Honor Societies

Each society has its own nominating process and criteria for selection.


Founded in 1776, Phi Beta Kappa is the most distinguished honor society in the liberal arts and sciences: It honors excellence in academic achievement, as well as breadth of intellectual study and good character. The St. Mary’s College of Maryland chapter, Zeta of Maryland, was approved by the Phi Beta Kappa Society Council in 1997 and installed in 1998, joining 254 other colleges and universities in the country. Zeta chapter elected its first students, or members in course, in the spring of 1998.

Students may be considered for election as juniors if their cumulative GPA is at least 3.9, but most students who are elected are seniors. All graduating seniors with a 3.75 cumulative GPA may be considered. However, because of bylaws limiting the number of students who can be elected, somewhat less than 10% of each graduating class is likely to be initiated.


Alpha Kappa Delta is an international honor society in sociology, established in 1920 for the purposes of stimulating scholarship and promoting the scientific study of society. In addition to supporting scholarship, the Society aims to provide a forum for fellowship among sociologists. The St. Mary's College Chapter of Alpha Kappa Delta is the Mu Chapter of Maryland. St Mary’s College received its charter in 2001. Students at St. Mary's College who demonstrate excellence in sociology and who complete a prescribed course of study are invited to seek membership in the Alpha Kappa Delta honor society.


Beta Beta Beta Biological Society encourages scholarly attainment in biology by reserving its regular membership to those who achieve superior academic records and who indicate special aptitude for and major interest in the life sciences. It aims to cultivate intellectual interest in the natural sciences and to promote a better appreciation of the value of biological study, thus welcoming into associate membership all those students who are interested in biology. Beta Beta Beta also endeavors to extend the boundaries of knowledge of nature by encouraging new discoveries through scientific investigation, and to this end it encourages undergraduate students to begin research work and report their findings in the journal of the society, BIOS. It emphasizes, therefore, a three-fold program: stimulation of scholarship, dissemination of scientific knowledge, and promotion of biological research.


Nu Rho Psi is the national honor society in neuroscience, founded in 2006 by the Faculty for Undergraduate Neuroscience. The St. Mary’s Chapter is the Beta in Maryland Chapter and received its charter in 2007. The purpose of Nu Rho Psi is to (1) encourage professional interest and excellence in scholarship, particularly in neuroscience; (2) award recognition to students who have achieved such excellence in scholarship; (3) advance the discipline of neuroscience; (4) encourage intellectual and social interaction between students, faculty, and professionals in neuroscience and related fields; (5) promote career development in neuroscience and related fields; (6) increase public awareness of neuroscience and its benefits for the individual and society; and (7) encourage service to the community. Membership requires a major or minor in the neurosciences, completion of nine credit-hours of neuroscience-related courses, a minimum overall GPA of 3.2, and a minimum GPA of 3.5 in neuroscience courses.


Omicron Delta Epsilon, one of the world’s largest academic honor societies, was created through the merger of two honor societies: Omicron Delta Gamma (founded in 1915), and Omicron Chi Epsilon (founded in 1955). Omicron Delta Epsilon has over 560 chapters located in the United States, Canada, Australia, the United Kingdom, Mexico, Puerto Rico, South Africa, Egypt, and France. The St. Mary’s College of Maryland local chapter, the Kappa Chapter of Maryland, was founded in 1991. It inducts an average of 20 new members annually. The objectives of Omicron Delta Epsilon are the following: the recognition of scholastic attainment and the honoring of outstanding achievements in economics; the establishment of closer ties between students and faculty in economics within colleges and universities, and among colleges and universities; the publication of its official journal, The American Economist; and the sponsoring of panels at professional meetings, as well as the Irving Fisher and Frank W. Taussig competitions.


The Omicron Delta Kappa Society, Inc. the national honor society for student leadership, recognizes and encourages superior scholarship, leadership, and exemplary character. Membership in ODK (founded in 1914) is awarded to undergraduate junior and senior students; to graduate students; to faculty, staff, administration, and alumni; and to persons qualifying for honorary membership (“honoris causa”). Student membership candidates must rank in the upper 35 percent in scholarship of their school or college and must show leadership in at least one of five areas: scholarship; athletics; campus or community service, social and religious activities, and campus government; journalism, speech, and the mass media; and creative and performing arts. The circle at St. Mary’s College of Maryland was chartered in 1999. The chapter sponsors faculty-student panel discussions, leadership activities, and participates in several community service projects each year.


Phi Alpha Theta is a national honor society in history. It was organized at the University of Arkansas in 1921, and since then it has grown to more than 750 chapters. The membership of Phi Alpha Theta is composed of students and faculty who have been elected to membership on the basis of excellence in the study and writing of history. As a professional society, Phi Alpha Theta promotes the study of history through the encouragement of research, good teaching, publication, and the exchange of learning among historians in a variety of ways. It seeks to bring students and faculty together both intellectually and socially for mutual understanding and encouragement of their common interest in the study of history. St. Mary’s College is home to the Alpha-Iota-Kappa chapter of Phi Alpha Theta.


Pi Sigma Alpha, the national political science honor society, was founded in October 1920 at the University of Texas. Today, Pi Sigma Alpha is recognized by its membership in the Association of College Honor Societies as one of the leading honor societies. Chapters are located throughout the United States with membership well over 100,000. Juniors and seniors in the upper one-third of their class are eligible to join. Initiates must have completed 10 credit-hours of political science coursework, including at least one class at the upper-division level, with a B or higher average in all political science courses. Initiations are held in the fall and spring. The St. Mary’s chapter, Sigma Omicron, installed in 1992, holds informal dinners and presentations by outside speakers of interest.


Psi Chi, the national honor society in psychology, was founded in 1929 to encourage excellence in the study of psychology and the advancement of the science of psychology. The St. Mary’s chapter was established in 1987 as the first academic honor society at St. Mary’s College. Students majoring in psychology or related fields who have a cumulative GPA of at least 3.00, rank in the upper 35 percent of their class, and demonstrate superior scholarship in psychology are eligible to join Psi Chi. The St. Mary’s chapter sponsors guest speakers, career seminars, field trips, and social activities related to the study of psychology; its members also serve as tutors.


Sigma Tau Delta is the international English honor society, founded in 1924. The purpose of Sigma Tau Delta is to place “distinction upon undergraduates, graduates and scholars in academia, as well as upon professional writers who have recognized accomplishments in linguistic or literary realms of the English Language.” The St. Mary’s College chapter of Sigma Tau Delta is the Alpha Eta Delta Chapter.