Merit Badges

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Background

Scouts can earn more than 100 merit badges, including the newest merit badges—Game Design, Programming, and Sustainability. Earning merit badges gives Scouts the opportunity to participate in activities and study subjects that prepare them for life. For information on merit badge requirements and resources, go to the following link:Merit Badges page.

Merit Badge Popularity

The top 10 merit badges required for Eagle rank earned in 2013:

  • Camping
  • Citizenship in the Community
  • Citizenship in the Nation
  • Citizenship in the World
  • Communication
  • Environmental Science
  • Family Life
  • First Aid
  • Personal Fitness
  • Swimming

The top 10 merit badges not required for Eagle rank earned in 2013:

  • Archery
  • Art
  • Canoeing
  • Fingerprinting
  • Fishing
  • Kayaking
  • Leatherwork
  • Rifle Shooting
  • Wilderness Survival
  • Wood Carving

The table below compares merit badge popularity for the past three years by merit badge name. This table also includes the overall count for each merit badge. To date, Scouts have earned more than 117 million merit badges.

Merit Badge

2011

2012

2013

Overall

American Business

707

679

805

54,490

American Cultures

2,965

2,883

2,649

65,595

American Heritage

6,645

6,626

6,195

153,488

American Labor

1,168

811

1,090

21,816

Animal Science

3,759

4,503

4,174

57,035

Archaeology

9,586

10,316

8,913

147,338

Archery

45,204

48,229

43,879

1,560,606

Architecture

3,586

3,631

3,956

212,426

Art

32,146

29,273

28,031

1,283,372

Astronomy

14,941

17,308

16,332

623,496

Athletics

3,411

3,465

3,709

1,061,764

Automotive Maintenance

10,762

10,784

10,084

157,322

Aviation

21,440

20,751

18,330

586,975

Backpacking

4,445

4,878

4,114

210,107

Basketry

23,505

22,073

19,364

2,422,344

Bird Study

6,881

6,952

6,405

576,544

Bugling

628

613

515

169,468

Camping*

62,492

60,772

59,982

4,608,447

Canoeing

41,601

39,042

33,409

2,991,801

Chemistry

9,569

9,692

10,731

339,869

Chess

6,002

29,298

27,315

62,615

Cinematography

7,245

8,308

8,465

100,089

Citizenship in the Community*

57,785

57,951

56,928

3,410,028

Citizenship in the Nation*

64,558

64,120

61,272

3,148,247

Citizenship in the World*

67,779

67,486

64,452

2,207,456

Climbing

24,617

24,609

22,861

393,310

Coin Collecting

7,052

6,043

5,667

491,841

Collections

5,027

5,077

4,966

137,563

Communications*

60,749

59,345

57,111

2,002,047

Composite Materials

1,817

1,610

1,817

11,631

Computers

14,712

14,474

15,149

505,835

Cooking

23,989

23,384

44,903

4,238,453

Crime Prevention

8,374

8,331

7,274

129,751

Cycling**

6,992

7,053

6,551

568,910

Dentistry

4,491

4,403

4,213

131,968

Disabilities Awareness

7,503

7,230

6,690

115,272

Dog Care

3,407

3,330

3,351

428,507

Drafting

1,170

1,377

1,440

223,340

Electricity

11,187

11,350

10,968

794,345

Electronics

7,186

8,060

8,753

207,645

Emergency Preparedness***

50,510

51,035

50,153

1,791,260

Energy

3,641

3,907

3,989

76,724

Engineering

9,418

9,682

10,445

134,912

Entrepreneurship

1,895

1,932

1,900

19,946

Environmental Science****

78,719

76,238

71,609

2,645,369

Family Life*

55,812

56,210

55,080

1,110,829

Farm Mechanics

2,627

2,457

2,421

218,316

Fingerprinting

53,189

46,594

45,140

1,630,578

Fire Safety

16,886

14,517

12,988

6,900,983

First Aid*

94,268

92,312

87,477

6,813,506

Fish and Wildlife Management

16,162

15,528

13,411

639,459

Fishing

32,048

31,932

29,788

1,960,830

Fly Fishing

4,605

4,291

4,690

22,642

Forestry

16,456

16,309

14,874

1,121,606

Game Design

0

0

2,657

2,657

Gardening

2,422

2,258

1,136,480

383,900

Genealogy

5,452

5,641

5,740

226,164

Geocaching

19,419

18,711

17,031

59,694

Geology

23,695

24,015

22,103

625,840

Golf

5,798

5,128

4,921

162,815

Graphic Arts

3,620

3,505

3,140

47,754

Hiking**

7,946

8,132

7,856

1,322,873

Home Repairs

4,324

4,413

3,790

2,411,304

Horsemanship

13,814

12,670

10,977

629,814

Indian Lore

28,591

26,705

24,535

1,174,871

Insect Study

3,579

4,120

3,613

161,919

Inventing

2,279

2,592

2,704

8,191

Journalism

1,285

1,184

945

105,427

Kayaking

0

21,765

36,217

57,892

Landscape Architecture

1,475

1,618

1,872

80,215

Law

7,315

7,274

6,946

179,302

Leatherwork

51,535

48,674

44,344

2,404,514

Lifesaving***

29,382

28,228

25,945

3,012,934

Mammal Study

31,028

28,309

24,064

1,171,288

Medicine

4,480

4,507

3,990

68,823

Metalwork

12,790

13,674

13,259

1,121,690

Model Design and Building

2,964

3,120

3,628

217,564

Motor Boating

12,133

12,004

11,012

575,590

Music

15,875

15,088

14,223

1,305,854

Nature

18,453

18,114

16,164

1,650,396

Nuclear Science

6,965

7,114

7,666

167,079

Oceanography

10,720

10,636

10,769

278,355

Orienteering

20,221

18,989

16,909

800,270

Painting

5,087

5,412

4,911

557,778

Personal Fitness*

56,588

56,908

56,295

2,488,534

Personal Management*

53,459

54,529

53,273

1,763,687

Pets

6,068

5,904

5,659

653,842

Photography

18,042

18,879

17,800

487,705

Pioneering

23,138

21,550

19,525

2,395,091

Plant Science

2,614

2,593

2,712

42,121

Plumbing

6,417

5,785

5,178

386,396

Pottery

10,493

10,157

9,869

374,901

Programming

0

0

480

480

Public Health

1,989

1,783

2,006

1,515,824

Public Speaking

6,703

6,987

7,289

635,412

Pulp and Paper

6,449

7,495

7,034

108,357

Radio

6,257

6,957

7,208

165,817

Railroading

9,144

8,681

7,191

230,661

Reading

5,889

5,676

5,216

1,478,332

Reptile and Amphibian Study

9,816

9,772

8,483

640,555

Rifle Shooting

54,276

50,435

47,054

1,282,140

Robotics

5,407

13,262

13,401

32,070

Rowing

15,906

13,769

10,944

1,707,281

Safety

4,128

3,824

4,349

2,931,236

Salesmanship

6,765

6,425

6,438

318,182

Scholarship

6,570

6,310

5,956

1,271,352

Scouting Heritage

6,407

5,394

5,660

21,275

Scuba Diving

3,015

2,594

2,370

11,071

Sculpture

13,074

12,829

11,493

292,521

Search and Rescue

0

725

10,552

11,277

Shotgun Shooting

27,838

26,173

24,603

496,310

Skating

3,208

2,220

2,406

171,350

Small Boat Sailing

19,895

18,740

16,857

635,798

Snow Sports

10,586

8,636

9,134

442,991

Soil and Water Conservation

15,554

14,553

11,697

1,110,949

Space Exploration

23,595

23,557

23,290

537,246

Sports

9,167

9,112

8,950

1,137,357

Stamp Collecting

1,147

1,045

1,131

388,644

Surveying

1,145

1,235

1,307

150,593

Sustainability****

0

0

590

590

Swimming**

80,938

80,376

72,946

6,242,264

Textile

3,657

4,681

4,673

139,316

Theater

2,201

2,776

2,320

81,389

Traffic Safety

8,665

7,450

7,582

150,483

Truck Transportation

3,009

2,928

2,847

135,395

Veterinary Medicine

3,502

3,460

3,455

73,210

Water Sports

4,783

4,291

3,935

246,460

Weather

18,582

17,869

15,958

562,112

Welding

0

4,022

10,919

14,941

Whitewater

4,322

4,149

3,252

84,887

Wilderness Survival

46,757

46,829

43,158

1,594,933

Wood Carving

45,645

44,927

41,120

2,248,909

Woodwork

5,590

4,962

5,602

966,728

TOTAL

2,164,366

2,175,878

2,110,848

115,177,687

* required for the Eagle Scout Award

** one of these three badges is required for the Eagle Scout Award

*** one of these two badges is required for the Eagle Scout Award

**** one of these two badges is required for the Eagle Scout rank

New Merit Badges—Youth Interest Survey

The Research & Program Innovation Department surveys Boy Scouts and parents of Boy Scouts to gather interest and feedback on upcoming merit badges. Feedback from previous Youth Interest surveys has been used in development of recent merit badges including: Robotics, Chess, Welding, Kayaking, and Search and Rescue. Youth Interest surveys are sent to current Scouting Youth Panel and Parents of Boy Scouts Panel members. To join the Scouting Youth Panel or the Parents of Boy Scouts Panel, go to: http://scouting.org/about/research/ResearchPanel.aspx.

 

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