Honor Societies

Honor societies offer validation of your scholarly performance, opportunities for leadership development, and mechanisms for professional networking.

An invitation to join an honor society is in itself a mark of distinction. Participation in an honor society can offer insights about fields of endeavor within and related to political science, and can help pave the way to career opportunities.

Pi Sigma Alpha

Pi Sigma Alpha is the national political science honor society. Students elected to Pi Sigma Alpha will receive a certificate of election (suitable for framing) and be eligible to purchase pins and/or keys symbolic of their membership in the society.

Who is eligible to join Pi Sigma Alpha?

Membership in Pi Sigma Alpha is open to junior, senior and graduate-level students who have demonstrated outstanding achievement in political science, international relations and public administration.

The national chapter of Pi Sigma Alpha and the local Davis chapter (Delta Upsilon) have established four requirements for election:

  • Junior, senior or graduate status (minimum of 84 quarter units or the equivalent completed as of winter quarter).
  • Completion of at least six courses in the Department of Political Science, at least half of which must be upper division courses (course number of 100 or above). Students who have transferred to UC Davis recently from community college or from other universities must have completed the equivalent of 24 quarter units in Political Science and must have completed at least three upper division Political Science courses at Davis in order to become eligible for election.
  • Achievement of a minimum cumulative grade point average of 3.2 for all work in all courses completed at UC Davis (as of winter quarter).
  • Achievement of a minimum grade point average of 3.0 for all Political Science courses completed at UC Davis as of winter quarter. Graduate students must achieve an average of at least 3.5 in their Political Science courses to be eligible for election.

Students satisfactorily meeting all four requirements will be invited to join Pi Sigma Alpha and to participate in an installation ceremony. In order to become a member, elected students must pay a one-time $35 initiation fee, which includes the cost of national and local chapter dues and the membership certificate.

How to join Pi Sigma Alpha

Students who are interested and believe that they are eligible for election to Pi Sigma Alpha are encouraged to complete an application and return it to the Department of Political Science, 469 Kerr Hall. Applications are available the first week of April and can be picked up from a Political Science staff advisor or from the Political Science academic peer advisor in Room 466 Kerr Hall. For those on the Political Science and IRE email list, applications will be sent via email.

Phi Beta Kappa

The Phi Beta Kappa Society is America's oldest and most prestigious national academic honorary society. The Society was founded in 1776 at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia; the UC Davis chapter, designated Kappa of California, was chartered in 1968.

Each spring, Kappa of California sends invitations to the ucdavis.edu email account of eligible juniors and seniors. Kappa of California recognizes by election as "members in course" juniors and seniors who have compiled outstanding academic records in a curriculum including the humanities, natural sciences and social sciences. Election and initiation take place annually in the spring.

Criteria for election to Phi Beta Kappa at UC Davis

  • An overall UC grade point average of 3.7 for seniors and 3.8 for juniors. For transfer students, the total undergraduate record and cumulative GPA must meet this standard.
  • Knowledge of a foreign language at an "intermediate level," the equivalent of one year of college-level study. Extensive high school study, i.e., four years or AP credit, is accepted.
  • College of Letters and Science units totaling 135 for seniors and 90 for juniors.
  • 75 units completed for letter-grade credit at UC Davis.
  • College preparatory level mathematics.
  • Three courses or 12 units completed for letter-grade credit in the humanities, natural sciences and social sciences, reflecting breadth in the course record.

Selection process

The Committee on Members in Course, composed of academic members of Phi Beta Kappa, reviews transcripts and recommends to the resident members of the society students whose records meet the criteria. There is no automatic right to election. The committee may apply judgment, for example, in cases involving extensive student-option pass-fail grading, especially in the major. Questions about qualification are welcome and will be considered.

Transcripts of juniors and seniors in the College of Letters and Science are automatically reviewed if the GPA and units in residence requirements are met. Names of additional students who may meet the requirements are solicited from faculty members.

Notification of election is by (a) email to the ucdavis.edu account, (b) posting at the Phi Beta Kappa website, (c) through the academic department of the major. Potential members in course who have been elected to Phi Beta Kappa, as indicated on the lists posted, and wish to be inducted into the society — even if retroactively — are cordially invited to contact the secretary.

Enrollment information

Visit the Kappa of California website to learn more.