Stars / ROPA

Star Ratings & ROPA

Only individual PSA members may apply for Star Ratings and ROPA distinctions.

To achieve a Recognition of Photographic Achievement (ROPA), a PSA member must complete three general steps:
  1. Earn acceptances in PSA-recognized exhibitions
  2. Use acceptances to apply for Star Ratings Certificates
  3. Use the Star Ratings Certificates to apply for a ROPA distinction
Members must maintain continuous PSA membership in order to earn Star Ratings or use their Star Ratings to apply for a ROPA distinction.

NEED ASSISTANCE? We have able consultants willing to help you navigate either the Star Ratings or ROPA programs: (this page is only available to members who are logged in)
New to PSA's Star Ratings/ROPA programs? Watch this pre-recorded webinar for a great overview of the process! Click the enlarge icon to see it full screen.


Senior Star Ratings

✉ Jenni Horsnell, GMPSA/G, EFIAP·



Images that are "accepted" for inclusion in an exhibition are eligible to be used by PSA members when applying for a PSA Star Rating.

Stars are awarded separately in each of the PSA Divisions. See links below for Divisional Star Ratings Directors.

The Process
A member applies to the Division in which the acceptances have been obtained. Download and use the Application File below.

Division Star Ratings Directors check the acceptances and titles in a member's application list against the results submitted by the Exhibitions. Approval letters and certificates are sent to successful applicants. These certificates are required when applying for a ROPA distinction. (See below for the timeline on this process.)

You may apply for two Galaxy ratings at a time for Galaxies 1-5. For Galaxies 6-10 and for all Diamond awards you may apply for only one rating at a time.

Minimum Requirements for Star Ratings Certificates (see below)

The fee for each Star, Galaxy and Diamond rating is $12.
For further details refer to the “Application Fee” section of the Applications Instructions.

PSA Star Ratings Guidelines

» Star applications in all Divisions now use the application processes described in these documents:
Star 1-5 Application Instructions: pdf (updated March 24, 2020) 
Star Ratings Application Spreadsheet: Excel (updated September 19, 2019)
Guidelines for Using the Star Application spreadsheet: pdf (updated September 2019)

Galaxy/Diamond Ratings

Acceptances in a division (other than 3D) after a 5-star rating can be applied toward the more advanced, Galaxy and Diamond Ratings. There are 10 levels of Galaxy and 10 of Diamond Ratings. See the complete chart of requirements for each level (below).

» Galaxy and Diamond applications in all Divisions use the application processes described in these documents:
Galaxy-Diamond Applications Instructions: pdf (updated March 24, 2020)
Galaxy-Diamond Application Spreadsheet: Excel (updated September 19, 2019)
Guidelines for using the Galaxy-Diamond Application Spreadsheet: pdf (updated September 2019)

PSA Star Ratings Directors (Each of the following is linked directly to each division Star Ratings page, which includes Director(s) name(s), email(s), and procedures.)


Director, ROPA

✉ Jan Lee, FPSA, EPSA·

A list of Assistant ROPA directors and their areas of responsibility is available from the drop-down menu at the bottom of this page.


Star Ratings Certificates may be converted to ROPA distinctions, based on the number of acceptances that have been verified.  There are six levels of distinction awards – Qualified (QPSA), Proficiency (PPSA), Excellence (EPSA), Master (MPSA), Master 2 (MPSA2) and Grand Master (GMPSA).  The GMPSA distinction has five sub-levels.

The Process

Members must complete the online ROPA application.  A word doc application is also available to use if the online application is not available.  Online or emailed applications are preferred, but applications can be sent via snail-mail

» ROPA Application - Interactive Web Page | Document | pdf

A copy of the qualifying PSA Star Rating certificate(s) must accompany each application. Only the highest-level Star Rating certificate in each Division is required. Any Star Rating certificate from any PSA Division can be used.

See more details at the link "Information needed for a ROPA application" at the bottom of this page)

Minimum Requirements for ROPA Distinctions (see below)
(Star Ratings Certificates are proof of the number of acceptances you have received.)


There is a $50 processing fee for each ROPA application, to be paid after the application is approved. 

For QPSA, PPSA, and EPSA applications, a paper copy Certificate will be issued.  For all other applications, the member may choose to receive a paper copy Certificate OR a Plaque at the following fees (which includes the initial $50 application fee):
MPSA or MPSA2: $75 | GMPSA: $100 | GMPSA/B: $110 | GMPSA/S: $120 | GMPSA/G: $130 | GMPSA/P: $140


ROPA applications can be made at any time of the year.

PSA members can use the ROPA acronym letters after their name as soon as their applications are approved.

PSA Journal and Website Listing 

The ROPA Distinctions that are approved each quarter are listed in the PSA Journal in March, June, September, and December and on the PSA website in January, April, July, and October.

ROPA Photo Galleries

Once a member's ROPA application is approved, the member may place up to 20 images (depending upon the distinction earned), a biography, and his or her portrait in a ROPA Gallery on the PSA website.  When a member receives a new distinction, the ROPA gallery is updated and moved to the appropriate section.  Members may add additional images to an existing gallery if they move from QPSA to PPSA or EPSA, EPSA to MPSA or MPSA2, or MPSA (MPSA2) to GMPSA and above.

Additional guidelines may be viewed (or hidden) by selecting the topics, below. To see all available guidelines at once, choose "Show All."

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  • Timeline for Checking Exhibition Acceptances

    posted April 2021

    Why it takes time after the Closing Date to enter an Exhibition’s Records into the PSA Exhibition Acceptances Management System (EAMS).

    EAMS is used for Who’s Who and Image of the Year; and by Star Rating Directors (SRDs) when processing member applications for stars and galaxies.

    1. Exhibitions have 21 days after the Closing Date to complete the judging.

    2. Exhibitions then have another 30 days to report acceptances to PSA.

    Why: Time must be allowed for entrants to forward necessary corrections, such as spelling mistakes, after they receive their scorecards. The EAMS data must be accurate.

    The task may be complex: for example, a six-judging circuit with six sections must produce 36 spreadsheets. Many exhibitions initially produce reports containing many errors which must be corrected and re-submitted, some requiring several iterations.

    3. Some Exhibitions are late in submitting data in spite of repeated requests. Some have taken up to six months; a few never arrive.

    4. There are five reviewers that review EDAS spreadsheets for accuracy and incomplete data. However

    • There may be language communication problems
    • There are many systemic problems with the current approach.

    5. Although much of the checking is automatic, there are also manual processes involved in checking and submission, and this can lead to mistakes.

    6. Time must be allowed for the webmaster to update the information on the PSA Exhibition webpages.

    A new system is under development that will speed up the workflow and automate most of the manual processes. PSA expects it to be operational in the next few months. However, there will still be some built-in delays (see 1 and 2 above).

  • PSA Stars Buy Back Program

    The Stars Buy Back and Bridging Buy Back systems are the processes by which members may use acceptances gained prior to joining PSA (or gained during a gap in membership) when they apply for Star, Galaxy or Diamond ratings.

    For more information:  Download PSA Stars Buy Back Rules pdf (updated July 2019).

    How to Pay for Buy Back Fees:

    To pay Buy Back fees (for acceptances gained prior to joining PSA), go to:

    To pay Bridging Buy Back fees (to pay for gaps in membership), go to:

    Contact PSA's Membership Coordinator ( if you have any questions.

  • Information needed for a ROPA application

    The Recognition of Photographic Achievement (ROPA) Awards of Distinction program was established in February 1997, for the purpose of recognizing Individual PSA member achievements in PSA-recognized international exhibitions.  After receiving acceptances in international exhibitions, individual PSA members in good standing may apply for the various levels of ROPA distinctions.  A scan of the latest qualifying certificate(s) from the PSA Division Star/Galaxy Directors (SRDs) granting Star or Galaxy ratings must accompany each application. (Only the highest-level certificate is required.)

    There are six levels of distinction awards – Qualified (QPSA), Proficiency (PPSA), Excellence (EPSA), Master (MPSA), Master 2 (MPSA2) and Grand Master (GMPSA).  The GMPSA distinction has five sub-levels.  The number of acceptances required for each level is outlined here, and in the link (below) for Minimum Acceptance Requirements for Star Ratings Certificates and ROPA Distinctions.

    QPSA 54
    PPSA 288
    EPSA 700
    MPSA 1,500
    MPSA2 2,250
    GMPSA 3,000
    GMPSA/B 5,000
    GMPSA/S 7,000
    GMPSA/G 9,000
    GMPSA/P 11,000

    In order to qualify for the ROPA distinctions, you will need proof of acceptances in the form of Star Ratings Certificates from one or multiple PSA divisions.

    PSA Membership Required:  

    All exhibitors applying for ROPA distinctions must be Individual PSA members in good standing.  It is important that a recipient’s membership does not expire before the annual PSA Conference in September or October of each year.


    Photo of the applicant, head and shoulders only with blank background, and no hats or props, 768px vertical by 554px horizontal, 72ppi, jpeg (will be uploaded as attachment to form).


    There is a $50 USD processing fee for each ROPA application, to be paid after the application is approved.  For QPSA, PPSA, and EPSA applications, a Certificate will be issued at no extra charge.  For all other applications, the member may choose to receive a Certificate at no extra charge OR a Plaque at the following fees (which include the $50 application fee):  MPSA, MPSA2 – $75; GMPSA – $100; GMPSA/B – $110; GMPSA/S – $120; GMPSA/G – $130; and GMPSA/P – $140.

    Application Deadline: 

    There is no deadline for submitting an application for a ROPA distinction. Applications are processed throughout the year.  ROPA distinction awards (certificates or plaques) are prepared and distributed on a quarterly basis.  The awards are sent from PSA Headquarters in the month following each quarter.  For those recipients who indicate that they will attend the annual PSA Photo Festival, the ROPA distinction award is presented at the Festival, unless the recipient chooses to have his award sent to his address after the quarter in which it is approved.  

    Information on ROPA Recipients: 

    Exhibitors are allowed to use their new distinction “letters” as soon as the recipient receives the distinction approval letter from the ROPA director.  A list of all recent recipients of ROPA distinctions is published quarterly in the PSA Journal in March, June, September, and December of each year.  In addition, photos of recent recipients are published quarterly on the PSA Website.  Also, ROPA distinctions are updated on the PSA membership database within ten (10) business days following approval of each distinction.  

    All ROPA recipients are also encouraged to submit images of their work and a brief biography for display on the ROPA Galleries pages of the PSA Website if they do not already have one. Current ROPA or member galleries are moved to the most recent distinction.  The number of images allowed in each ROPA Gallery varies with the level of the ROPA distinction.  The breakout by distinction is below:

    • QPSA = up to 6
    • PPSA and EPSA = up to 10
    • MPSA and MPSA2 = up to 15
    • GMPSA (all levels) = up to 20

    Submission of the Application:

    Applications for ROPA distinctions can be submitted

    1. online on the PSA website OR

    2. by downloading the application form from the PSA Website and emailing the completed form along with the required photo and the supporting star/galaxy/diamond certificates to (The online method is to be used if at all possible.)

    ROPA Director Contact Information:

    ✉ Jan Lee, FPSA, EPSA·


    Updated:    02/19/2020

  • Assistant ROPA Directors

    QPSA Applications

    Sharifa Khatri, MPSA, AFIAP·

    Processing PPSA

    Gabriele Dellanave, PPSA, BPSA·

    Achinta Kumar Saha, APSA, GMPSA·

    Processing EPSA

    Herdis Halvas-Nielsen, MPSA2·

    Suniel Marathe, GMPSA·

    Processing MPSA and
    MPSA2 Applications

    Hoi Yan (Eva) Fong, APSA, MPSA2·

    Processing GMPSA, 

    Phillip T.R. Kwan, GMPSA/P, GPSA·
  • Minimum Acceptance Requirements for Star Ratings Certificates and ROPA Distinctions
    Minimum Requirements for
    Minimum Requirements for
    to earn this 
    Star Rating 
    You need this many 
    Acceptance Credits 
    in a PSA Division
    with this
    Minimum Number
    of Required Titles
    1 Star 18 6
    2 Stars 36 12
    3 Stars 72 24
    4 Stars 144 48
    5 Stars 288 96
    Galaxy 1 363 121
    Galaxy 2 438 146
    Galaxy 3 513 171
    Galaxy 4 588 196
    Galaxy 5 663 221
    Galaxy 6 813 271
    Galaxy 7 963 321
    Galaxy 8 1,113 371
    Galaxy 9 1,263 421
    Galaxy 10 1,413 471
    Diamond 1 1,713 521
    Diamond 2 2,013 571
    Diamond 3 2,313 621
    Diamond 4 2,613 671
    Diamond 5 2,913 721
    Diamond 6 3,363 796
    Diamond 7 3,813 871
    Diamond 8 4,263 946
    Diamond 9 4,713 1021
    Diamond 10 5,163 1096
    To earn this 
    You need this many
    total Acceptances, verified
    Star Ratings
    Certificates from one
    or multiple PSA Divisions
    Master 2
    Grand Master
    Grand Master, Bronze
    Grand Master, Silver
    Grand Master, Gold
    Grand Master, Platinum
  • Star Ratings Guidelines

    The following are basic Guidelines, more detailed Guidelines are contained in the downloadable Instructions above.

    • Only Individual PSA members are eligible to earn PSA Star, Galaxy and Diamond Ratings.
    • Acceptances earned during PSA membership can be applied to Stars/Galaxies/Diamonds in each Division.
    • To use Acceptances earned before becoming a PSA member see PSA Stars Buy Back Program.
    • Members must maintain continuous membership once the First Star is earned. Lapses in membership can be bridged by paying a fee for each year.
    • Members must apply for Star, Galaxy and Diamond Ratings, they are not automatically awarded.
    • Only acceptances in PSA Division recognized sections of exhibitions can be used in Star, Galaxy or Diamond Rating applications.
    • Only acceptances earned in one Division (for example, Nature) may be used for a Star Rating in that Division (Nature). The entrant must keep a record of which PSA Division or Divisions have recognized each exhibition that the entrant entered. 
    • Some exhibitions with PSA-recognition (PSA logo used) are only recognized for one of several sections and only acceptances in that one section can be used for PSA Star Ratings.
    • The same title must be used with a particular image every time it is entered or exhibited.
    • The entrant's name must be used in the same way for each exhibition entered in order to have the entrant's acceptances recorded properly.  For example, use only one of: M. Harry Smithers; M. H. Smithers; Smithers, Michael Harry; or Michael Harry Smithers. 
    • Star Ratings Certificates are needed to apply for PSA Recognition of Photographic Achievement (ROPA) Distinctions (QPSA, PPSA, EPSA, MPSA, MPSA2, GMPSA, GMPSA/B, GMPSA/S, GMPSA/G, GMPSA/P).
    • Members must follow PSA Ethical Practices