Professor Program (TCG)

The Professor Program is a collective of dedicated and knowledgeable Pokémon fans. A Pokémon Professor is someone who has a thorough understanding of the Pokémon Trading Card Game, of the Pokémon games and of the scheme of the Play! Pokémon format.

The current Professor Program logo
The old Professor Program logo

Becoming a Professor

Before considering whether to become a Professor, players must have an account on the Poké website and be at least 18 years of age (previously 15 from 2003 to 2005). Potential Professors are then required to pass an exam, which tests both their knowledge of game mechanics, card rulings, the organized-play guidelines and their affection for Pokémon community and Professor core values. A minimum of 80% of the questions must be answered correctly before a player is allowed to enter the ranks of the Professor Program. Players who don’t pass the exam may take it again after a brief period.

Professor certifications and ranks

Three kind of certifications exist: Organizer certification, TCG Judge certification and VG judge certification. Each Professor can become certified for multiple roles. Each role requires specific knowledge and skills.

Professor Program and certifications have a rank system: Basic Rank, Stage 1 Rank, Stage 2 Rank. All Professors become Basic Rank Professor when they pass their first exam. Professors can earn higher ranks by passing a new exam each time, but they can take the exam only if certain requirements are fulfilled. Also, minimum activity is required for retaining the roles.

Basic Rank Professor Stage 1 Professor Stage 2 Professor
Organizer Certification skill sets Registration, new player sign-up, age divisions, basic reporting, venue details Handling late players, common TOM* issues, event disruptions, staff issues Major bystander/player disruptions, major TOM* issues, staff issues
TGC Judge Certification skill sets Basic deck construction, Pokémon intro concepts, game setup, game resolution, intended activities Basic problem-solving, best-of-three game resolution, card reprints and errata Major problem-solving, rewinding/fixing game state, identifying cheating, judge training
VG Judge Certification skill sets Basic team creation rules, game setup, basic penalties, basic understanding of in-game tiebreakers, basic understanding of common ROM check flags In-depth understanding of in-game tiebreakers, in-depth understanding of ROM check flags, basic understanding of how to troubleshoot game registration and mid-match game glitches In-depth understanding of how to troubleshoot game registration and mid-match game glitches, knowledge of move priorities, ability to communicate these issues clearly to players
Minimum activity to retain role and rank Staff at least 6 events per year in certification-appropriate role Staff 8 events at approved venues per year, 4 of which must be Premier Events, in certification-appropriate role Staff 12 events per year, 8 of which must be Premier Events, in certification-appropriate role


Pokémon Professors often act as rule judges at Pokémon tournaments. They ensure that the rules of the game are followed during tournament games while answering questions players may have. Pokémon Professors can also be League Owners, Tournament Organizers, League Leaders, or may assist in the organization, execution and marketing of Play! Pokémon Trading Card Game (TCG) and Video Game (VG) events.

Professor Rewards Program

Similar to the Players Rewards Program, this service rewards Professors for their dedication to Play! Pokémon. By performing duties as detailed above, Professors earn credits, which can be redeemed in the Professor Rewards store. Those who are Tournament Organizers and Professors earn 10 credits for every tournament they report within 14 days of the event date. Professors that judge at an event (as long as they are not the Tournament Organizer) also earn 10 credits. Those who are League Owners or League Leaders and Professors earn 25 credits after a season's results have been reported to The Pokémon Company International (TPCi).

Credits earned or spent are displayed in a statement in the online My Pokémon account, with brief descriptions on individual transactions. The majority of items available for Professors to buy are exclusive to the Program, and include items such as clothing, jewelry, equipment, toys and TCG-related merchandise.

Example of purchasable exclusive Professor Program coin

Professors can earn credits up to a certain threshold, depending on their level.

Level Max credits/month
Basic Professor 10
Stage 1 Professor 20
Stage 2 Professor 30

Professor Cup

The Pokémon Professor Cup[1] is a non-sanctioned event held annually to thank Professors for their hard work and dedication to the growth of Play! Pokémon. This casual event gives those who usually work as judges and Tournament Organizers the chance to play instead. In order to qualify for the Professor Cup, Professors must earn a minimum number of credits during a precise period of time or must hold a Stage 1 certification. These requirements and the Professor Cup venue change every year and are usually announced in the Professor Forum and official site.

The tournament structure runs much the same as normal Play! Pokémon sanctioned events, initially using Swiss Pairings, followed by single-elimination rounds for the top players. However, special and unique rules are added to the game, e.g. special deck formats, cards with unique effects, etc.

Professor Cup reward

Professor Playmat given out at the 2017 Professor Cup

The first-place prize at each Professor Cup used to be a position on the staff team at a the Pokémon World Championships or a Pokémon International Championships, including flights and accommodations.

Nowadays, trophies are handed out to the top eight professors in the Professor Cup. In addition, rewards like exclusive Pokémon merchandise are given to the competitors, along with commemorative items.

Core Values

As one of the most respected of the TCG community, Professors are obliged to follow a number of Core Values[2] that ensure every event in which they participate runs smoothly and promote the good will of Play! Pokémon itself. Violations of these values may result in a Professor being withdrawn from the Program.


A Professor must act with integrity at all times. A Professor should be fair and unbiased, whether judging a tournament or resolving a dispute. Personal feelings about another player can often cloud a judgment call. A Professor must not take these feelings into consideration when resolving an issue between players, parents, venue staff or spectators.


A Professor must be an honest individual. It is critical to the integrity of the Professor Program that its members have a reputation as trustworthy and honest. If players cannot trust a Professor to be honest, they cannot trust his or her rulings to be accurate or events to be fair. In addition, The Pokémon Company International (TPCi) may occasionally contact Professors to assist in player or venue investigations. If a Professor has been known to be dishonest, the integrity of the investigation may be jeopardized.


Professors are trusted with a great deal of responsibility. If a Professor organizes an event, it is critical that all event reporting is done in a timely manner. In addition, a Professor working at an event is responsible for ensuring that all event prizes and participation rewards are handed out according to the event guidelines.


To maintain a higher degree of respect, Professors should act professionally when acting in an official capacity. Foul language, horseplay, smoking, drinking alcohol, and similar activities are unacceptable while actively representing Pokémon. Players, parents, spectators, and venue staff should be addressed courteously, regardless of race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, or physical or mental capacity. In addition, it is unprofessional to make negative comments publicly about Pokémon, Pokémon games, or TPCi without first trying to resolve these issues with TPCi via private communication. Negative comments made publicly only hurt the brand, the game, the company, and the Play! Pokémon program.

External links


  This article is part of Project TCG, a Bulbapedia project that aims to report on every aspect of the Pokémon Trading Card Game.