Royal Arch Masonry is the first order a Master Mason joins in the York Rite. The Chapter works the following degrees:
- The Mark Master Mason degree is in some respects an extension of the Fellow Crafts' second degree. In some jurisdictions the degree is conferred in a Fellow Craft Lodge, that is, the second degree of the Blue Lodge.
- The Past Master (Virtual) degree is conferred because of the traditional requirement that only Past Masters of a Blue Lodge may be admitted to Holy Royal Arch. Because there are so many applicants for this degree, Virtual Past Master is required to qualify them for it. Much of the work is the same given to install the Worshipful Master of a Blue Lodge. There is no such requirement or procedure outside the USA.
- In the Most Excellent Master degree the building of King Solomon's Temple, which figures so prominently in Blue Lodge, has been completed. In England the degree is conferred by Cryptic Councils, along with three other degrees below.
- The Royal Arch Mason (or ) degree is said by many to be the most beautiful degree in all of Freemasonry. Following a convocation of the Supreme Grand Chapter in England on November 10, 2004, there are currently significant ritual differences between what is worked in England and that worked in the USA. Fraternal inter-relations remain as before. Freemasons who reach this degree may continue to Cryptic Masonry or go straight to Knights Templar (where permitted—requirements vary in different jurisdictions).
Cryptic MasonryOne variation of the Royal & Select Masters' Emblem, of which there are many.
Membership in the Council of Royal & Select Masters or the Council of Cryptic Masons is not required for membership in the Knights Templar in some jurisdictions, so it can be skipped. In others it is required. It is called Cryptic Masonry or the Cryptic Rite because a crypt or underground room figures prominently in the degrees.
- Royal Master
- Select Master
- Super Excellent Master
In some councils, a Most Excellent Master degree is offered between Select Master and Super Excellent Master, and some jurisdictions do not have the Super Excellent Master degree.