Honor Societies

When students receive invitations to join honor societies, they often wonder if the societies are credible and whether joining is worthwhile. The following guidelines are provided to help students decide whether or not to join an honor society.

Criteria for judging honor societies can be found at http://www.achsnatl.org/. Membership in a legitimate honor society can potentially provide the following:

  • recognition/prestige (and a line on a resume)
  • learning opportunities
  • a place to contribute to leadership, service, or scholarship in your discipline/to education (by participation or financial contribution)
  • an opportunity to network
  • encouragement of high standards and scholarship in the field
  • access to scholarships

Can joining have a negative impact? No, if it's a legitimate organization, it can't hurt but a long list on a resume might look like "padding." It makes sense to be selective. Looking at the list above, a student should think about what he/she would like to support and evaluate what the organization offers.

Student Action

  1. If the organization relates to your major or college, ask about it in your college advising center, in your department office, or discuss it with your academic adviser.
  2. Look at the society's website (search the Web).
  3. Contact the national leadership to learn about the organization.
  4. Search Penn State's website to find out about the local chapter's activities. Contact the chapter's adviser or a student leader to ask the following questions:
    • What am I likely to get out of joining? (Do the opportunities interest you?)
    • What publications will I receive? (Peruse online publications to see whether the content is interesting.)
    • What is expected of student members? (e.g., are there meetings/activities to attend?)
    • What will I be called upon to do to support the organization after I graduate?
    • Are there annual dues? If so, how much?
    • What on-going opportunities does membership provide?

Reviewed: July 2014
Last Update: July 2009