Attainment of the third Masonic degree, that of a Master Mason, represents the attainment of the highest rank in all of Masonry. Any Master Mason stands as an equal before every other Master Mason, regardless of position, class, or other degrees.
Additional degrees are sometimes referred to as appendant degrees, even where the degree numbering might imply a hierarchy. Appendant degrees represent a lateral movement in Masonic Education rather than an upward movement. These are not degrees of rank, but rather degrees of instruction.
In many countries, some craft lodges use Scottish Rite ritual in the 1st, 2nd and 3rd degrees.
In the United States, members of the Scottish Rite can be elected to receive the 33° by the Supreme Council. It is conferred on members who have made major contributions to society or to Masonry in general.
The Scottish Rite Northern Masonic Jurisdiction designates its degrees in the following manner:
4° through 14°: Lodge of Perfection
15° and 16°: Council, Princes of Jerusalem
17° and 18°: Chapter of Rose Croix
19° through 32°: Consistory
The Supreme Council is the governing body of the Scottish Rite in the various jurisdictions, and charters all subordinate bodies. Voting members of the Supreme Council are chosen from among those members who have obtained the 33°. These members are referred to as Active Members.