Is Pi Sigma Alpha Right For You? A Guide

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Once you enter college, you’ll hear all about different clubs and programs that you can join. One of these prestigious organizations is the National Honor Society. 

Through this program, you’ll have access to unique scholarships and grants. You’ll learn valuable skills and find internships that will allow you to find a job after you graduate. 

There are many chapters within the National Honor Society. If you’re part of your school’s political science department, you may qualify for the Pi Sigma Alpha chapter. 

Want to learn if this program is right for you? Keep reading to find out more about what Pi Sigma Alpha is and what the requirements are to get in.  

What Is the College Honor Society? 

The honor society is an organization that’s focused on the success of its members. It’s been around for almost two centuries with no signs of stopping. 

Students who qualify can get scholarship help, but the reach of the program extends past the college years. Members will learn valuable leadership skills that will carry them through life. They’ll have opportunities to internship and network with professionals in their field. 

Is Honor Society Legit? 

The honor society is a legit organization. This being said, there are scammers out there who will send you what seems to be an innocent email informing you that you’ve made it into the organization. 

The second you follow any links, you’ll be in trouble, however. To help you avoid this unfortunate scenario, we’re going to give you a brief run-down of what to look for. 

The first red flag is a request for personal information. An email from the actual honors society will never request that you give out a password or credit card information. 

An email from the legit organization will be from honorsociety.org. If you see HonorSocietyUS or anything else of that persuasion, it’s a scammer. 

The actual honor society will greet you by name. A scammer will send you a generic greeting that isn’t quite as personal. Usually, it’s along the lines of “dear valued member.” 

What Is Pi Sigma Alpha?

Now that you know a little more about the honor society, it’s time to learn about Sigma Alpha Pi. What is it all about? It’s a chapter of the honor society that was established back in 1920. 

The first school with a Pi Sigma Alpha chapter was the University of Texas. It honors excellence amongst students enrolled in the political science department of their particular school. 

Currently, there are about 440 Pi Sigma Alpha chapters scattered throughout the nation with 25,000 members. 

Requirements to Join

It’s not enough to simply be part of your college’s political science department. You’re going to have to put in some real work to qualify for Pi Sigma Alpha. 

The first is that you have to have completed at least half of the credits that your school requires for you to finish your program. Political science doesn’t have to be your major for you to get into Pi Sigma Alpha.

As long as you’ve completed some courses on the subject and have a B average in them, you should be good to go. Keep in mind that to stay a member of the chapter, you’ll have to maintain this GPA. If your grades in your political science classes drop down below the requirement, you’ll no longer be considered a member of Pi Sigma Alpha. 

Another important note is that you can’t join the chapter on your own. Your eligibility has to be confirmed by an advisor, and your name turned in for consideration. 

There are a few additional requirements that you’ll have to meet, depending on your situation. 

Staff Eligibility 

If you’re a faculty member at a school that has a Pi Sigma Alpha chapter, you automatically qualify for membership. There’s no extra work that you’ve got to put in. 

Transferring Your Membership

Let’s say that you’re already part of Pi Sigma Alpha at your current school. For certain reasons, you need to transfer to another college. 

As long as your new school has a chapter, you can transfer your membership by filling out a few forms. As soon as the transfer is approved, you’ll have access to the full benefits of your membership once again. 

Honorary Membership

If you’re recognized for excellence in political science, your school’s chapter may elect you for honorary membership. Chapters are allowed to do this twice a year. 

How Much Does It Cost? 

Unfortunately, joining Pi Sigma Alpha doesn’t come without a price tag. For a lifelong membership to the honor society, you’ll have to pay 35 dollars.

This will get you your basic certificate. You can also get a lapel pin, but that will cost you 2 extra dollars.

There may come a time during your membership with your school chapter where you’re asked to turn in an additional fee for something. The 35 dollars will be the only money that you send to the actual honor society, however. 

List of Programs and Awards

One of the main benefits of joining up with the honor society is the programs that you can take advantage of. Like most chapters, Pi Sigma Alpha has a few that are unique to them. If you strive for excellence, you may qualify for a few awards as well. 

Chapter Activity Grants

Every year, Pi Sigma Alpha chapters from all over write a proposal with the hopes of qualifying for the chapter activity grants. Using the submission guidelines, the chapter must create a concise activity proposal. 

As part of the proposal, the chapter has to include a realistic budget to carry its plans out. The National Office will look over each of the submissions and choose a hundred schools to give the grant to. 

If your chapter were to win, you would have to make regular reports on the status of the activity you proposed. When writing your submission, there’s one thing that you should keep in mind. 

Activities such as on-campus speakers and film series get chosen above big lavish trips most of the time. That doesn’t mean that you can’t submit a proposal for a trip. It only means that you’ll have to be quite thorough in describing how it can impact educational development. 

National Student Conference 

During the National Student Conference, honor society members are allowed to give a presentation on their research. This event is open to the chapter advisors and the family and friends of the students. 

Students can get valuable feedback that they can use to develop their research further, and by hearing other members speak, they can get some additional insight into their field. The best part? It doesn’t cost a penny to sign up. 

McManus Washington Intern Scholarship

This scholarship is open to those currently doing an internship in the political science field. The honor society gives this scholarship to four lucky students. 

One of the scholarships is reserved for a member that’s participating in The Washington Center for Internships and Academic Seminars. The other three slots are fair game with the stipulation that they can only go to students who are interning in Washington. 

Every chapter can nominate at least one student for the scholarship. To qualify, you’ll have to turn in an application package to the National Office. 

This packet must contain the application form itself, a statement written by you explaining how the scholarship relates to your internship, a letter of recommendation from the chapter advisor, a second letter of recommendation from another political science faculty member, a letter written by you describing how you’re involved in the chapter, and your transcripts. 

If you’re selected, you’ll receive your funds during the fall semester or summer term. 

Penniman Graduate Scholarship

If you’re about to enter graduate school and major in political science, you may qualify for the Penniman Graduate Scholarship. This award is handed to 5 members within Pi Sigma Alpha. 

Like most scholarships, this one is worth 2,000 dollars. An advisor within the chapter must nominate you for consideration. After you’ve received your nomination, you’ll have to submit an official application. 

This packet must include the application form (of course), a statement from you detailing how you’re involved in your chapter, a statement including how graduate school will meet your overall career goals, a letter of recommendation from the chapter’s advisor, and two more letters of recommendation from other faculty members. 

If you’re chosen for the scholarship, you’ll know by mid-July. You’ll receive the funds after submitting proof that you’re entering a graduate program. 

Best Thesis Award

If you turn in a thesis that your Pi Sigma Alpha chapter advisor really likes, they can nominate it for the best thesis award. Every chapter advisor can only submit one nomination every year. 

Unlike the other awards that we’ve mentioned so far, this one isn’t a scholarship. It’s more of a competition.

If you come in first place, you’ll win a $250 prize. The runner-ups will win $100.  

Best Class Paper Award

The best class paper award works a lot like the best thesis one. If you write a killer paper, your chapter advisor can throw your name in for consideration. 

The advisors can only submit one nomination for this award per year. If you come in first place, you’ll win $250. If you’re selected as a runner-up, you’ll only get $100. 

Best Chapter Award 

Every academic year, the honor society asks that chapters submit a summary of their activities that took place during the year. The submission only has to contain the basic details, but if the chapter wants to get into a little more detail, they are more than free to do so. The more detailed they get, the better. 

All the submissions are looked over by the National Office and considered for the best chapter award. The school that comes out on top will get $500 that they can use toward any program that they want. 

Additionally, the advisors of the winning chapters will earn an extra $200 for being amazing. 

James Lengle Advisor Recognition Award 

Last up on the list is the James Lengle Advisor Recognition Award. The student members of Pi Sigma Alpha aren’t the only ones that work hard throughout the year. The advisors put as much effort into the program. 

This award recognizes all their hard work by awarding a set number of advisors $1,000. Unlike the other awards on this list, there isn’t really a nomination process to speak of. 

Benefits of Joining Pi Sigma Alpha 

The various programs and scholarships are only one benefit to joining Pi Sigma Alpha. It comes with a name that carries weight. Being able to put that you’re a member on your resume will set you apart from other job candidates. 

If you need to show an employer that you’re part of this prestigious organization, the National Office will send you letters of proof per your request.

Every year, the organization holds seminars where professionals in political science speak. As a member, you’ll be able to attend these talks and get more in-depth knowledge of your field.  

Lastly, you’ll get to meet and mingle with more students like yourself. They may be able to teach you new things about political science, and you can do the same for them. 

Is This Program Right for You? 

The national honor society has many chapters that students can join. If you’re part of the political science scene at your college, you may qualify to join Pi Sigma Alpha. 

It’s a prestigious organization that takes a lot of work to get into. If you’re lucky enough to get nominated for membership by a chapter advisor, you’ll reap enough benefits to make your efforts more than worth it. 

Being part of an honor society will assist you with getting a job when you get out of college, but it’s not a requirement for success. For more job tips that will help you make a name for yourself, visit the Business section of our blog.