Pi Gamma Mu Key
International Honor Society in Social Sciences
The mission of Pi Gamma Mu is to encourage and promote excellence in the Social Sciences and to uphold and nurture scholarship, leadership, and service.

HOW TO JUDGE THE CREDIBILITY OF AN HONOR SOCIETY

The Association of College Honor Societies (ACHS) has asked its member societies, including Pi Gamma Mu, to help educate the public on how to judge the credibility of honor societies and provides the following information on their website, achsnatl.org:

At any given time, a handful of organizations call themselves honor societies while operating more like profit-making ventures. In ACHS's opinion, these societies offer little or no benefit in advancing student scholarship and leadership, and membership in them does not indicate that a student has attained "superior scholastic achievement" as defined by both the Association of College Honor Societies and the United States Office of Personnel Management.

Membership in ACHS guarantees that a society meets strict criteria designed to ensure student growth and tangible, lifelong benefits to belonging. Certification for membership is provided by the ACHS credentialing body only to organizations that complete a qualifying petition for membership.

ACHS strongly encourages all students and their parents to carefully examine invitations to join a society that is not certified by ACHS.  The ACHS and Pi Gamma Mu recommend that you do not commit to a financial obligation until you have verified that membership in any non-certified group is, in fact, an honor.

If an honor society has not been certified as meeting the high standards of the Association of College Honor Societies, examine the following criteria:

  • Minimum Scholastic criteria
  • Undergraduate (Specialized and Leadership) – Rank in the upper 35% of the class. That rank converts to a 3.2 or 3.3 GPA in most cases—3.0 is likely too low in this age of grade inflation. Honor societies that advertise a minimum 3.0 are probably more appropriately labeled Recognition Societies (a definition that has been generally accepted since 1925).
  • Undergraduate (General) - Rank in the upper 20% of the class.
  • These criteria are minimum ones; many societies have higher standards.
  • Governance
  • Membership participation in setting authority for control of the affairs of the organization.
  • Governance by officers/board members elected by the membership.
  • Membership participation in approving and amending bylaws.
  • Full financial disclosure.
  • Recognized as a 501(c)3 non-profit organization.
  • Campus Chapters
  • Formal chartering of each campus chapter by institution and  college/department petition, approved by official action of the governing body of the national organization.
  • Candidate selection by the campus chapter.
  • Membership invitation by an official chapter.
  • Chapter representation in national governance.
  •   Web Site – the following items are accessible by the general public (missing items raise questions of credibility):
  • National Officers and Headquarters Staff
  • National Office mailing, telephone, fax, and e-mail addresses
  • Criteria for membership
  • Benefits of membership
  • Membership fee
  • Bylaws
  • Chapter charter policies and procedures
  • Factors that Raise Questions about Credibility
  • Address limited to Post Office Number
  • Web site items (above) missing, especially bylaws - thus transparency is lacking
  • Chief Executive Officer contact information missing
  • Online application - certified honor societies issue invitations to all qualified candidates from institutional chapters
  • Vague and flexible eligibility standards
  • No institutional chapter structure
  • Lack of non-profit status. (Not sure if it's a non-profit? See https://www.guidestar.org/Home.aspx).

Certified member societies of the Association of College Honor Societies can be found at http://achsnatl.org/quick_link.asp


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