Honor Societies Information

This file contains information about the three honor societies I was inducted into as an undergraduate at Villanova University. I'm including it here to provide you with a little background on the societies, so you'll know a bit about them if you're invited to join. This information is copied verbatim (except for the history information which I summarized) from publications of the respective societies, however, I do not know the proper references for these publications, so I cannot give citations. If I get the proper citation, I will certainly include them here. I was also elected into the National Honor Society in high school, but I'm only providing a link to it here; you'll need to check their web site for more information about them.

Quick Links: Sigma Pi Sigma | Phi Kappa Phi | Phi Beta Kappa | Sigma Xi -- This is the order in which I was inducted into these societies.

Sigma Pi Sigma -- Physics


The primary objective of Sigma Pi Sigma is to serve as a means of awarding distinction to those of high scholarship and promise of achievement in physics. As a part of the Society of Physics Students, Sigma Pi Sigma endeavors to help students attain a clearer understanding and appreciation of physics, to promote further interest in the advanced study of physics, to foster the spirit of scientific research, to encourage a professional spirit and friendship among students of physics, and to popularize interest in physics on the part of the collegiate community and the general public.


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 average than this for physics courses is often established. 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.


Investigation, the Forerunner of Knowledge.
Σ κ ε ψ ι ς   Π ρ ο σ τ α τ η ι ς   Σ υ ν ε σ ε ω ς
(Skep'-sis Praw-stah'-tays Soon-ess'-eh-oce)

The Key

The symbolic key dates from the origin of the Society, having been unchanged since the first design was adopted. Its shape represents the historic standard voltmeter. Arched across the top, enclosed in a border, are the letters "Sigma Pi Sigma." In the apex of the key, in relief, is an incandescent lamp, connected to a dynamo in the center.

The founders of the Society intended for this symbolism to portray three of the essential attributes of a scientist: Accuracy, Knowledge, and Creative Energy. The standard voltmeter is to symbolize accuracy, the lamp to typify knowledge, and the dynamo to portray the creative energy that is so essential in research.

The Insignia

The official insignia consists of an outline of the key with a scroll superimposed upon the stem. On the scroll is written the Greek word, Σ ο φ ι α (Pronunciation: So-fe'e-ah) signifying "knowledge," the goal of all scientific knowledge.

The Seal

The seal is circular in form and around the top is written the name of the Society. Across the center is the Greek word, Φ ν σ ι κ α (Pronunciation: Phoo-see'-keh), from which the name "physics" was derived. Coming from the top of the seal is a lightning flash. This illustrates one of the agents of nature, electricity, which has been made of such great value to mankind by physicists and engineers. Beneath the flash is the date of the founding of Sigma Pi Sigma, 1921.


We charge you to continue your growth as individual scientists, to cooperate with other scientists, to assist in the development of physics on the local level, and to take an interest and play a part, whenever possible, on a national level in this great science. We invite you to accept these responsibilities freely, in all humility and seriousness of purpose.

Mission Statement

This Mission Statement was adopted by the 1995 SPS National Council on September 30, 1995. It answers the question "Since membership in Sigma Pi Sigma is for a lifetime, what does membership in Sigma Pi Sigma mean long after the induction ceremony is over?" This Mission Statement is now part of the induction ceremony.

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.


Sigma Pi Sigma is the Physics Honor Society. Through election to Sigma Pi Sigma, distinctive achievement and high scholarship in physics are recognized and celebrated.


By honoring high achievement in physics and upholding high standards for election into Sigma Pi Sigma, the Society provides an incentive for all physics students to rise to excellence. Sigma Pi Sigma is a source of encouragement to all students who study physics, whatever the ultimate level of performance achieved by the individual. Such encouragement ranges from promoting physics interest and science literacy in the general public, to challenging those who are pondering their potential for earning higher degrees. Sigma Pi Sigma urges its members to demonstrate this encouragement through personal service.


With the recognition of accomplishment comes a responsibility to service at all levels. Nationally, Sigma Pi Sigma members can serve by helping to work for sound national science policies. Locally, Sigma Pi Sigma members can serve in community science education projects and liaisons, and in mentoring individual students. Such personal initiative provides opportunities for all members of the local community to learn more about physics, and provides visible testimony to the high standards of Sigma Pi Sigma membership. Our colleges, universities, and our Society know that when we become alumni, because we respect the personal struggle for excellence, we will support the generations of students that follow us. When the experience of Sigma Pi Sigma members is placed at the service of others at any level, then Sigma Pi Sigma touches more lives than may be counted by the number of its members.

Service towards others is an offering of fellowship. This is another mission that our honor society fulfills through its members.


The criterion of Sigma Pi Sigma membership is proven excellence in physics. There are no generational boundaries. The first members were inducted in 1921 and new members are added every year. Sigma Pi Sigma members represent many generations of experience and wisom that can be focused on the matters that unite us.

In Sigma Pi Sigma there are no professional boundaries. One finds all professions represented in Sigma Pi Sigma membership. There are many practicing physicists among Sigma Pi Sigma members, but excellence in physics has opened many career options to our members. Through their lives, physics has enriched the world beyond the narrow scope of the physics community. Sigma Pi Sigma reaches beyond specific disciplines, uniting a diverse group of exceptional people who have shared in the culture and traditions of physics. With the common thread of this shared background in physics running through so rich a diversity of generations and professions, Sigma Pi Sigma promotes a spirit of community among its members and encourages them to offer their collective wisdom and perspectives in the service of the larger society.

Brief History:


Society of Physics Students -- Sigma Pi Sigma
American Institute of Physics
One Physics Ellipse
College Park, MD 20740

Phone: 301-209-3007
FAX: 301-209-0839
E-mail: sps@aip.org


Sigma Pi Sigma celebrated its 75th anniversary in 1996.

Phi Kappa Phi (Villanova Phi Kappa Phi) -- all fields / interdisciplinary


The primary objective of the national Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi is the recognition and encouragement of superior scholarship in all academic disciplines. The Society is convinced that in recognizing and honoring those persons of good character who have excelled in scholarship, in whatever field, it will stimulate others to strive for excellence. Moreover, the Society serves the interests of the student capable of excellence by insisting that in order to acquire a chapter of Phi Kappa Phi, an institution provide the means and atmosphere conducive to academic excellence.


Undergraduate students may be considered who have senior status and are scholastically in the upper 10 percent (or less, if the chapter's bylaws so provide) of their class; or who have reached the final period of their junior year and are scholastically in the upper five percent (or less, if the chapter's bylaws so stipulate) of their class. In no case, however, may the total number of undergraduates elected in any one year exceed 10 percent of the candidates for graduation in that year.


Let the love of learning rule humanity.
Φ ι λ ο σ ο φ ί α   Κ ρ α τ ε ί τ ω   Φ ω τ ῶ ν
(Philosophía Krateítõ Phõtôn)

The Badge and Key

The badge of this Society, which appears on the key, is a globe against the background of the sun, whose rays form an expansive corona and radiate in a number of symmetrical concentrations from behind the globe. These signify equivalence among the various branches of learning and represent the dissemination of truth as light. Encircling the globe is a band containing the Greek letters Φ Κ Φ and symbolizing a fraternal bond which girds the earth and binds the lovers of wisdom in a common purpose.

The Ribbon

The ribbon of the Society is a meander pattern which is common in ancient Greek art and which thus symbolizes the classical features of the Society.

The Seal

The seal of the Society has at its center the badge. This in turn is surrounded by a crenelated line which represents the battlements and walls of Troy and which symbolizes a technological aspect of the ancient Greek culture reflected by the Society. In the space between this line and the periphery of the seal appear three stars just above the badge, one for each of the three original chapters. Just below the badge is the phrase "Founded 1897."

Brief History:


The Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi
7576 Goodwood Boulevard
Baton Rouge, LA 70806

Phone: 225-388-4917
Toll Free: 800-804-9880
FAX: 225-388-4900
E-mail: info@phikappaphi.org


Phi Kappa Phi celebrated its 100th anniversary in 1997.
The first membership directory was released in 2003. It was made available to members in printed book and computer CD-ROM formats by pre-order only.

Phi Beta Kappa (Villanova Phi Beta Kappa) -- Arts and Sciences


Phi Beta Kappa [is] the nation's oldest and most prestigious undergraduate honors organization. For more than 200 years, the Society has pursued its mission of fostering and recognizing excellence in the liberal arts and sciences, and its distinctive emblem, a golden key, is widely recognized as a symbol of academic distinction.


In order to gain election, you must have excelled in a broad array of undergraduate courses in the arts and sciences offered at one of the 249 colleges and universities in the United States that are sufficiently rigorous and intellectually challenging to shelter a chapter of Phi Beta Kappa. By your election to Phi Beta Kappa, you have shown a devotion to intellectual pursuits and the objectives of a liberal education.


Love of wisdom, the guide of life.
Φ ι λ ο σ ο φ ί α   Β ί ο υ   Κ υ β ε ρ ν ή τ η ς
(Philosophia Biou Cybernētēs)

The Key

The emblem adopted at the first meeting of the Society was a square silver medal, engraved on one side with the letters S P, the initials of the Latin Societas Philosophiae, and on the other side with Φ Β Κ, the initials of the Greek motto [see above]. A pointing finger and three stars symbolized the ambition of the young scholars and the three distinguishing principles of their Society -- friendship, morality, and literature [learning]. The present day gold key [standardized in 1917] incorporates the letters S P and the original symbols, the pointing finger and the three stars, much as they appeared on the original 18th Century William and Mary medal.

Brief History


The Phi Beta Kappa Society
1606 New Hampshire Ave. NW
Washington, DC 20009

Phone: 202-265-3808
FAX: 202-986-1601
E-mail: info@pbk.org


The new Membership Directory 2000 has been published and was made available to members in printed book and computer CD-ROM formats by pre-order. The last major update to the directory was made in 1940.

Sigma Xi (University of Maryland Sigma Xi) -- Scientific Research

Culture, Mission, and Vision Statements

Sigma Xi, The Scientific Research Society is the honor society of scientists and engineers that recognizes scientific achievement.
Culture: The Society is a diverse organization of members and chapters dedicated to companionship in science and engineering and to the advancement of knowledge through research, service and teaching.
Mission: To enhance the health of the research enterprise, foster integrity in science and engineering and promote the public's understanding of science for the purpose of improving the human condition.
Vision: Sigma Xi will be recognized as the global interdisciplinary society that promotes ethics and excellence in scientific and engineering research.


Membership in Sigma Xi is by nomination which is conferred in one of two ways, and is NOT dependent on the nominee having a specific education degree. Students and non-students follow the same review process.

Individuals may request nomination to membership through a Sigma Xi chapter or through the Sigma Xi Committee on Qualifications and Membership.


Companions in Zealous Research
Σ π ο υ δ ῶ ν   Ξ υ ν ῶ ν ε ς
(Spoudon Xynones)

Other Info

To be located

Brief History

Coming soon


Sigma Xi
P.O. Box 13975
3106 East NC Highway 54
Research Triangle Park, NC 27709

Phone: 800-243-6534 or 919-549-4691
FAX: 919-549-0090
E-mail: I couldn't find a general one when I added this information, sorry.


Sigma Xi celebrated its 125th anniversary in 2011.

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