Pi Sigma Alpha is classified by the Association of College Honor Societies (ACHS) as an “upper division, specialized” honor society. The academic requirements for membership eligibility follow those set by ACHS for this category of honor society, and are specified in the Pi Sigma Alpha Constitution, Article I, “Membership.”
Membership in Pi Sigma Alpha is open to undergraduate and graduate students currently enrolled in programs of political science in institutions where chapters are located.
Undergraduates must meet the following criteria: They must have completed at least one-half the credits required by their institution for the baccalaureate degree; they must have completed at least ten semester-credits (or 15 quarter-credits if their institution is on the quarter system) of work in political science including at least one upper-division course, with an average grade of B or higher in those courses; they must have achieved an overall GPA placing them in the top one-third of their whole class (e.g., junior or senior class). They need not be political science majors to qualify for membership.
Graduate students must have completed 9 graduate credits in political science with no grade lower than a B. Undergraduate coursework does not count towards graduate student eligibility, and graduate students must be pursuing a degree in political science to qualify for membership.
Individual chapters may, in their bylaws, add to these criteria. Chapters may NEVER reduce the basic national criteria. Additional chapter criteria must be based strictly on academic achievement, and they must be measurable. A chapter may increase the GPA requirement for admission, for example, but not require that eligible students be voted into membership by other members, or impose any non-academic requirement such as community service.Chapters are also discouraged from imposing any requirement that involves subjective evaluation, such as a paper competition, which will almost inevitably result in disputes They may not include extracurricular requirements or any sort of “pledging” process.
Members should follow the guidance of the Chapter Advisor when writing the section of their bylaws which lists admission requirements, and should feel free to consult with the National Office whenever there is a question. All questions about membership eligibility may be addressed to the national office of Pi Sigma Alpha.
Members of the faculty of the department, school, or division in which the chapter is located are automatically eligible for membership.
Membership in one chapter is transferable to membership in another chapter when the member (student or faculty) moves to another institution where there is a chapter.
Chapters are entitled to award two honorary memberships per year to “any person of recognized ability and achievement in the field of political science.”
If you meet the eligibility requirements, and if your school has a chapter of Pi Sigma Alpha, you should find out from the Chapter Advisor or Department Chair the procedure for becoming a member. Students may NOT “join” Pi Sigma Alpha through the national office, but may only become members through their campus chapters.
Usually the Chapter Advisor and/or student officers of a chapter will advertise within the department when a Pi Sigma Alpha initiation is coming up. Students who feel they qualify, and who want to become members of the honor society, will then follow the procedures set by their chapter. The process may involve signing a release so that your academic records may be looked at by the chapter’s student officers; if only the Chapter Advisor will see your records, no release will be required.
If you know your school has a chapter of Pi Sigma Alpha but you believe it to be inactive, you should speak to your Department Chair about reactivating it.