Pi Sigma Alpha, the National Political Science Honor Society, is the only honor society for college students of political science and government in the United States. Pi Sigma Alpha is a member of the Association of College Honor Societies(ACHS) and is designated as a “Specialized, Upper-Division” society by ACHS.
How We Began and Background Information
Pi Sigma Alpha was founded in 1920 at the University of Texas for the purpose of bringing together students and faculty interested in the study of government and politics. Professor C. Perry Patterson was an early leader of the first chapter and served as national president of PSA from 1920 until 1932. The success of the honor society at the University of Texas prompted other institutions to apply for chapters, with the Universities of Oklahoma and Kansas establishing chapters by 1922. In March of that year the society held its first national convention at the University of Oklahoma.
Growth in the honor society was gradual throughout the ‘twenties and ‘thirties and accelerated after the Second World War; today there are over 650 chapters throughout the country. There is at least one college or university with a Pi Sigma Alpha chapter in every state and the District of Columbia and, as of 1995, the U. S. territory of Guam.
Purpose of an Honor Society
The Articles of Incorporation of Pi Sigma Alpha state as one of its purposes “to stimulate scholarship and intelligent interest in political science.” The society functions at the national level, sponsoring programs and events of value to the profession and teaching of political science, and at the chapter level. Each chapter is encouraged to provide a framework for enriching the exposure of its members and the wider university community to the study of government and issues of public concern. The goals of Pi Sigma Alpha are consistent with the aims of the Association of College Honor Societies (ACHS) as set out in the ACHS Booklet of Information. This material provides a good framework for understanding the meaning and value of a political science honor society and its place on an American campus, and makes worthwhile reading.
Pi Sigma Alpha and the Association of College Honor Societies
The Association of College Honor Societies (ACHS) is the organization linking Pi Sigma Alpha to its 66 sister academic honor societies, both general and specialized. ACHS sets the standards for eligibility criteria, governance, and chapter structure for legitimate honor societies, and represents the honor societies within the larger higher education community. The member societies of the ACHS range from small (only 28 chapters) to quite large (816 chapters). Pi Sigma Alpha ranks third in size with more than 600 chapters.