Honor Society

Phi Alpha Iota Chi

The purpose of the Phi Alpha Iota Chi Honor Society is to provide a closer bond among social work students and to promote humanitarian goals and ideals. Phi Alpha Iota Chi fosters high standards of education for social workers and invites into membership those who have attained excellence through scholarship and achievement in the field of social work.

The idea of a national social work honors society was conceptualized by 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 others formed a National Honor Society Committee in November 1960. For more than a year, the Committee worked to develop the organization’s constitution. The name Phi Alpha and the key insignia were adopted from the local chapter that existed at Florida State University. The constitution and formal organization were completed in 1962, and six chapters qualified to become "charter chapters." They were: Florida State University, Michigan State University, Ohio Northern University, Central State College, University of Dayton and the University of Tennessee. Today, Phi Alpha consists of more than 155 chapters. And, new chapters continue to be added. Phi Alpha offers membership to social work students, faculty members 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 CSWE. Each chapter has one voting representative on the Council.

National Qualifications For Chapter Membership

  • A chapter of Phi Alpha Honor Society may be established at colleges and universities with an M.S.W. and/or a B.S.W. program accredited by the Council on Social Work Education or accepted into candidacy status. 
  • A college or university must designate its desire to become a chapter of Phi Alpha by filing an application with the national faculty advisor. The application must be signed by six applicants including one faculty member. 
  • The application shall contain a brief history of the college or university and a brief history of the social work program. The chapter constitution and the bylaws, indicating compliance with national standards, are part of the application process. 
  • Local chapters shall be designated according to the letters of Greek alphabet.

National Qualifications for Individual Membership

  1. An undergraduate student is eligible for membership after achieving the following national requirements and meeting local chapter requirements:
    • Declared social work as a majorAchieved sophomore status
    • Completed 8 semester hours or 12 quarter hours of required social work courses
    • Achieved an overall grade-point average of 3.0 (on a 4.0 scale)
    • Achieved a 3.25 grade-point average in required social work courses
    • Local chapters may establish eligibility requirements different from the national guidelines
    • A graduate student is eligible for membership after achieving the following national requirements and meeting local chapter requirements. 
    • Completed one term of course work with the minimum number of 15 social work credits.
    • Achieved a minimum grade-point average of 3.5 (on a 4.0 scale)
    • Local chapters may establish high eligibility requirements 
    • Membership is available to all full-time social work faculty members 
    • Each chapter may select two persons each year for honorary membership. This recognition is available to persons outside the program who have made significant contributions to the program and/or to society. Membership certificates for honorary members are provided by the National Office without cost to local chapters

    Membership Dues

    • A charter fee of $20 for each new chapter
    • A lifetime membership fee of $20 for each individual member


    School of Health Professions

    Stacy Jaffee Gropack, Dean