Pi Sigma Alpha
the National Political Science Honor Society, is the only honor society
In the United States, an honor society is a rank organization that recognizes excellence among peers. Numerous societies recognize various fields and circumstances. The Order of the Arrow, for example, is the national honor society of the Boy Scouts of America...
for college and university students of political science
Political Science is a social science discipline concerned with the study of the state, government and politics. Aristotle defined it as the study of the state. It deals extensively with the theory and practice of politics, and the analysis of political systems and political behavior...
in the United States. Its purpose is to recognize and promote high academic achievement in the field of political science. It is a member of the Association of College Honor Societies (ACHS)
The Association of College Honor Societies , founded in 1925, is a predominantly American organization that serves a number of functions with respect to national collegiate and post-graduate honor societies...
and adheres to all the standards set by ACHS for an upper-division, specialized honor society. Pi Sigma Alpha is not a social fraternity
A fraternity is a brotherhood, though the term usually connotes a distinct or formal organization. An organization referred to as a fraternity may be a:*Secret society*Chivalric order*Benefit society*Friendly society*Social club*Trade union...
The first chapter of Pi Sigma Alpha was founded in 1920 at the University of Texas at Austin
The University of Texas at Austin is a state research university located in Austin, Texas, USA, and is the flagship institution of the The University of Texas System. Founded in 1883, its campus is located approximately from the Texas State Capitol in Austin...
, and the society has grown over the years to nearly 700 chapters
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(as of 2008). A local chapter may be established at any college or university granting the baccalaureate
A bachelor's degree is usually an academic degree awarded for an undergraduate course or major that generally lasts for three or four years, but can range anywhere from two to six years depending on the region of the world...
or higher degrees, which is accredited by a regional or national accrediting association
Educational accreditation is a type of quality assurance process under which services and operations of educational institutions or programs are evaluated by an external body to determine if applicable standards are met...
, and which offers a major sequence of courses in political science through an appropriate administrative department, school, or division of the institution, and which conforms to other requirements established by the Executive Council of the society. Chapters are guided by faculty advisors and by student officers.
There are three classes of membership in Pi Sigma Alpha: student
A student is a learner, or someone who attends an educational institution. In some nations, the English term is reserved for those who attend university, while a schoolchild under the age of eighteen is called a pupil in English...
, faculty, and honorary. Student membership is open to juniors, seniors and graduate students currently enrolled in institutions where the chapters are located, who meet the following qualifications:
- For undergraduates, completion of ten semester-credits or fifteen quarter-credits in political science, including at least one upper-division course, with an average grade of B or higher in all political science courses, and an overall GPA placing the student in the top one-third of his or her class. Individual chapters may raise the eligibility threshold; they may not lower it.
- For graduate students, completion of nine graduate credits in political science with no grade lower than a B in those courses.
Faculty in political science departments where chapters are located are automatically eligible for membership in the honor society. Honorary membership is intended for persons of recognized ability and achievement in the field of political science. No more than two such honorary members may be elected by a local chapter in any one year.
Election to membership may be based solely on stated criteria and is irrespective of membership in an affiliation with any other organization or group. Chapters may not discriminate on any basis prohibited by law. Membership, once conferred, is for life.
The lifetime national membership fee is $35.00. Individual chapters often collect additional money from each initiate to use for their own chapter programs. The initiation fee is the only payment members ever make to the national office of the honor society. There are no annual dues.
Pi Sigma Alpha is governed by an elected Executive Council, which acts as its board of directors. The Council includes the President, the President-elect, the three most recent past presidents, the Executive Director, the Newsletter Editor, the General Counsel, and twelve other members at large. Six of these are elected every two years to serve four-year terms. Members of the Council are almost always faculty of recognized distinction in the field of political science, or of proven leadership to the honor society. Elections take place in even numbered years at the Biennial Business Meeting of the honor society. The daily business of Pi Sigma Alpha is conducted by the National Office staff.
Pi Sigma Alpha has programs to benefit its student members and their chapters, and the profession of political science. Programs for chapters and members include an annual Chapter Activity Grants competition, Best Undergraduate Student Paper and Best Undergraduate Honors Thesis
A dissertation or thesis is a document submitted in support of candidature for an academic degree or professional qualification presenting the author's research and findings...
awards, Scholarships for Graduate Study in Political Science, Scholarship for Washington Internships, Best Chapter awards, and Chapter Advisor Recognition awards. For the profession of political science, Pi Sigma Alpha sponsors major speakers at the annual meetings of the American Political Science Association (APSA)
The American Political Science Association is a professional association of political science students and scholars in the United States. Founded in 1903, it publishes three academic journals...
and the several regional and state political science associations, and provides Best Paper awards for the APSA Annual Meeting and the regional political science association annual meetings. It also co-sponsors APSA's annual awards for teachers of political science in higher education
Higher, post-secondary, tertiary, or third level education refers to the stage of learning that occurs at universities, academies, colleges, seminaries, and institutes of technology...
Pi Sigma Alpha publishes Pi Sigma Alpha Newsletter
and Pi Sigma Alpha Undergraduate Journal of Politics
, both twice per year.
Pi Sigma Alpha National Office
1527 New Hampshire Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20036