Definition of Honor Society

An honor society is an association of primarily collegiate chapters whose purposes are to recognize and encourage high scholarship and/or leadership achievement in some broad or specialized field of study.

Functions of Honor Societies

An honor society:

  • confers distinction for high achievement in undergraduate, graduate, and professional studies; in student leadership; and in the various fields of research.
  • fosters the spirit of liberal culture.
  • stimulates and encourages mental development.
  • stands for freedom of mind and spirit and for democracy of learning.
  • provides spiritual and intellectual leadership.
  • preserves valuable traditions and customs.
  • associates outstanding leaders in mutual understanding for the advancement of society in the art of democratic living.
  • stimulates worthy attitudes for the improvement of the general welfare of the institution.
  • imposes upon members high citizenship responsibilities and emphasizes deeper study and discussion of the American tradition--its characteristics, ideals, and possibilities.

Standards for Honor Societies

Classification of Honor Societies

  • General Honor Societies - receive into membership from a broad field of study in one or all schools and colleges of an institution who have achieved high scholarship and who fulfill such additional requirements of leadership as the society has established. A general or broad field of study may cross all disciplines or be within one area with related but distinct units. A broad field of study is one in which a systematic development of the mind and of cultural values are acquired through instruction, training, example, and experience.
  • General Honor Societies are classified by class standing: (1) General Upper Division, (2) General Lower Division, and (3) General Graduate.
  • Specialized Honor Societies - receive into membership persons who have demonstrated high scholarship within a specialized or given field of study of a school, college, or larger unit of a university or within a field of study of a two-year college.
  • Specialized Honor Societies are classified by class standing; (1) Specialized Upper Division, (2) Specialized Lower division, and (3) Specialized Graduate.
  • See specific scholastic eligibility standards in the Bylaws.

ACHS Membership Classification

  • Associate nonvoting membership - operated as a national organization for five years. (An organization is considered national at which time it is located in at least two regions of the country.)
  • Active voting membership - operated as a national organization for ten years.
  • Requirements for ACHS Membership - Each society shall:
    • pay an admission fee of $500.00
    • submit an annual report to the Executive Director of ACHS.
    • pay annual dues--a sliding scale based on annual new members ($398-$2298).
    • file current copy of constitution and report annually any amendments.

Programs and Activities of Honor Societies

Societies fulfill the functions of honor societies through the following programs and activities:

  • Awards - students, advisers, alumni
  • Recognition activities - initiation, honors function, graduation cords,
  • Scholarships, fellowships, grants
  • Program initiatives or themes
  • Seminars, workshops, conferences
  • Publications - newsletters, journals, manuals, books

Procedures for Affiliation

The petitioning society shall:

  • Compare its constitution with the ACHS standards and eligibility criteria.
  • Discuss above comparison with the Executive Director. Make changes necessary to meet all of the standards and criteria.
  • Optional, but advisable: Participate as an observer at an ACHS Annual Council Meeting.
  • File petition (and accompanying materials) with the ACHS Executive Director.