Just got an invitation to join Pi Sigma Alpha (PSA)?
It only means one thing: you are a political science student whose academic performance is head-turning. With so many honor societies to choose from and a limited amount of time for meaningful participation, you may be wondering if picking PSA over another organization is a good idea.
Pi Sigma Alpha is ideal for top-performing degree-seeking individuals who wish to become a member of the only national honor society for political science students. The $35 lifetime membership fee comes with a number of perks, including scholarships and activities that allow for recognition, networking and giving back.
Before you decide to accept or turn down that invitation to join Pi Sigma Alpha, continue reading this post.
I will talk about the reasons why you got asked to join the prestigious honor society as well as the steps you need to make your membership to it official and the various benefits to enjoy for grabbing the offer to become a member.
Who Gets Invited to Join Pi Sigma Alpha?
Only political science students, both undergraduates and graduates, are eligible to join Pi Sigma Alpha. But to get asked to become a member of the invitation-only organization, students must also meet certain academic requirements. For instance, undergraduates must be in the top third of their class to get invited.
Commonly, most honor societies invite students who are committed to any major or program for as long as they meet eligibility requirements such as completing a specific number of credits or having a certain GPA.
Pi Sigma Alpha, like other major- or program-specific organizations, only invites political science students.
Before getting invited, students must be nominated by their respective PSA chapter advisors. And for them to get nominated, as expected, hopefuls must meet certain requirements, such as:
- Completion of 10 semester credits or 15 quarter credits
- Completion of at least 1 upper-division course
- Having an average B grade or higher in all political science courses
- Being in the top third of the class
- Completion of at least 9 graduate credits
- Having no grade lower than B in completed political science courses
Since it came into being, Pi Sigma Alpha has inducted more than 300,000 members. And speaking of which, some PSA members whose names may or are sure to ring a bell include the following:
- Bill Clinton – the 42nd president of the US
- William Rehnquist – former US Supreme Court Justice who served for 33 years
- Anthony Kennedy – former US Supreme Court Justice who served for 30 years
- Susan Collins – senior US senator from Maine
- Tom Brokaw – former co-anchor of The Today Show
How Much Does It Cost to Be a Member of Pi Sigma Alpha?
Refrain from assuming that getting an invitation to join Pi Sigma Alpha means you are already a certified member. Of course, you will have to first agree to become a part of the honor society for political science students in the country.
And then there’s also the fact that you will have to pay the membership fee.
Fortunately, the amount of money students have to pay to become new initiates of PSA isn’t that steep — as mentioned above, it costs $35 only.
But there’s a catch: unlike at most other honor societies, the Pi Sigma Alpha membership fee does not cover the cost of the lapel pin, which carries a price tag of $2. But the membership certificate comes free of charge.
Since the fee to become a member of PSA is one-time only, members do not have to shell out money every year just to remain associated with the national honor society.
But it’s important to note that PSA chapters often collect additional dues from each new member for local programs.
Benefits Pi Sigma Alpha Membership
Being on the roster of a prestigious national honor society, in itself, is a benefit that members of Pi Sigma Alpha get to enjoy. However, there are many other perks that come with being a part of the organization specifically meant for political science students, including scholarships, conferences and community work.
As soon as you mention that you are a Pi Sigma Alpha member, a couple of things immediately become clear to those who are familiar with PSA: you are a political science student and a top-performing college student.
Besides the celebration of your academic excellence, here are some other perks that come with a PSA membership:
1. Networking opportunities
According to a career advisor at Eastern Michigan University, networking is the single most important thing for political science students to do to enhance their employment prospects.
Well, joining Pi Sigma Alpha allows you to do exactly that.
Being a PSA member makes it possible to connect with other students, faculty members and career professionals who share the common interest in political science and public policy, too.
And because more than 300,000 individuals have joined PSA since it came into being, there are many people to network with, including scholars, politicians and CEOs.
2. Financial assistance
Several scholarships and awards are available for eligible Pi Sigma Alpha members.
For instance, PSA chapter advisors may nominate up to 5 undergraduate members who are entering graduate school to pursue political science to win the Howard Penniman Scholarship grants worth $2,000 each.
They may also do the same for participants in political science internship programs in Washington, DC to win McManus Washington Internship Scholarships.
Numerous awards are available for PSA members, too, such as the Best Class Paper Award and Best Thesis Award. Cash prizes for winners and runners-up can range anywhere from $100 to $250.
3. Kaplan course discounts
As of this writing, the Convenience Package for law students who are planning on taking the bar exam offered by Kaplan, which includes one-on-one tutoring and prep materials, costs approximately $1,800. Members of Pi Sigma Alpha, however, do not have to pay full price.
That’s because they get 10% off Kaplan prep courses.
4. Student conference participation
Every year since 2014, the Pi Sigma Alpha National Student Research Conference takes place.
Simply put, it provides a venue for undergraduate members of PSA to present their research before political science students as well as professors and also professionals from various parts of the planet and obtain feedback, too.
Anywhere from 100 to 175 research papers are presented in the 2-day event, which also features an assortment of career events focused on graduate and law school and working in governmental agencies, academic institutions and other settings.
PSA itself says that many members have used the conference as a jumping-off point to law and graduate school.
5. Community work
There are many different events and volunteer activities Pi Sigma Alpha chapters host to allow their members to give back to their campuses and communities. It’s not uncommon, too, for some PSA chapters to encourage civic engagement among members by means of registration and Get-Out-the-Vote (GOTV) drives.
Just Before You Decide to Join Pi Sigma Alpha
Pi Sigma Alpha is exclusive to political science students. So, in other words, it’s an organization that allows you to meet similar-minded individuals, in particular those who are interested in government and politics.
Other than meeting people for friendship or networking or both, you are also eligible to enjoy a variety of perks, although you will have to be nominated by your PSA chapter advisor in some instances to be able to take advantage of them.
And because being a member doesn’t come free of charge, weigh the pros and cons of joining before you make a decision.
Is Pi Sigma Alpha legit?
The national honor society Pi Sigma Alpha is a legitimate and certified organization. As a matter of fact, it’s a member of the Association of College Honor Societies (ACHS), which is tasked with setting the standard for national honor society excellence. PSA has also been given by the non-profit organization GuideStar a Gold Seal of Transparency.
When was Pi Sigma Alpha founded?
It was in 1920 when Pi Sigma Alpha was established at the University of Texas at Austin. The objective of its founding was to bring together students as well as faculty members who are interested in the study of both government and politics. Its founder was Perry Patterson, a professor who served as the PSA’s president from 1920 to 1932.
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Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent those of the College Reality Check.