treasurer, quartermaster, historian, den chief, guide, webmaster, Leave No Trace trainer, boatswain, boatswain's mate, yeoman, purser, or storekeeper.
- The Scoutmaster conference will be conducted by the Advisor or Skipper.
- As the Venturer meets requirements for the Star and Life ranks or Eagle Palms, a board of review will be conducted by the crew or ship committee.
- The Eagle board of review should follow the procedures established by the local council.
Explorers (participants in the Exploring program of the Learning for Life Corporation) are ineligible for Boy Scout advancement unless they are also registered as members of a Boy Scout Troop, a Varsity Scout Team, a Venturing Crew, and/or a Sea Scout Ship.