of Physics Students
Table of Contents:
What is SPS?
The Society of Physics Students is a professional physics association explicitly
designed for students. Membership, through collegiate chapters, is open
to anyone interested in physics. Within SPS, Sigma Pi Sigma, a nationally
recognized scholastic honor society, inducts members on the basis of outstanding
academic achievement. This two-in-one Society operates within the American
Institute of Physics (AIP).
The SPS is essentially a self-governing society created to serve
the interests undergraduate and graduate students in physics. It was formed
in April 1968, from the union of the AIP Students Sections and Sigma Pi
Sigma. The Student Sections had been established by AIP. Sigma Pi Sigma
originated as a local honor society at Davidson College, North Carolina,
At present there are over 600 active chapters of SPS on campuses
across the country. Approximately 6,000 students take part in the chapter
activities, making SPS the fourth largest physics society in the country.
Over 400 chapters include the honor society as part of their activities
and have about 2,500 active members. Total membership in Sigma Pi Sigma,
including alumni, exceeds 58,000.
To the Individual Student
Your SPS chapter is largely autonomous. Only those items specified in the
national SPS constitution are limiting factors. The constitution can be
amended only on recommendation of the National Council followed by approval
from two-thirds of the SPS chapters. Thus SPS is your society and deserves
your active participation and support. We urge you to use your membership
in the Society of Physics Students to participate in the physics community,
both on your own campus and on the regional and national levels.
Why Join SPS?
The Society provides each student the opportunity of participating in the
physics community on a professional basis. Chapter meetings can provide
an opportunity for discussions on the relation of science to other fields,
e.g., political science, art, music, etc. The only limitation is the imagination
of your group.
National Meetings enable SPS members to get together as physics students
to discuss their mutual problems and exchange ideas. Many of these meeting
include sessions where students can present papers on their activities,
including research projects. Nationally know physicists are invited to
present papers describing work at the forefront of physics.
Members of SPS receive Physics
Today, the publication sent to all members of AIP Member Societies;
the Journal of Undergraduate Research in Physics, where student research
is published; and the SPS Newsletter, published five times per year, which
covers local, regional, and national SPS activities and includes the latest
job information. They may subscribe at special member rates to AIP and
Member Society journals including: American
Journal of Physics, The Physics Teacher, Applied Physics Letters, Journal
of Applied Physics, The Journal of Chemical Physics, Computers in Physics,Journal
of Mathematical Physics, Physics of Fluids, Review of Scientific Instruments,
Physics of Plasmas, and Chaos.
SPS members may apply for one of the SPS Scholarships. Marsh White Awards
are given to SPS chapters "to support projects designed to promote interest
in physics among students and the general public." The Sigma Pi Sigma Undergraduate
Research Award program provides, on the basis of an annual competition
among active SPS chapters, calendar year grants to support local chapter
activities that are deemed imaginative and likely to contribute to the
strengthening of the SPS program. All services of AIP, including the placement
service, are available to the members of SPS.
What is the National Organization?
The policies of SPS are set by the National Council, which is elected by
chapters within geographic zones. Faculty members are nominated by chapters
to represent their zones as Councilors. If elected they will serve for
three-year terms. The President of the SPS National Council and the President
of Sigma Pi Sigma are elected by the chapters for two-year terms. Associate
Councilors, students themselves, are also nominated by the chapters and
are elected for one-year terms. Both Councilors and Associate Councilors
participate in zone activities and in the annual policy-making meeting
of the Council. Councilors organize committees within zones and serve on
committees of the National Council. The Director of SPS is a salaried physicist,
designated by AIP to administer the National Office's services and programs
for SPS members.
What Do the Chapters Do?
Chapters promote activities for all students interested in physics. They
act as a service organization for the physics department and help to popularize
physics with the general collegiate public.
Chapters are encouraged to assist students in developing the knowledge,
competence, enthusiasm, and social responsibility essential to the advancement
of physics. They provide the opportunity to develop closer interaction
between students and faculty in both social and professional activities.
Eligible SPS chapters, with a Sigma Pi Sigma chapter, award recognition
and distinction to students who have achieved high scholarship by electing
them to membership in Sigma Pi Sigma.
What Does it Cost?
To cover, in part, the cost of the Society's services, members pay annual
national dues of $13. The remaining costs are covered by AIP funds. Members
receive a membership card to show their membership in SPS and may purchase
lapel emblems or pins.
Local dues are set by individual chapters. Our SPS Chapter requires
$10 a semester membership due. Most AIP member societies offer combined
SPS and student membership and reduced rates.
What is AIP?
The American Institute of Physics
was founded in 1931 as a membership corporation of the leading societies
in the field of physics. It combines into one operating agency those functions
on behalf of physics which can best be done by the societies jointly. Its
purpose is the advancement and diffusion of the knowledge of physics and
its applications to human welfare. It is a major publisher of scientific
How is a Chapter Formed?
All that's needed is a group of interested students, a faculty advisor,
and the approval of the physics department to petition for an SPS chapter.
Petition forms are available from the National Office. A chapter can be
established at any accredited college or university. Only a chapter at
a college or university offering a physics major is eligible to form an
SPS Address and Phone Numbers
Society of Physics Students
American Institute of Physics
One Physics Ellipse
College Park, MD 20740
TEL: (301) 209-3007
FAX: (301) 209-0839