You may be wondering why you need to know about honor societies and certification—simply put, not every honor society is what it appears to be. In order for you to become a smart consumer, you will need to have a basic understanding of certification of honor societies and the difference between certified and uncertified honor societies. The tool below provides information for parents and students when selecting an honor society.
How to Judge the Credibility of an Honor Society
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.
- 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
- 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 by clicking on "Members" in the menu.