The purpose of Phi Alpha Honor Society is to provide a closer bond among students of social work and promote humanitarian goals and ideas. Phi Alpha fosters high standards of education for social workers and invites into membership those who have attained excellence in scholarship and achievement in social work.
An undergraduate student is eligible for membership after achieving the following national requirements and meeting local chapter requirements. Membership in Phi Alpha Honor Society is by invitation only. Members must have:
- Declared social work as a major
- Completed at least 3 social work courses (9 semester hours with SW designation) or at least 37.5% of the total hours/credits required for the degree, whichever is later achieved.
- Be in the top 35% of the class.
The concept of a national social work honor society came from a group of undergraduate social work students at Michigan State University in 1960. Investigation revealed that local chapters existed at three schools. Those three schools along with a few other schools formed a National Honor Society Committee in November of 1960. For more than a year, this committee worked on the constitution and other administrative matters. The name Phi Alpha was adopted from the local chapter existing at Florida State University.
The constitution and formal organization were completed in 1962, and six chapters qualified to become "charter chapters.” The charter chapters were Florida State University, Michigan State University, Ohio North University, Central State College, University of Dayton, and the University of Tennessee. Over 380 chapters are now in existence, and the addition of new chapters is continuing.
Phi Alpha offers membership to social work students, faculty, and practitioners. Each chapter is free to develop a program to meet local needs. The National Council is the policy-making body and meets each year at the time and place of the annual program meeting of the Council of Social Work Education (CSWE). Each chapter has one voting representative on the national council.
Benefits of Membership
- Becoming a member of a nationally recognized organization that supports high standards in social work education.
- Participation in scholarly activities and social action events.
- Identification on your resume or vitae as a Phi Alpha Honor Society member, which adds acknowledgement of your academic excellence and opens doors to professional success.
- Working alongside student colleagues and professors to create a scholarly environment
- Individual Scholarship Opportunities
- Poster Board Presentation involvement at the Council on Social Work Education National Conference with monetary recognition.
- Being honored with a certificate and honor cord at an induction ceremony prior to graduation.
- Chapter Service Award participation with monetary recognition
- Acknowledgement of Academic Excellence among Baccalaureate Social Work Program Directors.
- Potential recognition listed in The New Social Worker Magazine
- Access to list-serv to allow networking with Phi Alpha members across the country