Downloadable versions of the Sigma Pi Sigma motto, key, insignia, and seal.

This years inductee into the Sam Houston State University chapter of Sigma Pi Sigma is Paul Mauer

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What is Sigma Pi Sigma?
Affiliation With Other Organizations
What Sigma Pi Sigma Membership Means
How Much does it Costs

Physics Honor Society

Sigma Pi Sigma was founded as a local honor organization at Davidson college, North Carolina, on December 11, 1921. The local society was so successful that a movement for nationalization was started in 1925. By 1968, there were 170 chapters. On April 22, 1968, Sigma Pi Sigma joined with the American Institute of Physics (AIP) Student Sections to form the Society of Physics Students (SPS). It continues to operate as a fully recognized honor society within SPS, a unique arrangement in student organizations. The society is national in scope with chapters located at colleges and universities across the country. Over 400 of the 613 SPS chapters now include an active Sigma Pi Sigma chapter. The total membership is more than 58,000.


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.

Affiliation With Other Organizations

In 1945 Sigma Pi Sigma became a member of the Association of College Honor Societies (ACHS). The ACHS is the coordinating organization of the recognized collegiate honor societies that are regarded as having suitable, high standards.
Sigma Pi Sigma is an affiliated society of Section B (Physics) of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). The AAAS, composed of more than three hundred societies with an aggregate of seven million scientists, is the largest group of related scientific societies in the world.
In 1951, Sigma Pi Sigma was elected an affiliated society of the AIP. The AIP was founded in 1931 as a membership corporation of leading societies in the field of physics. Its purpose is the advancement and diffusion of knowledge of physics and its applications to human welfare. It is a major publisher of scientific journals.

What Sigma Pi Sigma Membership Means

  1. HONOR: Sigma Pi Sigma is the official honor society of the physics profession. Through election to Sigma Pi Sigma, distinctive achievement and high scholarship in physics is recognized and celebrated.
  2. ENCOURAGEMENT: 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. The Society also encourages physics interest and science literacy in the general public.
  3. SERVICE: With the recognition of accomplishment comes a responsibility to service. As persons who earned our Sigma Pi Sigma insignia pins by midnight oil, we appreciate the struggles of fellow students and colleagues who are facing similar challenges. When our experience and resources are placed at their service, then Sigma Pi Sigma touches more lives than may be counted by the number of its members. Because we respect the struggle for excellence, we support the generations of students that follow us.
  4. FELLOWSHIP: Sigma Pi Sigma members cut across generational lines. The first members were inducted in 1921. New members are added every year. This represents many generations of experience and wisdom that can be brought to bear on matters of common interest to all members.

Sigma Pi Sigma members cut across professional lines. Besides physicists, many members of other professions also enrich our ranks, uniting a diverse group of people who have shared in the culture and traditions of physics, and have demonstrated that they could excel in it.

With this common thread of a shared background in physics running through so rich a diversity of generations and professions, and with the publications and meetings of the society available for communication instruments, Sigma Pi Sigma nurtures a spirit of professional community among its members, and encourages them to offer their collective wisdom and perspectives in the service of society.

Cost of Membership

Even though the new member pays dues only once, Sigma Pi Sigma membership is for a lifetime. Each new member pays to the National Office an entrance fee of $30.00 at the time of their reception into Sigma Pi Sigma. If already a member of SPS, the Sigma Pi Sigma fee is only $17.00. The fee includes the cost of the official lapel pin, a certificate of membership, and a membership card. There are no annual dues to Sigma Pi Sigma or special assessments other than the original entrance fee. The entrance fee must paid prior to reception into membership.
Sigma Pi Sigma fees pay a portion of the cost of operations of the society. The remainder comes from SPS dues, alumni contributions, and AIP funds.

Voluntary contributions of Sigma Pi Sigma members fund three annual programs that support undergraduate physics: 1) the SPS Scholarships; 2) the Marsh White Awards, given to SPS chapters for science outreach projects to the local community; and 3) the Sigma Pi Sigma Undergraduate Research Award, which funds SPS chapter research projects.