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- "You will go to the Dagobah system. There you will learn from Yoda, the Jedi Master who instructed me."
- ―Obi-Wan Kenobi
The title of Jedi Master was the second highest rank a Jedi could obtain, and a traditional requirement for becoming part of the Jedi Council, the main interface between the Jedi and the government of the Republic. It was reserved for those who had shown exceptional devotion and skill as well as balance in the Force and often combat . The titles of Sith Lord or Sith Master were on par with Jedi Master.
The rank was usually achieved by Knights who successfully entered Padawans into knighthood. When a teacher felt that his or her Padawan was ready, or if the Council deemed them ready, the pupil would undergo a series of tests - known as the "trials" - and should the student pass, the Council would promote the Padawan to Jedi Knight and the former teacher to Jedi Master. The Master could then pick another apprentice if they chose to. A Knight who hadn't taken a Padawan could also retake the trials to earn the rank; often the trials were much harder and often involved a few more tests. The rank could also be granted by the Jedi Council to a Knight for performing some extraordinary deed or service, although this was rare (this exception was often reserved for Padawans to become Knights).
Even rarer, and often frowned on, was for a Knight to assume the rank without the Jedi High Council's approval. One well-known assumption was done by the Jedi Jorus C'baoth, though his claim was unquestioned by all, even the Council; his clone, Joruus C'baoth, also claimed himself as a Jedi Master. It is also possible that the Jedi Exile assumed the rank when she began training her Force-sensitive crew members as Jedi, and asking her master, Kreia, to guide her down the path when she couldn't hide her presence from the Sith anymore. Luke Skywalker, as he was struggling to rebuild the Order, also assumed the rank after enhancing his powers during his apprenticeship under the resurrected Palpatine.
Jedi Knight Saesee Tiin, never known to have taken a Padawan, was appointed to the rank of Jedi Master, and later served on the Jedi High Council. Another example of appointment of a Jedi Knight/Jedi Master without a trained apprentice to date is that of Ki-Adi-Mundi. He was officially granted the rank of Master when he was given a seat on the Jedi Council, although he considered himself a mere Jedi Knight until he trained his own Padawan. Also, Obi-Wan Kenobi was promoted to Jedi Master due to his reputation and talent on the battlefield and his legendary diplomatic skills, and was granted a seat on the Jedi High Council to replace Depa Billaba towards the end of the Clone Wars.
It should be noted that Anakin Skywalker, who surpassed many Jedi Masters in raw power, was never granted the level of Jedi Master—even after Palpatine appointed him to the Council before goading him to the dark side of the Force. This is attributed to his pride, lack of experience, and emotional instability.
Luke Skywalker, Jedi Master of the New Jedi Order.
When Luke Skywalker established the Jedi Praxeum, most of the Masters were promoted by him by his choice and their degree of mastery of the Force. As the New Jedi Order began to grow, most Masters were promoted by the extraordinary deeds exception, retained from the old Jedi Order. One well known example was Kyle Katarn after defeating the Dark Jedi Desann.
It should also be noted that only the most revered Masters gained a place on the Jedi High Council. Some Jedi, like Qui-Gon Jinn, became Jedi Masters but never received nominations for seats on the Council due to their radical views.
Some Masters, perhaps those who were members of the Council, or those who were too old for missions, tutored Younglings or took care of other matters in the Jedi Temple. Such Masters included Jocasta Nu, and Yoda, for the old Order. The new Order's caretaker was usually Tionne Solusar.
Following the Lorian Nod affair in the century preceding the rise of the Empire, the most secret holocrons in the Jedi Archives were restricted to those who held the rank of Jedi Master.
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Notes and references