Sigma Pi Sigma exists to honor outstanding scholarship in physics; to encourage interest in physics among students at all levels; to promote an attitude of service of its members towards their fellow students, colleagues, and the public; to provide a fellowship of persons who have excelled in physics. Sigma Pi Sigma’s mission is not completed in the induction ceremony with the recognition of academic accomplishment. In the four dimensions of Honor, Encouragement, Service, and Fellowship, the mission of Sigma Pi Sigma takes a longer view.
Founded in 1921, Sigma Pi Sigma is a member honor society of the Association of College Honor Societies. Our society has over 90,000 historical members. Election to Sigma Pi Sigma is a lifetime membership.
The Society of Physics Students (SPS) was formed in 1968 with the union of Sigma Pi Sigma and the AIP Student Sections. Today, Sigma Pi Sigma is housed within the SPS.
Sigma Pi Sigma chapters are restricted to colleges and universities of recognized standing that offer a strong physics major. The chapters receive into membership undergraduate and graduate students, faculty members, and a few others in closely related fields. Students elected to membership must attain high standards of general scholarship and outstanding achievement in physics.
Certain high numerical standards for admittance are established by chapter bylaws and the national constitution. Undergraduate candidates must be in the upper one-third of their class in general scholarship to meet the minimum standard that chapters may use. A higher minimum average is often established for physics courses. Undergraduate candidates must have completed at least three semesters of full-time college work and at least three semester courses in physics that can be credited toward a physics major. Graduate students and faculty members may be elected at any time. Students who are not physics majors can be elected, provided that they meet the standards and have demonstrated an interest in physics.
A chapter can elect to active membership qualified students and faculty members in nearby colleges that do not have a Sigma Pi Sigma chapter. Physicists in industry and government laboratories, as well as secondary school physics teachers, can be elected on the basis of their professional record.
Members have the opportunity to attend local chapter events, as well as SPS events, as a way to share their experiences with younger members of the physics community. This allows students to meet new people, network and keep up on the latest trends in physics.
Voluntary donations from members fund annual award programs that support local chapter projects and recognize outstanding service. Contributions also support undergraduate physics students through scholarships, outreach awards, research awards, travel awards and internship opportunities.
From its beginning, the society's leaders envisioned regular gatherings. Now known as PhysCon, these gatherings bring together 1,000s of individuals who are passionate about physics.
Members can engage with each other via our Facebook and LinkedIn groups and participate in Adopt-a-Physicist, an online forum that connects high school students with physics graduates. Members can also opt-in to receive notice of special events and opportunities through quarterly emails.
The US Civil Service Commission has stated that membership in a recognized national honor society (like Sigma Pi Sigma) meets one of the requirements for entrance at the GS-7 level in numerous professional and technical occupations in the Federal service.
Radiations magazine is mailed to members twice annually and is available online. It features relevant scientific articles, "Hidden Physicist" profiles highlighting the many different careers an education in physics can provide and updates on notable achivements by Sigma Pi Sigma members and chapters.
Induction into Sigma Pi Sigma is a lifetime membership, with one-time dues of $54 paid at the time of induction. This fee includes a one-year membership in the Society of Physics Students (SPS) or a one-year extension of membership for current SPS members.
Dues includes the cost of the official lapel pin, a certificate of membership, and a membership card. There are no annual dues.
Association of College Honor Societies (ACHS)
Sigma Pi Sigma is a certified member of the Association of College Honor Societies. ACHS is the organization honor societies join when they want their society certified by a neutral body, want to collaborate with other honor societies to promote best practices in recognizing and promoting excellence in scholarship, leadership, service, and research, and seek to continually maintain the highest standards by providing annual reports and undergoing regular re-certification. Sigma Pi Sigma has been a member since 1945. Membership can be confirmed at the ACHS website.